And they crucified him

It almost seems odd how Mark describes the Lord’s death.

He does nothing to satisfy our curiosity about the physical agony of crucifixion, though that’s the part we often focus on.

He does little to stir up sympathy for Jesus.

His style is simple, slow, methodical.

Here’s his short description. You’ve read the story many times before, but read it again today . . . slowly, reflectively, gratefully.

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him (Mark 15:21-32).

I feel inadequate when I attempt to comment on the Lord’s crucifixion. What happened that day just can’t be captured with words.

Maybe that’s why even Mark didn’t really try. He simply told us what happened, leaving the rest to our imagination.

But it’s clear that he wants his readers to know that this is the real reason he wrote his story. The cross is the crux of the gospel . . . it is the gospel.

Everything since the Fall has pointed to this day. In fact, God planned the cross even before our ancestors ate the wrong fruit.

Scholars have often described Mark’s gospel as a story of the Passion with an extended introduction; in other words, it’s not so much an historical account of Jesus’ life as it is a description of his death. Mark spends almost half his space—seven of his sixteen chapters—discussing the last week of the Lord’s life.

The cross, more than anything, has so much to say to us as believers.

In our walk it’s easy to get distracted, to lose focus, to obsess over peripheral issues that ultimately don’t matter.

We get bogged down in the stress and noise of life and forget.

Today, for a few minutes, just think about the cross.

The pain. The mockery. The insults. The loneliness and abandonment.

They said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself,” but they had it all wrong.

He saved others instead of saving himself.

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