Daily Devotional

March 23, 2019

Daybreak: Mark 15:21-47

“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” (Mark 15:33)

For many people, May 18, 1980, was just another Sunday, but for those who lived in Washington and Oregon states, something big was happening. Beneath Mount St. Helens in southwestern Washington, something was taking place that would affect the lives of many. The ground there began to tremble and shake. At 8:31 in the morning, the mountain came to life and exploded with a tremendous blast of searing ash and gases packing the power equivalent to a hydrogen bomb. Within an hour of the eruption, parts of the States of Washington and Oregon turned so dark from the volcanic ash falling that light-sensored streetlights and neon signs came on as if it were night. The thick, dark clouds of ash had turned the sky into midnight.

I remember that morning well. My husband and I, along with our seven-month-old baby, were on our way to church. Suddenly, I noticed the morning light start to fade, and as we continued to drive along, semi-darkness settled in around us. By the time we approached the church parking lot, we had to turn on our headlights. My husband also turned on the windshield wipers because ash was piling up on our windshield so quickly that we could not see through it. The darkness was heavy and totally quiet. I have never felt such darkness as I felt then.

Heavy darkness also settled over Jerusalem after Jesus was hung on the Cross. In Jesus’ time, the Jews often demanded a sign from Heaven, and this was a sign they could not miss. It may be that the darkness of that dreadful day symbolized the work of darkness that was taking place there at Golgotha, or the power of darkness that was to come upon their nation. Whatever its meaning, Christ certainly faced the darkness of sin as He hung there, making atonement for all of mankind.

Darkness is often connected with evil or bad things happening. But out of the darkness that fell as Jesus hung on the Cross came eternal life for all who will call upon His Name, asking to be forgiven and saved from their sins. 

Have you been liberated from the darkness of sin? If so, you, too, have a deep appreciation for the Gospel and what was purchased for you that dark day at Calvary.

Background

Jesus was taken to a place called Golgotha to be crucified. Some suggest this knoll was given the name Golgotha, which means, “the place of the skull,” because it was shaped like a skull. 

At 9:00 in the morning, Jesus was placed on the Cross. He was offered vinegar mixed with gall (a sour wine) to drink. This was often given to those who were crucified to help alleviate the suffering this kind of punishment brought. Jesus, however, refused this sedation. A signboard was placed above His head by Pilate announcing, “The King of the Jews.” It could be that Pilate intended the wording to cast disgrace on the Jews by indicating they were people who deserved a king no better than a man who was crucified between two criminals. 

Crucifixion is one of the most painful forms of death. Eventually those punished this way die of suffocation. As Jesus suffered in awful agony, those who passed by insulted and railed upon Him. The words “railed upon” could also be translated “kept on blaspheming.” The chief priests, who were ordained to be kind and tender to the suffering and dying, mocked Him and challenged Him to come down from the Cross if He were really whom He said He was.

In verses 33-34, darkness completely covered the land. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Because Jesus had been made sin for all mankind, the light of God’s countenance was withdrawn from Him. Jesus’ greatest anguish was caused by this separation from His Father. 

As Jesus died, the thick curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom (verse 38). Previously, only a high priest had been allowed to enter beyond this curtain to sacrifice once a year on the Day of Atonement. Jesus was the Perfect Sacrifice, and His death opened the way into God’s presence for everyone. The torn curtain symbolized that the separation between God and man was removed so that all might have access to the Throne of Grace.

Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man who loved Jesus, was secretly one of Jesus’ disciples. He went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus so he could place Jesus in his own new tomb. After Pilate’s consent, Joseph took Jesus and wrapped Him in fine linen with a mixture of myrrh and aloes for embalmment. Then he laid Jesus in his tomb and rolled a big stone in front of the opening. From a distance, the women who loved Jesus watched where He was laid so they could later bring more embalming spices for His body.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VII.   The Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Son of God
       H.   The Crucifixion of the Son of God (15:21-47)
             1.   The journey to the site (15:21-22)
             2.   The refusal of an anesthetic (15:23)
             3.   The distribution of His garments (15:24)
             4.   The charge against Him (15:25-26)
             5.   The two malefactors (15:27-28)
             6.   The mockery on the Cross (15:29-32)
             7.   The agony on the Cross (15:33-37)
             8.   The confirmation of the Son of God (15:38-41)
             9.   The burial (15:42-47)

A Closer Look

  1. Where was Jesus taken to be crucified?
     
  2. Why did the chief priests mock Jesus? 
     
  3. How does the tearing of the curtain in the Temple affect our lives today? 

Conclusion

The darkness of sin is covering the world today. Many are searching for light. What a joy it is to meditate on Jesus, who took on Himself the sins of the whole world so we can be saved from eternal death and become heirs of eternal life!

Reference Materials