The Crucifixion

This is written by Matt Coombs. He is married to Pip and is on the leadership team at St Mary's with responsibility for all things pastoral, small groups and students. 

Mark 15:16-32

The soldiers mock Jesus

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spat on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means 'the place of the skull'). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, 'So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!' 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.' Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Reflection

I find it immensely painful and uncomfortable to reflect upon the crucifixion of Jesus. For Christians it is the most painful day in human history.

Isaac Watts once wrote "Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?" There is something especially grizzly about a thorny crown being mockingly placed upon Jesus' head. He wouldn't have looked very kingly. Kings are powerful. Kings dominate over others. Kings fight and win battles. They might even send others to fight on their behalf.

Thorns and thistles represent the curse placed on a fallen earth (Gen 3:18). At the cross King Jesus takes this curse on himself. He wears every thorny hurt and messy consequence we make for ourselves like a crown, and unsurprisingly it bears him down and crushes him.

As the prophet Isaiah once wrote: "he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed." (Is 53:5).

What an unusual king Jesus is. He's the king who rejects power over others but becomes a servant of all. Who rejects violence and chooses suffering and death showing love to those who were doing harm to him. He's the king whose crown doesn't reveal his glory but his humility.

Once and for all the cross changes everything. King Jesus suffers to bring healing, wholeness and life to all our thorny places. In knowing and experiencing this newness we sing to the king of kings "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

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