Summary: Jesus endured much as He was crucified on Golgotha. He was beaten, humiliated, mocked, and blasphemed. He endured all of that for you and me. He took our place on the cross. I am thankful for the Man in the middle.
The Man in the Middle
Mark 15: 22-32
Today we begin the most sobering and somber section of Mark’s gospel, dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ our Lord. I am well aware that this was God’s plan for our redemption. I am thankful for the cross and the willingness of our Lord to take our place in order to provide for our salvation. However, this section records the greatest injustice known to man.
As I considered this passage, I was reminded of the imagery it portrays. We are all familiar with the cross. In fact, I am ashamed of the westernization of the cross. By that I mean, our culture has reduced the cross to little more than a piece of jewelry to be worn around the neck or an image hung on the wall for decoration. While I am not opposed to such displays of the cross, I fear we have reduced the significance of the cross and become desensitized to its enormity. Jesus bore our sin and faced the righteous judgment of God in our place on the cross. There He paid the penalty for our sin, dying in our place! The events of Calvary and His following resurrection are the defining moments in human history. No other person or event compare to their significance!
As we examine the facets of that faithful day, I want to consider: The Man in the Middle.
I. The Crucifixion of Jesus (22-25) – While none of the gospels record a lot of detail regarding the crucifixion, Mark provides enough to understand what happened that day. I would encourage you to read the other gospel accounts in order to gain a better understanding. We discover:
A. A Place of Notoriety (22) – And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. Mark, along with Matthew and John record the place of crucifixion being known as Golgotha, the place of a skull. Luke referred to the hill as Calvary. This was a hill, outside the gates of Jerusalem, that would have been well-known in that day. It was a place reserved by the Romans to carry out executions by crucifixion. Some believe it was named Golgotha, Hebrew for the place of a skull, due to the likeness of a skull in the rocks surrounding the hill. Some argue it was so named simply because it was a place of death. Regardless of the reason for the Hebrew name, Golgotha was notorious for death and suffering.
B. A Place of Atrocity (23) – And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. One cannot possibly imagine the degree of pain and suffering those subjected to crucifixion endured. It was the cruelest means of execution known to man, devised to inflict as much pain and misery as possible, while ensuring a slow and miserable death. Often those subjected to crucifixion would languish in extreme pain for days before their legs were broken, preventing them from the ability to breath, resulting in death from asphyxiation.
We find that Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh to drink, which He refused – willing to bear suffering and death without assistance. Luke declared that the soldiers offered this mixture to Jesus. This was the fulfillment of prophecy made in Psalm 69:21. It was interesting to discover this practice was done as a means to dull the senses and ease the pain of the condemned. One could view it as a means of sympathy for those suffering crucifixions, but I see it as a means of mockery and hypocrisy. While it may have offered a slight relief from the pain, these soldiers were not sympathetic for the condemned. Clearly, they were not concerned for their well-being or the pain they were forced to endure.
C. A Place of Opportunity (24) – And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. This was a common practice among the soldiers who stood around the crosses during crucifixions. These would gamble for the garments of the condemned. Garments like the one Jesus wore, being woven completely from top to bottom, would have been valuable. The soldiers would sell the garments for gain to anyone willing to purchase them. They even extorted those who suffered such a miserable death.
D. A Place of Indignity (24) – Our westernized culture has skewed the harsh reality of the cross. As the garments of the condemned were gambled for and sold for profit, those suffering crucifixion were forced to endure the horrors of the cross completely naked. The physical pain and suffering would have been unbearable without having been made a public spectacle, having one’s dignity removed and forced to bear an open shame.