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Daily Gospel Reflection - 02 September 2011


Mark 15.22-32 CEB: They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place. They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. They crucified him. They divided up his clothes, drawing lots for them to determine who would take what. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The notice of the formal charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.

People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself and come down from that cross!”

In the same way, the chief priests were making fun of him among themselves, together with the legal experts. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself. Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross. Then we’ll see and believe.” Even those who had been crucified with Jesus insulted him.

‘They crucified him.’ The simplicity of this statement speaks to the great distance between us and the actual events. Today, we don’t really have a clue what this means. The first century audience, to whom these stories and letters were written, knew full well what that sentence meant - in all of it’s gory, graphic detail.
That’s why I’m so thankful for Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’. Sure there were some discrepancies, (the biggest one being no one was speaking Greek!) but that’s to be expected . The scenes where Jesus was tortured and crucified were very graphic. But those scenes help us who are so far removed understand (in some small way) what Jesus went through. It shows us, too, what those who are in power are capable of if one comes along to question that power. One of the most powerful scenes for me, was during the beating scene. Jesus has been chained to the wipping block and the guards start beating his back with various tools of torture. At one point, Jesus collapses. Looking up, he’s obviously in a lot of pain and weak and exhausted. But he sees his mother. She’s just on the outside of the area. She’s crying. She’s reaching for him. You can see in her eyes that she’s begging him to just stay down. Those others of us who are watching are wanting the same thing. ‘Just stay down!’, we shout. ‘For mercy’s sake, please stay down.’ But then, Jesus does the unthinkable. He rises back up. He takes more of the torture.

The scene shows in a very profound (and graphic) way, that Jesus was in control of the whole process. The Romans and the Jewish opposition were not the ones in control. His fate was not in their hands. It was in his. He had the power to give up his life and to take it up again (John 10.17-18). That’s the one thing we have to keep in our minds about this whole thing. Sure, Jesus ticked off those in power and he knew full well what would happen if he did. But God’s realm was being birthed in his life and, yes, even through his death. But it was up to him.

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