Summary: Four important things that happened when Jesus was crucified.
It’s been my joy to lead hundreds of Holy Land visitors to a cliff outside Jerusalem that looks like the face of a skull. You can see indentions in the rock that look like the eye sockets of a skull. Even after twenty centuries of erosion, the cliff still resembles a skull. And many believe it is the very place where Jesus was crucified. Years ago, the great pastor from Memphis, Dr. R. G. Lee was visiting Jerusalem for the first time and his group entered the grounds of the Garden Tomb where skull hill can be seen. Suddenly, Dr. Lee broke away from his group and ran ahead to the place where you can see face of a skull in the rock face. When the guide and the rest of the group caught up to Dr. Lee, he was on his knees in prayer. The guide said, “Dr. Lee, have you been here before?” Dr. Lee looked up with tears in his eyes and said, “Yes, I was here 2,000 years ago because I was on the heart and in the mind of Jesus when He died for me.”
So, even if you’ve never visited this place outside Jerusalem, I believe Dr. Lee was right. There was a time when you were there. There’s a great gospel song recorded by the Gaither’s I’ve chosen as the title of this message. Ronald Michael Payne wrote the words which say: “A look of love was on his face; The thorns upon on his head. The blood was on that scarlet robe; Stained it crimson red. Though his eyes were on the crowd that day, He looked ahead in time. And when he was on the cross, You and I were on his mind.”
In Revelation 13:8 the Bible says Jesus is the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. And it says in Ephesians 1:4 that God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world, so I really think Jesus was thinking of me and you when He died that day.
Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four gospel accounts, but over one quarter of the book is devoted to the last week of the earthly life of Jesus. The crucifixion is the climax of the story.
Mark 15:21-39. “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. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
It was the third hour [nine in the morning] when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. 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!’ 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! Let this Messiah, 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.
At the sixth hour [noon], darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour [three in the afternoon]. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”—which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’ 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.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’”
More books have been written on Jesus Christ than on any other person in the history of mankind. And there are more books written on His death than on any other aspect of His life. There are enemies of our faith who laugh and scoff at the idea that God’s Son would end up dying the death of a common criminal. However, it is the cross that makes the story of Jesus so real in world where there is real pain and suffering.