Witnesses of the crucifixion expected more out of this Jesus guy, even if it was as simple as coming down off of the cross.
But Jesus refused. He maintained the course of shame and suffering, keeping Himself attached to this crude torture device.
Certainly Jesus had every right to magically send the stakes in His wrists flying, levitate to the ground and send a cataclysmic wave of matter across Golgotha, annihilating every man presently mocking Him. That would’ve been the heroic way to do it – overcoming odds MacGuyver style, vanquishing His foes in no less than a spectacular display, marking the beginning of a dramatic return to His rightful place: as King of the Jews, King of the Romans, and King of the world. If I were to make up a tale about Jesus Christ, it’d have to be like this. He’d be an attractive figure that would draw millions in – why wouldn’t people want to join His church of pure awesomeness?
Instead, Jesus took the low road. He suffered intensely. He endured shame and mockery to the highest degree. The man who proclaimed salvation and healed the sick found Himself executed like a slave in front of the very people that spent countless hours seeing to it that He were treated like one. If it weren’t for chapter 16, this would be a horrible ending.
Two groups of people jeered at Him. First, the soldiers: they perceived Jesus as a nagging pest, a potential hazard to the province of Galilee. Jesus confessed to being “King of the Jews”, meaning the man was looking to start up a revolt. This explains the crown of thorns described in verse 17. They further punished Jesus not unlike a group of bullies in a Lifetime movie taking lunch money from the school nerd. The second group was the Jewish leaders: they spent more time verbally berating Him. Jesus had put the chief priests in their place for years, and the religious mucky mucks finally had their chance to retort, because Jesus was finally silenced.
What hurts the most is verses 33-35 – Jesus’ final moments reveal tragic implications: He was completely alone. He no longer called God “Father”, for even He had turned His back on Jesus. Imagine being sent to a foreign land with a relative’s blessings and guidance, and in the hour of need, being betrayed entirely.
It bothers me when people label this account as fictitious – Mark illustrates a tortured, debased God, squeezed and drained of all standing. Even in Jesus’ burial reeked of shame: the witnesses of the burial were women, typically not depended upon for reliable testaments in Jewish culture.
Have you ever felt abandoned? Your Savior did. He experienced no less than torture, grief, and utter loneliness in His dying hour. While few men on this earth have nor will endure such torment, all men on earth understand to a degree all of Jesus’ tribulations. And this is why Christ died the way He did: so we might behold how He suffered for the sins of the world, we all who have dabbled in the Christian faith already know, but also so that we might relate to our God in a vulnerable yet tangible way. And again, to me, this is a refreshing reality, because I can identify with the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Beginning and the End.