Vs. 39, “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” The first verse in chapter one of Mark reminded us that Jesus is the Son of God. Now we come to the end of Jesus’ life and Mark ensures we see the Roman centurion’s declaration having just seen the crucifixion. After the disgraceful and unlawful trial of Jesus in the night, the Sanhedrin hand Jesus over the Pontius Pilate (vs. 1-15). The Jews needed to find a way to convince Pilate to have Jesus crucified. They spun it to make it look like Jesus was leading a revolt against the Romans. It’s important to note the politics involved with Pilate and the Jews. He wasn’t exactly a beloved figure for the Jews and though the Romans were in charge, his position needed to appease the Jews from rioting and also the Roman leaders who entrusted in Pilate’s ability to be the governor for them. He personally felt no reason for the Jesus to be sentenced to death. But the politics were pressuring him. Pilate ingeniously used the tradition of releasing one prisoner and chose Barabbas to be next to Jesus. He figured the crowds would surely not want Barabbas released and call for Jesus. But, seeing the rioting crowds and the threat the Sanhedrin made to Pilate (John 19:12), He relents and sentences Jesus to crucifixion (vs. 15). The Roman floggings (vs. 16-20) is excruciating to read and one of the reasons why Jesus died so early on the cross (crucifixion deaths could last days). When it came to Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross, we are not given much detail from any of the Gospels since everyone at that time knew what crucifixion entailed (vs. 21-41). And lastly, we see God’s providential hand at work as Joseph of Arimathea quickly request Jesus’ body for burial (vs. 42-47).
Regarding application…Access To God. Vs. 38, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Question: What is the significance of the curtain town in two? The curtains in the temple played an important part in separating and protecting the most holy of holies from the outside world. The Ark of the Covenant was not present in the new temple, for it was lost in the Babylonian invasion nearly six centuries earlier. But it still represented God’s holy presence. The torn temple would now signify to all of us that access to God is now granted to everyone (Hebrews 10:20). I used to have this notion that I felt closer to God in an actual church building. But the beauty of this torn curtain reminds us as Jesus’ reminded the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) that the worship of God can be done anywhere. That is why doing our daily devotions anywhere is such a privilege! Of course, this does not negate our privilege of being part of the body of Christ: His church!