By Ben Simpson

 

As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading. 

Today's daily reading is:    Mark 15:21-32

Scripture

Mark 15:32

“Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

 

Reflection

After Jesus is condemned to die, he is led to Praetorium, home to the Roman guard. The soldiers gather to humiliate and mock their prisoner, this backwoods Galilean whose followers had believed would displace Caesar.

Jesus? A king?

The soldiers knew what to do. A coronation was in order.

A purple robe was brought; purple is the color of royalty. Thorns were woven together into a crown and placed upon his head. The soldiers called out, “Hail, king of the Jews!” They struck him on the head and fell to their knees in mock obeisance. They spat on him. Everything Jesus said about his end in Jerusalem comes to pass.

The Roman soldiers were well practiced in keeping insurrectionists, revolutionaries, and criminals in their place. When Jesus is led out to be crucified, he is too weak to carry his own cross, so a man from Cyrene named Simon is forced to carry it for him. Jesus is led to a place called Golgotha, meaning “the place of the skull.” They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, a depressant to dull the pain and his perceptions. He refused. His clothes were divided in a game of chance.

Crucifixions were brutal and public. Crosses were often placed along major highways. The charges were tacked at the top of the cross so all who passed by could see and be warned. Jesus’ notice read, “The King of the Jews.” Any rival to Caesar, anyone who challenged the powers, would meet Jesus’ fate. No one challenges the Empire. No one.

Jesus was placed between two common criminals. They mocked him, too, as did those passing by on the road.  Jews cited Jesus’ challenge to the temple as grounds for rejection. “Save yourself!” they said. The chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Jesus among themselves, “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross that others may see and believe.”

Their words dripped with irony. Jesus did raise the temple of his body up in three days, displacing the one made of stone. He did save others, not by saving himself, but by laying down his life. Jesus showed himself to be both the true Messiah and true king of Israel not by vanquishing his enemies but by loving them unto death. God vindicated Jesus in the resurrection. Death could not hold him. Sin would not win.

In 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, Paul writes, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God is victorious. Christ has overcome. Look upon his cross. See what he has won for you: peace with God, forgiveness from sin, a life of service and love toward your neighbor, and life eternal. See and believe! It is a costly love, a victorious love. He has done it! Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I look upon your cross and see your love, a costly love, offered freely and willingly for me, for my neighbor, for the salvation of all those who might believe. Change me by your love, your grace. In your name, Amen.