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The Gospel of Mark - Chapter 15, v.21
A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.) 22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 23 They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. 24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. 30 Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” 31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.
The Death of Jesus
33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” 37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” 40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The Burial of Jesus
42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.
About today's contributor: Steve is an attorney. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
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My mind floods with images from movies I've seen like Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” and Martin Scorsese’s “Last Temptation of Christ”. Pilate was surprised that Jesus died early. If Jesus was tortured as excessively as Gibson portrayed, then a quick death should be expected. (Sorry Mel, you may have got that wrong.)
Everyone wants Jesus to come down from the cross thinking that would somehow prove he is the Messiah. That’s the very thing in Scorsese’s film that was so controversial - Jesus came down from the cross. Everyone knows that film departs from the narrative. But I never fully registered that in the text, coming down from the cross was believed to be necessary for the Messiah.
Jesus only comes down from the cross as a corpse. He died quickly. His revolutionary flame extinguished. Somehow, his death proved that he was the Messiah to a nameless Roman officer. The text doesn’t explain why . . . For everyone else, they likely thought that the crucifixion proved that Jesus was no Messiah. It’s amazing that anyone stuck around to help bury the body.
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The Gospel of Mark - Chapter 15:
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. 2 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” 3 Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, 4 and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” 5 But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise. 6 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. 7 One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. 8 The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual. 9 “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. 10 (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 11 But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. 12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” 15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
About today's contributor . . . Elmie is originally from the Ukraine. She loves to travel and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter and cat.
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This is the saddest moment in the entire book of Mark for me because the very people - the Jews - who Jesus taught and healed, now turned against him. But when I set my emotions aside, I am mostly surprised by how reluctant Pilate was to prosecute Jesus. If you think about it, here was the Messiah, the King of Jews who Romans assumed would challenge their dominion over Jews, this rebel standing before Pilate. And Pilate seems to be kinder to him than the Jewish religious leaders. It makes me think that sadly sometimes a non-Christian and non-religious person can act in a more “godly”, more loving way than Christians who are convinced that they are doing the right thing. I am asking myself, how often do I feel so strongly about “being right” that I might hurt relationships in my life.
What did you think about this passage? Can you relate?
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The Gospel of Mark - Chapter 14, v.53:
Jesus before the Council
They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire. 55 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. . .
The Gospel of Mark Chapter 14, v.27:
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” 30 Jesus replied . . .
The Gospel of Mark - Chapter 14: (we're nearing the end of the story now -- the last week of Jesus' life)
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.” 3 Meanwhile . . .
The Gospel of Mark - Chapter 13, v.12:
Jesus Speaks About the Future
He continued, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
The Gospel of Mark Chapter 12, v.41: (Please see Reading Tips to the right -or- at the bottom of the page)
The Widow’s Offering
Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. 43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said . . .
The Gospel of Mark Chapter 12, v. 18 (see the Reading Tips to the right or bottom of this page)
Discussion about Resurrection
Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: 19 “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 20 Well, suppose there were seven brothers.
The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 11, v.27
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?”
Reading Tips . . .
Start by asking God to interact with you
Ask for a fresh perspective
Expect to be challenged in your assumptions
Try imagining yourself in the story
Slow down and pay attention to your feelings, thoughts and reactions
When something bothers you, talk to God about it
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