The Curcifixion

The Death of Jesus Christ: Part III – The Mockery

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…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:

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.

 

Categories: The Curcifixion | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of Jesus Christ: Part II – The Crucifixion

As Mark transitions from a message of servanthood as seen with Simon bearing Christ’s cross, to one of insurmountable agony and pain, it becomes clear that Mark could not bear to detail the horrific account of being crucified. “The Greek word translated for ‘crucified,’ which is stauroō, means ‘to stake,’ or ‘to fortify with driven stakes’” (Brown). The nature of this punishment is death. An act so horrific it seems almost too gruesome to describe. Although the process of crucifixion did not originate with the Romans, they learned to perfect its use as a means of capital punishment designed to torture an individual with extreme pain and suffering that led to ones eventual death. The process entailed laying the victim on their backside as a soldier drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wooden beam behind. “When the nail was driven through the wrists, it severed the large median nerve going to the hand. This stimulated nerve produced excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms, and could result in a claw-like grip in the victim’s hands” (Guzik). This process was then repeated for the remaining wrist and through the arches of the victim’s feet.

Beyond the excruciating pain, and the inability to breath correctly, Christ hung there with the weight of his body pulling Him down. This further increased His feeling of breathlessness. Going hand in hand with lack of oxygen was the increase in muscle cramping. For Christ to try and help Himself breath He would have to push against His feet, flexing His elbows and shoulders. “Putting the weight of the body on the nail-pierced feet produced searing pain, and flexing the elbows twisted the hands hanging on the nails. Lifting the body for a breath also scraped the open wounds on the back against the rough wooden post. Each effort to get a proper breath was agonizing, exhausting, and led to a quicker death” (Guzik).

Along with Christ body being hung on the cross, a notice of His charge for being crucified was affixed above His head. “The written notice of the charge against him read: ‘The King of the Jews.’” (Mark 15:26). “A composite of the four Gospels gives the entire superscription as: This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. It was written in three different languages; and from this some have accounted for the variations in the separate reports of the sacred gospels by supposing them to have found such variations in the three languages, some quoting from one language and some from others” (Coffman). The significance of this charge being displayed above Christ’s head mirrors the reason that it was a Roman practice to hold the execution where it took place. The place of the crucifixion was well thought out. Designed to occur near a busy road, the crucifixion most likely occurred on top of a hillside to insure that all could witness what had occurred and the reason for the victims demise.

As verse 25 details, “It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.” (Mark 15:25). Some translations refer to this time period as the “Third Hour.” As mechanical clocks were non-existent in the early times, people in the Bible had to derive their own means of measuring hours. In scripture this process was first noted in the Book of Daniel. However, the most noticeable account comes from Christ’s own words Himself, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (John 11:9). “The term ‘hour’ referred to a period of time, one-twelfth of the daylight part of the day. While daylight is longer in summer than in winter, and therefore summer ‘hours’ were longer than winter ‘hours,’ as a general rule the first hour was equivalent to 6 to 7 am on a modern-day clock, and so on” (Blank). As Jesus was crucified during the spring time period, both daylight and darkness are generally of equal length. Therefore, when Christ was crucified and hung from the cross during the “Third Hour” this would equate to around 9 am.

During this period Mark 15:24 states that the soldiers were, “Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get” (Mark 15:24). “The Greek word translated for ‘lots,’ which is klēros, meaning ‘small stone,’ or ‘dice’” (Brown). This can better be understood when one looks at the full definition of the word. The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary defines “lots” as, “Objects for casting or drawing of which was a common method for determining the divine will in ancient Israel and in NT times” (Achtemeier 624). In modern terms, these objects could be viewed as dice or other such objects used to gamble with others in games of chance. How ironic that it appears to the soldiers that saving Christ’s clothing was much more meaningful than saving His precious life.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Achtemeier, Paul J. Harper Collins Bible Dictionary. New York, New York: Harper One, 1996. Print.

Blank, Wayne. “Hours of the Day.” Keyway.ca. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.

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.

Guzik, David. “David Guzik Commentary on Mark 15.” Studylight.org. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.

 

Categories: The Curcifixion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of Jesus Christ: Part I – Bearing His Cross

“And they crucified him” (Mark 15:24). What a simple statement that holds a multitude of beliefs, opinions, and emotions. With all four Gospels conveying an account of the last few hours of Christ’s life, I’ve always been partial to Mark’s version because of it’s simplicity and ability to draw the reader into really thinking about what Jesus must have been going through. While most of us have seen the Passion of the Christ and have this Hollywood visual branded in our minds; I’d like to take a more exegetical approach and expand beyond what Mel Gibson portrayed in his classic film.

As one begins to read Mark 15:21-32, the reader is thrust into the understanding that Christ’s life hangs in the balance. As the reader joins Christ’s story, His torment is already in progress. Christ has already faced His Roman trial and affirmed before Pilate His kingship. For this reason Pilate convicts Him of treason. Having been convicted, Jesus is led into the Praetorium; beaten and mocked. After the soldiers grew weary of their sadistic beating of our Savior, Mark 15:21-32 picks up to show that Christ has now been led out of the Praetorium, forced to bear His cross on the way to His demise at Golgotha.

“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross” (Mark 15:21). When one begins to read Mark 15:21-32 it becomes immediately apparent that the tone of this passage is set; Christ is facing serious peril. As the reader begins to examine key words and phrases associated with Mark’s Gospel, they prove theologically significant to the understanding of the primary focus of the death of Jesus Christ.

From the very beginning, the reader recognizes Mark’s vague, yet straightforward approach to storytelling. It is in this account that one finds Jesus being led away for crucifixion. While He may have been revered in the hearts of many, He was even greater despised by those seeking His execution. Like every other victim of crucifixion, Christ was forced to carry the same wooden beams that in just a few hours He would hang upon till His death. As Christ made his way out of the city, He was so weak that He fell under the unendurable weight of the cross. “When Jesus fell under the weight of the cross, no Roman would help Him carry it. The centurion had the right to compel a local Jew to help carry it, but it would have been an outrage that might lead to uproar or riot. The best solution was to make a stranger carry the cross, so they found a foreigner” (Guzik). This foreigner was an innocent bystander, Simon of Cyrene. Not much is known about Simon. Evidently Simon became a believer in Christ following the events of that day. In Mark’s Gospel he mentions very few people by name other than the Twelve disciples. To the best of scholarly knowledge, Simon was most likely a North African Jew who was in Jerusalem for the season of Passover. He may have been a prominent person in some people’s eyes since Mark mentioned Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus; an idea derived from the thought that they were mentioned because the Christians in Rome either acknowledged them or knew of them.

When looking at, “The Greek word translated for ‘cross,’ which is stauros, it means ‘an upright stake’” (Brown). Not only a word, it is a symbol that has become synonymous as the heart of our Christian faith today. It is interesting to note that there are many differing views of what Simon carried for our Lord. Scholars seem to concur that the weight of the entire cross Simon carried would be normally about 300 pounds. Its physical makeup was about 15-feet for the long beam and 8-feet for the crossbar. Yet, was it an actual cross? Through biblical commentaries one discovers that typically the victim of crucifixion only carried the crossbar, which in itself weighed somewhere between 75 to 125 pounds. As David Guzik states, “When the victim carried the crossbar, he was usually stripped naked and his hands were often tied to the wood. The upright beams were often permanently fixed in a visible place outside of the city walls, beside a major road. Many times before this day, Jesus probably passed by the very upright He would hang upon” (Guzik).

As the death procession advances, they are making their way closer and closer toward, “The place called Golgotha” (Mark 15:22). “The Aramaic word translated for ‘Golgotha,’ which is gulgoleth, meaning ‘skull,’ or ‘head’” (Brown). This definition has conjured up many fabrications. The theory that since Golgotha means “The Place of the Skull,” provides the notion of the place of Christ’s death had the appearance of a skull-like hill. Yet, with simply research, one can conclude that, “From early Christian times, virtually all commentators held that Golgotha was so named simply because it was a place of execution, where the skulls and bones of criminals lay scattered” (Stump). Furthermore, the idea that the hill was skull-shaped is a modern day idea which dates back only from the 19th century. One important idea to distinguish with regards to this account is when contrasting verses 21 and 22 with each other. Verse 21 uses the words “They led Him,” while verse 22 states, “They brought Him.” These differing terms, while seemingly unnoticeable, allow the reader the chance to comprehend the extreme physical exhaustion that our Savior was under. You see, when Christ had departed the Praetorium following his beating, they were leading Him; when He made His way toward Golgotha the term changed to signify that they were bearing Him.

In Mark 15:23, Marks conveys “Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it” (Mark 15:23). Almost immediately this verse brings the reader to see an irony unfolding. What a paradox we have before us. Myrrh the same offering given to Christ at birth is now being offered to Him near the time of His death. To fully understand the implication of what Myrrh is, it is best to look at, “The Greek word translated for ‘myrhh,’ which is smyrnizō meaning ‘bitter,’’” (Brown). “Myrrh refers to the resinous dried sap of a number of trees of various Commiphora and Balsamodendron species” (Foster). It is a very valuable commodity that can be dried and burned as incense, added to perfume, or in this case mingled with wine to provide a painkilling medication. When reading Proverbs 31:6, one finds that the offering of wine mixed with Myrrh was a Jewish custom offered to those in agony as a means to dull the pain. “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress” (Proverbs 31:6).

Even near death, Mark 15:23 continues to show the character and reliance on our Heavenly Father that Christ possessed. As Mark conveyed when Christ was offered the painkilling drug, “But he did not take it” (Mark 15:23). This speaks volumes to the integrity and unbreakable faith that Christ embodied. It is in this short phrase that one comes to identify why Christ refused to accept His last means of comfort. As John Gill states in his commentary, Christ chose not to drink, “To show that He needed no such outward means to support His spirits, nor desired any allay of his sorrows, and was not afraid to meet death in all its terrors; and besides, He had said He would drink no more of the fruit of the vine till He drank it new in His Father’s kingdom, (Matthew 26:29)” (Gill).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
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

Foster, Niki. “What is Myrrh?” Wisegeek.com. April 26, 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.

Gill, John. “John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible: Mark” Biblestudytools.com. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.

Guzik, David. “David Guzik Commentary on Mark 15.” Studylight.org. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011.

Stump, Keith W. “Where was Golgotha.” Gci.org. 2011. Web. August 7, 2011

 

Categories: The Curcifixion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.