Scripture: A reading from the Gospel of Mark (15:21-39)
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
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.
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!’
‘…save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ It is possible to imagine that some may have felt relief at seeing Jesus on the cross. No longer would they feel challenged by his message of love and care for the marginalised. Power and privilege had won. At least, that is what they had thought.
He could have saved himself. He could have come down from the cross. Instead, he remained a target of ridicule made vulnerable by an abuse of power and privilege. He remained on the cross – stripped of clothing and dignity. He remained on the cross in solidarity with all those who suffer in this world across the generations. He remained on the cross as a profound sign of love that would be embraced by people around the world for millennia.
He could have saved himself. Instead he chose to save the world. This truth was most fully revealed as he breathed his last as on centurion came to understand and millions would understand following him. How do we continue to look upon Christ broken for our salvation? What have we learned? What can we still learn?
Prayer: Almighty God, look graciously, we pray, on this your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BAS p. 308-309)
Next: Stop 10: The Burial