Friday, April 22, 2011

Lent Day 39 - Mark 15 Good Friday (Special Edition)

King of the Jews? Pilate, a historically violent figure, is amazed by this silent King of the Jews. When Pilate tries to release Jesus, the crowds beg for Barabbas. In Aramaic Barabbas means - Son of the Father. In Matthew's Gospel, he is identified as Jesus Barabbas. Which Son of the Father does the crowd want? The violent, murderer, insurrectionist leading Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, King of the Jews who rides into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, who says He can tear down the glorious Temple but will build it up in three days, who heals and teaches forgiveness? Which of these figures is more likely to lead to peace? The religious leaders stir up the crowd against Jesus and Pilate identifies the reason, jealousy (v. 10).
Jesus is condemned to crucifixion, beaten, and mocked. He is mocked by all people, the soldiers, the crowds, and religious leaders all get in the act. All segments of the population both of high status and of none; both spheres of rule, political and religious are all guilty. Jesus quotes the opening line from Psalm 22 which describes the anguish of crucifixion prophetically. Yet it ends with the theme of hope and trust in God's vindication. Even in feeling abandonment, Jesus trust in God's victory.
When Jesus breathed His last, the Temple curtain was torn from top to bottom. Being 40 feet high, this was a sign God wasn't absent from the events of the day. God was working to defeat that which has separated people from God. It was not a political oppression that was the real enemy, but a spiritual oppressor - sin. Satan, also the enemy, no doubt was thinking he too had won. Satan had defeated God's perfect Son. (But as the poem goes - It's Friday but Sunday's Comin'!)
Mark observes a Roman centurion who saw in the way Jesus died, as evidence that He was God's Son. Ironic that religious leaders mock, the disciples were fleeing in fear, yet it is a Gentile soldier who doubtlessly had seen his share of crucifixions sees God at work through Jesus' death.
There are a few women followers of Jesus who watch from a distance (where are the men?). As well a noble man named Joseph of Arimathea secured Jesus' body and lied it in a tomb. No doubt time was of the essence as the Sabbath was beginning so proper burial procedures would have to wait. The stone was rolled in front of the tomb, but this isn't the end of the story because although it is Friday, Sunday's Comin'! 
What does Jesus Barabbas, Pilate, the death of Jesus on a Roman cross, and the charge of blasphemy from the religious leaders tell us about the scope of Jesus' death?
How was Jesus' death a ransom (10:45)? Who did Jesus ransom us from? What was the cost of the ransom? What does it mean to be ransomed? How does it feel that you have been ransomed?
What might it say that a Roman soldier can believe in the God of Israel?
How would you explain to a friend who asked what difference Jesus' death has made in your life?

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