The word of God.
We are the Diaspora Beloved. We are God’s people scattered throughout the world. (Jn.11:52, Rev.5:9, Acts 8:1-4, I Pt.1:1, Acts 2:39, Gal.6:16) Christ was crucified for our sins. And by His cross we have been crucified to the world. (Gal.6:12-15) We are pilgrims in a foreign land. We are traveling home. Soon we will be there. (Heb.11:1-40, I Pt.2:11, Ps.39:12, Mt.19:27, I Pt.1:17, Gen.23:4) The Bible calls that day when we leave this wicked earthly Babylon for the New Jerusalem the day of our exodus, our departure. Oh, blessed freedom. (Lk.9:31, 2 Tim.4:6, 2 Pt.1:15, I Pt.5:13, Rev.18:21, Rev.3:12, 21:1-8, Jn.14:1-3, Dan.7:27)
The Lord of our life has given us His word to comfort and to encourage us in our arduous journey. Please take out the word of God which is the holy Bible. We will read from Mark 15:16-41. This is the perfect word of God about our perfect Christ who takes away the sins of the world, even our sins who believe. Read.
The mocking of Christ. Mark 15:16. The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. 17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him. (Mt.27:27-31, John 19:1-3)
The crucifixion of Christ. 21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross. 22 Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. 33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mt.27:32-44, Lk.23:26-43, Jn.19:17-27)
The death of Christ. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. (Mt.27:45-56, Lk.23:44-49, Jn.19:25-30)
The help of God.
Oh, what holy ground we stand upon this morning. How we need the help of God the Holy Spirit to receive and to believe the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. Let’s pray for God’s help with this intensely sad scene, the death of our Lord. Pray.
The love of God.
It is common for the unbeliever to hear the word of God, both the Law of God and the Gospel of God and then to question the love of God. Of course, this is nothing but we have seen for the past three weeks in Mark chapters fourteen and fifteen. Christ is God come in the flesh – Immanuel. (Isa.7:14, Mt.1:21-23) Man forsakes Christ. Man arrests Christ. Man tries Christ. Man condemns Christ. And now we will see that Man kills Christ.
And Man, God’s creature, now looks God in the face and with his evil and dishonest question denies the love of God in Christ – while looking at the Cross, which is the very expression of the love of God in Christ.
Oh, beloved when you look at this scene is it God in Christ who is unloving? No. Fallen Man is a murderer, a monster, a slave of Satan doing Satan’s bidding. (Isa.14:12-15, Lk.22:3, Jn.13:27)
I am not here referring to man’s treatment of his fellow man. John Newton says the history of man is “little more than a detail of the cruelty and wickedness of mankind”. (Works, vol.4, p.265) For my final proof, I refer to man’s treatment of holy God. To discover the true nature of natural Man we need look no further than the Cross of Christ. Blood crazed Man slaughters Christ the Innocent One.
If I had no Spirit-wrought faith and if I just reasoned according to the flesh I could see no reason why the Holy God of heaven and earth should not let loose His fiery wrath and consign every fallen human being that hates Him so much to everlasting destruction in hell. (Dt.7:6-10) This is what every fallen person justly deserves for this crime against Christ. (Rom.6:23, Mt.21:37-41)
For any that think my language is too hard, if you saw a group of people do this to your son, your daughter, your wife, your father, or your mother – what would you do to them? If you could, you would stop them. But if you could not stop them and you could, you would destroy them with an unparalleled wrath. A wrath that today in our peace we do not even know resides within us. And beloved I would say this, your wrath in that instance would be just, insofar as man is able to be just. The wages of sin is death. The one that shed innocent blood must die. (Jer.17:9-10, Rom.3:9-18, Jn.3:20, Rom.1:30, Exod.20:5, Dt.32:41, Ps.68:1, 139:21, Jn.7:7, 15:18-24)
But this day did not catch the Father or the Son off guard. The Father planned this. He sent His beloved Son for this. The Son came for this very day. (Acts 2:23) The Bible is God’s revelation of this day. The Bible is the unfolding plan of God to save a people by a Savior that dies for the sins of the people, that the people would be redeemed from their sin and for God. This is love.
Christ crucified is the justice of God and the love of God to sinners. The wages of sin is met. Death. Justice. The sinner is forgiven. Love. Mercy to hell deserving criminals.
Think of this, for all that say that the God of the Bible is not loving, we who crucified Christ are not on hell. Precisely because God is love. (I Jn.4:1-21) And we who believe will be in heaven.
Beloved, as we have said, fallen man is not a good judge of the love of God.
We think if God were loving to us, He would give us health and wealth. And then leave us alone until we need Him again for some temporal thing. Contrary to our Sodom and Gomorrah culture, love is not sex. Contrary to the children of Balaam, love is not health and wealth or wine, women, and song. God often gives those who hate Him a super abundance of health and wealth. And they use it to feed their sin and to oppose their God. And their condemnation is just. (Ps.73:1-28)
Not only does God not damn everyone that hates Him and kills His son. God in fact, forgives and adopts some of these very people to be His own beloved children. Imagine that. Forgiving those people that murdered your son. And then adopting them to be your children. And then lavishing every good thing upon them. (Rom.8:14-39)
That is divine love beloved. And only God has this kind of love. But He does have it. Therefore, we are not destroyed. (Mal.3:6, 1:2)
Christ is the love of God towards sinners. (Jn.3:16, I Jn.4:16, Rom.5:8, I Jn.3:1, Gal.2:20, Zeph.3:17, Jn.15:13)
I John 4:9. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The willing crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ is the love of God extended to men who hate God.
God is kind and gracious and merciful to evil and ungrateful men. Like the people we see in this passage. (Lk.6:35-36) I will say it again, God loves those that hate Him. Oh beloved, let that sink in. That is the Good News of Jesus Christ. (Jn.3:16, Lk.6:27-38)
The Cross is the love of God the Father to sinners. The Cross is the love of God the Son to sinners.
John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Natural Man hates those that hate Him. And sometimes, imperfectly and always tenuously he “loves” those that love him. (Lk.6:27-36) The flesh can rise no higher. But God can do what man cannot do. (Mt.19:26, Lk.1:27)
Our holy religion is not of man, it is of God. (2 Pt.1:16-21) The crucifixion of Jesus Christ proves that.
Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.(Eph.3:19)
We are looking at the love of Christ our Surety and our Substitute. (Heb.7:14-22) He willingly embraces and undergoes all of this suffering, and shame and death for us, for the joy set before Him. (Heb.12:1-3) To complete the work of the Father and to ransom and receive His Bride. By His stripes we are healed. By His suffering we are restored to God. (I Pt.3:18)
Let’s walk through the three parts of this account. The mocking of Christ. The crucifixion of Christ. And then the death of Christ and with that we see the witnesses of His death. In each step of the way I want us to see the love of God. The love of the Father in sending His Son for this. The love of the Son compelling Him to embrace this – out of love to the Father and out of love to the Bride. Love is Christ’s great motive to save sinners by His blood.
Before we proceed any further, I alluded to it earlier, but for us to truly spiritually benefit from this passage which presents the Cross of Christ we must place ourselves here personally. We must first believe that we are the mocking guards and the railing Jews, that we are the very ones that gambled for the clothes of Christ, caring only for the things of this world, without a thought for heavenly and holy things.
If we do not believe that this is who and what we are by fallen nature, then we will never believe the truth of Christ’s cross. (Rom.3:9-18) Let us not be the self-righteous Pharisee who stands aloof from Christ. Let us weep on the feet of Christ knowing that we are the unclean woman. The self-righteous see no need of the Cross. (I Jn.2:16, Lk.18:9-14) The self-condemned see no hope apart from the Cross. (Lk.7:30-50)
You see beloved, self-love, idolatry of self, pride is the great besetting sin which keeps us from trusting in Christ crucified alone for our salvation and hope. The Cross unmasks Man and reveals the heart of God – love. God loves the unlovely because He is love. (Ezek.16:1-14, Dt.7:6-9)
Love compels Christ to willingly endure mocking.
V.15-20. Let’s consider the mockery. Christ had been mocked all throughout His earthly ministry. (Mt.5:40, 9:24) Christ told us that He would be mocked to the uttermost as He was being crucified. (Mt.20:19) He did not shrink back. He did not rise up. He went forward. He stood fast. This is part of the baptism that He must undergo. (Lk.12:50)
Let me give a brief definition of what mocking is.
Mocking. To mock is to treat with contempt, to ridicule, to deride, to make fun of in a mean-spirited way, a hateful laughing at. Mocking is scorning a person often by feigning respect to them. So mocking shows open insincere ‘respect’ as a way of showing hateful disrespect. Often with mockery there is an imitation of the person’s actions or words in an insulting and hateful way.
Hating. And I keep stressing the idea of hate. Mocking is an expression of hatred for another. Hatred is intense loathing for someone, intense aversion to another. Hatred is thinking a person is awful and evil. Hatred is coupled with feelings of disgust for a person we think is awful and evil.
Gentiles. That is what these Gentile soldiers think of Christ and feel for Christ. They hate Jesus Christ and so they mock Jesus Christ.
Imagine if a deaf man mocked the music of Mozart as useless trash. Imagine if a blind man mocked Michelangelo as without talent. The mockery is not a testimony against Christ. The mockery is a testimony against Man the mocker. We mock the holiness, the majesty, the goodness of Christ because we are spiritually dead and blind. Evil mocks Good because it cannot see Good or understand Good. It is utterly against Goodness personified. And the darkness could not comprehend The Light. (Jn.1:1-14)
Natural man cannot see the kingship of Jesus. These guards only can see mannish lordship, mannish authority, mannish power – and that is outward, carnal, fleshly, aggressive, destroying, threatening, and lording. (Mt.20:25) Natural man cannot see the true kingship of Jesus – serving by saving and saving by dying. (Jn.18:33-37)
And the Lord of glory endures every vile word, every violent hateful action because it is for these kinds of people He has come to save. Mockers. Because He is love.
Jews. V.27-33. And now as we consider the mocking of the Jews. We find that they aggravate their crimes against Christ. (WLC 151) They add taunting to their mocking. Taunting is when you insult someone by challenging them. This is especially wicked when the inferior taunts or challenges his superior when the superior is down or low for some reason.
The congregants. These synagogue people, these church people show what they really think and feel about God when they have God in the Flesh upon a Cross. Ha! You think You are our Lord! You think that You rule us! Ha! We have You on a Cross! What are You going to do now?!
And now in Christ’s hour of supreme need and lowness, they throw the words of Jesus Christ in His face. Ha! You said you were going to tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days? You cannot even save Yourself!
The leaders. And now it is the leaders turn to taunt Christ.
Mark 15:31. In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!”
Can you imagine, beloved, taunting a man while you were murdering him? “Save yourself. If you can. While I murder you.”
Oh may God give us true sight to see what we are in our sin apart from Him. Oh may God give us true sight to see the unexplainable love and mercy of Jesus Christ upon us.
The criminals. And then it was the criminals turn.
V.32. Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. (Mt.27:44, Lk.23:39-43)
Criminals mocking Christ. And that while they die for being criminals. (Rev.16:10-11)
Such is the power of sin. And for such Christ has come to save.
Love compels Christ to willingly embrace crucifixion.
Beloved, I want us to see how God records the crucifixion of His Son.
V.24. And they crucified Him,
Let me say a few things about the Cross. Natural man makes a number of fatal errors concerning the cross of Christ.
They make it too beautiful.
Man, and many professing Christians make the cross something beautiful, golden, nice, neat, attractive to look at, pretty.
But in reality, it is brutal. It is brutal because man is brutal. It is brutal because death is brutal.
They make it all physical.
But then man makes the opposite error. Think of the movies that natural man makes of this. Unbelieving Man can see no deeper than a gory awful thing happening to a poor man. The more bloody and the more gory the more man likes it. The more money man will make from it. They miss the truth utterly.
With the crucifixion of Christ God is revealing His righteous wrath against sin. Christ is our Surety, our Substitute. He is receiving our sin – in our place.
God makes it all judicial.
God ‘is’ love. But you see when unbelieving man derides God as unloving, Man forgets the holiness of God.
God is love. Look at the Cross. But God is also holy. Look at the Cross. The Cross shows us the divine wrath and curse against sin. God is also a consuming fire. God is a jealous God. Jealous for His own name. Jealous for His own holiness, justice, truth, Law, Gospel, word. Look at the Cross.
Every sin is man spitting in the face of God. Every unloving and unkind word is man slapping God in the face.
The Cross is the burning holiness and holy justice and holy vengeance of God on full display.
Cursed is everyone that hangs upon a tree. (Gal.3:13)
Blind men cannot see it. They do not want to see it. Blind churchmen cannot see it. The god of the natural man has blinded his eyes. The god of the natural man is Man, man moved along by Satan.
The modern man craves a soft god who says soft things to wicked people. The modern churchman demands God to suspend His holiness and to do what He is told! The unbelieving church person demands that God change His views of sin to man’s views of sin, which is sin is not sin. It is just my choice, my right, my desire. I love it. I want it. I will have it. And right now God is happy with me. God wants me to have what I want to have. And at the end of my life I will go to live with God. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Oh beloved, look at the Cross of Jesus Christ. If God did not spare His Son when He took our sin. He will not spare the Christless sinner either. May the Cross of Christ give us the fear of God.
Christ on the Cross is redeeming us from the curse of God for sin. (Gal.3:13, 2 Cor.9:15)
Love compels Christ to willingly accept death.
And then at last Christ dies.
The worldling spends all of their life avoiding serious thoughts of their death. Though the history and the experience of every man is watching other men die all around us, all the time, still natural man deceives himself that he or she will not come to death. Somehow if they do not think about it, it will never come.
But it comes for every man. Everyone must die. It has been appointed by God for everyone to die. Most people are unprepared to die. They are still in their sins. Death catches them still apart from Jesus Christ.
The Bible says it is better to go to the house of morning than the house of feasting because that is the end of every man. And the living will take it to heart. (Eccles.7:2) Oh how we should spend much time at the foot of the Cross. And listen to the words of a dying man, even our dying Savior. Lord forgive them they not know what they do. (Lk.23:34)
Beloved this is love. This is the love of Christ for us, for sinners. (Gal.2:20) It is finished. The debt is paid. (Jn.19:30) Christ ended His life with this, Father into Thy hands I commit My spirit. (Lk.23:46) May we commit our body and our soul into the hands of this loving God.
- How are true Believers the scattered or the diaspora? Describes some ways we live as pilgrims in this life. Where are we traveling to? What do we learn by the Bible describing our death as our departure or our exodus? How has Christ’s Cross crucified you to the world and the world to you? (Jn.11:52, Rev.5:9, Acts 8:1-4, I Pt.1:1, Acts 2:39, Gal.6:16, Gal.6:12-15, Heb.11:1-40, I Pt.2:11, Ps.39:12, Mt.19:27, I Pt.1:17, Gen.23:4, Lk.9:31, 2 Tim.4:6, 2 Pt.1:15, I Pt.5:13, Rev.18:21, Rev.3:12, 21:1-8, Jn.14:1-3, Dan.7:27)
- How does the Bible describe Natural Man (unconverted man)? What is sin? What is God’s just penalty for all sin? Who are sinners? What evil power are unconverted sinners under? What does the Natural Man think of the God of the Bible? Why? (Isa.14:12-15, Lk.22:3, Jn.13:27, Dt.7:6-10, Rom.6:23, Mt.21:37-41, Jer.17:9-10, Rom.3:9-18, Jn.3:20, Rom.1:30, Exod.20:5, Dt.32:41, Ps.68:1, 139:21, Jn.7:7, 15:18-24)
- How do you respond to an unbeliever that tells you that the God of the Bible if He is all powerful and He permits all the pain and suffering and cruelty and death in the world then He is unloving? How do you respond to the unbeliever that says, if there is an eternal hell then God is unloving? (Dan.4:34-37, Rom.9:13-23, Rom.3:9-18, Rom.6:23, I Jn.4:1-21)
- What is the love of God towards sinners? What do we learn about God by this? What do we learn about ourselves by this? Describe some ways that God is loving to you. How then should we live? (Rom.8:14-39, Mal.3:6, 1:2, Jn.3:16, I Jn.4:16, Rom.5:8, I Jn.3:1, Gal.2:20, Zeph.3:17, Jn.15:13, Lk.6:35-36, Rom.5:8-10, Heb.7:14-22, Heb.12:1-3, I Pt.3:18)
- Who is responsible for the crucifixion of Christ? What is pride? Why does it offend God so much? What about pride will keep a person from believing and thus benefitting from Christ’s Cross? Does God love us because He finds something lovely in us? (Prov.16:5, James 4:1-10, Rom.3:9-18, I Jn.2:15-17, Lk.18:9-14, Lk.7:30-50, Mt.21:31, Lk.15:11-32, Ezek.16:1-14)
- How did the Gentile guards mock Christ? What did they say? What did they do? What does this reveal about Natural Man? What does the guards casting lots for Christ’s undergarment reveal about Natural Man? How does Christ’s submission to their mockery reveal His love for sinners? (Mk.15:16-25, Mt.27:27-31, John 19:1-3, Mt.5:40, 9:24, Mt.20:19-25, Lk.12:50, Jn.1:1-14, Jn.18:33-37)
- How did the mockery of Christ by the Jewish people, the Jewish leaders and the criminals aggravate their sin against Christ? Why was this especially hateful towards Jesus? Why would this sin be more heinous in God’s eyes? How does their awful sin magnify the love of Christ? (WLC 151, Mk.15:27-37, Mt.27:44, Lk.23:39-43, Rev.16:10-11)
- In what ways could ‘pretty’ ornamental crosses mislead us from the truth of Christ’s Cross? In what ways could gory movies about the crucifixion of Jesus mislead us from the truth of Christ’s Cross? Why did Jesus have to die by crucifixion? How does Christ’s submission to crucifixion magnify His love for sinners? (Gal.3:13, 2 Cor.9:15, Ps.22:1-24, Isa.53:1-12, Ps.34:20, Zech.12:10, I Pt.2:24, Jn.12:32-33, Dt.21:23, Gen.3:15)
- Christ truly died. Why did He die? How did He die? What lessons does Jesus teach us by His death? Why should His death comfort and encourage us? (Eccles.7:2, Heb.1:1-14, Heb.2:9-18, 4:14-16, Jn.3:16, 2 Cor.5:21, Gal.2:20, Rom.6:23, Eph.2:1-9, Jn.3:36, Rom.10:1-17, Titus 2:11-12)
- What are the seven sayings of Christ on the Cross? What lessons do we learn by this? Why should the Cross of Christ be utterly fundamental and central to our lives and to our witness? (Lk.23:34, 23:43, Jn.19:26-27, Mt.27:46/Mk.15:34, Jn.19:28, Jn.19:30, I Cor.1:17-24, Col.1:20, I Pt.2:24, Gal.6:12-15)