The cross is the centerpiece of Christianity. But sadly, many people see the cross as cool, elegant, or even unnecessary. We studied Mark 15:21-47 and saw 7 different eyewitnesses at the cross.
Simon of Cyrene
We met Simon, the Libyan proselyte who was in Jerusalem to worship. We learned that Simon was forced to carry Jesus' cross, and that most likely he and his family received Christ after this encounter. Paul seems to mention Rufus (Simon's son's name) in Romans 16:13 as well as Simon's wife being an encouragement to him. We learned that even random encounters with Jesus can change people's lives forever.
The Thief on the Cross
Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Luke tells us in his Gospel that one of these thieves repented and confessed Christ as Lord. Even in our fleeting last moments there is hope that we can be with the Lord.
This captain of 100 Roman soldiers had observed dozens, if not hundreds, of crucifixions. Yet there was something about the way Jesus died that stood out to him and caused him to confess Jesus as the Son of God. Even people we write off as "unreachable" may be impacted by the Gospel as they see Jesus.
Mary Magdalene | Mary mother of Joses | Salome
These women would normally not be admitted as eyewitnesses in a trial, yet Mark uses them as key witnesses to Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. He also points out that they had been ministering to Jesus even as far back as His work in Galilee. They followed Jesus even to the cross, while the disciples (other than John) were in hiding.
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph was a prominent Sanhedrin council member, yet boldly gets the courage up to ask Pilate for Jesus' body. He then methodically and carefully prepares Jesus' body for burial, allowing Jesus to be buried in his own (rich man's) tomb, a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
These testimonies tell us one thing: THE CROSS OF CHRIST CHANGES LIVES! Today we could be guilty of emptying the cross of its power (1 Cor 1:17) by trying to spice up our communication of the Gospel. But this is unneeded. We merely need to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-5) and be faithful to live lives that are daily crucified (Gal 2:20). The cross should inform every area of our lives and we should be known foremost as "People of the Cross".
I can't wait to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this Sunday together with our community!! He is risen indeed!!