Monday, August 20th. Mark 15:33-39

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”  Mark 15:33-39


Irony, surprise, the unexpected, immediacy – these have been features of how Mark has told the Jesus story from beginning to end.  And now we see all of these in this last moments as Jesus dies on the cross.


At high noon, the brightest time of day, the whole land is reduced to darkness.


At 3:00 PM, the hour of sacrifice in the Jewish Temple, the sacrifice to end all sacrifices dies on the Roman altar of a shameful cross.


Even his last words, a confession of utter godforsakeness, is misunderstood by the crowds who have misunderstood him from the very beginning.


The cup, which Jesus prayed to avoid but drank to the end, was a spongeful of sour wine.


The breath of life, God’s gift to animate Adam, is breathed one last time as the Son of God dies in shame.


But in this death – as the heavens were torn open at his baptism, as the veil separating the heavens and the earth lifted on the mountain of his transfiguration – tears open one last time that screen separating the “God in a box” that was the holy of holies in the majestic Temple.  Never again could God be confined, even in our imaginations, to a man-made space.  Now, revealed once and for all times, God was on the loose as God had always been on the loose.  No longer subject to man’s control, to man’s rejection, or rebellion.  Even to man’s religion.


In this death there is freedom for in this death there is life.  And who should be the first to see Jesus for who Jesus ever will be?  Of course, the most unlikely of all, it is a Roman soldier, the dried blood of Jesus on his hands, who first confesses, “Truly this man was God’s son.”


Let us pray:  Jesus, Lord, Savior, you are life itself.  Though rejected and forsaken, you loved to the very end.  No armies of angels to protect you.  No earthly armies to force you to a throne.  You died.  Our greatest fears, our deepest wounds, were all inflicted on you.  You died for us, that we might live.  Oh that our tongues would confess, and our lives reflect, the lordship of your kingdom of love from now to the end of time.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Monday, August 20th. Mark 15:33-39”

  1. Margaret Nobles Says:

    One of the most inspiring of your very valuable devotions. Thanks so much!

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