54 – The Sufferings of Christ
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
- Centurion: Roman soldier
What do the last words of Jesus show us?
Why do you think that Mark draws our attention to the words of the centurion?
Perhaps by now you are hoping that the sufferings of Christ are almost over. He has suffered so much since those hours he spent praying in the garden. He has been hit, spat on, mocked, whipped, made to wear a crown of thorns, nailed on a piece of wood and hung to die. As this was happening, people all around him had been laughing, swearing and shouting at him. But, believe it or not, the worst is still to come.
Throughout his life Jesus had spoken about the special love which existed between him and his Father. But now, as he was suffering, after his nearest disciples had run away, God himself leaves him as well. For the first time ever, Jesus does not feel the blessed presence of God. Not only is God hiding his face from him, he is punishing Jesus for the sins of the world. As Jesus was being killed, God was punishing Jesus for all the bad things we have done. Although he was entirely perfect and did not deserve death, he sacrificed himself in order to deal with our sins.
Jesus’s work is gloriously demonstrated as we see the curtain of the temple torn in two from top to bottom. The purpose of this great, thick curtain was to hide the special place where God had promised to be present; to show that because of their sin, there was no way for people to come straight to God. The only person who was able to go through was the high priest once a year in order to make a sacrifice for the sins of the people. But now the curtain has torn from the top down. God himself has made a way for us to come into his presence. Jesus has done the work of the high priest perfectly, sacrificing himself as a perfect sacrifice for his people. He suffered the pain of hell itself and was rejected by his Father, so that we can have a relationship with him.
What do you think it means for Jesus to be rejected by the Father?
In what ways are we able to enjoy our freedom to come into God’s presence?
giving thanks to Jesus Christ for being willing to suffer such a hideous death so that we can have life by believing in him.