17 May 2019

Hello. Today we pick up the story where we left it yesterday. Jesus has been arrested, condemned and crucified.

REFLECTION:

Here are verses 37-41.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

According to Mark, after 6 hours on the cross, Jesus died. The reality of what has happened and what is in motion is apparent straight away. The centurion confesses that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. The temple curtain tears in two, a physical representation that the barrier of sin that has kept people from their maker has been destroyed. Jesus’ life has assured us of our identity, beloved children of God. His death has brought freedom from sin, it is powerless now to change that identity. But more is to come. At the end of this passage Jesus is laid in the tomb, but this is not the end of the story. Because after the pain, and the grieving, will come new life. The resurrection that is to come will bring purpose into our lives as well. We’ll just have to wait until Monday to hear that scripture this time though, rather than the customary Sunday!

Another thing that come out of this passage is that there is more than just Jesus in this story. A number of people are mentioned by name. I’m thankful that Mark has done this. There is clearly pain here. Jesus’ friends, His family, are grieving here. They have just seen someone they loved go through something horrific, and now it seems as if He has gone. The sky has gone black, the whole of nature seems to be in mourning.

As I said yesterday, the point of the cross wasn’t to completely remove any sadness from the world. Mark is giving us a glimpse of what mourning and sadness is like in the new Kingdom that Jesus has brought in. It’s still there. But this time, it’s temporary.

Now, these people will rejoice in just a few days’ time when Jesus appears before their very eyes. Obviously, we carry scars with us for far longer. Our whole lives sometimes. But we now have the promise that one day Jesus will make all things new. Not just a promise but in the death and resurrection Jesus secures that eventuality and sets it in motion. It will come. But until that day Jesus gives us two things. The Holy Spirit, so that He can always be with us and walk through our lives with us step by step; and a new purpose. This purpose looks different for each of us but ultimately it is to love God, to love each other and to make disciples of ourselves and others.

PRAYER:

There is a beautiful song that encapsulates much of what is happening in this passage and I’m going to read the lyrics to us now as our closing prayer for the week. Maybe go away later and listen to it and think on what God might be saying to you today. This is called Sovereign Over us, written by Aaron Keyes.

There is strength within the sorrow,
There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning,
With a love that casts out fear.
You are working in our waiting,
Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding,
You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper,
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever,
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined,
Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens,
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the Lifter of the lowly,
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me,
Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good,
You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
You’re working for our good,
You’re working for our good and for your glory

READING: Mark 15:33-47

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.