Friday, August 17th. Mark 15:25-32

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. Mark 15:25-32


At some point earlier this year I had the idea of slowly walking through every verse from Mark.  Now that we are nearing the end, I am finding it excruciating.  If nothing else, this exercise will come back to me again and again as we nonchalantly fly through these verses each time we read them on Passion Sunday or Good Friday.


Each morning, I wake up knowing that my daily post deadline is 9:00 AM.  Now I’m reminded that it was 9:00 AM when Jesus was crucified.  Another day at the office for the Roman soldiers.  Another look for us at this grisly scene.


Today in Jerusalem there are two sites associated with the crucifixion.  One, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we talked about yesterday.  The other is located in a small park called the Garden Tomb.  Also a “must see” tourist destination, the Garden Tomb site was identified in the 1800’s by a group of people who questioned the traditional site based especially on the account of the crucifixion in the gospel according to John.


If you click on the link and take the virtual tour, you will see that “it’s all there” in the Garden Tomb. It is located outside of the walls of historic Jerusalem.  The site includes the rock formation that looks like a skull, Golgotha.  The tomb with the track for rolling the stone into place.  The Christian inscription in the wall marking a possible ancient worship site.


But best of all, in my opinion, is that it is located right next to the new bus station.


Roman crucifixions weren’t private or secretive.  They weren’t about punishing people; they were all about terrifying everybody else.  Their favorite locations were alongside the main streets heading into an occupied city.  So it was that Jesus was crucified beside two common criminals – all the more likely that it happened along the main road so that all the religious pilgrims entering Jerusalem for Passover would see a crystal clear message about who was the boss in the big city.


2000 years later we still remember this event but…we argue about where it happened just as we argue about what it means.  But this morning, let’s simply hear what it says:


The Savior of the world was rejected by everyone.  There is nothing pretty, romantic, heroic, or edifying in that.  It is simply ugly.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, our minds are so clouded with pious images and religious cliches that we use to insulate ourselves from the simplicity and tragedy of your death.   We are so quick to see your death “for us” that we utterly disconnect it from our calling to be in the world as you were in the world, and thus to open ourselves to the same kind of self giving, the same kind of courage, the same willingness to take the hard path, the same kind of compassion and love for the lost and the least.  As you died for us, may we die to ourselves.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Friday, August 17th. Mark 15:25-32”

  1. Terry Says:

    Thank you for clear words, for making the horrific become “real.” In our lives, it is hard to relate to the cruelty, terror, control. We don’t intend to make it “beautiful,” but I think we become shallow when we do. There weren’t lilies draped on the cross, there was blood. Jesus has already forgiven us for our lack of comprehension; and I look forward to full understanding in the next Life.

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