Mark 15.37-47

Title: The Son of God Part 2

Text: Mark 15.21-39

Introduction: We continue our message from last week in Mark 15.37. You can see from the PP that the message is entitled “The Son of God” Part 2

I’ve outlined the message this way:

  1. The Crucifixion of the Son of God
  2. The Rejection of the Son of God
  3. The Death of the Son of God
  4. The Burial of the Son of God

Transition: I think Mark’s story is simple, brief, and restrained. He doesn’t try to move us to sympathy for Christ as he is tortured and punished; Nor, does he try to make us angry at those who we consider Christ’s enemies. So, let’s pick up in Mark 15, v21 Where we see…

I. The Crucifixion of the Son of God (21-28)

exp.: The crucifixion is a process of execution. An agonizingly slow process of execution.

ill.: Dr. Mark Kubala, Outreach Magazine, April 13, 2017: To envision the pain and emotional stress Jesus endured, it may be helpful to share an analogy.

Imagine your family has allowed you to go by yourself to see some old friends you haven’t seen in many years. They live in a remote, desolate area of the Texas desert. You want to surprise your friends, so you don’t tell them you’re coming.

You turn off the main highway and travel for miles on a dusty dirt road, then fail to negotiate an unexpected sharp turn. Because of the heat, you neglect to buckle your seat belt. The car rolls over, and you are thrown out of the car. As you fall out of the car, your scalp is cut by the edge of the door.

You land on your back in a bed of prickly cacti. You suffer multiple cuts to your back. The back of your leg lands on a sharp rock which cuts the artery behind your knee. You cannot get up because the door of the overturned car has your legs pinned. You can’t find or reach your cell phone. Your suitcase has fallen on your chest, and you can’t move it. You have trouble breathing. Every time you try to move, the pain becomes excruciating. You are literally abandoned. You see your blood seep out of your body and over the next few hours you become faint, as you slowly go into shock. You know you are dying, and there’s nothing you can do.

exp.: Pilate commissions his Roman soldiers to carry out that execution. Mark is very matter-of-fact about his storytelling. He almost lists these moments and actions as bullets.

So physically taxing was this process for Christ, that he failed to carry his own cross to Golgotha. The Soldiers are tasked with the action to keep the process going. Jesus has been so mistreated that he can’t keep going. So, (rd v 21) they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Consider what Mark has done in our text:

  1. He’s dropped a name they would know, a witness to what had happened. This is probably someone they knew.
  2. He’s told them where it happened. A place that would have been familiar to them. They probably knew what he was talking about.
  3. He’s quoted to them or referenced to them Old Testament Scripture, demonstrating that this was foretold in times past.   

t.s.: First, The Son of God is Crucified, and 2nd, he is rejected.

II. The Rejection of the Son of God (29-36)

exp.: Jesus is rejected while hanging on the cross. There are people who pass by and mock him on the cross. The religious leaders also continue mocking him (29-32). This mocking continues until the end. Rd v35f; then in v 37, we read that Jesus died… That’s point #3, where we pick up this morning.


III. The Death of the Son of God (37-39)

exp.: Jesus cries out and breathes his last breath. Rd v 37; Two of his 7 Statements come to mind: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. And, It is finished. He is dead. The penalty for sins has been satisfied. But something absolutely incredible happens at this moment. Rd v 38: the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Many have asked if this could be true. Well, for the believer, we have God’s word. But as for secular history, the answer is yes. Listen to Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

“And now a shudder ran through Nature, as its Sun had set. We dare not do more than follow the rapid outlines of the Evangelistic narrative. As the first token, it records the rending of the Temple-Veil in two from the top downward to the bottom; as the second, the quaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks, and the opening of the graves… while the rending of the Veil is recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel, it may have been connected with the earthquake, although this alone might scarcely account for the tearing of so heavy a Veil from the top to the bottom. Even the latter circumstance has its significance. That some great catastrophe, betokening the impending destruction of the Temple, had occurred in the Sanctuary about this very time, is confirmed by not less than four mutually independent testimonies: those of Tacitus, of Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition. The most important of these are, of course, the Talmud and Josephus. The latter speaks of the mysterious extinction of the middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick, forty years before the destruction of the Temple; and both he and the Talmud refer to a supernatural opening by themselves of the great Temple-gates that had been previously closed, which was regarded as a portent of the coming destruction of the Temple”

I think it is wonderful when we have external evidence of Biblical recorded history. But we shouldn’t need it, but it sure does feel nice when we do! Well, all of these miraculous, supernatural events take place as bulleted notes by Mark. Rd v 39; Then, the centurion, who has charge over the detail, stood facing Jesus. As he witnesses the death of Jesus he remarks, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”(37-39).

app.: this statement is in line with what we’ve been reading in Mark for a year now. In chapter 1 Mark tells us this in the first verse. Then, in v 13, God says, this is my son! The demons recognize him as the chapters roll by. In Chapter 9, on the Mt. of Transfiguration, God once again declares the identity of who this is: His Son! Not once does a human acknowledge this, until now. And Mark closes out his book with this revelation. Theologians call this a melodic line. There is a phrase that echoes through the book called a melodic line.

t.s.: And for Mark, it is this: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So, we have the Crucifixion, the Rejection, the Death, and now, the burial of the Son of God.

IV. The Burial of the Son of God (40-47)

exp.: more witnesses; rd v 40;

  1. Women: the men have abandoned him. At this point, only the women who were a part of his ministry remain. John records that he himself was there and was given the responsibility to care for Mary from now on. It turns out that these women had been faithfully serving Christ for some time. Look at verse 41; I’d like to note that Mary of Magdala, is always mentioned first when listing the women. She takes some prominence. Salome is listed, as well. Matthew identifies her as the mother of James and John. Likewise in Matthew, we see that she is the source of the request that one of her sons sit on the right hand of Jesus and the other, on the left. Mark lists these three and uses them as representative of a group of women who serve the Master (rd v 41).

These women serve an important role, in that, not only are they witnesses to his death, but they’ll also serve as witnesses of his burial and the location of that burial plot. The role of women in the first century was considered insignificant. We really haven’t seen too much of them throughout this book. It is only now that we find out about their significant role in Christ’s ministry. In other gospels, we learn that some were wealthy or prominent women.

  • The evening hours are upon them and Jewish custom required that a dead body be buried before nightfall. Read v 42f; Added to this stress, Mark tells us it is the day of Preparation. The Sabbath is upon them. They wouldn’t be able to work on the Sabbath. All preparations for his burial must be completed before sundown (I have found conflicting information here).

Joseph of Arimathea steps forward and requests the body of Jesus – to bury him properly. I can’t stress to you how important Joseph turns out to be. Their customs, practices, mores, and understandings would have made this situation difficult for the family. If they were from Nazareth, what would they do with his body? It should have been dumped outside of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom or the City Dump. This action by Joseph would work so nicely, and it would serve the family well. It is really a remarkable gesture.

His body would then be hastily prepared because of the late hour. The women could return to this tomb first thing Sunday morning and finish the task of properly burying Jesus’ body. It could remain in the tomb for a year. And then after that year, the bones could be collected and placed in an ossuary. Then, they would be transported back to the family plot – wherever that might be. Joseph has a tomb nearby and volunteers it. Again, incredible.

A Couple of thoughts:

  1. Joseph’s actions are evidence that not all the Sanhedrin were allied against Christ. Added to this, John tells us in his Gospel that Nicodemus also participated in burying Jesus. So, more evidence that not all the Sanhedrin were against Jesus. Furthermore, the text says that Joseph had to gather up his courage to go to Pilate and ask for the body. It’s like he was counting the cost of making public his decision to follow Christ publicly. Other Gospels tell us that he was a secret follower and that he was wealthy. I’m guessing from this point forward, that it isn’t much of a secret! And it doesn’t look like Joseph wanted it to be a secret.
  2. Rd v 44f; Pilate is surprised by the death of Jesus – that is, that he died so quickly. He needs confirmation from the Centurion and gets it.
  3. Some have argued that this brevity and concern of Pilate offers evidence that Jesus wasn’t ‘really’ dead. There are a couple of stories in history that tell of crucified individuals who lived. One is a fictional satire written by Petronius. The story goes that the family brings their own member down off the cross while the Roman guard is away. But again, it is fiction. The second story is from Josephus, who finds out that three of his friends are being crucified. Josephus petitions Titus for their release and is granted his petition. Two of the men died, but one recovered from his injuries. But again, these stories aren’t anything like ours, where it was erroneously assumed by some that the Roman Centurion misdiagnosed the victim! BTW: there is no record of a Roman Guard ever misdiagnosing the death of an executed criminal.

Exp.: Mark then gets back to his story. Rd v46; Jewish custom would require him to wash the body and add ointments and spices. This was a temporary fix and would be remedied come Sunday morning when the women returned to the burial site.

Many such tombs have been discovered through the years and are available for tourists to visit. I visited one such site, the site not too far from the Golgatha, considered to be the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the tomb Jesus will borrow for three days.

Well, we kind of have a Markan Sandwich again, as Mark circles back around to the women in v 47; you see them in v 40f and then again here; rd v 47’ – identifying them as witnesses to this event. We’ll pick up with this on Easter Sunday morning.

Conclusion: so, let me wrap this up.  Let me leave you with a couple of thoughts to take home with you.


  1. What are we to make of the foreigners in our story? Most of the Jews hated the Romans and their presence in Israel. The reality is most of them detested all foreigners. That was never their calling, though. They were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles. Interestingly, now, God uses foreigners in our story – and Mark reminds us. Simon from Cyrene – probably a Jew by birth, but from the African continent. More importantly, a 2nd foreigner, the Centurion was used to make the declaration Mark has been impressing on his readers since Chapter one. “Surely this was the Son of God.” This is a reminder to me that when I detest certain people – I’m not likely to share Christ with them. I want the foreigner out. He’s making things harder on me. Whether it is an illegal immigrant or a transgendered militant, Jesus died for their sins, too. Just as he did for me. Am I no different than the Jewish leadership who I rail on? Am I evangelistic, as I’ve been called to be to everyone? And, if I don’t share this incredible message of hope with those who are different than me, who will share with them? Or, should I say, if WE don’t share this incredible story, who will?
  2. What are we to make of the darkness in our story? And also, What about the torn Veil? In Genesis 15, there is a beautiful story about God’s faithfulness. He promises Abraham a heritage. And then, God cuts a covenant with Abraham. The animal is killed and cut into two pieces. God then passes between the two pieces of the sacrifice. This is huge. God invokes a curse upon himself should He ever fail in this regard, (which He won’t ever do because it isn’t in his nature,) then that death is what should happen to Him. So, in this story in Genesis, there is beauty and tragedy. Gen 15.12ff.

There is this darkness that is ‘dreadful and great’. I think about this moment when I consider our text, and how darkness covered the land for 3 hours. I think also of the plague of darkness in Exodus. I think there is a connection here for us. Darkness is a theme of judgment – Jesus refers to Hell as being ‘cast into outer darkness. There is beauty and hope and fear and tragedy all at the same time!

What hope is there for us? It is only through Christ and what he has accomplished on the Cross. That was all put on him at that moment. Without Christ – that is the judgment waiting for you. I would be remiss if I failed to tell you that.

Added to this, the veil being torn in two demonstrates that the separation between God and man has been removed. We now have access to God through Christ.

  • There is a planned baptism next Sunday. Wednesday night, I’m going to talk about baptism and why we do it. Why is our baptism different than that of say, Catholics or the Church of Christ? Why do we call new believers to baptism? Is it really that important? This Wednesday night.

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Filed under Evangelism, Genesis, Judgment, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

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