Summary: How many of us would like to take the place of a dying man? This sermon examines the attitudes of those surrounding the cross and Jesus’ response

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Mark 15:24-47 ¡V ¡§I¡¦d like to take your place¡¨

¡§I would like to take his place¡¨

„X Joe, the Governor’s most trusted assistant, died in his sleep one night. The Governor had depended on Joe for advice on every subject, from pending bills to wardrobe decisions. In addition, Joe had been his closest friend.

So, it was understandable that the Governor didn’t take kindly to the droves of ambitious office seekers who wanted Joe’s job. "They don’t even have the decency to wait until the man is buried," the Governor muttered.

At the funeral, one eager beaver made his way to the Governor’s side. "Governor," the man said, "is there a chance that I could take Joe’s place?" "Certainly," the governor replied. "But you’d better hurry. I think the undertaker is almost finished."

„X Sure all of us have said sometimes in our lives, ¡§I would love to be in his situation¡¨

„X Got a happy marriage, great family, nice home, fulfilling job, lots of money

„X But I bet we¡¦ve never said, ¡§I¡¦d like to trade places with someone who is about to die

„X Would you trade places for instance with an Iraq tank soldier whose tank had just been targeted by a coalition aircraft ¡V don¡¦t think so

„X That¡¦s precisely why it is so difficult for us to comprehend the love of God because that is exactly what Jesus did for us

„X He literally said, ¡§I would love to be in your situation!¡¨ even though that situation meant horrific torture followed by a ghastly death

This morning we will be looking at the crucifixion of Jesus from the perspective of Mark¡¦s gospel

„X His perspective is interesting because he gives a view as if we were looking from Jesus¡¦ perspective on the cross rather than the view of those gathered around the base of the cross

„X He focuses on the people gathered around the cross and their various reactions to the crucifixion of Jesus

Mark 15:24. And they crucified Him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

„X The soldiers had done their work, now they had to wait

„X They were calloused, they¡¦d seen it all before, got out a pair of dice and started a crap game at the foot of the cross.

„X This weird act of callousness may seem strange to us that here were men who were far more interested in making a buck than they were in the death of a fellow human being

„X And not just an ordinary human being, but rather the Son of God

„X But even today, many in our society are more concerned about making a fast buck than they are about the meaning of the death of Christ.

„X The attitude of these soldiers depict down to our time the response of those coldhearted individuals who have no interest in the story of the cross

„X They simply shrug their shoulders in careless indifference to the story of Christianity and go back to their money-grabbing habits

25It was the third hour when they crucified him. 26The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.

29Those 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, 30come down from the cross and save yourself!"

„X Thieves are usually very selfish people, and regard others and their possessions as opportunity to enhance their own lives and they are constantly asking themselves, ¡§What¡¦s in it for me?¡¨

„X They are also cowards, usually preying on the most vulnerable in society

„X We witnessed this this past week in Iraq, looting of your neighbors at the point of a gun

„X So it was only natural for these thieves to join in the ridicule of Jesus. Here was a man who was of absolutely no benefit to them and he was vulnerable, so like the petty thieves they were, they joined in the ridicule

„X These thieves represent those in our society who look at the cross and ask the question, ¡§What¡¦s in it for me?¡¨ ¡§What benefit will Christianity bring me?¡¨ ¡§How can I exploit it in some way?¡¨

31In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can’t save himself! 32Let this Christ,[2] this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

„X This is the organized religion crowd. Jesus had become a threat to their very existence

„X The masses were flocking to his meetings, listening to his life changing teachings

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