Tuesday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent
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. Mark 15:21-24
Here is Mark’s stark description of the utter disregard for the Son of God. The rejection is so clear, in both its physical and emotional depiction, no one can miss the cruelty, callousness, and inhumanity. The scene is haunting.
The Crucifixion of Christ is always a shaking experience for any willing to think about this account. Whether the reader believes that Christ is “The Best Man who ever lived” or not, any serious observer of Mark’s account cannot dodge the realization that Jesus Christ willingly gave his life to an agonizing death to make a point for your life and mine. The message is forever clear: the love of God for all does not “cut and run,” even and especially in the face of worldly opposition and personal torture. That is simply the powerful truth of our faith in God. God’s love is real.
A lovely friend of mine took his own life. He left a note apologizing to his young wife and children. The note explained he feared he was “losing his mind” and did not want to use the family’s meager savings for his possible recovery. His death was devastating to his family and friends. The lingering family fear was that he would not enter God’s Heavenly Kingdom because he had committed the sin of suicide. When eventually they shared that fear with their rector, he responded, “How can that be?” Then he proceeded to suggest that Christ also suffered emotionally as well as physically on the Cross to make sure we know that God is in the midst of all such suffering with redemptive and eternal loving care especially for those who experience the worst of this world’s consequences.
The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is indeed so stark we cannot avoid the sense of devastation. The suffering of others is usually less dramatic and apparent, unless it is our own. All suffering is known to God. As we pay attention to it – and love the sufferer – perhaps beginning with our own and extending outward to others, we draw ourselves into God’s company.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and rest to the dead, and to us sinners, everlasting grace and glory, for with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Rev. Bill Wood
St. David’s Church, Radnor