Mark 15:23-32

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 9, 2005


As we’ve been working our way through the story of Jesus’ death on the cross, we’ve seen Him stand trial before the Jewish and Roman leaders.  We’ve seen Him beaten.  We’ve seen Him walk to the place of death, Golgotha.

:23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.

Some say that wine was sometimes mixed with myrrh to make it taste better, but there was more to it.  Wine mixed with myrrh acted like a narcotic.  It deadened the pain.

According to Rabbinic tradition (Prov. 31:6-7), sedative drinks were offered to those who were being crucified as a way of showing mercy.

Yet Jesus didn’t accept this mixed wine.

He had a terrible thing to walk through in His life, and He didn’t want to go through it in a drug induced stupor.

:24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.

lots – this was like tossing dice to see who got what.  The custom was for the executioners to divide up the belongings of the prisoners. Without realizing it, the soldiers were fulfilling one of the many ancient prophecies (Psalm 22:18) about Jesus.

:25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.

crucified – Mark doesn’t go into a lot of detail about this, the people of Jesus’ day knew all about crucifixion.  The prisoner was stretched out on a crossbeam and nailed to the cross.  A wooden peg was sometimes put in for the prisoner to sit or stand on.  Sometimes the prisoner’s feet were nailed to the cross.  Because of the position the prisoner was stretched out in, breathing was very difficult, requiring the prisoner to push up on the peg or his nailed feet in order to breathe. Death was usually slow, sometimes taking two or three days, and came through extreme exhaustion and thirst.  Sometimes the death process was speeded up by breaking the prisoner’s legs, making it impossible to push up and get a breath.

:26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The practice was to take the charges against the prisoner and put them on a sign so everyone could see why this person was being punished.

: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."

numberedlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over. This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions. Here’s my working definition:  “To count on as true”

Mark tells us this was a fulfillment of the Scriptures.  He quotes from:

(Isa 53:12 NKJV)  …And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

I think there’s a little more here than just the fact that Jesus was killed next to two thieves.


Counting lessons

I want to look a little at how this word “numbered” (logizomai) is used in two other passages, and why it’s such an important concept in our text today.
There are some things in life that you can’t count on.

A police officer in a small town stopped a motorist who was speeding down Main Street. “But officer,” the man began, “I can explain.” “Just be quiet,” snapped the officer. “I’m going to let you cool your heels in jail until the chief gets back.” “But, officer, I just wanted to say,” “And I said to keep quiet! You’re going to jail!” A few hours later the officer looked in on his prisoner and said, “Lucky for you that the chief’s at his daughter’s wedding. He’ll be in a good mood when he gets back.” “Don’t count on it,” answered the fellow in the cell. “I’m the groom.”

You can’t always count on people being in a good mood …

We were watching one of the playoff games last night when a commercial came on, showing a dad trying to feed his little boy a spoon of baby food.  He kept trying to get the boy to open his mouth, then he said, “See, it tastes good, Daddy likes it too …” and then he puts the spoon into his own mouth and he grimaces horribly.  The words came on the screen, “Things you can’t count on”
There are all kinds of things we “count on” in life, though we usually don’t realize how much we count on them until they don’t work.
On Wednesday I came home from the office and pressed the button for the garage door opener, but nothing happened.  Strange.  Then I went inside the house and found that the outlet that the opener was plugged into wasn’t working.  Then I found out that the freezer in the garage wasn’t working.  Then I found out that the outlets in one of the bedrooms wasn’t working.  Then another bedroom.  In all, about half of the house didn’t have electricity.  It turned out that the wind had knocked one of the two lines out that go into our house.  It’s amazing how much we’ve come to “count on” the electricity going into our house.
Paul talks about how it came to be that we as Christians were “reconciled”, made right with God, through what Jesus did by dying on the cross.  And it happens through this process of things being “counted on as true”.
(2 Cor 5:17-21 NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. {18} Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

God has made us right with Himself through what Jesus did on the cross. And God gives us this ability to help others get right with God through what Jesus has done on the cross.

{19} that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

God did not “reckon” or see any sins in our account.  He didn’t “count on” them being tied to us.

{20} Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. {21} For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

This is how God made us right with Him, by taking the sins in our account, and putting our sins in Jesus’ account. Then God took all the goodness in Jesus’ account and put it in our account.

On the cross, Jesus became as sinful as you because He took your sins on Himself. And at the cross, you gained all the goodness of Jesus. And that’s what happens to our lives when we come to trust in Jesus. This is part of what it means to be a “new creation” (vs. 17), to have a new start, to be “born again”.

When you trust in Jesus, God no longer “counts as true” that you have sin in your account in heaven.

Paul talks to the Romans about the issue of whether or not Christians can just go on sinning since they’ve been forgiven and don’t have to worry about God’s punishment.
(Rom 6:1-14 NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? {2} Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? {3} Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? {4} Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, {6} knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. {7} For he who has died has been freed from sin.

When Jesus died on the cross, something happened to us as well. There is a sense that we were connected with Jesus, and when He died, we died too. And dead people simply don’t sin. There are no drug dealers who reside at Forest Lawn. There are no liars in Rose Hills.

{8} Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, {9} knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. {10} For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

We may be “dead to sin”, but we don’t have to act like completely dead people because Jesus has given us a new life.

{11} Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here’s our word (logizomai). Jesus was “reckoned” among the transgressors (Mark 15:28) – He was counted as a criminal and died as a criminal, even though you could make a case that He wasn’t a criminal.

And yet He was indeed a “criminal” in that while He was on the cross, God took our sins, put them on Jesus, making Him to be sin for us.

We are to “reckon” ourselves as dead – We are to “count as true” that we are dead people, dead to sin, even though you could make a case that we’re very much alive.

If Jesus could be “counted” as a criminal, shouldn’t we “count” ourselves as dead men, dead to sin and alive to God?

{12} Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. {13} And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. {14} For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

We have a new freedom as Christians. We are freed from the power that sin has over people. We do not have to commit that sin.

How does that work?

Recognition – realize what we’ve been talking about, “count it true” that you are dead to sin.

Presentation – stop exposing yourself to temptations. That’s the practical part. Stop going to the place where you’ll be tempted.

Solomon warned his son about going to places where you’re going to be tempted.  He told a story in Proverbs 7 about a foolish young man who just “happened” to wander down the street where an immoral woman lived.  And he just “happened” to be seduced by her.

I wonder how much stronger we’d be against temptation if we’d just learn to go down a different street?

Because Jesus was “numbered” with the transgressors, God no longer “counts” my sins against me.
Because Jesus was “numbered” with the transgressors, because He died on the cross, I need to “count” myself dead to sin and alive to God.

: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.

Even though they are trying to mock Jesus, there is a truth to what they are saying.  If Jesus is to save us from our sins, He can’t save Himself.

:32 "Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe."

It wasn’t nails that held Him to the cross.  It was love.  Love for you and love for me.

(Rom 5:8 NKJV)  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

:32  Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

Luke tells us that one of the thieves had a change of heart …

(Luke 23:40-43 NKJV)  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? {41} "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." {42} Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." {43} And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Which thief describes you today?  Are you still mocking Jesus?  Or are you ready to turn your life over to Him today?