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Mark 15 v 29 - 47

Personally, I find it hard to read passages narrating Jesus' death. The language is used sparingly in each of the Gospel accounts, but it still makes for a tough read if the reader has any imagination whatsoever. Let the crowds and the chief priests have their moment in the sun, when it appears that they have finally got rid of this pest. Their triumph won't last long as they have so little to lift them: after Jesus has been crucified, there is still the long term incursion and rule of the Romans, nothing has really changed.

Jesus had hung on the cross for three hours when the darkness came and swept daytime into night. Just as with eclipses we have experienced, the birds fly home to their nests, the air grows cold and there is silence. Jesus quotes from Psalm 22. There have been various interpretations: Jesus is reciting the Psalms from the first and has arrived at the twenty second, before He begins Psalm 23, the Psalm of trust and hope. It could have been a cry of terrible desolation, the darkness mirroring the dark separation Jesus experienced with His Father. It could have been His full recognition of the human condition as He bears our sins upon Him. Whatever the solution to these words, we know from John's Gospel that when He died, Jesus cried out one word, ''Finished!''. The light had come once again and Jesus went to His Father a triumphant victor.

Jesus died and the great curtain of the Temple which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple and through which only the High Priest could go once a year was torn in two from top to bottom. It is generally understood to mean that God had made the way accessible to Himself for all people through Christ's death, torn from TOP to BOTTOM: not man's work, but God's. My Dad always felt too that it demonstrated to the Jews that God was not there: the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was coming and then the great Diaspora of the Jews, losing their homeland for almost two thousand years.

Christ's death moved and continues to move the most unusual people: the veteran centurion declares Jesus to truly be the Son of God, the Gospel is spreading to the Gentiles! Joseph of Arimathea, one of the Sanhedrin, and a secret believer in Jesus along with Nicodemus, arrives to take away the body and places Jesus in a fine tomb. He may not have spoken in His defence when He was alive, but His death caused him to be prepared to stand up and be counted. His life from now on would be very different!

The women remain steadfast. Mary Magdalene, his mother Mary and Salome wait at the cross. Women are there to see Jesus die and women are the first to see Him alive and yet the Church has denigrated women throughout the centuries since!


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