Our Church Service on August 28 will take place at 4734 Samish Point Rd, Bow WA 98232 at 11 am

Jesus on the Cross - Mark 15:33-47

Apr 7, 2023    Andrey Bulanov

Text: Mark 15:33-47

Main idea: Through the cross we see our darkest darkness and our greatest hope. Jesus came to swallow up the terrible punishment that was meant for us in order to open the way to the love and presence of God. 


A. Jesus came to face the darkest darkness

- Darkness covered the land

- The cry of separation

- A painful surrender to death

B. Jesus came to unleash the greatest victory

- The curtain torn

- The unlikely confession

C. Application: Come to the cross...

…and see Jesus, the Son of God.

…and see that the ultimate source of death and darkness has been defeated.

…and receive the power to wait upon the Lord and his final victory.

…and learn that being a disciple is a process of life and victory through death and surrender. 


Example - The shadow that looms over Glipwood.

You will get from christianity is determined by what you seek.

What do you want today? What do you seek to get from God?

The reality of our world is that it is in a very dark and terrible place, beautiful as it is. There is a looming darkness over all creation. Separation from our Creator. Pain. Sin. Suffering. Death.

What is the cure?

In our time it is easy to surf from one thing to another and not really stop to consider the depths of our darkness and our suffering. That is until it hits you like a semi truck.

A major loss. Severe illness. Mental or emotional breakdown.

A lot of people want a cool Jesus that will make their lives all the better but they don't want to pause and think about the depths of their need, and so they are satisfied with a cheap fake substitute. Hipster Jesus. Prosperity Jesus. Religious Jesus.

We have been spending the last few weeks as a church examining the last few hours of the life of Jesus. We have watched as he is abandoned by his friends. As he is arrested in the dark of night by a corrupt and powerful religious leadership. We have seen how his is unjustly accused and sentenced by a foolish mob and a selfish ruler. We have seen him mocked and shamed by a people who witnessed his perfect life of love and service to all.

At every step of the way we have seen the evil and pain of the story grow thicker and darker. And today we get to the mountain top of his journey. The pinnacle of his suffering. The final destination of his difficult mission.

Throughout his life Jesus has sought to make it very clear to his disciples WHY he came. But the things he said did not make sense to them. They wanted victory and power. He predicted pain and suffering. They wanted joy and success. He predicted sorrow and isolation.

They wanted a superficial solution.

But the real Jesus came to deal with something very painful, difficult and dark. The real Jesus came to deal with the heart of what is broken in the world.

As we look at this text, we want to see in it our darkest darkness and our brightest hope. We need to see the true problem of the world in the darkness that fills our hearts and the death that awaits us all. And we want to see that Jesus is the only one who came to swallow up that darkness and to put an end to the power of death.

A. Jesus came to walk through the darkest darkness

Having given us a detailed picture of Jesus' suffering Mark gets to the story of his death.

• Darkness covers the land

"33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon." 

J. Edwards notes:

"The ancients were familiar with accounts of extraordinary occurrences accompanying the deaths of human luminaries. Rabbinic literature records strange and fantastic accounts of events at the deaths of famous rabbis—including the appearance of stars at midday, the weeping of statues, lightning, thunder, and even the dividing of the Sea of Tiberias. Likewise, at least two Roman writers record that at the death of Julius Caesar a comet shone for seven successive days. These and similar portents were usually regarded as divine eulogies honoring the noble dead.

For Mark, however, the darkness at midday is not a divine eulogy but something ominous and evil, like the plague of darkness over Egypt at the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Exod 10:21–23) or even the darkness of chaos before creation (Gen 1:2)"

The final moments of Jesus' life are not in praise for all the good he has done. The land is covered in darkness.

What is the meaning of the darkness?

At its most foundational level, darkness refers to sin and its results.

1 John 1

"5.God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

The light of God's presence in our life cleanses us from the darkness of sin in our hearts.

When we speak of darkness in general, we are speaking of evil, scary, twisted things. We refer to the brokenness of the world.

The source of all darkness is sin. It is our rebellion against our Creator. This rebellion unleashes brokenness and evil in the world.

Darkness is sin and its results.

In a way, the darkness points to the darkness before the creation of the world - pointing to the fact that sin leads to the undoing of creation, it turns the good world inside out.

That is why we say that evil is not a thing by itself. Evil is always a perversion of the good.

Example - Stranger Things - the invasion of the darkness into our world is the most terrifying thing.

This is the darkest moment in history. This is the moment when all that is broken is brought to light. This is the moment when you can't unsee the corruption and twisted perversion of sin - God's Son, the only perfect man to ever live, the Creator of the Cosmos, murdered on a cross.

This is the very opposite of creation. It is the undoing of the world.

But darkness is also judgement on sin. Sin and its effects calls out a response from the sovereign Lord of the universe, the Creator, the Maker, the Owner of all.

Amos 8:9

‘In that day,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.’ ”

This darkness hangs over HIM. In his greatest moment of need, he does not shine in glory and power (as we might have expected) but hangs suffering alone in the dark.

• The cry of separation

Jesus hangs on the cross in this darkness for three hours.

"34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 

“Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

The reason why we see the two versions of the words here is because Mark, who is writing this account of Jesus' life is writing in Greek, switches to Aramaic when he inserts the quote. Aramaic was the everyday language that Jesus and the Jew's spoke, so Mark is giving you an exact quote of his words and then translating it into greek.

"35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “See, he’s calling for Elijah.”

36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a stick, offered him a drink, 

and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”

Elijah is one of two people in the Bible who are taken up into heaven alive. There was a common expectation that Elijah would come and deliver the suffering of a prophet or righteous person in the future.

"Eloi" and "Eli" sound very similar and it makes sense how his words can be misunderstood.

But in this dark moment Jesus gets no answer. Heaven is shut to his prayers.

These are the words that take us to the very heart of judgement, to the heart of sin, to the heart of that which is broken in the world.

The most terrifying thing about sin is that creates in us a rebellion against God, and it leads to our ultimate separation from God.

That separation from our God is what creates the blackness in our hearts. That separation is the reason we fear. The reason why we can't have peace.

As Jesus hangs on the cross, that darkness of our sin was gathered up and poured out on him.

Isaiah 53 speaks to this moment is striking specificity:

"4. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,

and he carried our pains;(G)

but we in turn regarded him stricken,

struck down by God,(H) and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced because of our rebellion,(I)

crushed because of our iniquities;(J)

punishment(K) for our peace was on him,

and we are healed by his wounds.(L)

6 We all went astray like sheep;(M)

we all have turned to our own way;

and the Lord has punished him

for the iniquity(N) of us all.(O)"

A lot of people really don't like this idea. This call it a form of "divine child abuse", saying that it presents God as a cruel and blood thirsty God.

Let's tone it down a bit.

"Jesus' death is an example of faithfulness. Of humility. Jesus' death is victory of injustice and evil."

"This is just a moment when Jesus realized that his who mission failed and he was very depressed."

Anyone who has carefully read the story up till now can clearly see that that is NOT what is happening here! His whole ministry Jesus predicts that he will suffer. This is his mission.

Mark 10:45 Jesus says that he has come, not just to suffer, but to give his life as a ransom, as a payment for others. Isaiah says it was the will of the Lord to crush him. THIS is the plan. That he takes the darkness of our sin and our punishment on himself.

And as he does he cries out the desperate words of Psalm 22:1 - he is not just saying his own feelings. He is echoing the feelings of suffering sinners in his suffering.

This moment is not an accident! It is not a failure! It is a moment of fulfillment.

2 Cor. 5:21

"He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

This is the center of the mission of Jesus and our whole faith.

We call this the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. This is a doctrine that you can never get over. It is the heartbeat of the gospel.

Jesus came to face the darkness of YOUR sins, he came to take your rejection upon himself. This is not a moment when we see how HARSH and JUDGMENTAL God is, it is a moment when we see the fullness of his love!

The perfect Son of God came to face YOUR darkness for you!

As Henri Nouwen writes: “Where God’s absence was most loudly expressed, God’s presence was most profoundly revealed."

• The Death of God's Son

"37 Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last."

Mark gives multiple sources of confirmation that Jesus really died.

• Joseph of Arimathea and Pilot

◦ multiple sources confirm his death, including trained roman soldiers

• Many people who deny the resurrection saying that Jesus only passed out

Those of us who have seen death know that it really is the worst thing in the world. Death is the ultimate undoing of good. Death is reality turned inside out. When you see a dead body you get this unshakable feeling like something is really wrong.

This is something for us to consider - the Son of God died. God tasted death.

Death should not exist.

The most twisted thing that every happened was the fact that the Son of God died. God can't die. But God becoming a man can.

For Jesus to kill death he had to first be swallowed up by it.

"Let our a loud cry... and breathed his last"

This is not the normal way to die. This is a death that is a willing surrender. Jesus suffered purposefully here. Even his last breath is an intentional act.

How could this be the climax of the story? How could this be a victory? It is a very bleak and dark finish to such a perfect and wonderful life.

But notice how verse 37 is immediately connected to two main results that take place instantly as Jesus surrenders himself over to death.

B. Jesus came to unleash the greatest victory

"37 Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last. 

38 Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 

39 When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way he breathed his last, he said,

“Truly this man was the Son of God!”

• The curtain torn

The curtain hung in the temple separating the place where God dwells from the place where people could approach. It protected the Holy of Holies. It was a constant reminder that sinners cannot come into the presence of God.

It was a massive and thickly woven curtain, close to 60 x 40 feet in size, and Mark says it was torn apart from top to bottom.

Mark uses that same greek word he uses he to describe its tearing apart in the beginning of the story in the moment of Jesus' baptism. In that moment heaven was torn open and the Father spoke blessing on Jesus as he began his ministry.

Jesus was the sign of heaven being torn open and God becoming revealed to a sinful world.

Just like the sky was torn open at his baptism, the curtain is torn open at his death, opening the way to the presence of God.

Jesus experiences our darkness to let the light of God shine out from the holy of holies to the rest of the world.

From one side it seems that all is over. The corrupt religious leaders have won. The disciples and all Jesus was building is scattered. At this death, Mark notes that the only faithful ones left are a group of women who are watching from the distance.

But as they make their way back to the temple to continue their celebrations, and see this massive and beautiful curtain torn to shreds, exposing the holy of holies, I am sure that their blood ran cold in their veins.

His death was the end of nothing. It was the beginning of a force of life, of God's work in the world - the WAY TO GOD IS OPEN TO ALL.

As James Hamilton says, "God is working victory through situations that look like defeat."

• The Son of God Confessed

The second sign of victory that we see in Jesus' death is in the response of the soldier who was in charge of his execution.

"...when the centurian, who was standing opposite him, saw how he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God."

A centurian is a captain of a "century" or about 100 soldiers.

In the gospel of Mark, the title "Son of God" is the fullest and most complete title of who Jesus is. He is not just a good teacher. Up until this moment in the story, we see God the Father call Jesus the Son of God, we even see demons call Jesus by this title.

But we never see humans call him the son of God. Not even his disciples.

Of all people, the very first and only person in the story to confess that Jesus really is the Son of God is a pagan soldier??

A Roman soldier would be the least likely believer. In the Roman world, a person, no matter how powerful, who is killed on a cross is a person who is cursed, a person who is abandoned by the gods.

But as he is standing in front of the cross, and he looks deep into the suffering of Jesus, the darkness in the sky, the cry of separation, as the curtain is torn, he SEES who Jesus really is.

The cross is the center of the mission of Jesus. It is through the cross that the real identity of Jesus is revealed.

It is in the cross that REAL FAITH is born, no matter how unlikely, how distant, how sinful, how far from God you are.

"The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us." John Stott

are you the least likely person to be a christian? are you the least likely convert? Are you struggling to understand the gospel, struggling to understand what real faith means?

then you are EXACTLY the kind of person that he came for.

LOOK TO THE CROSS. Look at what Jesus did for you. Look at the darkness that he came to face in your place. Look at what it tells you about the blackness of your own soul. And look at how his payment sets you free, how he is the only one who opens the way to God.

C. Application

What do you expect from christianity? Are you looking for superficial answers? Or are you looking for an answer to the darkness that hangs over the world? The darkness that fills every human heart?

1. The cross reveals to you the Son of God who came to take your place.

• COME AND SEE THE SAVIOR, and be transformed by what you see. See the King who loved you and loves you. The King who will never leave you or forsake you. The King who have himself to have you.

2. Come to the cross and see that the ultimate source of death and darkness has been defeated.

The cross unleashes a process of healing and victory that begins to spread to the world through the hearts of those who see Jesus, and in seeing are transformed and washed clean by his death.

Notice that this is a process. Accepting Jesus does not mean that I automatically get health, wealth and property. We still battle with our sin. We still feel pain. We still live in broken bodies. We still struggle with the effects of sin - fear, anxiety, depression, selfishness.

But notice how the cross transforms our view of ALL our struggles.

Through the cross we see that it is only a matter of time before ALL sickness, all tears, all suffering are wiped away.

Isaiah 25

7.On this mountain

he will swallow up the burial shroud,

the shroud over all the peoples,

the sheet covering all the nations.

8 When he has swallowed up death once and for all,

the Lord God will wipe away the tears

from every face

and remove his people’s disgrace

from the whole earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

9 On that day it will be said,

“Look, this is our God;

we have waited for him, and he has saved us.

This is the Lord; we have waited for him.

Let’s rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

3. Come to the cross and receive the power to wait upon the Lord and his final victory because through his suffering you have been cleared of guilt and fear.

4. Come to the cross and learn that being a disciple is a process of life and victory through death and surrender.

this is the only path of victory because the very source of evil that needed to be stamped out was US. Thus, God had to kill evil by dying for us to save us. the devil has no power outside the power to lead us into sin.

this is the posture that surrender's to GOD as God over our lives. It invites HIM to work in us, to fix us, to make us knew and use us for this purposes