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Gospel of Mark #60 ~ (15:33-47)

Started by Al Moak, October 09, 2004, 10:11:16 AM

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Al Moak

Mark 15:33-47
The GLORY Of The Cross


Do you want to be really dedicated to your Lord? Do you desire, deep in your heart, a greater consecration, a fuller and more sincere worship, and a more complete obedience to Him in your life? Nothing in all of Scripture should be more likely to move us to these things than the scenes of our Lord on the Cross. As you read Mark 15:33-47, pray for the moving of God's Spirit upon your soul.

Among all the treasures of this world, certainly one of the greatest should be the collection of all the things Jesus said. And among all His sayings, certainly what He said while He hung on the Cross should be prominent.

Today I want us to consider our Lord's last sayings on the Cross. Because the passage in Mark doesn't contain all the things He said, we'll take our thoughts from the parallel passages in the other Gospels as well.

In this consideration of the sayings I've tried to place them in the likely order in which He said them. It's plain that the first was directed to one of the thieves crucified with Him. To him He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

His second saying was addressed to His mother, Mary. With reference to the disciple John, He said to Mary, "Woman, behold your son!"  And to John He said, "Behold your mother!" The third saying was addressed to His Father and concerned those who were mocking Him upon the Cross. He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." The fourth was also addressed to His Father. He said, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani!," which means, "My God, My God, for what have You forsaken Me?" Then, probably only a few minutes later, He said again to His Father, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!" Then, near death, He cried out, "I thirst," and, finally, He said, "It is finished!"

The sayings can be easily grouped in threes. The first three display the most wonderful concern for others even while He Himself suffered unutterable agony. The next three express His relationship with the Father while He was on the Cross. The last group are exclamations of final triumph and victory, and, as such, they call us all to place our faith in Him and in His work. Let's look at each group in turn.

Our Lord's cross was placed between those of two thieves, as though He was the worst of the three. Both of the others were suffering as Jesus was, but they had two very different attitudes. One of them was angry, probably at his "unfair" lot in life up to this final hour. He was probably angry with his parents, with his employers, with the authorities who caught and condemned him for his thieving, and now he was even angry with Jesus. He thought that, since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, why then He should get them all down from their crosses.

The other thief, though, had done some thinking. He had come to an honest confession of his guilt. He'd also seen enough of Jesus to realize that He was no ordinary Man, that He was innocent of any crime and that he was, in fact, the true Messiah. Instead of blaspheming Jesus, he prayed to Him. And Jesus, far from being - as we would be - entirely focussed upon His own agony, loved this penitent thief and gave him assurance that he would be with Him in glory! Jesus, suffering extreme physical pain, and suffering even the awful desertion of His Father, yet loved this man so much that He wanted him to die in happy assurance!

Seeing such love should assure me that my Lord is never too distracted to be concerned for me. It should assure me that none of my sins can separate me from His concern. And it should certainly move me to worship so caring a Savior!

A moment later, when He speaks to His mother, Our dying Lord again shows that same wonderful concern for others in the midst of His own agony. He made it quite clear that His concern is not only with eternal life, but also with life in the here and now. He wanted His mother cared for as she grew older. So, even in the midst of agony, He made arrangements for her. Because it was the duty of a son to care for his aging mother, He named John as her son and urged His mother to depend upon him.

Surely, if our Lord was concerned about human relationships at a time like that, then He is concerned for them all the time! He is concerned that we love our father, mother, brothers, and sisters – and one another. Surely, He wanted our love to them to be manifested in deeds. And just as surely, we can count on our risen Lord to help us by His Spirit!

He's a loving, caring Savior! And if we had never before believed that He's the most wonderful Person Who ever lived, then His third saying on the Cross ought to make believers of us! It should absolutely amaze us to see His concern, not for Himself, but for others, even when the others were the ones who were so unjustly  mocking Him - even as His love was leading Him to the final justice of God for them and for us. Was His anger aroused toward the mockers in so agonizing a situation? No, only His love was aroused. He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

He prayed that prayer for all of us.  When we go our own way instead of submitting to Him it is obvious that we do not know what we are doing.  When we give in to some lust of the flesh, some prideful thought, some temptation to sin – we do not know what we are doing. If we truly realized what it cost Him on the Cross and what it will cost us in eternity, we'd instantly turn away from our sin and renew a heartfelt dedication to doing His will. Yet His prayer, accentuated by His death, forgives us every trespass!

I ought to say, "Lord, You were suffering extreme agony, yet You prayed for my forgiveness!" And even as I pray I should immediately become His totally committed servant!

Our Lord's next saying, even more than the rest, should move us to worship and dedication. He said, "My God, My God, for what have You forsaken Me?" More literally, this should read, "My God, My God, for what have You left Me desolate?" When we read it that way, we can see its overwhelming significance. He addresses the Father to ask what crime it is of His that deserves such utter desertion. The answer must come to you and I  with soul-shattering force: it is NOT for His crime, but it is for OURS! The Father utterly deserted His beloved Son because He was our Sponsor! He deserted Him, and He left Him to suffer the entire agony deserved by all the sins of all His people of all time! These words of His, therefore, should pierce our hearts. They should fully reveal the extent of His love for us. And they should silence forever all our complaining about what we must face in life.

The next thing He said, probably some time later, reveals a steadfastness of faith that can't be equalled. He said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." For some hours He had known only the utter desertion of the Father, a desertion He was aware of because He no longer had that loving communion, that instant conversation He'd always had during His earthly ministry. Yet, though cut off from that communion, still He committed His spirit into the Father's hands – as our Sponsor! He entrusted Himself into the hands of final justice!

How's your prayer life? Do you pray when you don't feel like praying? Do you talk to our God when you don't feel He is listening? Do you trust Him when you don't think He's caring? Oh be moved by the Spirit of His beloved Son – He can help you!

And He's close to you always. He's as fully human as you are. Yes, He's also, as the ancient creed says, "Very God of very God," but His real humanity becomes so vivid in His next words. He said, simply, "I thirst," which makes it very, very clear that His suffering was quite real, and that His body was really reacting! His suffering wasn't merely spiritual. It involved the most excruciating physical pain.

And that very real humanity of His means that He can fully sympathize with anything we might ever experience. We read elsewhere, "For we do not have a High Priest Who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tried as we are, yet without sin." He knows how to go through it without sin. He can therefore help us by His Spirit.

Our Lord's final saying on the Cross is at once the final convulsion of agony, and yet also the final note of absolute victory and accomplishment. He said, ever so simply, "It is finished!" The Greek is revealing. It's just one word. It's actually a commercial term that means, "It is paid in full!" And so it was at that moment. All our debt to God was paid in full by our Lord Jesus Christ!

Brothers and sisters, have you ever known anyone like Jesus? Could there be anyone as loving as He? There are but two responses I ought to have to what He said on the Cross: 1) I should want to WORSHIP Him with all my being; 2) I should want to serve Him every moment of every hour of every day of my life. Let's begin worshipping Him now, and let's go on worshipping Him with our lives all week!