The Death Of The Suffering Servant

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Mark 15:33-41:

 About noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until around three o’clock. Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthani” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, “He is calling for Elijah.” One of them ran and grabbed a sponge. After he had soaked it in wine, he put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus. He said, “Let’s wait and see if Elijah will come and take him down!” Jesus shouted and then died. At once the curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom. A Roman army officer was standing in front of Jesus. When the officer saw how Jesus died, he said, “This man really was the Son of God!” Some women were looking on from a distance. They had come with Jesus to Jerusalem. But even before this they had been his followers and had helped him while he was in Galilee. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joseph were two of these women. Salome was also one of them.

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Everyone loves the traditional Hollywood ending. The hero gets the girl and rides off into the sunset to the adoring gazes of his fans. In our idealized world, that is how we want every story to end. Just a reminder, real life is not like the movies.

 If any man who ever lived deserved the title of “hero”, it was the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, He did not have leading man good looks, Isa. 53:2. He did not have heroic, selfless followers, Mark 10:35-37. He did not have money, earthly power, or a fancy sports car, Matt. 8:20; 2 Cor. 8:9.

In fact, there was nothing about Jesus that made Him stand out from His fellow Jew.

 Yet, I submit to you that the world has never seen a greater hero than the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Jesus left His home in Heaven, invaded this world, His arch enemy’s own territory, to redeem His people from their sins. Jesus Christ, who was, is, and ever shall be God, came to this world and became a man, Phil. 2:5-8: “think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead, he gave up everything and became a slave when he became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross”.

He lived a sinless life, perfectly keeping the Law of God for those who could not keep it. Then, He was rejected by the very people He came to save, John 1:11: “He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him.”

Jesus came to this world to provide a way for the lost to be saved. In order for Him to open this way of salvation, He had to die. He had to be nailed to a cross and executed, the innocent dying for the guilty, 1 Pet. 3:18. “Christ died once for our sins. An innocent person died for those who are guilty. Christ did this to bring you to God when his body was put to death and his spirit was made alive.”

 Jesus was rejected by the Jews. They accused Him of blasphemy and declared that He was worthy of death. They beat Him, bound Him, and took Him to Pontius Pilate. Pilate refused to free Jesus and upheld the death sentence, turning Jesus over to his soldiers so that they could execute Him. Those soldiers took Jesus and they mocked Him, they beat Him with a scourge, and they led Him away to a place called Calvary, where they nailed Him to the cross.

 Our text opens with Jesus on the cross. By the time we come to verse 33, Jesus has been on the cross for three hours. During those first three hours, He has suffered all the pain the cross can mete out. During that time, Jesus has also been mocked by the jeering crowds.

Those first three hours were a time of pain, degradation, and shame. During that time, humanity had its way with the Creator. The God Who made man out of the dust of the earth was dying for sin on a cross right before them and they had no more compassion for Him than they would have for a dog run over in the road.

 Up to this point, Jesus has suffered greatly at the hands of man. Now, it is time for Him to suffer at the hands of His Heavenly Father. The cross was not about man having his chance to attack God. The cross was about God judging His Son for sin in the place of sinners.

In these verses, we will witness The Death of The Suffering Servant. In this passage, we will see Jesus as He suffers for our sins on the cross. We will witness some of the price He paid that day so that we might go free. We will see The Misery of His Death, The Miracles at His Death and The Ministry of His Death. Let us consider these thoughts together as we witness The Death of The Suffering Servant.


 As I said, by the time we come to this verse, Jesus has been on the cross for three hours. Nails have been driven through His hands and His feet. The nails passing through His hands would have been near the median nerves. This would have caused acute spasms of pain to shoot through the Lord’s body. The muscles of His body would be cramping from dehydration and from being forced to remain in such an unnatural position for a long period of time. The spasms in His body would have caused His back, which had been lacerated from the scourging, to writhe against the wood. A raging thirst would have gripped the Lord. We can only try to imagine the agony He endured that day as He died for us on the cross.

By noon, the Lord’s physical suffering was not even close to being over. By the “sixth hour”, he had endured inconceivable physical agony, but His spiritual sufferings were just about to commence.

We are told that “there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” After humanity had abused and shamed the Son, God the Father turned the lights out. This was not an eclipse of the sun. That would not have been possible at the Passover, which was held just after a full moon. This was not a natural darkness; it was a supernatural darkness. It also appears that this darkness was not worldwide, but that it was localized in Israel.

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Why did God cause this darkness to fall upon Israel the day Jesus died? I want to offer a few possible reasons for this.

  • One reason has to do with the people around the cross. For three hours they have laughed, mocked, and stared as Jesus Christ hung in nakedness and shame on the cross. Now, God brought about a dense darkness to prevent them from seeing what He was about to do to His Son. What Christ was about to endure was so holy that sinful humanity was not worthy to look upon it.
  •  Another reason has to do with ancient prophecy. The Prophet Amos warned of the coming judgment of God against the sinfulness of Israel. In Amos 8:9, the Lord said this, “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.”

Throughout the Bible, darkness is associated with the judgment of God. In Exodus 10:21-23, God sent darkness upon the land of Egypt as a sign of His coming judgment. The Egyptians worshipped a god named “Ra”. He was the “sun god”. God extinguished his power.

 Jesus said that His second coming would be announced by darkness, Mark 3:24-25. In those days, the sun will not shine, the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from the heavens. It will be a time of judgment.

When the darkness fell on Israel that day, God was signalling that the judgment of that nation was at hand.

  • A third reason has to do with the curse of sin. The lost are held captive in the darkness of their sins. Jesus entered the very darkness of sin that we might be brought out of darkness into “His marvellous light. The darkness that covered Israel lasted for three hours. As far as we know, the darkness silenced the people around the cross. For three hours, there was little sound or movement. At the end of that time, from the depths of that oppressive darkness, Jesus cries, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”.

To understand why Jesus made that terrible cry, we need to understand what was happening during those three hours of darkness. While Jesus hung on the cross that day, the sins of those who would be saved were transferred to Jesus Christ. As Paul would later write in 2 Cor. 5:21, Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.

  While darkness covered the nation of Israel that day, the blessed Lord of glory was plunged into the greatest darkness He had ever known. The holy, sinless, Lamb of God literally became sin on that cross. Peter would put it this way, “Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed,”

Consider what this means. It means that every lie, every murder, every act of revenge, every aborted baby, every word of blasphemy, and every evil deed committed by all those who would ever be redeemed by His blood was placed on Him. It means that all the pride, all the hatred, all the sexual sin, all the immorality, all the wickedness and all the ungodliness of His people was placed on Him. It means that every rape, every molestation, every injustice, and every evil thought or deed ever committed by those He would redeem was placed on Jesus.

Can you imagine how this must have repulsed His holy soul? Here is a man Who cannot sin. He was born without a sinful nature and He had no desire for, or impulse to commit sin, ever! Here is a man Who is accustomed to holiness and righteousness. Now, all the sins of His Bride are placed on Him. The spiritual agony Jesus endured that day far outweighed any physical torment He might have suffered.

 When that transaction was made on the cross, God the Father focused all His wrath against sin into the body of His Son. God judged Him as if He were every one of those who would come to Christ. God treated Jesus as if He were a murderer, a rapist, a whoremonger, or a blasphemer. In that moment of time, Jesus suffered the greatest agony of Hell itself. He suffered separation from the presence of His Father!

By the way, the greatest pain of Hell will not be the fire. It will not be the thirst. It will not be the gnashing of teeth. The greatest agony of Hell will be eternal separation from Almighty God, and with a flaming fire. Our Lord Jesus will punish anyone who does not know God and will not obey his message. Their punishment will be eternal destruction, and they will be kept far from the presence of our Lord and His glorious strength.

 When Jesus cried “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” or “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” some of the people near the cross thought He was calling on Elijah. An ancient Jewish legend said that Elijah would come to the aid of righteous Jews in their hour of need. One of the soldiers gave Jesus a drink of vinegar, which was a weak, tart wine that was said to take away thirst better than plain water. The people thought they might see a miracle that day. They thought that Elijah might show up and save Jesus.

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 When Jesus cried like He did, He was not calling on Elijah. Jesus was quoting Psalm 22:1, but He was doing more than that! He was signalling that He had been judged in the place of sinners and for sin! Mark tells us in verse 37, that He “cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” John tells us what He cried. John 19:30 says, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

The phrase “it is finished” translates the Greek word “tetelestai” [τετελεσται]. It was a common word that had many meanings in that society. The primary usage had to do with two parties coming together in agreement on a price. When an agreement had been reached that mutually satisfactory, they parties would say “tetelestai”. It meant, “the deal has been struck and both parties are satisfied.”

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When Jesus went to the cross, He went to satisfy God. Jesus did not die to pay the devil. Jesus died because, “the wages of sin is death”, Rom. 6:23. Jesus died because the only way we could ever be free was for an innocent man to give His life in our place. That is what Jesus did!

 He took our sins upon Him and He was judged in our place. He died when He knew the Father was satisfied. That is why the Bible says Jesus is “the propitiation for our sins”, 1 John 2:2.

 The death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary was the ultimate expression of God’s love for the lost. Jesus Christ died in physical and spiritual agony to save His people from their sins. He did it not because we deserved it, but because He loved us. He did it because we could not save ourselves.


The death of Jesus was attended by more supernatural miracles. When Jesus died, Matthew says this, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many,” Matt. 27:51-53.

 Imagine that! There were earthquakes, rocks shattered, graves burst open, and long dead saints got up and walked about the city. It was a miraculous moment.

 The greatest miracle mentioned is in verse 38 of our text. We are told, “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”

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The veil in Solomon’s Temple hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. According to the Law, only the High Priest could go behind that veil, and he could only go there one day each year. God promised Israel that He would dwell between the two cherubim that stood over the Mercy seat. He promised that He would meet with His people there.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to take the blood of a lamb and enter the Holy of Holies. He was to sprinkle that blood on the Mercy seat, which rested on top of the Ark of the Covenant, making atonement for the sins of the people. To enter the Holy of Holies at any other time, and without blood, was to violate the holiness of God and it meant certain death.

 The priests in Jesus’ day did not need to worry about that, the glory of God had long departed from the Temple. He was no longer there, neither was the Ark of the Covenant or the Mercy seat.

 That veil stood as a barrier between man and God. That veil said to all who entered the Temple, “This far and no farther!” The moment Jesus died, that massive veil, which was so thick it was said that a team of horses could not tear it apart, ripped down the middle, as if a giant sword had sliced it into two.

That rent veil signalled the end of the Jewish sacrificial system. That rent veil proclaimed that the way to God was open for all who would come to Him. That rent veil means that whosoever will can come to Jesus and be saved by the grace of God. That rent veil means the way to God is open and all who will can come.

I remind you today, this text makes on thing as crystal clear: There are not many ways to God, there is only one Way, and His name is Jesus. Muhammad did not die for sin. Buddha did not die for sin. Joseph Smith did not die for sin. There was only one man on that cross that day and His name was and is Jesus. He is the one Who died for sin and for sinners. All those who come to Him will be forever saved!


Among those standing around the cross that day was a Roman centurion. This man was a leader of other men. He was leader over 100 Roman soldiers, thus the title “centurion”. This man had witnessed many executions. No doubt he had supervised the death of hundreds, if not thousands of men during his career. As he watched Jesus die, something struck him as being different about this man.

 Usually, when people died on the cross, they grew gradually weaker, until their bodies simply gave out. Not Jesus! Jesus Christ endured terrible pain and suffering on the cross, but He ended His life by crying out in a loud voice.

 Normally, those crucified were not able to speak in anything above a whisper at the end of their lives if they could speak at all. When Jesus died, it seemed as though He still possessed strength of mind and body. This spoke to the centurion. He saw how Jesus died and he confessed that Jesus was “the Son of God.”

 That is not all this man saw. He saw how Jesus held His peace as He was crucified. He listened as Jesus prayed for His adversaries. He saw the tender ministering of the Lord Jesus to His mother Mary. He saw how Jesus reached out to the dying thief. He saw the sign over the Lord’s head. He saw the darkness that covered the earth. He saw all of this and he knew there was something different about this man!

 Now, we do not want to read too much into this, but I have always believed this man was saved right here. Whether he did or not will be revealed when we arrive in glory, but what he did is what it takes to be saved. All it takes is a lost sinner looking away by faith to the crucified Saviour. Salvation is as simple as placing childlike faith in Jesus.

This may not mean much to you, but the fact that Jesus died possessing His mental and physical strength says a lot about His death. You do know that the Romans did not kill Jesus, don’t you? You do know that the Jews did not kill Jesus, don’t you?

 The fact is, Jesus Christ did not release His Spirit, which is what the phrase “gave up the ghost” means, until He knew God was satisfied with the payment He had made for sin. Jesus chose the time; He chose the means; and He chose the place where He would lay down His life as a ransom for sin. Jesus died for sin, but He died on His Own terms so that people like that centurion, and the rest of us, might have a means of salvation.

Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Have you looked away in faith like that centurion and believed on Him? If you have not, I beg you to come to Jesus today.

 I praise Him that my spiritually blind eyes have been opened and that I have seen Him. I praise God that I have seen His life, His love, His death, and His resurrection. I have seen it and I have believed! Thus, I am saved by grace and on my way to glory. How about you?

Conclusion: Mark closes this sad scene by telling us about some precious women who had followed Jesus and ministered to Him during His life and ministry. They had been near the cross earlier, now they have moved farther away. Perhaps they did not want to be there when He took His last breath.

Surely, these women are broken hearted. As far as they are concerned this is the end of Jesus. All their hopes, dreams and aspirations have been shattered. What these women fail to realise is this is not the end! Jesus is dead, and He will be buried, but three days from now, He will rise from the dead! In three days’ time their sorrow will be turned into rejoicing, for Jesus will rise from the dead and guarantee salvation for all who believe on Him.See the source image

Why did Jesus do what He did? He did it so that sinners might be saved. He did it so that there might be power in the Gospel. He did it so that we who have trusted Jesus might have hope. He did it to save us.

This is what the apostle Paul had to say about the death of Jesus.

Romans 3:26, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Romans 4:25: “God gave Jesus to die for our sins, and he raised him to life, so that we would be made acceptable to God”.

 The question today is what does His death mean for you? If you have been saved, rejoice in the high price He paid to redeem you from your sins. Serve Him like He deserves to be served!

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