Summary: In this sermon, we look at how the people mocked Jesus as he walked toward the hill of Golgotha, and contrast that with his encounter with Simon from Cyrene to see what it really means to carry the cross for Jesus.
Central theme: Jesus denied himself and took the punishment for us with total dedication. We should take up the cross and follow Jesus, which means denying our old self (our comfort, your desires) and live for God because God is leading us to an even better place.
Think of a place you really want to visit. A place that you always dream about going to someday. Where would that be?
Raise your hand if it’s somewhere in South America, Asia, the US, Europe, Africa?
The original plan of Simon from Cyrene:
There was a man in the bible, and he was on the journey of his dreams. His name was Simon. He wanted to go on this very special trip to Jerusalem. He is a Jew and he grew up in a city called Cyrene, which is in northern Africa in today’s Libya. That means his trip going to Jerusalem would be more than 1000 kilometers away. And he didn’t just want to go during any time of the year, he especially wanted to go Jerusalem during the time of the Passover. Because since he was young, he heard about these fascinating story about the Passover. How his ancestors put the blood of the lamb on the door frames, and the angel of death would come and pass over their house because of the blood. Back in those days, there was no Uber, there was no Ryanair budget airline. It’s gonna cost him his life savings. But he didn’t care. So Simon took his two sons and started a long journey that involved boats and lots of walking that’s gonna take a whole month. They finally got into Jerusalem. He was so excited when he got there. There were lots of people in the city. But he was a bit confused because there seems to be a commotion going on. There were lots of shouting, some people were crying, what’s going on there? So Simon, taking his sons, walked closer to the crowd. There he saw the soldiers taking three criminals in a parade. They were carrying the beams of their crosses, while the soldiers were beating them and telling them to move along. But there was one of them that the people especially want him killed. On his sign it said, “The King of the Jews”.
We are going through the series on #Jesus, where we focus on the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life before he died on the cross. We started with Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. Then we talked about his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane where he asked the father to take the cup away from him, “yet not what I will, but what you will.” Last week we talked about Peter and how he denied Jesus three times in the midst of fear. The running theme is that Jesus freed us from guilt, from half-heartedness, from fear. And today we will pick up from where Jesus was arrested and focus on his journey from the court of Pilate to the place he was to be executed. A journey where he experienced not only extreme physical pain, but also extreme mental humiliation and shame.
Let’s read Mark 15:15-24
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
The cruxificion is hands down the most horrific form of punishment. Not only does it bring exterme physical suffering, it also strips you of all kinds of dignity. It’s a total punishment.
The Hills of Golgotha is located just outside of the walls in Jerusalem. And the crowd is watching and mocking Jesus. But I wonder, why are the people so mean to Jesus? Just a week before, the crowd welcomed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey. He came in as the Prince of Peace. They put their clothes and branches on the road, as a sign of submission. But just a week later, the crowd mocked him and wanted him to die.