Reading Mark Together – Chapter 15 The End…

Events move fast in Mark 15. Jerusalem was occupied territory of the Romans and so the Jews did not hold the ultimate authority here and had no authority to demand a person be executed, that had to go to the Romans. As a result the religions leaders had to take Jesus to Pilate and persuade him to agree to their demands that Jesus be executed, but they didn’t go alone, by this time they had a crowd along.

That itself is worth recognising because one of the things that was feared by the leaders of all Jewish cities was a dissent that would lead to rioting. Why? Because the result would be a Roman backlash, the killing of many innocent Jews and a greater force of Roman occupation. But here the Chief Priests stir up the crowd in order to have Jesus crucified. And faced with an unruly crowd Pilate took the route of least resistance – he gave them what they wanted.

So Jesus was handed over to be crucified. But his torture didn’t start on the cross. it started in the courtyard of the Roman garrison where he was flogged. This was not a gentle telling off, it was brutal torture from which some people died. If we look back to the Old Testament we find this torture and suffering prophesied. Read the passage from Mark alongside Isaiah 53 and allow God to speak to you about the Love of Jesus.

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

And so we come to the crucifixion. We read this knowing the end of the story, it is like reading a good novel, but reading the last chapter before you read the first. Try reading is as if you didn’t know the end. Ask yourself what those who were watching would have thought/felt. Ask yourself what it would have been like to carry Jesus’ body from the cross to the tomb. And finally ask yourself what it would have been like to see the stone rolled across the entrance to the tomb. Live with Good Friday for a while. Thank Jesus for his deep and great love for you.

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