Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #25
Sharing the Cross Mark 15:21-23
Jesus was so weakened by his lack of sleep, continual beatings, and Roman flogging that he fell under the weight of his cross so the Roman guards grabbed a man from the crowd (Simon) and forced him to carry the cross for him. Notice that Simon did not offer to carry the cross out of mercy for Jesus. He was forced! He must have been in close proximity so he was an on looker. Mark identifies him as “the father of Alexander and Rufus”, obviously two men of faith that Mark knew at the time of his writing. Later, in one of the Apostle Paul’s letters he greets Rufus and his mother as “chosen in the Lord” (Roman 16:13). Apparently the experience of carrying that cross with Jesus made an impact on Simon and his whole family. They had likely come from far away to celebrate Passover and became caught up in the crucifixion crowd. Later Simon would come to know of the amazing honor that was bestowed upon him to walk with Jesus, to be covered in his holy blood, and to share in his suffering. He would marvel at the strength and love of the one who would even refuse pain relief (wine mixed with myrrh) to pay the price for his sin. Do we see the honor in walking with Jesus? If there comes a point in your life where you are forced to carry your cross and walk with Jesus or hold onto the comforts of this life—which will you choose?
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27
Naked! Mark 15:24-26, Matthew 26:63-68, Hebrews 7:23-28, John 19:23-24, Psalm 22:16-18, 1 Peter 2:9-10
In the last lesson you read in Mark15:15 : Wanting to satisfy the crowd, (to exalt himself) Pilate released Barabbas to them and had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified . Jesus carried the cross of Barabbas, but he carried the cross of Simon too! He also carried your cross and mine! His stripes became our healing (Isaiah 53:5), His nakedness became our covering and His death became our life!
The Roman tradition of flogging was to publicly strip the prisoner naked and tie him to a post where he would be lashed repeatedly by two guards. Roman scourging was 40 lashes with a short whip fashioned with metal balls and pieces of broken bone. Depending on the fury of the lashings a prisoner could be almost dead at the end of such an ordeal.
After that scourging Matthew tells us that they put a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns on him and after mocking him put his own clothes back on him to lead him away to crucifixion (Matthew 27:28,31). Traditionally a Roman crucifixion would have the prisoner carry his cross nude, but this was not the case for Jesus. It must have been agonizing for him to have the guards pull his seamless undergarment (John 19:23) over his lacerated flesh. Jesus hung naked on the cross, for the Bible says: “soldiers divided up his clothes and cast lots.” They took special interest in his seamless undergarment (John 19:24). And so should we!
The Greek word used for what has mistakenly been translated as a seamless robe in some Bible versions is chiton and defines a sleeveless undergarment. The rare seamless weave originated from the Coptic area in Egypt where Mary and Joseph fled from King Herod after Jesus was born. This gives some credence to the traditionally held belief that Mary lovingly made the undergarment for Jesus. What is more interesting about the seamless undergarment is its spiritual implications to us who are Christians.
The undergarment that Jesus wore was a priestly garment, not sewn, like other clothes (Exodus 28:2-3). The garment was woven, seamless and of one piece. Each year at Passover the high priest, wearing such an undergarment, was to make a blood sacrifice to atone for the people’s sin. Among the consecration rules for that priest was that he could never tear his priestly clothes (Leviticus 10:6, 21:10-12), but the high priest at this Passover did tear his clothing. Caiaphas disqualified himself as High Priest by tearing his clothes at Jesus’ trial (Matthew 26:63-68). At that moment Jesus officially became both the High Priest and the blood sacrifice for any who would believe on him! He become a “permanent priesthood” (Hebrews 7:23-28). That Seamless Garment that Jesus was paraded to the cross in was God’s way of showing the people then and now that He has provided a permanent priest and a sacrifice for sin once for all! (Romans 6:10)
When Jesus was stripped naked and nailed to the cross the Gospel of John tells us that the four soldiers divided his clothing up among themselves (sandals, turban, belt and outer garment) but “not wanting to tear” his undergarment cast lots (gambled) for it (John 19:23-24). Unwittingly these guards fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 22:18 and honored the law of the priesthood that qualified Jesus in every detail to be our permanent priest and sacrifice!
Jesus willingly stripped off his righteousness to cover our nakedness and shame.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
When we accept (acknowledge, recognize, own) Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin He removes our nakedness and promises us a garment of righteousness (Revelation 7:9-11). He makes us who come to him into a “royal priesthood” so that we can declare his good news to others (1 Peter 2:9-10). Are we doing it?
Justification (just as if I never Sinned) Mark 15:27-32, Luke 23:39-43
Our brand of justice would have made the murderous Barabbas carry his cross, but for Simon, you and me…well; what hypocrites we are! God’s verdict is all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus! The penitent thief on the cross shows us that even in the last moments of life we may cry out in faith and be saved, but we must cry out! Cry out and declare the good news!