Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:31-44; Luke 23:26-43; John 19:17-27
All those sleepless nights, the opportunities missed, the embarrassments in public, the plots, the cabals, the treachery… all of it had come to fruition for the loving and righteous men of Israel, for today, at this time, at this hour… RIGHT NOW! Jesus of Nazareth is being executed! Finally they had gotten what they wanted…
Mark’s account of the crucifixion is of course brief. Yet, even in his pithiness, Mark includes one little detail that should jolt us out of the haze we might feel at reading a text that is so familiar to us. ‘Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”’ (vv. 29-30)
Such impatience! Jesus was destroying the temple by being on the cross, if you want to see it raised again, you need to wait a couple of days! Of course, they were clueless about these words.
Even the other two being crucified hurl insults at Him, and of course the Jewish leaders have some choice comments to make, showing just how classy they really are. The powers and authorities of this world were having a field-day, thoroughly enjoying their triumph over God.
Then, something wonderful happens…
Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:45-56; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30
Jesus suddenly cries out, quoting Psalm 22:1, people get excited, maybe Elijah will come… wouldn’t that be something to see? Elijah does not come, and shortly thereafter Jesus dies.
Had God forsaken Him at that moment? Theologians argue about that, but I think that He did, for Jesus had become sin on that cross. No, Jesus didn’t sin, but He became sin for us. Isn’t it something… Jesus had become the sin of those who had placed Him on that cross, and for their very insults they were hurling at that moment.
Then Jesus died.
The curtain in the temple was torn in two; the Old Covenant had seen its final sacrifice and passed into history as the temple of Jesus’ body died; history itself had reached its climax.
Matthew tells us about an earthquake and clouds that darkened the sun, things that usually signify God’s judgment. A Roman centurion has a surprising remark, and the opponents of Jesus head for their homes feeling… what? Relief probably. Sorrow was the dominant emotion of those women who remained there, His last followers. They would see to the arraignments.
The story, however, had only just begun.