part Thirty-Four
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Sunday, January 22, 2012 -

1) Mark 15:1-14 - JESUS ON TRIAL - Pilot was procurator of Judea A.D. 26-36. Any fame he has today, he received indirectly from Jesus. His rank was not the most impressive of his times (he was certainly subordinate to the Governor of Syria). But by coincidence of Christ's death, Pilot is better known today than any other leader of the Roman world.

Pilot doesn't seem to even take this trial all that seriously. He allows them to mistreat a man whom he knows has committed no real crime. He allows the angry mob to choose its own victim - Jesus or Barabbas. Then as now, the political system and the hunger to keep power made a gutless wonder of this leader. As is always the case, without even knowing it at the time, the world was passing sentence on itself more than on Jesus. This was more a trial of the Roman than the Galilean.

Of special note is the gentleness of Jesus in the face of mistreatment. We’ve mentioned this before, but the New Testament makes much of it. This made such a powerful impression on the onlookers that Peter was still thinking about it at the end of his own life - 1 Peter 2:20-21 - "For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. [21] For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” Don’t miss Peter’s point. There is credit given to each of us, not for all suffering in general, but for suffering unjustly at the hands of others. Peter doesn’t explain his use of that term “credit.” Could it be that we store up extra grace for our genuine wrong-doings by the way we face unjust wrongs received from others?

2) Mark 15:15 - THE RELEASE OF BARABBAS - We all instinctively sense this swap is all wrong. Something rises up inside of us to protest. How could these people have been so warped and crooked? But before we protest too loudly, we should reconsider our objections. Here we see a powerful picture of the substitutionary nature of Christ's death. The innocent is punished. The guilty is set free. This same trade has been repeated billions of times all over the earth. It’s what makes salvation a genuine possibility. The Bible says Jesus died the "just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18). Nobody understands the cross until he understands that Jesus didn't die for Himself. He died for guilty people like me and you.

3) Mark 15:33 and 38 - TWO VISIBLE SIGNS AT CHRIST'S DEATH - “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour....[38] ....And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”

Both of these are important. The darkness at noon was a sure sign that something unnatural was taking place - something out of the ordinary nature of events - something that really shouldn’t be. The blackness of man's ignorance, the darkness of man's sin in the eyes of a holy God are both pictured. The rending of the thick temple veil from top to bottom (38) showed that the OT sacrificial system was now finished with. The way to the Holy of Holies had been opened up for all. This meant that salvation was available for the gentiles as well as the Jews.

See also Hebrews 8:13 - “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. This is a truly great passage. Notice how the writer specifically used the actual word “obsolete” in his description of the Old Covenant. God is forever finished with the Old Testament sacrificial system as a means of covering for human sin.

4) Mark 15:42-47 - JESUS PLACED IN THE GRAVE - “[42] And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, [43] Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. [44] Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. [45] And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. [46] And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. [47] Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.”

When you lay a loved one in the grave, remember that Jesus has already been there. He has seen death from the inside out. And He made it all work backwards. Jesus really died. He "tasted death" for every man. He also conquered it. Because He arose, we will too - 1 Corinthians 15:20-24 - “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”

5) Mark 16:1-14 - THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RESURRECTION - Notice that the Holy Sprit includes three separate accounts of the Resurrection. Mark seems anxious to remind us that there were eyewitnesses to the fact of the resurrection. This is of pivotal importance to the essence of Christianity.

Romans 4:25 - "....who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

1 Peter 1:3 - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

6) Mark 16:15-16 - OUR TASK AS CHRIST'S DISCIPLES - “And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. [16] Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

We are not only converted. We are commissioned. Can one be embraced without the other? I don't think we can take part of the package of salvation without taking the whole. The one who wants to be saved must sign on by the terms of Jesus. The message is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Notice also that the message must include, if we are faithful to our Lord, a clear spelling out of the consequences of rejecting the message.

The content of the message is never merely moral adjustment. It is new birth. The power of the gospel is drastically diluted when reduced to an external code of behavior. It is not primarily something that man does at all. The message of the gospel centers on the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said it's my job to make sure everyone in the world is clear on this point.