The Abandonment of Christ
Text: Mark 14:43- 15:34
Proposition: The abandonment of Christ emphasizes that it was in Him alone that we are now saved and at the same time the sinner now incurs the wrath of God not just because of sin but also because of the rejection of His Messiah for sin.
Introduction: Today we are going to examine a large portion of well known Scripture, not so much for the minute details contained in them but rather for the way that they are all connected together. The breadth of the account in Mark runs from the betrayal kiss of Judas and the subsequent arrest of Jesus to the two trials of Jesus, His abuse by the soldiers and finally to His death on the cross. The story is well known but what are some of the threads connect all the accounts? The arrest, trial, humiliation and execution on the cross tell us of the way that Jesus concluded the first phase of His earthly ministry but if we were to stand back from the intense details what would we see? I believe that there are two distinct conclusions that we will come to, these conclusions are meant to exalt Jesus Christ so that as the Father sees Jesus, so too might we see Him in the same way. Let’s read the passages:
Mark 14:43-52 ; Mark 14: 53-65; Mark 14:66-72; Mark 15: 1-14; Mark 15:15-23; Mark 15:24-34.
The first conclusion is the more obvious of the two, it grows in intensity as the accounts progress.
I. The Abandonment of Jesus Emphasizes That Salvation Is In Him Alone. You can see the intensity of abandonment increasing in these passages. If we were to put a heading over each section of Scripture that we just read it might look like this:
1. The Abandonment of the Church – Mark 14:43-52 Though these would later become the committed foundation of the church their desertion of Jesus is so absolute that the Christian faith can only look to the person of Jesus as the One who accomplished this. There were no heroes in this moment, no particular martyrs that somehow enabled Jesus to go the distance. These disciples were the leadership of the church and as they fall away from Jesus we hear Jesus say that the Scripture must be fulfilled. The gospel of John (18:6) records how Judas and the whole crowd with him fell back to the ground when Jesus identified Himself. It describes how Peter sought to defend Him but Jesus stops Peter, even healing the man he wounded. These signs should have turned the crowd around yet nothing can prevent this moment from happening, the Scripture must be fulfilled as the church is stripped from Jesus for this time is His alone.
2. The Abandonment of Israel – Mark 14:53-65 It is the leadership of Israel, the high priest, all the chief priests, the elders and the scribes, that have been assembled at 3 in the morning in order to quickly conduct a hearing that had as it’s goal the death of Jesus. They try to adhere to God’s Law even as they accuse the Son of God but they are unsuccessful. They cannot cause truth to emerge out of deception and their very enterprise is on the verge of failing until Jesus Himself gives them what they need. The response is again a fulfillment of Scripture, Isaiah 50:6, “I gave My back to those who struck Me and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” These words describe the way that Israel abandoned the Messiah, the people called the ‘apple of His eye’ and ‘My first born’ turned their contempt upon Him as they rejected Him.
3. The Abandonment of Friends – Mark 14:66-72 This was probably experienced by Peter as a consuming fear that one moment wasn’t there and the next moment it seemed impossible to resist. It was a fear that twice came from the lips of a young girl as she began to expose the truth of who Peter is. In fact at one point Peter has to change his identity in front of them, he curses and swears as an effort to convince that surely he is not the godly disciple of Jesus. But in the end it is as Jesus had foretold, Peter, the rock of the church, abandons Jesus at sunrise.
4. The Abandonment by Human Reason and Justice - Mark 15: 1-14 The trial of Jesus by Pilate was one area over which this whole process might have changed course. The Jews not only held no authority over this level of justice, they were often the very target of this courts contempt. What they wanted they usually didn’t get as this was a court of reasoned Roman response and not spiritual practice. Pilate even perceives that the odds are unfair, he sees the silence of Jesus as very unusual, he hears the charge and considers it out of proportion to the death penalty they are demanding. One more Scripture is fulfilled in the passage of Isaiah 53, once more Jesus is abandoned as even civil authority ceases to do what it was designed for.
5. The Abandonment by the Gentile People - Mark 15:15-23 It is a sorry thing to think that this pack of human pit bulls could be seen as representative of the Gentile peoples yet think for a moment about how they viewed Jesus. They saw His claims as being utter foolishness, it was why they mocked Him as they did. Look at 1 Corinthians 1:23 “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” Or even Romans 10:19, “But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” Jesus was to these Roman soldiers the height of foolishness, dying for a cause that the human eye could not see and for this they too abandoned Him.
6. The Abandonment of Jesus To Bear the Penalty of Sin - Mark 15: 24-34 The height of abandonment goes deeper and then deepest here. It portrays the abandonment of rich and poor, the abandonment of the living and the soon to be dead and ultimately the abandonment of Jesus to the full penalty of sin as He cries out, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus is not expressing surprise in this place of anguish, He is again recalling how the Scripture is fulfilled as he quotes Psalm 22:1. But perhaps what He didn’t quote out loud was the other portions of that Psalm, verses 10, 11, “I was cast upon You from birth, from My mothers womb You have been My God. Be not far from Me for trouble is near, for there is none to help.”
The progressive abandonment of Jesus in these accounts points not just to the way that Jesus was isolated but it emphasizes that what He did in paying the price for our sin, He did alone. “He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”- Psalm 62:6
Consider now the second possible conclusion of these verses:
II. This Rejection of Jesus Brings Man To a New Degree of Accountability. Before the cross God sought tirelessly to show man the existence of sin and impossibility of man to defeat it on his own. The Mosaic Law had this as its purpose, to expose sin and the impossibility of mans sacrifices to ever take sin away from the relationship between God and man. So before the cross man was judged for his faith response to using the sacrifices God had prescribed for sin. That was what he was held accountable for, the obedience and faith to trust in temporary sacrifice. But all this was only to ready man for the one and only sacrifice that could atone for sin for all for all time. This would be the sacrifice of the Son of God for their sin and faith in Him for having accomplished this would be the only means of eternal reconciled relationship with the Father. John Walvoord in his book, ‘Jesus Christ Our Lord’ wrote, “The condemnation of the sinner now is not simply because he is a sinner, but because he has rejected God’s provision to care for his sin. Though he is still judged according to his works, his eternal punishment has a new character of being, that which he chose in rejecting the love and grace in Christ.” John 3:18,19 says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
So two threads tie these accounts together, the abandonment that emphasizes it is Jesus alone who saves and the rejection that emphasizes the greater judgment of God upon man for not only the presence of sin but for turning away from the Savior who was specifically sent for man. When God the Father sees Jesus, He sees both His greatest love and His greatest sorrow. The Son of God given to the world through the incarnation changed the physical identity of God for eternity and it changed the spiritual identity of man for eternity through this cross. “And by His stripes we are healed.”