Markby Robert M. Solomon
The land was filled with darkness from noon to 3 p.m. (v. 33). It was as if heaven dimmed the lights at the appalling sight of the Almighty Creator being killed by His sinful creatures (cf. Amos 8:9). Bearing the full weight of our sins, Jesus cried out loudly in Aramaic, ″My God, my God, why have you forsaken me″ (v. 34; Psalm 22:1). He who always addressed His Father as ″Abba″ was now forced to stand on the side of sinful humanity and face the full consequences of sin-separation from God. Someone tried to offer him wine vinegar to dull His pain and quench His thirst (v. 36; Psalm 69:21). Then with a loud cry, Jesus died.
At that moment, the curtain in the temple that covered the Most Holy Place was ″torn in two from top to bottom″ (v. 38), thus creating new access to the holy God (Hebrews 10:19-20). Before this, only the high priest was allowed to go beyond the curtain, once every year. The priests who were ministering in the temple must have seen this unbelievable event; perhaps the reason why some time later, ″a large number of priests became obedient to the faith″ (Acts 6:7). The Roman centurion who saw Jesus die was impressed: ″Surely this man was the Son of God″ (v. 39).
Though all the male disciples (except John, see John 19:26) had run away, many women who followed Jesus were present. Among them were Mary Magdalene, another Mary, and Salome (v. 40). Without swords and totally helpless, these women could only offer Jesus their teary presence-and they did with courage and love.
As Sabbath was fast approaching, the burial must be done before sunset. There was a man called Joseph of Arimathea who was a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret believer (v. 43; John 19:38); he had disagreed with his murderous colleagues when they sentenced Jesus to death (Luke 23:51). He now went boldly to Pilate and asked for permission to bury Jesus. Together with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and most likely also a believer (John 3:1-8; 19:39-40), Joseph placed the body in a new tomb that belonged to him. This fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9, for Joseph was a rich man (see Matthew 27:57). A stone was rolled to block the entrance. And the two Marys noted where the tomb was. But why does Mark provide all these details? To prepare us for the events that followed.
Why was the curtain in the temple torn from top to bottom (v. 38)? What do you think was God's message? We have gained access to God through Jesus (Romans 5:2). Speak to Jesus with gratitude and assess how you are making use of this privilege bought with His blood.
What can we learn from the women and Joseph, who courageously asked to bury Jesus? How did they show their love for Jesus? How can you apply these lessons in your life?