The Death of Jesus
33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. 34 Then at three o'clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"
35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. "Wait!" he said. "Let's see whether Elijah comes to take him down!"
37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, "This man truly was the Son of God!"
40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Three hours after Jesus is nailed to the cross, a thick darkness covers the entire area. Then Jesus cries out to God, quoting from Psalm 22:1. Some of the bystanders misunderstand him and think he is calling for Elijah to come and rescue him. Jesus dies. The curtain in the temple is torn in two. The Roman soldier in charge of the execution proclaims that Jesus truly was the Son of God. Several women disciples of Jesus witness the scene from a distance.
We may wish to note some of the parallels between Jesus' crucifixion and the Passover.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Jesus had celebrated the Passover dinner with his disciples. At that time Jesus revealed that his death would open the way to a new covenant - that is, a permanent, personal relationship in which God's people would experience forgiveness and deliverance.
The annual Passover lamb was being sacrificed at the same time that Jesus, the perfect and spotless Lamb of God, was offering up his life for the sins of the world.1754
The first Passover, in Egypt, was preceded by the ninth plague, darkness, and then the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn (Exodus 10:22-11:9). Jesus' death was preceded by darkness and resulted in the death of God's firstborn.
The first Passover was followed by the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai, an event marked by an earthquake (Exodus 19:16-18). According to Matthew's account, Jesus' death was followed by an earthquake (Matthew 27:51).1755
"Climactically Mark recorded five phenomena that accompanied Jesus' death: (a) darkness (Mark 15:33), (b) Jesus' cry, 'My God…' (Mark 15:34), (c) Jesus' loud cry (Mark 15:37), (d) the temple curtain torn from top to bottom (Mark 15:38), and (e) the Roman centurion's confession (Mark 15:39)."1756
Darkness (Mark 15:33)
The darkness that covered "Palestine and environs" - most likely "a miraculous solar eclipse" - "was probably a cosmic sign of God's judgment on human sin (cf. Isaiah 5:25-30; Amos 8:9-10; Micah 3:5-7; Zephaniah 1:14-15) which was placed on Jesus (cf. Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Specifically it pictured God's judgment on Israel who rejected His Messiah, the Sin-Bearer (cf. John 1:29). The darkness visualized what Jesus' cry (Mark 15:34) expressed."1757 The darkness can also be understood as a period of mourning: "The darkness on that Friday afternoon was both physical and spiritual. All nature seemed to mourn over the stark tragedy of the death of God's Son."1758
One Bible commentator has noted how darkness is a key concept in Scripture (verses from NET):
Darkness represents the power of God's presence. "The people kept their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." (Exodus 20:21).
Darkness stands for God's judgment. "So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was absolute darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days" (Exodus 10:22).
Darkness is controlled by God. "I am the one who forms light and creates darkness" (Isaiah 45:7).
Darkness represents people's sinful rebellion against God. "The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness" (Proverbs 4:19; see also John 3:19; Romans 1:21; Ephesians 5:8).
Darkness represents people's ignorance of God. "the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light" (Matthew 4:16; see also John 1:5; Ephesians 4:18).
Darkness represents people's condition without hope in God. "My God illuminates the darkness around me." (Psalm 18:28; see also 1 Peter 2:9).1759
Abandoned (Mark 15:34)
Shortly before his death, Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34, NASB). Both this and other scenes from the crucifixion - including the mocking of the passersby, the guards' gambling for his clothing, and his cry of thirst - were a fulfillment of Psalm 22. "Some have felt that Jesus' cry of dereliction shows his utter agony in tasting for us the very essence of hell, which is separation from God."1760 Up to this point, Jesus had experienced everything common to our humanity except for one thing - the consequence of sin. "Now if there is one thing sin does, it separates us from God. It puts between us and God a barrier like an unscalable wall. That was the one human experience through which Jesus had never passed, because he was without sin."1761 As "God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21), for the first time ever Jesus was separated from his Heavenly Father. It was this separation that led to his outcry. However, "Jesus has not lost his faith in God, as the two-fold address, 'My God, my God,' implies, but he feels utterly abandoned."1762 ("This is the only one of Jesus' recorded prayers in which He did not use the address 'Abba.'"1763)
"Commentators sometimes combine the forsaking with the death, yet the two are quite distinct. The forsaking had passed when the death set in. When Jesus died he placed his soul into the hands of his Father and was thus certainly not forsaken. But while they are distinct, the forsaking and the death occurred side by side. The death was the penalty for the sins of the world, and thus there had to come this forsaking of the dying Savior in connection with it. When this had been endured, Jesus could cry, 'It is finished!' and then yield his soul into his Father's hands as a ransom for many."1764
A comparison with the other gospel records shows that Jesus made a total of seven statements while on the cross:1765
"Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.' And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice." (Luke 23:34)
"And Jesus replied, 'I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.'" (Luke 23:43)
"When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, "Dear woman, here is your son." And he said to this disciple, 'Here is your mother.' And from then on this disciple took her into his home." (John 19:26-27)
"Then at three o'clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means 'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'" (Mark 15:34)
"Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, 'I am thirsty.'" (John 19:28)
"When Jesus had tasted it, he said, 'It is finished!' Then he bowed his head and released his spirit." (John 19:30)
"Then Jesus shouted, 'Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!' And with those words he breathed his last." (Luke 23:46)
Elijah (Mark 15:35-36)
It is a debated point whether or not the remark regarding Elijah was intended as a further mockery of Jesus. "Popular Jewish belief held that Elijah came in times of distress to deliver righteous sufferers.1766 And of course it was "a Jewish belief that Elijah would introduce the Messiah and live beside him for a while as his assistant."1767 "At their annual Passover feast, each family would set an extra place for Elijah in expectation of his return."1768
Loud cry (Mark 15:37)
"Jesus' loud cry (Luke 23:46) before He breathed His last indicated that He did not die the ordinary death of one who was crucified (cf. Mark 15:39). Normally such a person suffered extreme exhaustion for a long period (often two or three days) and then lapsed into a coma before dying. But Jesus was fully conscious to the end; His death came voluntarily and suddenly. This accounts for Pilate's surprise (cf. Mark 15:44)."1769
The curtain (Mark 15:38)
Immediately following Jesus' death, inside the temple in Jerusalem, as the priests "were conducting the Jewish evening sacrifice,"1770 the large, thick curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was ripped in two from top to bottom. The curtain was ripped from the top, indicating that God himself had torn it in two. "God's rending the veil meant that he was now available apart from the temple system and that the old temple order stood judged and abolished."1771 It is also possible to see in the tearing of the temple's curtain the declaration that Jesus' ministry had ended: "Just as the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism tore the heavens (cf. Mark 1:10), so now the loud exhalation of Jesus' spirit has torn the veil of the temple."1772
The Roman officer (Mark 15:39)
"The Roman officer" in charge of Jesus' crucifixion was a centurion - that is, "a noncommissioned officer in the Roman army or one of the auxiliary territorial armies, commanding a centuria of (nominally) 100 men. The responsibilities of centurions were broadly similar to modern junior officers, but there was a wide gap in social status between them and officers, and relatively few were promoted beyond the rank of senior centurion."1773
It is more than coincidental that, following Jesus' death, a pagan Gentile is the first person to openly confess Jesus as the Son of God. This was a very serious thing indeed, as "the Roman centurio confesses of Jesus what he should only confess of the Roman emperor."1774 As another source explains: "Because of his pagan background [the centurion] probably viewed Jesus as an extraordinary 'divine man' much like the Roman emperor who was acclaimed 'son of God.' Consequently some interpreters translate the phrase with an indefinite article, 'a son of God' (NIV marg.). However, Mark regarded the declaration in its distinctive Christian sense; the centurion unwittingly said more than he knew."1775 (A similar example might be when the rich young man called Jesus a "good" teacher.) And so "Mark used this centurion's words to highlight the central truth of all his Gospel."1776
Some women (Mark 15:40)
The women had been bold disciples of Jesus, risking public scandal in order to travel with and minister to him. They had watched closely and listened intently as Jesus preached the Gospel and healed the multitudes. Now they could do little but look on from a distance as their Master died an ignoble death at the hands of his enemies. (It may well be that Mark notes the women's faithfulness as a way to encourage "faithful discipleship among women in the church at Rome."1777)
While "many" women were there, Mark notes three in particular. As one source explains:
Mark, like Matthew, names three of these women. As Peter was the leader among the Twelve, the men, so "Mary the Magdalene" was the foremost among the women. The Mary who was the mother of James and Joses was the wife of Cleopas and a sister of the mother of Jesus. These two women were with Jesus' mother and John beneath the cross. Mary's son James is distinguished from others of this name by being called "the little." The third woman is Salome, who is by Matthew called the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John), whose husband it seems was dead at this time. The name is enough; it needs no addition to identify her.1778
The famed evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, once remarked in a sermon: "Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all-out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the spirit will live forever."1779
To friends and enemies alike, it appeared that Jesus had been conquered by death. But, as we know from the rest of the story, the grave could not hold him. And just as Jesus arose from the dead to spend eternity with his Father, so we his followers shall do the same.
??? Think of a funeral service for a non-Christian that you attended. Now think of a funeral service for a born-again believer that you attended. How were they similar? How were they different? What does that say about the hope we have in Christ?