Text: Mark 15:1-47, Psalm 38:20-22, Hebrews 5:7-10
Here we are at Mark 15—the crucifixion of our Savior. Would you enter into this text with me?
At the start of this chapter, we find Jesus standing before a crowd of chief priests, elders, and scribes. These men, along with Pilate, do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, and they accuse Him of many things.
From there, Jesus is taken in front of an even greater crowd, a “multitude.” They, too, refuse to believe He is the Son of God, and demand for Him to die a criminal’s death.
Then, the soldiers take Him away and clothe Him in a robe and a crown of thorns. “Hail, King of the Jews!” they yell (Mark 15:18). But they don’t actually believe Jesus is the Son of God, and so they mock Him, beat Him, and then lead Him away.
Now, as Jesus hangs on the cross, the bystanders and passersby do not believe He is the Son of God. They blaspheme Him and taunt Him.
It seems everyone—Pilate, the chief priests, the multitude, the soldiers—has denied who Christ is. Nobody believes. All are blind and darkness consumes them, both literally and metaphorically.
This is our Good Friday sermon, and we know it well. We know we have to wait until Sunday, resurrection day, before we can talk about hope and life. But if we look closely at this chapter, we see a glimmer of hope begin to slide its way in, right here, in the ninth hour as the darkness lifts and Jesus cries out His final words: “‘Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Mark 15:34).
Until this moment, all we have seen and heard is denial, skepticism, and accusation toward Christ. Now, in the midst of all these voices, rises one who believes: “When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘This man really was God’s Son!’” (Mark 15:39).
Finally, the truth is spoken about who Jesus really is.
After the centurion, Mark mentions the other believers who were present, like Mary Magdalene, “many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem,” and Joseph of Arimathea (v. 40-41). The story is still dark, Sunday is not yet here, but as these people are highlighted amongst the unbelievers, we begin to feel all is not lost.
When I read the centurion’s words, I am reminded that our disbelief can never be so strong that it will change the truth about who Christ is. In our darkest moments, when everyone around us—in our country, school, workplace, or home—seems to deny Him, Jesus will always be the Son of God. Nothing we say or do, no amount of denial, can change that. What God ordained from the beginning of time cannot be thwarted by a mob. That was true in Mark 15, and it’s true today.
I am really anxious for us to get to the next part of the story, the beautiful resurrection and the hopeful ascension. But as believers, we know there is hope smack dab in the middle of the darkness. All we have to do is look up at the cross and declare what that centurion did so many years ago. Only this time, let’s use present tense: This man really is God’s Son!