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While the World Mocks Christ, God Accomplishes His Perfect Plan
The mocking and suffering of Christ prior to His crucifixion—
the gospel of Mark 15:16 to 21, part 3
People do foolish things while driving–have you seen it? What? Eating cereal with a bowl and spoon? How about waving a gun around? Brushing and flossing their teeth with two hands . . . or reading a book. Texting someone on their phone, or putting their contacts in. Putting make-up on two-handed, teasing their hair with both hands, putting hair rollers in.
Reading the newspaper, knitting a sweater, having their dog in their lap, or exercising with hand weights. All of those are foolish–really foolish. Foolish means to lack sense, to act ill-considered or unwisely, an action lacking forethought or caution. And that is exactly what your non-Christian friends think of you who follow Christ.
Those of another religion can hate you, but the people of this world think you’re a fool to believe that God became a man in order to die on a cross in our place, then rise from the dead. That’s exactly what 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23 and 25 say. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 25 because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Those without Christ think you are a fool for believing and following Christ and trusting Him for salvation. The world mocks Christ now, and the world mocked Christ then. At the very beginning, even before Christ gave up His life in death for your sins, the world was mocking Christ. It was a big joke to Pilate and to his soldiers that Christ claimed to be King.
They served the greatest human king of their day, Caesar. No one was more powerful than Caesar, no one. Except for Christ, who not only is the King of all kings, but is the Creator, the one true God, and the Judge each one of them and we will have to give answer to for our lives. But because of their hatred for the Jews, and the difficulty of living in Israel where there is constant uprising and the threat of assassination from a Jewish zealot, now that Jesus Christ has been condemned to death, the soldiers will now mock Christ, making fun of Him in the cruelest possible way, starting in Mark 15, verse 16.
Let’s stand and read verses 16 to 21 from your outline. “The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. 17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 18 and they began to acclaim Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him. 21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.”
This is amazing–Christ was led to Pilate, led to Herod’s, and led here to the Praetorium. Yet Christ is completely in charge. We already know He spoke the name of God and two hundred plus men were knocked over into the dirt of the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter cut off an ear, Christ healed it and told us, if He willed He could call on 72,000 angels to defend Himself and kill them. So Christ is being led from place to place, but He is in charge.
Christ has gone through two great trials, one religious and one secular, each with three phases–first before Annas, then Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, then before the Sanhedrin again as the sun rises. Then before Pilate, Herod then back to Pilate. Pilate tried to release Christ by using crowd dynamics over the releasing of Barabbas, then pity with scourging, and finally tries with guilt by washing his hands. But each time his efforts fail, not because the religious leaders are one step ahead of Pilate, but because God is sovereign and this event is going exactly as God has planned.
Up to this point, Christ has been repeatedly hit, spit upon, mocked, abused by the Sanhedrin, Herod and his guards. And He’s been torn to shreds through scourging. And now Christ will experience . . .
#1 The Soldiers’ MOCKERY Verses 16 to 20
The focus of all four gospels is not the physical suffering of Christ, but the spiritual suffering. The emphasis is on the price Christ paid in order to redeem you–the price He paid yanking you out of the flood of humanity rushing toward the falls of eternal Hell. It’s the suffering that causes Christ to bleed in the Garden. It is the suffering that causes Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?”
The spiritual suffering is what caused Christ to pray three separate times, “Remove this cup from Me.” The gospels are also very light on the details of Christ’s physical suffering–they’re actually restrained. Very little is said about Christ’s scourging, except that it happened. The Bible just states Christ was crucified, but no details. Yet as horrific as crucifixion is, it is small compared to the spiritual suffering of Christ.
But when it does come to the actual physical suffering, the focus of the Bible is on the abuse. Christ is mocked, ridiculed, made fun of and turned into a joke. At this time, people in this part of the world were cruel. Sadly, those who were mentally deficient were considered the village idiots, and were actually made fun of, taunted and abused. And that same cruelty will now be expressed against Christ. Jesus is going to be passed off as a joke, and His crucifixion is a comedy against the Jews, an extended farce to express their disdain, anger and hatred of this conquered, stubborn, and rebellious people.
Piecing together what one commentator said, “The Romans hated the Jews, because the Jews hated the Romans. There were among the Jews the Zealots, who went around stabbing Roman soldiers. There were numerous insurrections against the Romans, which had to be put down. As a result, the Romans loved the idea of labeling Christ, this deluded lunatic, as the King of the Jews; and Pilate especially loved that; that’s why he put ‘KING OF THE JEWS’ over the cross in an inscription.”
Jesus knew this mockery was coming, and He knew it in detail. Mark 8, 9, and in 10:34, “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” This is not a surprise, but part of God’s plan to redeem. Notice . . .
First The KINGS’s LOCATION Verse 16
Jesus is led from the outer square, where He had been scourged, into the Praetorium. Praetorium is a reference to the elite soldiers who were the personal guard of Caesar. Then it was the term for the personal guard of every high Roman official throughout the Roman Empire. Then the term became the name of any place where those elite bodyguards were housed. Read verse 16, “The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort.”
Jesus has been officially condemned to death by Pilate, to be crucified; so now there is no need any more for protection for the prisoner, nor justice given to the prisoner, much less any mercy shown to the prisoner. As each of these soldiers look at Christ, they must be underwhelmed by his normalness. This is a king?
Christ’s clothes would be bloodstained and a mess. His chest, stomach, back, shoulders, arms and legs would be torn to shreds from scourging–skin literally hanging off in bloody strips. His face would be swollen, bruised and marred greatly. His hair and beard would be bloody and filled with dried spittle. And He’d be humanly exhausted from being beaten and being kept awake all night.
Now Christ is placed in the center court of the Praetorium, where there’re hundreds of soldiers present who hate the Jews. Serving in Israel as a soldier is not the assignment any of them would want, except to distinguish themselves in one of the most difficult places in the entire empire.
Did you see in verse 16 how scary this was? “And they called together the whole Roman cohort.” A “cohort” is a military word from the Latin cohors, which was one-tenth of a Roman legion, or 6,000. So one-tenth could be 600 soldiers! It wouldn’t take 600 men to guard Jesus–not in His condition, humanly at least. Some soldiers were obviously dispersed in various places, but most of them are together here for the fun.
So close to the entire, Mark says the “whole” cohort comes together, and they begin a parody. They hear Christ is the King of the Jews, so they’re going to express what they think of this King and His people. To these soldiers, Jesus is simply another prisoner to abuse, torture, and here, to humiliate and mock. One writer said, “It’s like a grotesque vaudeville.” A warped entertainment for soldiers who are under the constant threat of being stabbed by a zealot, or having to put down yet another rebellion against Rome.
Our Lord is about to become the object of sinister maliciousness at the hands of these soldiers, who’re following orders from Pilate. They are cold, indifferent, and would see this opportunity as a happy payback against the nation of Israel whom they hate. Already bleeding from the scourging which has opened up His flesh, and is drying all over His body, His nerves are exposed and shock is setting in–our Lord is already in agony.
His whole body is quivering in tortuous pain. And now Christ becomes the object of these Roman soldiers’ ridicule as they all gather around Him to begin this cruel game. The first thing they do is to prepare . . .
Second The KING’s OUTFIT Verse 17a
“They dressed Him up in purple.” They dressed Jesus up in a mock imperial purple robe–that’s the color worn by kings and emperors. That’s the color worn by royalty. They are making fun of Christ as if He were a king. Those of you who really know your Bible well might be concerned at this point. Well don’t be–the Bible is full of integrity in every way. The rest of you are asking, “What am I talking about?”
Matthew 27:28 says it was a scarlet robe–scarlet. But Mark says here that the color is purple. I love the fact it says purple here and in John, then it says scarlet in Matthew. There’s so much integrity in that. But you say, “Hold the phone–that’s a contradiction.” No it’s not–it is quite the opposite.
All Roman soldiers were issued a scarlet-colored mantle, like a robe/a cape that also doubled as a blanket. But all scarlet-colored mantles worn by soldiers over a long period of time would fade in the sun as the years passed. So what started out as a scarlet robe would fade red, resembling a purple robe, or somewhere in between. No soldier would take his new scarlet mantle and place it on the bloody body of Christ. But an old mantle, a faded-to-purple mantle, a discarded, back-up mantle would be much more likely.
So in preparation for their hateful and cruel mockery, they threw a coarse, wool, purple robe on His torn-up, exposed back. But these men were not done. They continued, by weaving . . .
Third The KING’s CROWN Verse 17b
“And after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him.” This is a crown the soldiers made for this hated Jewish King. Crowns were normally made of “gold leaf”, representing royalty, and valor, and authority. This was a pretend, gold laurel wreath, like what Caesar would wear. And they make it intentionally out of thorns, to add to the mockery, and increase the pain.
I have two crowns of thorns from Israel. If Christ’s crown here was made from one of the bushes that currently grows in the land of Israel, then the thorns were one of two options.
OPTION ONE These thorns on a vine would be one to two inches in length, in an easily-twisted branch, with sharp, flexible and brittle thorns. This is the crown you can buy as a souvenir. This one is a little easier to handle without drawing blood.
OPTION TWO This is also made of a twistable branch that could be rolled into a crown, but the thorns are about ½ inch to ¾ of an inch in length. The thorns are hard as nails and as sharp as needles. You can’t handle this thorny vine without getting stuck, and you can’t touch it without bleeding–it is painful.
I happen to think it was the second crown with the sharp thorns, because these were more readily available. And in this context, it seems that is exactly what was placed on Christ’s head. They did this to distinguish Christ as an insipid King. And they did it to deliver more pain, by crushing it onto His head. All this was to mock Him as a weak, inept, hated Jewish King.
Again, these soldiers had Caesar as their king–the greatest human power on Earth. Anyone resisting Rome was wiped out. Yet the Jews continued to resist their conquering nation, and these soldiers are going to show Jesus just how Rome responds to petty resistance. With hostile hearts, they beat this crown onto Christ’s head, puncturing His scalp in a hundred places. Head wounds bleed a lot, so there would be blood pouring onto His face and clothes.
Christ was so mutilated, the prophet Isaiah says, as you look at Him, Isaiah 53:2b, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” It is interesting to me, that the thorns of Genesis 3 in the fall of Adam into sin were a sign of the curse from the fall. And the entire crucifixion is also a curse, as Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’” But now the Roman soldiers move into full-blown mockery.
Fourth The KING’s MOCKERY and ABUSE Verses 18 to 19
“And they began to acclaim Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” This is a very contemporary mockery. Every Roman soldier would have said, at some point, “Hail Caesar, Hail Caesar!” But instead of Caesar, it’s now “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Plus you remember, this is the very charge the Jewish leaders brought to Pilate. It is the title that Pilate used in 15:2. So this is a mock imitation of, “Hail, Caesar the emperor.” The fun has descended to the worst kind of blasphemy at this point, and Christ is being toyed with, as if He is bereft of His senses. It’s as if the Romans were the cat playing with a mouse. Little do they know, Christ is the lion who is allowing them to abuse Him.
Matthew adds, as they mock Christ they put a reed in His hand–they place a mock scepter in His hand, which all true kings held, including Caesar. The reed represented royalty and authority. A scepter can even be seen in Caesar’s hand on Roman coins. So they mimic a king’s scepter. Matthew 27:29 adds, “They knelt down before Him and mocked Him.” And that’s what Mark says in verse 19, “They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.”
While they were proclaiming Him as a King in contempt, verse 19 says, “They kept beating His head with a reed.” The language describes these soldiers as beating Christ’s head again and again and again. Sarcastically they are saying, “Some king you are! We’re beating you with your own scepter. You’re royalty? Where’s your authority?” A king? No–You are a joke!
Then in hatred they sink to verse 19, “spitting on Him.” These soldiers take turns spitting right into their Master’s face–right into the face of almighty God! Creation spits on its Creator. Can there be anything more repulsive than being spit on? John 19:3 adds, these soldiers “struck Jesus with their fists” as well. They are brutal. Then adding to the insult, Mark 15:19 adds, “and kneeling and bowing before Him.”
Mock bowing before a so-called king, they kneel before Christ as if He is a King. They bow low. They honor Him in hateful scorn. They’re having a good time. They’re working out their pent up anger against the Jews. They’re showing what these Romans think, as the conquering nation over this nation they’ve conquered. This is the best you can do—this is your King? What a joke. The brunt of the joke is directed at the God who made them.
Their Creator is standing before them. The glorious King of all kings, and Lord of all lords, the authority who will return to this planet–the Judge they will face as He condemns them to eternal Hell. The one they should fear more than Caesar. Again, this is precisely what Jesus predicted in Mark 10:34, “They will mock Him and spit upon Him and scourge Him and kill Him.” And it is exactly what Isaiah prophesied in 50:6, “I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.”
We have no idea how long this went on–twenty minutes, thirty, sixty? We do know from the Greek verb tense it was not sudden, but drawn out. Can you imagine these actions, over and over and over–as if they’d never end? But mercifully the scene ends with . . .
Fifth The KING’s PREPARATION Verse 20
“After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.” Can you imagine what this was like? You’ve had a scab ripped off and re-opened a wound? Imagine your skin being ripped off by scourging, then a robe allowed to dry over those wounds, then ripped off again. Like a bandage being ripped off tender skin, this must have been excruciatingly painful to our Lord.
It could be at this point that Pilate makes one final appeal to the crowd, hoping they might relent of their anger. I think Pilate had thought the sight of the bloodied and bruised prisoner would call up mercy from the crowd. But no mercy was given to the suffering servant, in order to accomplish the Father’s divine plan. They placed His old clothes on Him, which would later be the fodder for gambling. And at the end of verse 20 look what it says, “And they led Him out to crucify Him.”
Verse 20, “led Him out”–the Bible tells us Jesus was led from Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, to Pilate and the crowds, to the Praetorium, to the soldiers, and then to Calvary. They led our Lord out to crucify Him. Isaiah 53:7, “Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,” verse 20, to crucify Him–the cruelest form of capital punishment ever devised by fallen man. Cicero said, “Crucifixion is the cruelest and most hideous punishment possible.” It’s been said the person who was crucified “died a thousand deaths” because it was so painful.
One historian said, “Every totalitarian regime needs a terror apparatus, and crucifixion was Rome’s terror apparatus, infamous alike for its infliction of pain. Roman Quintilian, “Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this fear.”
Crucifixion was a punishment reserved for non-Roman citizens in which excessive cruelty was unleashed on the lowest classes of society–slaves, violent criminals, and prisoners of war. At the defeat of the slave rebellion under Spartacus in 71 BC, Crassus had more than 6,000 slaves crucified. To enhance both the shame and deterrent effect of crucifixion, victims were executed as public spectacles, and men were normally crucified naked, as the gambling for Jesus’ clothes attests (although Jewish sensitivities may have prescribed a loincloth).
Part of the shame of crucifixion involved carrying your own cross to the place of the crucifixion itself. Carrying the cross was intended to break the prisoner’s will to live. But this led to a brief highlight, an encouragement in the midst of all this sorrow and hate. What is it?
#2 The Stranger’s PROVIDENCE Verse 21
In the midst of the sadness of people treating Christ horribly, there is an amazing story of God’s providence in verse 21, “They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.” As all victims of crucifixion had to carry their own cross, it may have been the entire cross, or the crossbeam on which they’d hang. It was to carry about 100 to 150 pounds either way.
They’d also had around their neck their sentence–their crime written out on a board. And in the case of Jesus, it said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”, which would later be placed on the top of the cross. And in God’s perfect plan, which is overwhelming, when you consider what Jesus is going through, our Lord will not be able to carry His own cross.
Humanly, consider what Christ has gone through. He has not slept all night. He’s hungry, He’s been scourged, meaning ripped to shreds just short of death. He’s lost vast amounts of blood. He’s been repeatedly beaten since midnight and is in constant pain and is emotionally drained from abuse. He’s been stressed to the point of bleeding through His pores. So now mentally and physically, Jesus is humanly at the end.
Our Lord is so weakened, He is not able to carry His cross–or He’s moving too slowly for the soldiers. But in all this, God has a specific plan, even in the midst of this horror. It is so specific and so encouraging, it should blow you away. In this most gruesome moment, God planned a precise connection involving a random passerby. A random man grabbed from the crowd would later be used to accomplish great ministry in the future Church.
God’s detailed timetable is awesome. Jesus needs to be on the cross soon, since our Lord needs to give up His life at three in the afternoon, exactly when the Passover Lambs are being slain. God can’t waste any time. Yet in the midst of Christ carrying His cross, God has a design to impact a man snatched from the crowd, who’d later impact others for Christ.
We don’t know exactly what motivated the soldiers to hurry Christ to His crucifixion. We presume Christ couldn’t go as fast as they wanted, or Christ fell under the weight of the cross, or Christ was currently in and out of consciousness, or He couldn’t climb up the Golgotha hill where He’d be crucified–we don’t know. Regardless, the soldiers are impatient, the road to the cross is going too slowly, so the Romans press a man into service.
Verse 21, “They pressed into service a passer-by.” It’s probable that he was big and strong, because they want to get to the top of the hill, and whoever they pick, they’d be confident he’d get the job done. Roman soldiers had absolute authority, according to Matthew 5:41. They could, at any time, any place, command anyone into service. “They pressed” means seized or forced this guy out of the crowd.
Verse 21b, “coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.” Simon is a common name, but he had come from Cyrene. He is a Jew who lives in Cyrene who has come to Passover. You are familiar with Cyrene, it’s Tripoli in Libya. So this is a collection of Jews who live in Cyrene on the North African coast. The historian Josephus tells us there was a large Jewish community in Cyrene. During New Testament times there was actually a synagogue for Cyrenian Jews in Jerusalem. And Cyrenian Jews were actually present when the Church was birthed in Acts 2 and later saved.
So here was one of the Jews from Cyrene who’d come with Jews from all over the world to celebrate the Passover. He’s just come in from out of country, and as he enters the city on the day of Passover, he sees what is going on and is immediately conscripted. All it says about him is he’s the father of Alexander and Rufus. And only the gospel writer Mark tells us about his sons.
Do you know why that makes this reference so important? If I tell you I met a person named Simon from Cyrene, that doesn’t mean much. But if I tell you Simon is the father of Alexander and Rufus, what am I saying to you? That you actually know some people who are connected to him. That’s exactly what Mark’s doing. Mark is writing this gospel in Rome to Romans. He’s saying to them, “Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Jesus is the father of Alexander and Rufus whom you know.” Mark is making a connection with his readers.
These two men are known to the Roman believers, and this will immediately enable them to make a connection with Simon. By the eleventh chapter of Acts, in Acts 11:20 there are already strong churches in Cyrene. By Acts 13:1, there are strong leaders in the church in Cyrene. The question is, how did the church in Cyrene get started? Well, we can assume it started among the Jews, and it would have to have started with Jews who met Jesus.
The story might have gone something like this. From this experience, Simon was brought face-to-face with Jesus, and later was saved. He then went back to Cyrene, and was part of the church in Cyrene, and later went to Rome with his family. How do we know that? Because in Romans 16:13 Paul says, “Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” That would be Simon’s wife.
People in Rome would say, “Wow, Rufus we know. Alexander we know, and we know their mom, Mrs. Simon. That’s the family of the man who carried the cross of Christ, and whom God used to help begin the church in Cyrene. And now his children are a part of the church here in Rome.”
These Roman soldiers witlessly grab a random guy out of the crowd, who in the providence of God is brought face-to-face with Christ, later comes to Christ, then is used of Christ to impact the Church in North Africa and Rome. It’s as if God is in control of absolutely everything. Even random moments in the middle of hateful mockery God shows His loving providence. And the very church in Rome where Mark is and to whom he writes has a precise connection to this man randomly chosen.
The next time everything falls apart, and is completely unjust, remember Simon from Cyrene and God working to accomplish His will. And the next time we gather on Sunday, we will study . . .
#3 The Savior’s CRUCIFIXION
This section of Scripture is amazing–here we’re encouraged to
A Seek to be SETTLED like Christ
Christ prayed three times to be freed of the coming cup of wrath. God said, “No,” yet Christ is resolved. He embraces God’s answer. He will go to the cross–reminding us first to pray about everything, and to trust God’s Word, even if the answer is no.
Christians are to be confident and resolved people–are you? Confident in God’s character, that He’s all-wise, all-powerful, and loves you? Resolved that God will always do what is best for you. Are you doubting Him, or depending on Him? Are you fearing what might happen, or having faith in Christ? Take your stand on God’s Word and show Christ you have confidence in His character.
B Painful circumstances can often lead to fruitful SERVICE
With the tap of a broad sword to his shoulder, Simon the Cyrene was not only pressed into carrying the cross, He was pressed into a life of service to Christ, even raising a family who would impact others for Christ. God has a way of turning dark moments into lighting the path for the Gospel.
Trust God to turn crisis into an opportunity for Christ. The moment tragedy hits, start looking for how God will bring Himself glory in time and bring joy to you.
C As Christ is being LED, He is STILL in charge
Though Christ has been led to six different trials, is led to Roman soldiers who mock Him, and will be led away to the cross, Jesus Christ is completely in charge. He has already shown He could knock them all down with a word. He’s already said He could call on 72,000 angels and wipe them out. But He is led away as if He is under the authority of men when He is completely the final authority over all men.
Were you led to a bad partner and lost everything? Led to a school and had a bad experience? Led to a boyfriend who took advantage of you? Led to a church which burned you badly? Led to a hurtful, dead end job? Led to a friendship which soured? Never forget, Christ is in complete control, causing or allowing everything in your life for His purposes.
D The SCALE of injustice and mocking is unrivalled
Not only is this mocking prophesied, it is unrivalled. They said Christ threatened to destroy the temple, He was an evildoer, He was perverting the nation, He was forbidding people to pay taxes, stirring people up to rebel against Rome, and was a threat to Caesar in claiming to be King. The only true accusation they made about Christ was that He is King and claimed to be the Son of God, God’s equal.
No matter what injustice you have or will endure, it’ll never even come close to the injustice suffered by perfectly innocent Christ being falsely charged, tortured, mocked and crucified. Therefore, no one can say God is unfair, and no one can say God is unjust. He has experienced more evil against Himself than you ever will. He knows what you’ve experienced, and He alone can heal hearts.
E Christ’s AIM is to point to SALVATION
True Christians also never forget Christ is still being mocked. The fact that God became a man, died the death we deserved on the cross for our sins, and is the only way anyone can be made right with God is still being made fun of. First Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Everyone in this room either sees turning to Christ as foolish, or it is the power of God for salvation.
To be forgiven, to go to Heaven, to be made righteous you can try to do it on your own, you can try to live good enough, you can try to live religious, but you will end up in Hell. Or you can turn from your sin, have faith in Christ, trust in His death on the cross for your sins, believe He rose from the dead and can forgive your sin, make you righteous so you can stand in God’s presence forever in the joy of Heaven. Turn to Christ today–cry out for His mercy now. Let’s pray.