March 20, 2016 | text: Mark 15:21-47
I was spoiled in some ways during our time at OBI (Oneida Baptist Institute). We met in the middle of each day for a 30 minute chapel service and – no kidding – twice on Sundays. That gave us the opportunity to do Passion Week/ Holy Week up right. There were several preachers on staff as well as drama, music and art students and teachers. We had a morning and evening service on Palm Sunday, five daily chapel services throughout the week, and two more Sunday services on Easter Sunday (plus a sunrise service for those interested). We spent the week not only preaching but using all the talents and media at our disposal dealing with Jesus’ final week. The Triumphal entry, Last Supper, lesson of the fig tree, washing the disciples feet and false trial could each get their own day. We could preach/teach/share the crucifixion on Good Friday, then celebrate the resurrection on Easter morning!
We will do the best we can with the time we have. Our text this morning is a portion of Mark 15 but it wouldn’t hurt to read all of chapters 13, 14 and 15 this week or the corresponding narrative in Matthew and Luke. Only two Gospel accounts record the birth of Jesus but it’s worth noting that all four share his death, burial and resurrection.
He saved others.
The critics in v. 30 referred to all those that had come to Jesus for healing. There was always a crowd following Jesus or showing up wherever he went and some of those in that crowd were the scribes, Pharisees, priests and Jewish leaders that wanted to get rid of him one way or another. His reputation for healing the sick, casting out demons and even raising the dead was well known by those who loved and hated him alike. Jesus had demonstrated his authority not only over the physical realm, by calming the wind, waves and multiplying the loaves and fish, but over the spiritual realm as well, by casting out demons and evil spirits. He taught as one having authority and not as the scribes. But when pressed to show them a sign (Mark 8) Jesus had refused them. They were well aware of the miracles but they demanded a sign from heaven, a revelation from God himself that would provide irrefutable evidence that he was the Christ, the anointed one of God. Jesus responded to faith but never used miracles to cause people to believe. Irrefutable proof would force a person to believe. But they were right in saying “He saved others.”
He cannot save himself.
And on that point they could not have been more wrong. Jesus chose to not save himself. Early in his ministry, Jesus was tempted by Satan while fasting in the wilderness. Matthew 4 records a more detailed account than Mark 1. With each temptation, Satan was offering Jesus an easier way than the slow, painful road to the cross. One of those temptations involved placing Jesus on the pinnacle of the Temple and suggesting he jump, quoting from Hebrew scripture that “He will command his angels concerning you.” When Jesus explained to his disciples the things that must happen regarding his arrest and trial, Peter and the others were prepared to fight to the death. He did pull his sword on the night of his arrest. Jesus responded to Peter “Get thee behind me Satan.” Why? It is very possible that Jesus was tempted by Peter’s proposal. God is not tempted by sin and does not tempt anyone. But Jesus came in a body of flesh and was subject to all the things common to man. He did not sin but was tempted by Satan. Everything Satan offered was a shortcut, an easy way out that would have satisfied temporarily but not fulfilled God’s will. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane revealed he did not look forward to a painful, gruesome death on the cross. Peter’s offer may have reminded him of the offers Satan had made years earlier, but Jesus sought to do the will of the heavenly Father and not his own. He came to serve not to be served. He saved others and chose for our sake not to save himself. They mocked the anointed one of God as he was dying to save the whole world if they would receive him.
God’s wrath was poured out.
Critics and skeptics of Christianity, and sometimes Christians themselves, wonder why Jesus had to die. John 3:36 says this: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” We are born into the sinful nature of this world and our natural state is to stand in God’s wrath. We should die for our sins. Salvation is about an exchange that takes place. On the cross at Calvary, Jesus took our place of judgement. The wrath of God that should have been poured out on sin was poured out on his Son. Jesus was not merely a sacrifice, he became the propitiation for our sins. He is our redeemer, the one that pays the price for our rescue and freedom. Because of this offer of salvation Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Salvation is freely offered to all who will receive, but it isn’t free. There was a price and that price has already been paid.
Jesus died on the cross and was buried. The tomb was sealed and guards were placed, to prevent anyone from stealing his body. That’s not the end of the story, but it is the end of this sermon. We will just have to wait ’till next week to see what happens 😉