Hello. Today we reach one of those parts of the Bible that are tough to read. Jesus is taken away, He’s mocked, He’s beaten within an inch of His life, a crown of thorns is thrust on His head. He is paraded through the streets, a very different parade to just days before, when He walked the same streets in a triumphal entry. Finally, He is crucified. Here are verses 17-20 to give us a snapshot of this:
They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Today’s passage is a good reminder of a key theological point. A simple fact that we all know, but that it so key to this story. Jesus is God. He’s part of the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One God, three persons. This is so key for this passage.
Let’s think about what that means. If it’s not true, if Jesus is just a human, picked by God to do this special task of dying in place of every person in the world then we’ve got a major problem here. How awful is this plan? In terms of the greater good then yes, one life for millions seems like a no brainer. But Jesus is anointed from birth, His path is set out for Him. How could God just pick someone to be tortured and murdered in this horrible, horrible way?
This isn’t the case though. Jesus is God and that changes everything. This is God Himself coming to save the world. This is God taking the worst that the world can throw at Him and still choosing to finish the great rescue plan. Liam brought us a great reflection last week where he unpacked how Jesus chose to go to the cross. He chose to come to Jerusalem knowing what would happen. He chose to allow Himself to be betrayed. He chose not to save Himself with clever words. He chose not to call down legions of Angels to save Him from the cross. He chose to finish the rescue plan. And as Liam said, He chose it out of His love for us. If Jesus is God and could have changed His fate at any given moment then how much must God love us to have paid such a high price so that we might know Him now and for eternity?!
There are a few things that this story is not. It’s not a story of a hero swooping in to save the day. It’s also not the story of how Jesus gleefully went to the cross to completely remove all hurt and suffering from the world. What we do have here, is the story of the Prince of Heaven consistently showing just how unshakeable His love for us is. Just as the next chapter, the resurrection, will show how powerful this love is.
The response for us today is simple, to know that we are eternally loved by God. Be blessed by that unchangeable truth today.
Thank you Father that you love us. The story of the cross is not a nice one, but a necessary one. We know that we will always be loved by you. As we go about our day, help us to find a few moments to be still and take that in afresh. Thank you Lord, Amen.
READING: Mark 15:16-32
The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spat on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.