Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 15, as we continue our study of Mark and we are going to continue our study focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We know that by 9 AM of that Thursday Jesus was nailed to the cross of Calvary. Between 9 AM and 12 noon we see Jesus speak 3 of the 7 sayings He cried from the cross, and the last 4 occurred just prior to His death, around 3 PM in the afternoon.
This evening we are going to be focused on those first 3 hours, between 9 AM and 12 noon. During that time 4 main events took place. First of all, as we saw last week, after they nailed Jesus to the cross of Calvary, we heard Him cry out "...Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do...." Luke 23:34. So the first event we see is the prayer of forgiveness that Jesus speaks for those that have done this to Him.
The second main event was the salvation of one of the two thieves who hung on crosses, one on each side of Jesus. Then we will look at all the people, the variety of people that were mocking Jesus. And lastly, the fourth event that occurred during those first 3 hours is Jesus committing the care of His mother Mary to the apostle John. So with that in mind, lets begin reading in Mark chapter 15, starting in verse 27.
1. Now these two men who were crucified, one on either side of Jesus, were robbers. It is a word that speaks of taking something from another by force, using violence. And they must have gone pretty far to be put to death for their crimes. The thing I want you to note is Mark tells us that these two thieves were prophesied about several hundred years before the event took place. In Isaiah 53:12 we are told that He "...was numbered with the transgressors..." Again, this was all according to the plan of God.
2. Now as these two guilty men hung on either side of Jesus, who was innocent of any crime, we are told in Matthew 27:44 "Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing." These guys began to mock Jesus, make fun of Him, taunting Him to do something about the predicament that He had gotten Himself in. We can read of this in Luke 23:39-43, which says "Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us. But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong. Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
One of the thieves mocks Jesus here by saying "If you are such a big shot, then get yourself down off the cross, and while you are at it, get us down too!" These guys were probably criminals most of their life, they had no compassion for anyone. They were both going to die, so they might as well go down as they lived life, swinging!
But I think as this other criminal looked into the eyes of Jesus, saw all that He had suffered and yet was innocent, and they were only getting what they deserved, His heart was broken. And as he sees himself as he really is, a sinner separated from God, all he could do is cry out to Jesus, "...Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Luke 23:42. You see, he recognized the authority of Jesus and called out to Him for help.
3. Now Jesus has been silent as they mocked Him, laughed at Him, but all of a sudden that silence is broken. Why? Because Jesus heard a man crying out for help and Jesus will always respond to those who are sincerely seeking Him! In Revelation 3:20 we are told, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Notice, it is always a invitation by Jesus to "come" or to "open" or to "receive Him" and-so-on. Jesus doesnt force us to come to Him, but when we do turn to Him out of our own free will, He will respond, as Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
4. And the response of Jesus to this broken man was "...Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43. This is the second saying that Jesus spoke from the cross of Calvary. And what Jesus did here was He gave this man with no hope, hope. He gave this man who had no assurance regarding the afterlife, total assurance. Jesus says "You will be with Me!" I like that because the response of most people is they would mock or put down this person, saying things like "You are only getting what you deserve!" Or "You should have thought about that before you traveled down this path!" Not Jesus, He sees a man crying out to Him and He responds with words of comfort. Never forget that!
1. Now we see the mocking by various groups of people who were fully aware of what Jesus taught, and maybe some of them even followed Jesus for a time. But now they are joining in this mass mocking of Jesus, the one who healed the sick, raised the dead, provided food for them, gave them life. How fickle people are!
2. Here we see the crowds of people mocking Him as a prophet. "Jesus said this, now lets see if He can do it!" And understand, they did not believe He could! Luke 23:35 tells us that these people "stood looking on." It wasnt a quick pass by, but they watched Jesus dying this slow, painful death. You died by suffocation, you see, all you could do is inhale, you couldnt push up to exhale because you would eventually reach the point of exhaustion. This group of people shaking their heads in disgust, laughing at the foolishness of Jesus, were some of the same people who only a few days earlier were crying out "...Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest! And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? So the multitudes said, This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee." Matthew 21:9-11. Now these same people are rejecting Him. Like I said, people can be very fickle! They came now to watch Him die!
3. Why were all these people in town in the first place? Because of the Passover feast. They came to worship God! Now you can see that their worship of God was an empty ritual, it was meaningless, for we see here where their heart is really at. Was Jesus surprised that they responded like this? Of course not! In fact, some 1,000 years before this event took place, the Psalmist said "All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head..." Psalm 22:7.
4. This second group of people were the religious leaders, and they were mocking Him as savior. They said "...He saved others; Himself He cannot save." Mark 15:31. In other words, these religious leaders could not deny the works of Jesus, the miracles that He had done, so now they ignore all that, and focus on Jesus saving Himself, just as He saved others! And, of course, they did not believe that He could.
5. Now, could Jesus have come down off the cross if He wanted to? Of course He could, He is God! Then why didnt He? Because, and listen to this carefully, it is important, if Jesus was to reach out and save others from their sin, then He could not save Himself from the cross. If Jesus didnt die on the cross of Calvary and rise that third day we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins, but He did and we can have that life that is only found in Him. He freely gave Himself for us, so we could live. In fact, in the Garden of Gethsemane the matter was settled, for Jesus said as He prayed to the Father regarding the cross, "And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." Mark 14:36. So Jesus was not going to come down but was going to complete this task that was set before Him!
6. Lastly, these religious leaders mocked Him as king, saying "Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe...." Mark 15:32. Understand this, they were not interested in believing, but were continuing to mock Jesus. They rejected all the miracles He did, saying they were of the Devil, so dont believe for a minute that they were looking for the truth. It is as Psalm 22:8 says, "He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"
7. In Isaiah chapter 53, written some 700 years before Jesus was crucified on the cross of Calvary, speaks of His sufferings, His mockings, His silence before them, the dividing of His garments, the death among the wicked, His burial with the rich, and-so-on. And yet, to Jewish people they say it speaks of themselves, it is a spiritual analogy of the Jewish nation and its sufferings. Not true. In Isaiah 53:6 we are told "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Notice that our sins were laid on "Him" and not on "them"! This is speaking of Jesus, and as we come to the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy.
8. Now in John 19:25-27 we see the third saying of Jesus from the cross of Calvary and His last words that He will speak before noon. The other 4 sayings will be spoken in those last 3 hours, from noon to 3 PM, and closer to 3 PM. But here in John we are told "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, Woman, behold your son! Then He said to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home."
It is hard to imagine with all the pain He was going through, and as the sins of the world were going to be placed on Him, that He is thinking of His mother Mary and who will care for her after He is gone. That is why we feel that Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus had died already, sometime after Jesus was 8 years old. So Jesus entrusts His mothers care to the apostle John.
9. As a parent I cant imagine the pain that Mary was going through, seeing her son beaten, bloodied, hanging there naked on a cross for all to see, being mocked by the crowds of people and the religious leaders. And at this point, John may have taken Mary home so she does not have to witness the death of her son, the final agony and pain. But, it could also mean that after the crucifixion John took her home, assumed the responsibility of watching over her. Either way she suffered tremendous pain over this, just as Luke 2:34-35 tell us, "Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." And that is exactly what happened!
10. As we close this study this evening, let me ask you a couple of questions that I want you to think about. Are you moved by the cross or the crowds? Are you headed for paradise or judgment? Are you standing firm in your own rights or are you saying that He is right? You see, it all revolves around Jesus, the cross and His resurrection from the dead! That is the Gospel message, the good news to a world filled with bad news. Jesus came to give us life and to give us abundant life, but the choice is yours to either receive it or reject it. But, understand this, there is no life without Jesus!