Do You See Jesus
Text: Mark 15: 24-47
Proposition: We each see Jesus differently yet there is just One Jesus. We need to see Jesus as He truly is, as Hebrews 2:9 describes Him, for then we begin to see us.
It was the preparation day before Passover and people were making ready just as the Scripture prescribed. The Passover lamb in Exodus 12 was to be a male, a yearling without blemish, killed at twilight and its blood smeared on the two doorposts and on the overhead beam of the door. At midnight the Lord would Passover and if He saw the blood marking their home they would be exempt from the plague of death that would kill all the first born of their herds and families. If you had been in Jerusalem after the arrest and trials of Jesus then every person you would have talked to would have known that it was Passover and what the story behind it was. What they didn’t know was the connection of Jesus the Rabbi, the healer, the teacher and prophet now being nailed to a cross, to that great feast called Passover. What they failed to realize is that if you don’t know Who Jesus is you can’t know why Passover is. If you don’t know who Jesus is you don’t even really know why you are. Consider this quote, “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him.” (From the first Harvard University Student Handbook, 1636. For over 100 years more than 50% of all Harvard graduates were pastors.) This morning we’re going to look at four groups of people that were there at this Passover. Each group differed from the other but they all saw the same Jesus. Turn with me to Mark 15:24-47.
I. The Soldiers Saw Jesus as a Waste of Time.
For the soldiers Jesus was a job, the group of four that were assigned the execution went about it routinely, dispassionately, like slaughterhouse workers, detached and yet efficient. The account in Mark 15: 24 says, “And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.” It was to them a perk of the job to get the leftovers. What is amazing is that they were right there, beside the cross, next to Jesus and had no idea of either Who He was nor of the significance of what they were doing. In Psalm 22, it describes these very moments, “…The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet… They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” It says in Mark 15:25 that it was the third hour when they crucified Jesus, meaning about 9am by Mark’s reckoning. Verse 33 says that about the sixth hour things suddenly changed, there was an earthquake and a darkness fell on the whole land until the ninth hour. For six hours these soldiers waited, right next to Christ and yet despite everything they didn’t see Jesus. That’s the way if often is, the evidence of Christ, the very person of Christ can be right there and Jesus is a waste of time, they don’t see Him, nor why they are here. Then at the moment of Christ’s death comes verse 39. “So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” We don’t know what convinced him so deeply, was it the way Jesus chose the moment to die. Was it the evident innocence of the Lamb of God, was it the authority of Christ that he recognized? Whatever God used to speak to this centurion his heart was opened, he saw Jesus, not a waste of time for Jesus was, IS, the Son of God.
II. The Criminals Saw Jesus as One Who Was Guilty.
In 15:27 it says, “With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left.” They too feel life slipping away from them but even in that state they must have noticed the absolutely beaten and bloodied body of Jesus. They had to have seen the crown of thorns and maybe even the sign above His head that said, ‘The King of the Jews’. My point is that they saw Jesus but were unaware of the scripture they themselves fulfilled in this moment. Isaiah 53:12 says, “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death and He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” He was numbered with the transgressors, that’s what the criminals saw, they saw Him as guilty and in a very real sense He was for He took their guilt upon Himself. The intercession He made was not only to cry out, ‘Father forgive them…’, it was also to step into their guilt and bear the judgment of it. And yet, here too there was a remnant. Luke tells us (Lk 23:39-42) that though one of the criminals taunted Jesus saying that Christ should release Himself from this agony and death the other suddenly saw Jesus. He cries out to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” You remember Jesus reply. We might speculate that it was the obvious innocence of Jesus that provoked this statement of faith yet I would submit to you it is a declaration of several things. It is never too late to see Jesus and to call out to Him. There is room at the cross for you, despite what you might have done or might not have done. He cried out to Jesus and you can too.
III. The Bystanders Shook Their Heads in Disbelief.
These were people who either saw the claims of Christ as impossible or who saw what was being done to Him as horrific beyond belief. The first group is in verse 29, 30 and what they blindly mock Him with, the demand to save Himself, is the very reason He hangs there at all. It is to save them and should He have done what they said all humanity would be damned. They stood right there and yet did not see the Passover Lamb, did not see Jesus. The other group is mentioned in verses 40, 41, women who stood at a distance, women who followed Him, who ministered to Him, horrified at the sight of their Lord so undone in blood and pain. Yet these saw Jesus for long after everyone else had gone they stayed. It is a statement to the veracity and truth of Scripture that if this was just a story written by the men of that day, concocted by churches over the centuries it would never have occurred to them to make the prime witnesses of the cross and the resurrection of Christ the women of the first century. But God so chose it because they saw Jesus.
IV. The Chief Priests and Members of the Sanhedrin Hold Out Their Belief.
In Mark 15:32 it reports their accusation, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Yet a Christ that would save Himself would be NO Christ at all. Blood NOT smeared on the doorposts and lintel was no of use at the moment of Passover. Now the door posts and lintel were the left and right hands of Christ and the bloodied head above them the lintel. He is the door! Here too there is a remnant, in verse 43 we read, “Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.” The council referred to here is the Sanhedrin, the ones who held the third interrogation of Christ. Though a member he had not consented to all this (LK 23:51). John 19:38 describes him as ‘a secret disciple of Jesus’ but there comes a time when being a secret disciple is not what is needed. Joseph goes to Pilate and asks for the now dead body of Christ. You know that what Joseph did would disqualify him from partaking of Passover because he would handle a corpse. You know that word of what had happened would reach the Sanhedrin and Joseph would lose everything. You know that the body of Jesus would have been thrown down into a pit where all the criminals were discarded. You know that the word of God reached into the soul of Joseph and fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9, “And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.” Such a tomb would leave the witness of grave clothes and a face wrapping. Such a tomb would evidence a stone rolled away becoming the seat of angels, a stone rolled away, a way not for Christ to get out but for us to get in. All through this we know that the call is to see Jesus.
Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” That is the call to you here today, ‘Do you see Jesus? Look He is there on the cross because of you, there risen... for you!