Reading: Mark 15
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 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?"). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."
36 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.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 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!" (Mark 15:33-39)
Reflecting and Thinking
Were it not for its familiarity, this would be a difficult chapter to read. We are desensitized by our frequent exposure to the story. Death on a cross in the first century was horrific. The gruesome nature of what occurred is unimaginable. The insults are bad enough, the mocking; the injustice. The emotional stress, the spiritual stress of forsakenness, the physical suffering-words cannot speak.
It is done, God's mercy intervenes. Joseph of Arimathea, a Jewish council member provides the gift of a proper burial. The tomb is occupied.
What strikes you from the text today? How important to you is the declaration of the centurion that Jesus was surely the Son of God? How well do you think we today understand the severe and cruel nature of crucifixion? What thoughts or desires does the reading of this text motivate in you?
Dear God, help us hear the story of Jesus' sacrifice in fresh ways. Increase our appreciation for the great price that was paid for us. Bring this to our mind when we are confronted with decisions as to whether we are willing to pay the price. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.