And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:33-39
Confessions. Mark begins and ends his story with confessions, and includes several in between. First his own, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (1:1). He carefully chooses miracles and ministry moments of Jesus that leave no doubt to his supernatural power and authority. After the feeding of the five thousand and the calming of the sea, Jesus takes his disciples on a retreat to Caesarea Philippi and asks Peter, “who do you say I am?” Peter passes the verbal confession saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” But, Peter and the disciples are still expecting a different kind of leader, one where they will sit on his left and his right, not a suffering servant. Jesus tells them three times he is going to die in Jerusalem. Jesus is transfigured on the mountain before them and God says “this is my Son”. The religious establishment refuses to acknowledge him as the Son of God, but one scribe who understands the greatest commandments gets encouragement. Jesus tells him he is so close to the Kingdom of God. The last confession in the story is made by a Roman centurion, who said as he saw how Jesus breathed his last, “truly this man was the son of God” (15:39).
This Roman centurion was an outsider, the enemy, the oppressor of the Jews. He was a Gentile, part of the outer courts of the nations. If his job was to guard the crosses of crucifixion he probably saw many people die. The profound way Jesus died impacted the Roman personally. How did Mark know the impact was by the way the centurion saw Jesus breathe his last? Only if he saw it, the centurion himself told him or someone else. What did the centurion do after this intense experience in the days that followed? That’s the question Mark wants to leave with us also.
You have heard the story and the message of the Son of God from Mark, now what do you say and do? Mark was sure Jesus was the Messiah, the crucified Son of God. The Centurion was sure Jesus was the Messiah, the suffering King, the Son of God. As a review, go through Mark and notice all the confessions. There are many (Mark 1:1, 11, 24; 3:11; 5:7; 8:38; 9:7; 12:6; 13:32; 14:36,61; 15:39). Thoughtfully recite the Apostles’ Creed. Worship Jesus, the Son of God, the Suffering Servant, profoundly this Easter.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
By Donna Burns