Mark 15:33-16:20 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 15:33-16:20

  • Mark 15:33-41
  • 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated,“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “See, he’s calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a stick, offered him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” 37 Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 40 There were also women watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women followed him and took care of him. Many other women had come up with him to Jerusalem.
    • Here comes the last scene of all, a scene so terrible that the sky was unnaturally dark and it seemed that even nature couldn’t bear to look upon what was happening
    • Let’s look at the characters present
      • There was Jesus, who said two things that Mark recorded
        • He uttered the terrible cry, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
          • Jesus had taken this life of ours upon Him. He had done our work and face our temptations and our trials. He had suffered all that life could bring. He had known the failure of friends, the hatred of foes, the malice of enemies. He had known the most searing pain that life could offer. Up to this moment Jesus had gone through every experience of life except one—He had never known the consequence of sin. Now if there is one thing sin does, it separates us from God. It puts between us and God a barrier like an unscalable wall. That was the one human experience through which Jesus had never passed because He was without sin.
          • At this moment that experience came upon Him—not because He had sinned, but because in order to be identified completely with our humanity He had to go through it. In this terrible, grim, bleak moment, Jesus really and truly identified Himself with human sin. Here we have the divine paradox—Jesus knew what it was to be a sinner. And this experience must have been doubly agonizing for Jesus, because He had never known what it was to be separated form God by this barrier
          • That is why he can understand our situation so well. That is why we need never fear to go to Him when sin cuts us off from God. Because He has gone through it, He can help others who are going through it. There is no depth of human experience which Christ has not experienced
        • He let out a great cry
          • Both Matthew and Luke tell of it. John does not mention the shout but tells us that Jesus died having said, “It is finished.” In the Greek that would be one word; and that one word was the great shout. FINISHED! Jesus died with the cry of triumph on His lips, His task accomplished, His work completed, His victory won. After the terrible day there came the light again, and He went home to God a victor triumphant
      • There was the bystander who wished to see if Elijah would come. He had a kind of morbid curiosity in the face of the cross. The whole terrible scene did not move him to awe or reverence or even pity. He wanted to experiment while Jesus died
      • There was the centurion.
        • A seasoned Roman soldier. He would have been the equivalent of a regimental sergeant-major. He had fought in many a campaign and he had seen many men die. But he had never seen men die like this and he was sure that Jesus was the Son of God. If Jesus had lived on and taught and helped He might have attracted many, but it is the cross which speaks straight to the heart of men and women
      • There were the women in the distance
        • They were bewildered, heartbroken, drenched in sorrow—but they were there. They loved so much that they could not leave Him. Love clings to Christ even when the intellect cannot understand. It is only love which can give us a hold on Christ that even the most bewildering experiences cannot break
    • There is one other thing to note
      • The curtain of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. This was the curtain which shut off the Holy of Holies, into which no one might go. Symbolically that tells us two things
        • The way to God was now wide open. Into the Holy of Holies only the high priest could go, and he only once a year on the Day of Atonement. But now, the curtain was torn and the way to God was wide open to everyone
        • Within the Holy of Holies dwelt the very essence of God. Now with the death of Jesus the curtain which hid God was torn and He could be seen face to face. No longer was God hidden. There was no longer any need to guess and grope. Anyone who looked at Jesus could say this is what God is like. God loves me like that
  • Mark 15:42-47
  • 42 When it was already evening, because it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. 44 Pilate was surprised that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had already died. 45 When he found out from the centurion, he gave the corpse to Joseph. 46 After he bought some linen cloth, Joseph took him down and wrapped him in the linen. Then he laid him in a tomb cut out of the rock and rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching where he was laid.
    • Jesus died at 3 pm on Friday and the next day was the Sabbath. We have already seen that the new day started at 6 pm. Therefore when Jesus died, it was already the time of preparation for the Sabbath, and there was very little time to waste, for after 6 the Sabbath law would kick in and no work could be done
    • Joseph of Arimathea acted quickly. It recently happened that the bodies of criminals were never buried at all, but were simply taken down and left for the vultures and the scavenging wild dogs to deal with. In fact it has been suggested that Golgotha may have been called the place of the skull because it was littered with skulls from previous crucifixions. 
    • Joseph went to Pilate. It often happened that criminals hung for days on the crosses before they died, and Pilate was amazed that Jesus was dead only six hours after ha had been crucified. But when he had check the facts with the centurion, he Gove the body to Joseph
    • Joseph is a curious case
      • It may well be that it is from Joseph that all the information came about the trial before the Sanhedrin. Certainly none of the disciples were there. There information must have come from sone member of the Sanhedrin, and it is probably that Joseph was the one. If that is so, he had a very real share in the writing of the gospel story
      • There is a certain tragedy about Joseph. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and yet we have no hint that he spoke one word in Jesus’ favor or intervened in any way on His behalf. Joseph is the man who gave Jesus a tomb when He was dead but was silent when He was alive. It is one of the commonest tragedies of life that we keep our wreaths for people’s graves and our praises until they are dead. It would be infinitely better to give them some of these flowers and some of these words of gratitude when they are still alive
      • But we cannot blame Joseph too much, for he was another of those people fro whom the cross ddid what not even the life of Jesus could do. When he had seen Jesus alive, he had felt His attraction but had gone no further. But when he saw Jesus die—and he must have been present at the crucifixion—his heart was broken in love. First the centurion, then Joseph—it is an amazing thing how soon Jesus’ words came true that when He was lifted up from the earth He would draw all people to Himself (John 12:32)
  • Mark 16:1-8
  • When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they could go and anoint him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?” 4 Looking up, they noticed that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away. 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they put him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there just as he told you.’” 8 They went out and ran from the tomb, because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. And they said nothing to anyone, since they were afraid.
    • There had not been time to fully prepare Jesus’ body for burial
    • The Sabbath had begun, and the women who wished to anoint the body had not been able to do so. As early as possible after the Sabbath, they set out to perform this task
    • They were concerned about moving the heavy stone that sealed the tomb, because it would have been too heavy for them
    • But when they arrived, they found the stone rolled away, and inside was a messenger who gave them the unbelievable news that Jesus had risen from the dead
    • One thing is certain—if Jesus had not risen from the dead, we would have never heard of Him. The attitude of the women was that they had come to pay the last tribute to a dead body. The attitude of the disciples was that everything had finished in tragedy. By far the best proof of the resurrection is the existence of the Christian Church. Nothing else could have changed sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and aflame with courage. The resurrection is the central fact of the the whole Christian faith. Because we believe in the resurrection certain things follow
      • Jesus is not a figure in a book but a living presence. It is not enough to study the story of Jesus like the life of any other great historical figure. We may begin that way but we must end by meeting Him
      • Jesus is not a memory but a presence. The dearest memory fades. The Greeks had a word to describe time meaning time which wipes all things out. Long since, time would have wiped out the memory of Jesus unless He had been a living presence forever with us. Jesus is not someone to discuss so much as someone to meet
      • The Christian life is not a matter of knowing about Jesus, but of knowing Jesus. There is all the difference in the world between knowing about a person and knowing a person. Most people know about the King of England or the President of the United States but not so many know them. The greatest scholar in the world who knows everything about Jesus is less than the humblest Christian who knows Him
      • There is an endless quality about the Christian faith. It should never stand still. Because our Lord is a living Lord there are new wonders and new truths waiting to be discovered all the time
    • But eh most precious thing in this passage is in two words which are in no other gospel. But go, tell His disciples and Peter
    • Barclay and I differ on our thoughts on this
      • Barclay thinks this must have cheered Peter up, because he was still being tortured with the memory of denying Jesus, and Jesus singles him out
      • I think there is a little more to it than that. Peter is still dealing with his denial. And doesn’t feel himself worthy of being a disciple. Jesus singles him out and doesn’t include him with the disciples. I think this is Jesus allowing Peter to continue to feel the pain of that denial for a little while longer, before, in John’s account, we see Jesus specifically reinstate Peter. He doesn’t do this to be mean to Peter, but to help drive home the lesson of faithfulness, but also of grace. And Peter learned it well.
  • Mark 16:9-20
  • [9 Early on the first day of the week, after he had risen, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with him, as they were mourning and weeping. 11 Yet, when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it. 12 After this, he appeared in a different form to two of them walking on their way into the country. 13 And they went and reported it to the rest, who did not believe them either. 14 Later he appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw him after he had risen. 15 Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” 19 So the Lord Jesus, after speaking to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the accompanying signs.]
    • In the introduction, many months ago, we talked about Mark really ending at verse 8. We only have to read this passage to see how different it is from the rest of the gospel, and it appears in none of the great manuscripts of the gospel. It is a later summary which replaces the ending which either Mark did not live to write or was lost at some point
    • Its great interest is the picture of the duty of the Church that it gives to us. Whoever wrote this concluding section obviously believed that the Church had certain tasks committed to it by Jesus
      • The Church has a preaching task. It is the duty of the church, and that means it is the duty of every christian, to tell the story of the good news of Jesus to those who have never heard it. The Christian duty is to be the herald of Jesus 
      • The Church has a healing task. Here is a face the have seen again and again. Christianity is concerned with bodies as well as minds. Jesus wished to bring health to the body and health to the soul
      • The Church has a source of power. We need not take everything literally. We need not think that the Christian is literally to have the power to pick up venomous snakes and drink poisonous liquids and come to no harm. But at the back of this picturesque language is the conviction that the Christian is filled with a power to cope with life that others do not possess
      • The Church is never left alone to do its work. Always Christ works with it and in it and through it. The Lord of the Church is still in the Church and is still the Lord of power
  • And so the gospel finished with the message that the Christian life is lived in the presence and the power of Him who was crucified and rose again

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