For Whom Christ Died

by David Daniels on

Devotionals 6 min read
Mark 15:16–32

God so loved the world. Let that sink in for a moment.

There are a little more than 8 billion people currently living on our planet. Demographers estimate the total population of the world over all time has been about 117 billion.

That’s a lot of people.

And God loves them all.

This is a fundamental truth of the Gospel. John 3:16 is one of the most notably quoted verses in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is good news, no doubt. But who does this verse include? Who in the world is safe because of Jesus’ death?

We come to the crescendo of Jesus’ life mission. Golgotha is moments away, a hillside just a short distance north of the Temple Mount. Mark joins the other Gospel writers in describing the intense persecution Jesus endured. Though it’s difficult to read, take a moment to consider the price:

Jesus was SCORNED. “[The soldiers] put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’” (Mark 15:17-18). Throughout His ministry, Jesus was rejected, criticized, blasphemed, dismissed, and verbally abused. Soldiers mocked Him at the foot of the cross, strangers heaped their insults upon Him, and even one of the thieves crucified beside Jesus questioned His power. When the prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah, he wrote, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

Jesus was SCOURGED and SPIKED. The mockers struck Jesus repeatedly on the head, burying the crown of thorns into His brow (v. 19). Then, when they arrived at the Place of the Skull, they nailed His hands and feet to the cross. Those condemned to crucifixion were often strapped to their cross by ropes. But Isaiah had foretold that the Messiah would be “pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). Only by penetrating the flesh could the blood begin to flow.

Jesus was SILENT. We should never underestimate how difficult it must have been for the righteous Son of God to endure such injustice at the hands of men. But Mark records only a few words from Jesus and never a word of complaint. Again, Isaiah anticipated this quiet resolve, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Theologian James Edwards notes, “There is no self-defense from Jesus, no effort to get even or get in the final word, no effort to preserve at least a modicum of dignity and pride. Jesus surrenders in total vulnerability to the malevolence and violence of the world.”

Very often, when we think of the suffering of Jesus, we fast forward to the moment of His final breath. The Son of God died. But His scorn, His scourging, His piercing, and His silence are all part of His suffering. And they are part of His saving.

Jesus was willing to pay such a gruesome price because He loved such a great number of people. So many different people from different backgrounds, with different perspectives, offering different responses witnessed the death of Jesus. If we’re honest, we find our story in each of theirs. Like the soldiers who mocked Jesus, we have diminished His authority and treated Him as insignificant in our lives. Like the guards at the foot of the cross, we have gambled to get something from Jesus without bowing to Him as Lord. Like the robbers who hung on either side of Jesus, we are rebels who have been unwilling to be honest with our guilt. Like the chief priests and scribes, we have questioned and challenged Jesus instead of allowing His truth to question and challenge us.

We were all there at Calvary.

Maybe we’re best seen in the support given by Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21). He was stopped by the Roman guard and conscripted to carry Jesus’ cross up the mountain. That’s right…He made it easier for Jesus to get to His funeral. He helped Jesus die.

That’s you and me. We are soldiers, thieves, gamblers, strangers, even religious folk. But all of us have had our hand on the cross, heaving it to the place of death, and hoisting Jesus into the air. Jesus died because of all of us. And Jesus died for all of us. No one is automatically saved by Jesus, but everyone can be saved by Jesus because His death is for the world.

Sadly, it’s at this point of recognizing our contribution to Jesus’ death that some people walk away. It’s not so much that they reject Jesus, but that they believe Jesus must reject them. They are like Simon Peter, who saw Jesus for who He was and responded, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). How could a righteous God love and accept someone like you or me?

This is a beauty of the Gospel of the Kingdom. People are not welcomed because they are worthy. Unworthy people are welcomed because Jesus made up for all that we lack. Don’t let your sin keep you from the Savior.

See yourself in the story, both as culprit and celebrant. You were the reason Christ died. He is the reason you can live. All because God has loved the world.

Related content
See also the “For Whom Christ Died” sermon from the “King Jesus” sermon series about the Gospel of Mark.

About the Author

Dr. David Daniels (D. Min. Dallas Theological Seminary, M. Div. Denver Seminary) is Lead Pastor of Central Bible Church and author of Next Step Church, Next Step Discipleship, Next Step JournalWonder, and An Unexpected King.