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Sunday, 22 April 2018

a Rumour of Hope

The View from the Cross

Who was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified?
3) Mockers and Priests and  4)The Centurion, the Women and the Secret Disciple
                These people’s lives were changed because of their encounters with Jesus- even briefly.

3) Mockers and Priests
                There were passersby at the foot of the cross.
They were bystanders to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion but when they saw him hanging on the cross they remembered the claims he had made. He claimed that he would destroy the temple and raise it up again. They were shaking their heads at him. Ironically this was the time of the 3 days that he was in fulfilling his own words as he hung from the cross, anticipated his death and his burial.
                The priests and scribes plotted the death f Jesus and they too were at the foot of the cross. They mocked Jesus. “He saved others, but he can’t save himself” They had been frightened and jealous of Jesus as they had witnessed his teaching nd blessing the crowds in ways they could never do. So they plotted against him and they were revelling in the moment as he hung on the cross.
                An unknown man who yells out is also at the foot of the cross. When Jesus calls out to the Father, the voice heard states,”Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” At this moment someone runs and fills a sponge with wine vinegar, puts it on a staff and offers it to Jesus to drink. The voice then states, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Then Jesus breathed his last.
4) The Centurion, the Women and the Secret Disciple
                After Jesus’ death, there is no one who abuses, mocks or reviles him. The centurion was in charge of the soldiers who carried out the crucifixion. When he stood in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this was the Son of God.” He was a Roman soldier, a pagan and likely believed in many gods. Yet to this man the crucifixion was a mistake- an innocent man of God. There was something about the way Jesus died that the centurion had never seen before- dignity, nobility,  a force of personality that transcended the merely human (p. 16)
                The women who cared and loved Jesus included Mary Magdalene, May the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome. John the other disciple was with Jesus’ mother, Mary for in the first 3 hours Jesus was on the cross he committed his mother to the care of John. They have no hope but pray for a resurrection.
                Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of Council went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead but gave the body to Joseph. Joseph bought burial linens, took down the body, wrapped it in linen and placed it in a tomb. He rolled a stone in front of the tomb. Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus body had been buried. Joseph was a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin and believed in Jesus but was afraid to profess his faith.
                Jesus cries, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus dismisses his spirit. His death was deliberate and voluntary. He was a sacrifice. Within the temple wall the veil which enclosed the ‘holy of holies’ was torn from top to bottom. Yet now with Jesus’ death the holy of holies was exposed.  These 3 events tie together to form the meaningful truth: The way into the heart of God is wide open. All are welcome.
Reflection  Read Mark 15
In sharing the story of Jesus’ death have you ever paid attention to the role of the bystanders? The centurion’s words and Joseph of Arimathea?  Often we dismiss them because we are overcome with the death of Jesus. Yet these people played a significant role in this story. They see the bigger picture. But do you? Often we are bystanders to a situation and like witnesses to the crime we should tell others.
God of grace and love we thank you for Jesus’ death on the cross for our sakes. Help us to have and kep hope alive because of him. We ask O God in prayer. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017. (p.15-21)

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