Mysteries of the Cross
July 26, 2020
All four Gospels tell the story of Jesus from different perspectives. The account of Jesus is too good to leave to just one person.
Garrison Keillor hosted the radio show, A Prairie Home Companon from 1974 to 2016. He tells the story of his Uncle Alvin. He said that when they would go home for family gatherings, he always dreaded uncle Alvin’s speech before dinner. “Uncle Alvin would start talking about Jesus,” Keillor would say, “and then he would talk about Jesus dying on the cross, and then he’d start to cry.” Keillor then says, “Look, we all knew about the cross. We knew Jesus died on the cross. But Uncle Alvin had never gotten over it.”
1. Mystery of the Man . (Mark 15:15-39)
Mark 15:15, the Roman scourging was not like a Jewish beating. It was called “the half death” because those who survived were really left half dead. Using the “Roman cat of nine tails” the scourging would have left the flesh on Jesus’ back in tatters.
Mark 15:20, when they put the robe on him, his bloodied back would have clotted to the material of the robe. When they ripped the robe off of him, it would have opened those clotting wounds.
Mark 15:21: They compelled a man named Simon who was from the North Aferican city of Cyrene to carry the cross. Mark notes the names of the man’s sons, Alexander and Rufus.
What happened to Simon of Cyrene?
- Matthew and Luke do not have this mans name, or his sons. That’s unusual because 90% of what Mark recounts, Matthew and Luke do too. So why would both Luke and Matthew leave out this man and his children?
- Answer = Matthew and Luke are writing to people who would not have known who Simon of Cyrene or his children were. It didn’t matter to their audience, so they cut that.
- Mark’s audience must have known Simon ! And not only Simon, but his children.
- Mark was writing from Rome.
- Paul, also writing to the church at Rome, mentions this family! And it clues us in to what happened to Simon and his sons. Paul writes: “Greet Rufus , chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” Romans 16:13
- Rufus is an unusual Jewish name. It is likely the same person Mark was talking about.
- That fills in the details: Simon, after carrying the cross of Jesus, became a follower of the Lord. At some time, his family moved to Rome, and was known to both Peter and Paul. Paul calls Simon’s wife, “my mother.” She was a spiritual mother to the Apostle Paul!
- Notice throughout his writing, Paul seems to have intimate knowledge of what happened to Jesus at the cross. Where did he get that information? Simon saw Jesus die. He became a follower of Jesus and told his wife what happened. She converted. And at some point, she became a spiritual mother to Paul. And either she or possibly Simon himself, if he was alive, told Paul what he saw at the cross.
Mark 15:22, Golgotha means, “The place of the skull.” It was outside Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah. The same place God told Abraham he would provide the lamb.
Mark 15:24, dividing garments and other details were prophesied in Psalm 22.
2. Mystery of
Mark 15:40, notice Jesus had female disciples. (Not “apostles” but women who followed him and learned from him.)
Mark 15:42, the “sabbath” is really “sabbath’s.” Plural. Because it was the week of Passover, there was more than one Sabbath day. Some scholars suggest that Jesus was crucified on Passover (Wednesday) which would have been a Sabbath. Then three days later (Thursday, Friday, Saturday… Sunday) he was raised after all the Sabbath’s were completed.
15:43, Important. We are introduced to Joseph of Arimathea. He is “looking for the kingdom of God.” He certainly thought he had found the kingdom in Jesus. He must have felt confused and let down when Jesus died.
Instead of getting bitter or angry when God’s work did not conform to what he expected, Joseph stayed sweet. He went and got the body of Jesus and buried it.
When God doesn’t make sense, don’t lose your kindness.
In a dark hour, Joseph stayed:
- Focused on God.
By the way, Joseph did not understand what God was up to, that doesn’t mean God wasn’t doing something! The very moment God looked the most silent, he was doing his biggest work. Just because you don’t see God at work doesn’t mean he’s inactive. In our world right now, we don’t know what God is doing, but I am sure of this: God is at work.
3. Mystery of The
The darkness is certainly a symbol of Judgment. But it may be more. God usually appears as “light.” However, there are times when God appears as darkness.
–Gen. 15:12: God appeared to Abraham in dreadful darkness.
-Ps 18:11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him — the dark rain clouds of the sky.
–Joel: When he comes, the sun won’t shine. Universe blacked out.
9 “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10 . . . I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.
I think God Himself, the Father, came down at Golgotha and brought judgment on Jesus for our sins. Notice, Jesus speaks directly to the Father, saying, “my God, my God…”
The 3 Baptisms of Jesus:
Water Baptism. (Mark 1:9)
Holy Spirit Baptism. (Mark 1:8)
Cross Baptism. (Luke 12:50)
Don’t lose your awe or mystery of the cross of Jesus.