Mark 15:20-47 (NKJV)
20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. 24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take. 25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. 26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. 28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” 29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. 38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.
In our Bible lesson today, as the Apostles’ Creed says, Jesus “was crucified, died, and was buried.” As we look at Jesus on the cross, we know that He is not dying for His own sins, because He did not have any. We who did sin are the ones who deserve to be punished. Instead, Jesus dies in our place.
As we come to Him confessing our sins and clinging to Him in faith, something wonderful happens! Luther called it the “blessed exchange”: Jesus exchanges His righteous and holy life for our sin and death. He goes to the cross to pay for our sin, and we get His righteous and holy life—a forgiven life, a restored life, an eternal life! That is not a particularly good deal for Jesus, but an incredibly great deal for us! Therefore, as Christians, we keep our life’s focus on that cross. Remember that the cross signifies that blessed exchange with Jesus, which includes His atonement for your sin and its spiritual consequences. All this is exchanged at the cross and received in faith.
That is what Jesus did for you! That is what the Gospel means—Christ Crucified for you means that your sins are forgiven, that you have a holy life now, and an eternal life with Christ in heaven forever! That is what Jesus means when, on the cross, He says, “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). His work of salvation for us is now accomplished. We receive that work in faith, and we are saved, forgiven, justified with God, and now live in peace with God. “Truly this Man IS the Son of God!”
Let us pray: O almighty God, mercifully look on Your people, and by Your great goodness govern us in body and preserve us in soul; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.