Mid Week Lenten Devotions Wednesday March 18, 2015.
Mark 15:1-32 The Trial and Crucifixion ……It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
With a firm belief that the Word of God needs to shape our prayer, we use the Instruction, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication way of “warming up the heart” from Luther’s Simple Way to Pray.
Instruction: What is The Lord instructing me in this Word? Confession: What is the Spirit calling me to confess before God? Thanksgiving: What might I thank God for in this Word? Supplication: What do I find myself asking God for?
Instruction Satisfying the crowd is such a major concern here. The Pharisees, Scribes, Law Teachers; and even the Roman Governor of the whole province, Pontius Pilate, are very worried about the crowd and their fickle will.
The Pharisees use the crowd to pressure the Governor into action – an unjust action – and action that goes against the justice he is in charged to keep.
The rule law suffers at the expense of fear of uprising. This is understandable given that the Roman military did rule with an iron fist. If the crowd in any city rioted too many times, any governor, including Pilate would be lose his job, his name, his status. He may even go on trial in a Roman court and be sentenced to imprisonment of death. No wonder Pilate is nervous. No wonder he lets himself be manipulated by fear.
The treatment of Jesus is mocking and inhumane; Public shame is the aim. The way to deal with someone who is threatening power is to shame him mercilessly so that he is so very weak looking in the eyes of all. Jesus claims to be King. His shaming by those who hold human power. So his shaming must be complete – and it is.
Simon does not willingly carry the cross. He is forced to do this. I wonder if this is how it is with us at times. The burden of carrying the gospel of Jesus sometimes is heavy. It can put strain on relationships, make it impossible for us to participate in some things that might feel very good to bring more power, status and wealth. Carrying the gospel in our words and actions can border on being shameful in our 21st century secularising Australia. We may cave in to the established patter, the fickle crowd too at times.
That word Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple and his crazy sounding word that he would rebuild it in just three days pops up again in the passers-by derision. Jesus is the laughing stock of the city now.
Shame is complete. Death’s tentacles encircle him. Even law breaking criminals join in the fun. For them at least Jesus is taking the shame off them and their deserving punishment. In Mark’s gospel, there is no quarter given by one of the criminals. Just more abuse.
Jesus takes the shame and the abuse and stays the course for those killing him.
Is that what he doing for us tonight?
Confession For my unwillingness to bear the gospel cross at times – not saying a word, protecting my reputation rather than putting my reputation in His hands and trusting that his cross is enough – it is pure grace and the mighty power of God for the freedom and love of the world.
For wanting power and even glory for the self at times. Rather than sacrificing my time, money, reputation, food, income for the bearing of the gospel cross, feathering my own nest, being first among others, even pulling others down with words of judgement that putting the best construction on what I can for the sake of the other.
For being as fickle as the crowd – easily led to at one point sing “Hosanna – God save us”, to “Crucify him” and everything in between.
Thanksgiving: That he did not flinch and that he completed it all. He “left nothing on the field” at all.
There was shame, no God-forsakenness, no physical pain, no human suffering left to drink. He drained the cup. He drank the poison chalice. He took it all for the team. All we can do is thank, praise, love and obey him after this.
We thank him for his courage, his resilient love, his willingness to take all the shame and suffering death could muster.
Supplication A new willingness to bear the gospel well with trust that it is the highest thing of most value and longest lasting benefit no matter how things look.
Eyes to see and ears to hear so I continue to see and believe and be an instrument of his healing gospel truth.
To keep his name Hallowed – keep it holy, respected, of high place in my own life as I hear his Word and put it into practice where he has placed me.