Lenten Devotions Week 5 Death and Burial
Mid Week Devotion Week 5
Mark 15:33-47 The Death and burial of Jesus33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[a] 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[b] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[c] and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. The Burial of Jesus 42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
Instruction If there is ever any doubt that the God of the bible knows human suffering, pain and abandonment, it is dispelled here. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
These are words cried for anyone who has ever been abandoned, left for dead, cut off from a relationship, felt the full weight of their guilt before God or anyone else. This is the pits and he is in it – and he is innocent and willing.
They think he is calling down God’s judgement – calling for Elijah. In that that are missing everything. They are still waiting for God’s new era to come. They don’t know that he is the new kingdom and the new king.
Same for us when we go looking for human achievement and power over our circumstances and over our own weaknesses?
He is right in front of us and his Word is easily heard, and yet we overlook him and keep searching for something…
Then the curtain. The whole of the world view of an ancient people is ripped I two right there and then as the Son of God rips open God’s gifts of heaven for the whole world, not just the Chosen people.
The early church would spend three centuries figuring out what this really meant for themselves and the mission of God in their communities. This man and this death and this forgiveness is really for everyone. His kingdom is without curtains or walls. God is openly accessed by sinners now.
The Mary’s and Salome are there. They cared for him deeply and practically from the start. They still care for him as they stand with him while all others have fled his shame. Courage, faith, trust – all shown by simply standing with him in their sorrow.
Pilate still has one task. He has the authority to leave the body dangling in shame for all to see or let that faithful man, Joseph from Arimathea respect it and bury it properly before the holy feast begins.
Strange how God uses pagans. Strange how those without faith think they are in charge and in control only to discover that he is ahead of them and yet still using human means to ensure his mission to draw all people to himself reaches his ends.
Strange how the holy one is new truly dead – dead and buried while the rest of the world prepare for what was a holy feast. God has shifted the goalposts, rejuvenated the feast, renamed the King and established a new community – they don’t know it yet, but they will soon enough.
We are that new community under that new king. We are a local living sign of the king and his holy presence in an unholy world – a world he loves and calls into his holiness and love.
The stone is rolled and they think it is over. Those who rejected him are glad as the supposed holy feast goes on. This who knew him are shattered. They will be consecrated, re-formed, re-ignited in love soon enough.
Confession: For my doubt that God knows my suffering, my shame, my regrets and the unwillingness to trust him in these things.
For my making of other things and people and myself holy rather than letting Jesus make me holy and acceptable and loved by God.
For my narrowness of mind on pagans – non-believers, and how the Lord is at work before I ever turn up or know anyone.
For my dismissal of the ordinary things as being thing of God’s love and holiness – a simple thing like just standing with the unjustly treated without saying a word, being present rather than being right, being open to others rather than closed off, being willing to stand with another in shame or sorrow or grief or a big mistake – and hardly say a word – just be there as those women were with him.
Thanksgiving For that telling call of pure unadulterated aloneness – of total abandonment. It means so much to me in my times of aloneness and much to so many with whom I have lived and work who feel cut off, shamed, empty, abandoned by others, even abandoned by God. They are not because he was. I am not because he did this. We are not because he cried these words and we heard them.
For the ripped curtain of separation between the ins and outs, the right and the wrong, the holy and the unholy, the closed out and the welcomed in. We are in. We are welcome. We have open access to our heavenly Father by the blood of this sacrifices man- a sacrifice that is once and for all, complete in it completeness.
He has done it all and we bask in the light of God acceptance by faith in this divine man. I can hear God speaking and I can speak to him in the power of the Holy Spirit who prays with me and for me. I am never abandoned or without my heavenly Father’s presence and power. That makes life, life!
Supplication Lord, please make me more like this man – unwavering in heart and mind to do all that is needed to bear their sin and get them to you – even when it costs plenty. For a heart that is willing to leave behind the self and truly welcome the other so that his death and resurrection create one more relationship of grace and love between a sinner and a holy God welcoming that sinner.
For our congregation – that we bask in the light of his grace and love and give ourselves to his ongoing mission to draw many more to him through us.
For Easter coming – for those believing that God has abandoned them, that God shames them that they are either too good or too bad for faith in Jesus – that they simply hear him telling them their assumptions are wrong and that he is with them and for them still. This cross still works. The man is still alive. His Word is good news.