As Jesus hung there on that old Roman cross, one would think that nothing else could compare to the torment that He had just endured. Yet, as it seems, the final blow to Christ’s spirit was not that the soldiers and priests were insulting Him; it was the fact that those, who just a week prior had waved palm branches in His honor had now turned on Him as well. “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, Come down from the cross and save yourself!’” (Mark 15:29-30). As one reads these verses, two significant words should be discerned. First, “The Greek word translated for ‘mocked,’ which is empaizō, meaning ‘to mock,’ or ‘to deceive’” (Brown); and, “The Greek word translated for ‘temple,’ which is naos, meaning ‘sanctuary,’ or ‘metaph’” (Brown). Evidently from the words used to mock Jesus, His predictions about destroying and then raising the temple up were well known. These unbelieving Jews used Christ’s predictions against Him in an attempt to prove that Jesus could not be their Messiah.
Along with those passing by, the chief priests and scribes entered into the blaspheming of Christ and cried out, “‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!” (Mark 15:31). As all believers know, this statement was nothing more than an asserted lie. Yet, for some apparent reason it is a statement that has been questioned on numerous occasions. For it was true, Christ did have the power to end all of this suffering and torment. However, at what cost? To answer this question one need only consider the truth. “He who raised the dead could also have come down from the cross. On the other hand, He could not save Himself if He was to remain true to His mission, if He was to save the world” (Coffman).
When looking at the conclusion of this passage, Mark 15:32 states, “Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:32). In order to fully understand this passage, the word “Messiah” should also be defined, “The Hebrew term ‘Messiah,’ or mashiach, is translated by the Greek word christos (from which we get ‘Christ’) in the LXX and the NT. Both words mean ‘anointed.’ In the OT the term occurs thirty-nine times and is used to describe kings” (Stein 124). As the second part of this verse is provided, one sees that, “Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him” (Mark 15:32). While many may know these men crucified with Christ by no other monikers than “thieves,” David Clarke affirms in his commentary these individuals had names. As he specifies, “A copy of the Itala tells their names: One on the right hand-named Zoathon; and one on the left hand-named Chammatha” (Clarke).
As one concludes this passage, it becomes apparent to the reader that even though Christ had the ability, no miracle or intervention performed could have altered the heart of a hypocritical Pharisee. “The Lord did a far more wonderful thing than merely coming down from the cross, when, three days later, he rose from the dead. Even then, however, he did not appear to them. It would have done them no good at all” (Coffman). It is in this account of total humiliation and pain that records the key feature of our Lord’s sustaining grace. Christ has presented Himself to the world as the completely submissive Servant of God, even with the cost of paying for His own life on a Roman cross. It is through this example that we now serve diligently so that we may have the honor of being called one of His devoted servants!
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. “A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament.” Searchgodsword.org. 2001-2011. Web. August 7, 2011.
Coffman, James B. “Commentary on Mark 15.” Studylight.org. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.
Clarke, Andrew. “Andrew Clarke Commentary on Mark 15.” Studylight.org. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.