This morning I was preaching in Scrabo Hall in Newtonards. The passage I had been given was Mark ch 15 verses 33 to 41. In this passage Mark records three signs that occurred while Jesus was on the cross, each of which requires the Old Testament in order to understand its significance:
1) The hours of darkness. Amos 8:9 explains that this supernatural event (whatever its physical cause it is clearly an act of God) indicates God’s wrath and judgement upon human sin.
2) Jesus’ cry of abandonment. In a stark contrast to His usual pattern of calling God Abba (Father), Jesus cries out using simply “My God”. As Jesus took our sins and the judgement they deserved He experienced something of the separation from God that sin deserves. Here is God the Son willingly taking our place and experiencing our abandonment. But Jesus is also quoting Psalm 22 – He knows His death will accomplish God’s purpose and that ultimately, as the closing verses of that Psalm say, future generations will praise God because of what He was doing.
3) The torn curtain in the Temple. This dramatic event tells us two things. Firstly, a new and living way has been opened up by Jesus death. The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus blood opened up this new way as his body was touring just like that curtain (Hebrews 10:19-20). Secondly, the whole sacrificial system centred on the Temple was done away with. The Temple was no longer necessary because sin had finally been dealt with once for all.
This is the significance of the cross. Or sin, which makes us guilty and deserving of death, distances us from God and leaves us under death’so cutse, has been done away with. The only response we can make is like the two examples Mark gives us: like the centurion to worship Jesus as the Son of God and like the faithful women to follow Him and serve Him. We do not have Him physically here, but we can serve others in His name and share with them the hopeful message of sins forgiven.