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Thursday, August 26, 2010

8/26/10 Mark 15:33-41 The Death of Christ

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah." 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

(Crucifixion Rembrandt 1633- Note: he painted himself as one of those who crucified Christ)

Thoughts: The One who had ultimate and final trust in the Father felt forsaken of God.  He was forsaken that we might have fellowship with God.  When we feel forsaken- it is okay- it is part of our humanity.  The ultimate aloneness is death and eternal separation from God.  Calvin talked about Christ's descending into hell for us when he died on the cross.  Yet we should always look at the cross in the light of the resurrection.  We know "the rest of the story."  The forsakeness of Christ (and us) does not last.  The covenant love of God and the power of God to help raise us up lasts forever.

Prayer: Lord, when I sink down, strengthen me for my journey.  When I feel forsaken, help me to have faith in your power to raise me up.

John Calvin abridged: Although the death of Christ concealed his glory, and showed his humility (Phil. 2:7), yet there were hints about his power and future state even then.  The darkening of the sun, the earthquake, the splitting of rocks (Mt. 27:51), and the splitting of the veil testify to the majesty of Christ.  It was almost as if heaven and earth were worshiping Christ. The darkening of the sun was to arouse them to consider the astonishing design in the death of Christ. It is amazing that the scribes and priests could be blind to this darkening. I do not think this was a universal eclipse (as some say).  If it was universal people would say it was a natural occurrence. His cry of forsakeness showed the depths of his anguish and also that he was bearing the judgment of God that we deserved.  Christ's faith remained strong despite his human feeling of forsakenness.  He still called out to God and relied on Him for aid. As they perverted Christ's words in the Syriac language (given so we might hear Christ's anguish clearer- yet they thought he called for Elijah), so the enemies of Christ can also pervert and misunderstand our words. The rending of the veil (meant to keep the people from entering or seeing the Holy of holies) was meant to show the law had been abrogated and that heaven was open and we may freely advance into the presence of God.  The centurion's words (surely this was the Son of God), were given that we might note that even an irreligious soldier was inspired both by Christ's persevering strength combined with the miracles.  The women's presence at the cross means there were witnesses to these events, but also it is a rebuke to the apostles and men who lacked the courage to be there. 

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