Death Rising (Naked Runner #26)

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church         The Gospel of Mark (Naked Runner Series #26)

Darkness Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:45

Mark, Matthew and Luke all write that while Jesus was on the cross darkness covered the land.  This was a supernatural darkness that God provided to intensify his sorrow and    displeasure with mankind.  Despite the bad translation of The New American Bible (of Luke 23:45) it was not a “solar eclipse” that darkened the land.  Passover is always celebrated during a full moon in spring, but a new moon is needed for a solar eclipse to occur, making it the wrong phase of the moon.  A solar eclipse also only darkens the land for a few minutes.  The gospel accounts say that darkness covered the land for three hours!

Scripture tells us that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  It was God’s Spirit that created the earth’s first light (Genesis 1:1-3) and the promise of Heaven is that God’s will be its forever light (Revelation 21:23) while Hell is partially described as outer darkness (2 Peter 2:17).  Is there any doubt that this darkness illustrated both God’s sorrow and displeasure with man?

Last Words Mark 15:34-37, Matthew 27:46-50, Psalm 22:1

The Gospel of both Mark and Matthew lead us to believe that the last prophetic words of Christ were “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  They also agree that people gathered at the cross incorrectly thought they heard Jesus call on the prophet Elijah.  Of course he did not. The crowd was at a distance from the cross so they could not hear Jesus clearly. Thus when Jesus said “Eloi” (as Mark correctly spells the Aramaic word in his gospel) they heard “Eli” (as Matthew spells it in Hebrew in his gospel) which they interpreted as “Elias” (=Elijah).   Matthew 16:14 and Matthew 17:10 also show us that it was a common expectation during Jesus’ time that Elijah would return at the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). In Matthew 11:14 Jesus said that John the Baptist was who the prophet Malachi referred to (the reference being to John’s characteristics and not the actual person of Elijah, thus fulfilling the prophecy).  

The “why have you forsaken me” phrase was not so much a question to God but the chilling exclamation that Jesus had become the scapegoat for all the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Jesus’ last phrase was one of resolve: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) which he said after he concluded “It is finished” (John 19:30). The totality of the gospel accounts below show all the words that Jesus spoke on the cross in their likely chronology:

The Last Seven Phrases of Jesus on the cross: 

1.) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

2.) “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (to the thief)

3.) “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple: “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27 (introducing Mary to John: From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.)

4.) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

5.) “I am thirsty.” John 19:28

6.) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

7.) Jesus called with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 

Of the last sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more important or more poignant than, “It is finished.” Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai (tet-el-es-tye,)  an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring our debt for sin was “paid in full” by him. “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” “To the end” in the Greek text is eis telos, meaning, literally, that He loved us to perfection.    (John 13:1b)

Torn, Shaken, Split and Raised! Mark 15:38-39, Matthew 27:51-54

The curtain (veil) of the Temple represented the separation of a Holy God from sinful man( Isaiah 59:2).  Only the fully consecrated high priest could go beyond that curtain once a year to offer a blood sacrifice to God on behalf of his people. That curtain was 30 feet high and upon the death of Jesus it was supernaturally torn from top to bottom exposing what was called the most holy place.  In essence God was saying to man “We are no longer separated by your sin!” 

Matthew’s gospel goes beyond the torn curtain and explains why the guard exclaimed “surely this man was the son of God!”  The earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open in that earthquake.  (After Jesus’ resurrection the bodies “of many holy people” in those tombs were raised to life and appeared to many people. Mark 15:52b-53)  

Death Rising Mark 15:40-47, John 19:38-42, Philippians 2:1-11

Jesus died.  John tells us that the soldiers thrust a spear into his side, but as the scriptures prophesied, “Not one of his bones were broken” (John 19:32-37).  Jesus died but his death would bring a great rising.  It began with the proclamation of the centurion who killed him…”Surely this man was the son of God!”  Then, the women who watched from a distance would prepare their spices and later proclaim him raised! (Matthew 28:8) Joseph of Armathea, would stand and approach even Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body, unafraid of what Rome might do to him. John’s gospel tells us that even Nicodemus, the Pharisee who once hid in the darkness of night to talk to Jesus, rose up as a believer and helped Joseph     entomb the body of Christ.  Jesus death brought believers to life even before his resurrection. Amazing love does that.  In reflection of this love what rises up in you?

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