A Most Unusual Death

The death of Jesus Christ was peculiar in many ways. In this article I want to draw your attention to four peculiarities surrounding Jesus’ death that came to my attention as I read Mark’s gospel recently. Most of the references following are from Mark chapters 14 and 15.

A) This cruel death was inflicted upon an innocent man. Sadly, miscarriages of justice are not unheard of; however, in the case of Jesus’ death, just about everybody at the scene knew that Jesus was innocent:

  • The witnesses were all false: they made up their stories:

Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses … Matthew 26:59-60

  • The leaders of the people knew He was innocent:

But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. Mark 15:10

  • His followers in the crowd knew He was innocent, because they had never seen Him commit any sin.
  • Pilate knew He was innocent:

Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? Mark 15:14

  • Jesus Himself knew He was innocent, yet He made no complaint!

And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. Mark 15:3-5

This last point is particularly unusual, but it was accurately predicted centuries beforehand:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

B) Jesus was in control of events. When people are dying, they usually have little or no control over the circumstances. Illness and death happen to us unexpectedly, and people feel helpless at such times. Jesus’ situation was different. He knew exactly what was going on.

  • He knew He was going to be betrayed:

And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. Mark 14:18-20

  • He knew well in advance that He was going to be arrested and killed:

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. Matthew 20:17-19

  • He knew the exact time:

 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered … And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Mark 14:27, 41-43

  • He decided not to intervene, although He evidently had the necessary power to stop what was happening:

… Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. John 18:5-9

  • He died at His own bidding:

And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God … And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. Mark 15:37-39, 44

Both Pilate and the centurion, who knew about death by crucifixion, noted Jesus’ early death to be remarkable, to the point that the centurion proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God!

C) Jesus’ death had a purpose: Most deaths are meaningless. They come when we least expect them, and they cause grief and sadness. Death is about loss and the end of things. Death is wanton and cruel and usually without purpose. Jesus’ death was different: He died in order to accomplish something. His death on the cross, with all its agony and bloodshed, was a deed done to benefit you and me:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission … So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; Hebrews 9:22, 28

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:14-16

D) Jesus’ death was the beginning of something: Most deaths are the end of something. They are sad times, times of loss and reflection on what has been, but is no longer. But the death of Jesus was the start of something big:

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun … And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. Mark 16:1-6

From the day Christ arose from the dead, there came a hope of resurrection for all who believe in Christ. Before Jesus returned to heaven, He commissioned his disciples, along with all subsequent believers, to get to work sharing the good news of the gospel:

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:6-8

The work of the Great Commission began at Jesus’ resurrection, and it will continue until His return. If you are a Christian reading this article, let me ask you a question: Are you an active participant in this work, or are you merely an onlooker?