Summary: To show the various responses to Christ’s crucifixion and, thereby, to challenge us to review our response to Him.

The View from the Cross*

Mark 15:21-47

Sermon Objective: To show the various responses to Christ’s crucifixion and, thereby, to challenge us to review our response to Him.

Supporting Scripture: Isaiah 53:1-12; Galatians 6:14, Ephesians 3:17b-19;

read the text: Mark 15:21-41


The actual description of Jesus’ actions and words on the cross that Mark records are limited to four very short passages in this account.

[1] They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). {Mark 15:22}

[2] Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. {Mark 15:23}

[3] At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” {Mark 15:33-34}

[4] With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. {Mark 15:37-38}

The rest of the account in the gospel of Mark focuses on the people gathered around the cross. Mark’s view is not the view of the crowd looking at Jesus, but rather the view from the cross itself, looking at the crowd.

Jesus saw the one who was FORCED INTO HIS PRESENCE (v. 21)

The first of these character descriptions is found in Verse 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.

Something happened to Simon even though he was “forced” to be in Jesus’ presence; something substantive happened.

It is not by coincidence that Mark mention’s Simon’s sons in a way that would suggest the original readers (the church in Rome) would know who he was talking about. This gains dimension when we recall the words found in another book (the Epistle) written to the same Roman Church. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. (Romans 16:13)

There is reason to think that something powerful happened to this Simon as he carried the cross and was so close to Jesus. He was a probably a Jewish worshipper there for the Passover anyhow and God the Holy Spirit convinced his heart that he was indeed in the presence of the Messiah.

Simon, as any good Christian or Jew would do, passed his faith on to his family. And, even though he is apparently off the world scene now, his kids kept the faith into adulthood.

Yes, even unwelcome encounters with Christ can have power impact on a human life. God will take any opportunity given to Him to show the world his love and grace.

When I was a young teen I *HATED* church.

My parent’s made me go. They literally forced me.

They did not buy into this philosophy that says “If I make him go to church he will turn from it forever.” They worked from the adage that says “As long as you are in my home you will do what we do” and hoped / prayed (literally) that God the Holy Spirit would seize upon me during the final few years that I lived at home.

I was “forced” to go to church. And, now, I am glad I was!

In fact, the very night I came back to Christ (a Thursday night during a revival week) I was there only after a volatile “disagreement” at home about whether or not I was going to church. I did not know until years later that sister churches were specifically praying for me that week! But God’s Holy Spirit gripped my heart and convinced me of sin and I repented … never looking back!

I, like Simon from Cyrene, was forced into the presence of Jesus.

Some of you won’t like my parenting advice but it needs to be considered anyhow. A sure-fire way to “lose” your kids is to let them set their own path and lifestyle during the years when it YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to do so. When you follow the path of least resistance as a parent you almost assure failure in parenting.

It is your responsibility to make certain your children are under the sound of the Gospel. Only then does the Holy Spirit have the opportunity to speak. As the Bible says How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

As I said, I was “forced” into the presence of Jesus. And, now, I am glad I was!

But there were other people and personalities visible from Jesus’ point of view.


The SCANDALOUS were in Jesus’ sight too (v. 27)

Jesus was crucified between two thieves. This was probably because the Romans wanted to make sure he was identified with the rabble rousers and not allowed to stand out as some innocent victim. In verse 27 it says, 27 They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. And later, in Verse 32, Mark adds: Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Mark doesn’t tell us what happened to one of these men. Other gospel writers inform us that one was watching all that was happening and repented of his sin. He said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” {Luke 23:41}.

This is one of the most powerful things about the story of the crucifixion. This one-time-robber, and more recent mocker, threw himself on the mercy of Jesus and cried out in a voice that has echoed through the centuries, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom," {Luke 23:42}.

And it did not go unrecognized by the suffering Savior did it? "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." {Luke 23:43}.

DOES ANYTHING “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” LIKE THIS STORY OF RESCUE IN THE FINAL MOMENTS OF AN OFFENDER’S LIFE!?

God’s mercy to this man blows me away every time I read about it. It thrills me beyond description!

To the human this thief did not deserve mercy … and that is just the point!!!! Even though He did not deserve it God was eager … EAGER … to grant it. God’s love does indeed “surpass knowledge” {Ephesians 3:19}!!!!

Only heaven knows how many times the angels in glory have rejoiced over a sinner who finally saw God’s love and received His grace in the final breaths of life. They are no less precious to God than those who serve Him faithfully from childhood on.

Unfortunately, however, there are some who see God’s embrace of those on their ‘death bed” as offensive. They, like the elder brother in the story of the Prodigal son, seem to feel the one receiving mercy should be beyond the scope of such love. We are the ones who place such twisted value on another human’s destiny not God.

That is one reason the cross is considered “scandalous” in Paul’s writings – because it rewards faith by giving grace instead of rewarding works.

Besides, this is “Good News” for you! It is just further evidence that you, too, are not outside the scope of God’s loving grasp. It reminds me of the refrain from the old hymn by E.J. McConnell:

“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,

Surely meaneth me,

O surely meaneth me!

“Whosoever” surely meaneth me.

“Whosoever” meaneth me!

When I think of the thief on the cross I just cannot help but revel in God’s grace!



Jesus saw the SKEPTICS while on the cross too (vv. 29-31).

In Verse 29, Mark also tells us that there were certain passers-by who came by the cross as Jesus was suspended on it.

29 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,

30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”

31 In 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!

Notice that Mark shows the derision by the little phrase, they went by "shaking their heads” and “mocking” They heaped abuse on him.

Others found Jesus to be a mere source of entertainment. 36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.


I’m not so sure. I cannot help but remember Jesus’ words “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). These words of compassion seem to encompass all who were serving as Satan’s tools that day. They had their minds blinded by the God of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE NOT WITHOUT GUILT, THEY ARE ALSO NOT WITHOUT HOPE!

I am convinced that Heaven will be filled with skeptics that eventually saw the truth and turned to God in Christ. Much of the New Testament was written by one such as these … the Apostle Paul. He is the one who declared that God came to save men such as him when he said “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15).

When I was a youth living in south Texas, we had … a fireplace. And we used it in the winter. REALLY! Those 60 degree winter nights can chill the bones ya know!!!!

Well, guess who split most on the firewood we used … me. Dad helped … sometimes. But mostly what dad did was teach me how to do it and then let me at it. I learned some lessons about splitting firewood that have become rather important these days living up here in the North Country. I learned that sometimes the splitting maul was not the best tool to use. Often times, when you are working on a big log, all the splitting maul does is bounce back at you. You can bang and bang to no avail. I also learned that using wedges and a sledge required some skill too. You see, like the maul, you can start the wedge and hit it hard and the wedge will just bounce right out too!

My dad showed me the key to splitting the difficult wood. You take the wedge, you place it right in the heart of the log … right where there will hopefully be a few hairline cracks coming out of the heart and you methodically drive the wedge into the heart of the log by rapping on it; not with one big fatal down swing. Eventually, even those big ones would split by taking small methodical raps into the heart of the log.

Some people are that way. If God’s Spirit comes with one crushing blow they can deflect it … but God’s Spirit knows that on those he must patiently drive love’s truth deep into the heart before it gives.

Jesus prayed for the lost until His dying day! He worked tirelessly to make a way for their reconciliation withy God. Never stop praying for the lost. It is always to soon to stop praying. God’s grace is for them too.




Jesus Saw the SCARRED while on the cross too (vv. 29-31).

Anyone who has ever had a surgery understands the complications and hurdles that “scar tissue” brings. Scar tissue is dense, fibrous tissue that heals over a wound. It is hard and can cause further discomfort and complications later on because it is no longer supple and easy to work like the rest of your skin.

Gathered around the foot of the cross were the scarred soldiers who had crucified Jesus.

These were Roman soldiers who had crucified perhaps scores and scores of people. Undoubtedly these soldiers had much experience in crucifixion. They were proficient at it. Because when they had finished their work, these callous soldiers got out a pair of dice and started a crap game at the foot of Jesus’ cross.

This man’s death bored them; they were far more interested in making a score than they were in the blood of Jesus.

These soldiers stand forever as examples of those scarred individuals who have no interest in the great story of the cross -- who shrug their shoulders with careless indifference to anybody who tries to call their attention to what was really happening at this scene. They just go back to their habits.

That is, all but one. Mark 15: 39 says: “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”


Oh I know that this man’s theology was probably not completely orthodox. But I also know that He saw in Christ something the others did not and it produced a confession of faith … albeit possibly immature faith.

But God’s grace is not dependent upon passing a theology quiz … God’s grace is dependent upon a heart turning to Christ, trusting in His work on the cross for rescue.

John 1:12 says: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

A skilled surgeon can work through and around scar tissue. So can the Holy Spirit.

Many find themselves hardened and hindered. Maybe even you. But they are not beyond hope. Like this rough old soldier there is the opportunity to have one’s heart of stone softened and turned to God.

Maybe you have a loved one who is calloused and indifferent. There is Hope! God’s love can still transform them too. Never give up hope.

God’s promise to Ezekiel might just be for you: And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)





Jesus Saw the SCARED while on the cross too (vv. 40-41).

Mark describes a great crowd of women who were gathered about the cross.

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.


† Defeated love

† Dashed dreams

† Deepening questions

† Despair

The Gospel accounts all make it clear that this was a time of disillusionment.

There are many today who believe in God; they believe in the record of the Scripture. They believe that God is there and that He works -- until it comes to the exact moment of a crisis in their own life. Maybe it is the death of a loved one. Maybe it is a health issue. Maybe it is a financial concern or some prayer that was not answered as they expected.

Then their hope is gone … they really have no hope that God actually will act in the hour of despair. While their love remains, their hope is gone. Their faith is strong as long as everything goes well, but when the bottom drops out, they still love, but their hope is gone.

This is enough to send anyone into spiritual crisis; to bring a time of questioning and introspection.

Well, Jesus’ view from the cross offers “Good News” for anyone in this situation too. You see, God is not intimidated by our sincere questions. God is not overwhelmed or at His wit’s end just because we are. God’s Spirit is here to work through your “dark night of the soul.”

If Jesus’ work on the cross tells us anything it tells us He is not going away but is willing to go to great lengths to see you through your crisis and restore you to wholeness. IN FACT, GOD MAY VERY WELL CREATE SOMETHING EVEN GREATER WITHIN YOU DURING YOUR TIME OF TRAGEDY.

Jesus quotes from a pertinent passage in Isaiah 61 when describing his own ministry … words that most certainly speak to such a situation s this.

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

4And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

The ultimate hope for these despairing onlookers was still three days away … the resurrection of Jesus. But the reality of God’s new day was certain none-the-less. It was as good as done – they just did not know it yet.

You see, the resurrected Christ assures them (and us) that reality is more than the sum total of what we see at present! Jesus is alive today and that re-frames every event and encounter of life. We know our “redeemer lives!” and that is our source of hope … it assures us that, even though we do not “feel” His presence, that he is indeed active in our current circumstance.







Jesus knows about the SCARCE DISCIPLE too (vv. 42-47).

Mark relates one final scene in Verses 42-47.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached,

43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.

44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.

45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Here is Joseph of Arimathea; the secret disciple. Luke tells us that he was a wealthy Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, a pious man who, had not consented in the decision and action of the council (Luke 23:51); and he "was himself waiting for the kingdom of God."

Joseph was attracted toward Jesus, but he was afraid to come out in the open. John’s Gospel tells us that Joseph was not the only member of the Sanhedrin that did this. There was at least one other quiet disciple within the ranks (John 19:39). All through the record of the trial of Jesus, there is never any sign of Joseph. He doesn’t raise his voice in the court where Jesus appeared before the Sanhedrin. But after the death of the Lord, when the body was hanging dead on the tree, Mark says Joseph took courage and finally stood up to be counted. It was a risky decision on his part … very risky … BUT AT SOME POINT YOU JUST HAVE TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!

But Joseph’s story is here for a reason … he is not pictured as a coward or a failure in the Gospel accounts … he is pictured as a follower! You see, JOSEPH IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE THAT SHOWS WHAT THE CROSS OF CHRIST COULD DO FOR A MAN WHAT JESUS’ LIFE ALONE COULD NOT DO!

Joseph was attracted to Jesus in life but transformed in death.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14, KJV)

First the soldier and now Joseph … how quickly Jesus’ words from John 12:32 came true … “When I am lifted up I will draw all men unto me.”

Tradition gives us evidence that once Joseph went public he never looked back. There is plenty of church tradition and historical evidence to support the claim that Joseph was one of the first people to bring the Gospel to the British Isles … particularly Western Ireland. He became and remained a vibrant ambassador for Jesus.

Maybe this is your day. Maybe this is the day you decide to stand up and be counted. Maybe you have been a quiet disciple for too long and God is calling you to live your faith in the public square.

I am sure that for some of you this is true.

Maybe God wants you to:

† follow Him in baptism

† serve him more openly

† share your faith with someone who does not know Him

† begin having family devotions with your children and spouse

† or … well … God’s Spirit will make it clear how you are being called to be more visible for Him.

So there they are … those that Jesus can see from the cross.







There is a song by Chris Tomlin that effectively communicates the potential that gazing upon the Christ of the cross possesses.

Mighty is the Power of the Cross

By Chris Tomlin

What can take a dying man and raise him up to life again?

What can heal a wounded soul?

What can make us white as snow?

What can fill the emptiness?

What can mend our brokenness?


Mighty, awesome, wonderful

Is the holy cross

Where the Lamb laid down His life

To lift us from the fall

What restores our faith in God?

What reveals the Father’s love?

What can lead the wayward home?

What can melt a heart of stone?

What can free the guilty ones?

What can save and overcome?


Mighty, awesome, wonderful

Is the holy cross

Where the Lamb laid down His life

To lift us from the fall

Mighty is the power of the cross

Somewhere … you are among the characters that Jesus looked upon. And regardless of where it is … God comes to you RIGHT THERE and offers you himself.

Let’s pray.

This Sermon is provided by Dr. Kenneth Pell

Potsdam Church of the Nazarene

Potsdam, New York

*Special thanks to the sermon by the late Ray Stedman which set the tone and help create the outline for this one.


Children’s Sermon (Week #1)

Glory in the Cross

Galatians 6:14

Sermon Objective; To help the children see that Jesus’ love for us as displayed on the Cross is the most important gift we have ever received!

Sermon props: Pictures of objects people take pride in.

Hello my friends! It is good to see you. Hey, let me ask you a question … do you like my neck tie? I do. I think it makes me look very handsome! It make me feel special too because I think it is the best tie in the whole wide world!!!! No one has a better one!

When you hear me talk like that about a neck tie you think that I am pretty silly don’t you? It sounds like I am bragging and a bit shallow or superficial doesn’t it? Well, you are right. Of course, I am doing it to make a point, not because I really think those things … it’s just a neck tie after all. But some people do seem to put their pride and confidence in some pretty strange things!

Here are some picture of things people put their pride and confidence in.

 New cars  Expensive clothes  Big Houses

 Their money  An education  Toys

Oh the list goes on and on! People place too much value on a lot of things … just about anything!!!! The problem is these things all go away eventually and they lose their value and specialness too.

As Christians we have learned that there is really only one thing that lasts forever. There is only one possession that is worth holding up as “super special” and celebrating. Do you know what it is?

It is God’s love for us!

That loves was especially made clear to us when Jesus died on the cross. Nothing shows how much God loves us like that does that’s for sure!

If we want to really be proud of something we “possess” and is of value it should be the fact the God loves us so much.

The Bible says: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

Let’s pray and thank God for loving us so much!

This Children’s Sermon is provided by Dr. Kenneth Pell

Potsdam Church of the Nazarene

Potsdam, New York


Children’s Sermon(Week #2)

Seeing Jesus

John 1:20-21

Sermon Objective: To encourage the children to look to Jesus and to point others toward him during this season of Lent.

Sermon Object: Binoculars

Good morning!!!! It is sooooooo good to see you today. But, I know a way that I can see you even better … look at these! These are binoculars. They bring things in real close. They are a great way to watch birds and deer … or to spy on your little sister (but that’s a story for another day).

If you want to see something that is far away up close, using binoculars is one way.

There is a story in the Bible of a group of people that wanted to see Jesus up close. They came to someone who knew Jesus well, one of His disciples named Philip, and … well … let me just read it to you. In John 12:20-21 it says: Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."

This happened on the last week of Jesus’ life. Many people were beginning to understand that Jesus was indeed the Savior and they wanted to know how they could have eternal life.

These people did the right thing … they went to someone who knew Jesus well and asked about Him. And that is still what people do today. They go to people who know Jesus. They watch people who know Jesus too. I want you to be kids who know Jesus well so that people can ask you about Him and you, like Philip, can point your friends to Him.

In order to know Him well you need to spend time with Him; read and memorize His words, pray to Him, spend time with others who know Him well, and serve Him.

The good thing is I know you want to do that too.

Let’s pray together.

This Children’s Sermon is provided by Dr. Kenneth Pell

Potsdam Church of the Nazarene

Potsdam, New York