MARK 15:33-47 (NIV – UK)
The death of Jesus
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’). [Psalm 22:1]
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The burial of Jesus
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
SON OF GOD
As Jesus hung on the Cross, he cried out: ‘‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)’ These are the words of Psalm 22:1 – and when Jesus declares them here, he confirms that in Psalm 22 we read the prophetic words and thoughts of Jesus’ last moments on the Cross. (We can gain amazing insight into the thoughts of Jesus’ last few hours when we read psalm 22 – take some time to read through it and we can see how prophetic it actually is – e.g. v. 16: ‘They pierce my hands and my feet’ and v. 18: ‘They divide my clothes among them’. Reading Jesus speak in the first person in Psalm 22 is incredibly moving as we move into the Easter season.)
But it is the centurion’s reaction that is striking: ‘And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’’ (v. 39). It must have been quite a moment to have had such an effect. This centurion had probably seen hundreds of people crucified. What was it about this particular one? In Matthew’s Gospel we read that as Jesus died, ‘the earth shook, the rocks split’ (Matt. 27:51). In Luke we read that, ‘the sun stopped shining’ (Luke 23:45). There was clearly some sort of geological, meteorlogical event – perhaps these things contributed to the centurion’s reaction.
But surely it was ‘how he died’ that was most striking – the manner in which it came to be that he was crucified: In full obedience he went to the Cross for the sake of the world. That is the love that only God can achieve.
Question: When you see Jesus’ death on the Cross is your reaction the same as the centurion? What is it that leads you to react in this way?