Formations lesson for April 13: Crucifixion and Death
March 27 2003 by David Stratton , Mark 15: 21-39

Formations lesson for April 13: Crucifixion and Death | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Formations lesson for April 13: Crucifixion and Death

By David Stratton Mark 15: 21-39

Perhaps as amazing as what Jesus did on the cross is what He did not do. We know that He suffered and died for us. We know that His death was so agonizing that He questioned the heavenly Father ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). We know what Jesus did on the cross and we are amazed by God's love shown at Calvary.

What intrigued me in another look at Mark 15:21-39 is what He did not do.

Loving action When we come to these verses Jesus has already been betrayed, arrested, tried, flogged and sentenced to death. Verse 24 states matter-of-factly that, "they crucified Him." Our English word "excruciating" is derived from the Greek word translated "crucify." Jesus was nailed to a cross where He died a cruel combination of exhaustion and asphyxiation.

As He endured this humiliation and agony He could see the soldiers dividing up His clothes among them. Religious leaders stood by mocking Jesus' apparent inability to save Himself. Strangling, bleeding and dying, His ears rung from the taunting of the crowd.

After hours of this torture, Jesus breathed His last and died.

Loving restraint He had been arrested on a trumped up charge and His trial and sentence were a mockery of justice. Jesus died an excruciating death amid the insults of the crowd. Perhaps most amazing is that, despite what the religious leaders said, the Lord did possess the power to save Himself. According to Matthew's gospel, Jesus stated that the Father had placed legions of angels at His disposal that could have been used to end the suffering (Matt. 26:53).

Jesus could have stopped the dishonor and the pain, but He chose not to.

Our action and restraint Enduring humiliation, injustice, suffering and death is certainly difficult. But I cannot conceive of anything more difficult than enduring humiliation, injustice, suffering and death when one possesses the power to stop it. Would any of us allow agony and shame to continue in our own lives if we had the ability to really show those who were inflicting it upon us?

Why would Jesus do such a thing? There can be only one answer: love. "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8 NRSV).

What then is our proper response to the love of God, shown not only in what Jesus did on the cross, but also in what He did not do?

Are we stirred to worship the One who showed such amazing love for us? Are our lips moved to offer Jesus praise and thanksgiving? Does the action and restraint shown for us on the cross motivate us to offer adoration to Jesus?

Should our own expressions of love follow Jesus' example of restraint?

The gospels reveal Jesus as one who got involved in making the world a better place. On the cross He took astounding action demonstrating His love. Yet His loving action was mingled with loving restraint in the use of power. This example of our Lord should guide our own expressions of love.

I have a friend who got involved with helping a child who was in an abusive situation. The process was complicated and it took far too long, unnecessarily extending the suffering of a young person. In the midst of it all, my friend was ridiculed publicly, unfairly and incessantly by the person caring for the child. My friend had the power to decisively stop the slander. But he knew that, if he exercised that power, he would never get that child out of an awful situation. So he kept quiet in the face of the attacks and he responded gently to them. Now the child is in a safe place and my friend has turned his attention to ministering to the child abuser that also verbally abused him.

He got involved, yet he exercised amazing restraint in doing so. Is this some reflection of what Jesus did for us on the cross? Let us learn not only from the loving action of Jesus on the cross, but also from His loving restraint in the use of power.

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by David Stratton , Mark 15: 21-39 | with 0 comments
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