+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Opening (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – Mark 15:16-41 (NLT)
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.) And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it.
Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.
The Death of Jesus
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”
Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Were you there?
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.
Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Mark 15:33-34
Situational irony occurs when there is a discrepancy between what a character naively expects to happen and what actually happens, or between what a character blindly thinks to be the case and what the real situation is. . . .
In situational irony the speaker is confident that what he or she says or expects is true, but is unaware that the real situation is, in fact, the opposite. The characters in the story are blind victims of the irony of the situation, while the reader sees the contrast between what the speaker says and the way things really are.
Notice the irony in today’s reading –
+ The soldiers mocked Jesus – “Hail, King of the Jews.” They repeatedly beat, spit on, knelt as if in worship, and bowed as before a great person. They had no idea that one day every knee on heaven and earth would bow before Him, and every tongue declare Jesus is Lord.
+ The unbelieving crowd mocked Jesus – They focused on His predictions about destroying and raising the temple as proof Jesus could not be their Messiah. Earlier the high priest had charged Jesus with blasphemy of which He was innocent. Now the people did truly blaspheme God.
+ The religious leaders mocked Jesus – Their title for Jesus, “King of Israel,” focused on the apparent irony of His being the leader not only of the Jews but of their nation. They were the leaders of the nation, not Jesus. The fact that Jesus was apparently helpless on the cross was the supreme irony from their viewpoint.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Mark 15:34
Jesus expressed His agony of separation as a rhetorical question, quoting Psalm 22:1. This expression conveys a sense of desolation from the horror of sin that Jesus felt so deeply – a horror that for a time obscured the closeness of His communion with the Father.
Even though the physical sufferings that Jesus experienced were great, the spiritual agony that He underwent as the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world was infinitely greater.
Question for consideration:
- Consider the sin in your life – past, present, and even future. Ponder it in detail for a while. And then consider how it contributed to Jesus’ agony on the cross.
The Persecuted Church: Prayer for the practical needs of persecuted believers:
Heavenly Father, our provider and sustainer: Attend to the needs of your family suffering great hardship and persecution, especially –
+ That they would have access to a Bible…
+ That they would have the courage to remain in their homelands…
+ That those rejected by their family and friends would be welcomed into your family where they are loved and supported emotionally and physically…
+ That socially vulnerable women and those who have lost custody of their children would be protected and their children returned…
+ That those who are destitute would find jobs and safe places to live…
Heavenly Father, you know each one of your children by name: Have mercy on them and attend to their needs according to your perfect will. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
My Prayer: A Reaffirmation of Faith
Heavenly Father: Today I renew and reaffirm the promises I made in baptism –
+ I renounce the devil and all spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against you.
+ I renounce the sinful desires of the flesh that draw me away from your love.
+ I turn to Jesus Christ and confess Him as my Lord and Savior.
+ I joyfully receive your Word and Spirit as my only guide for faith and practice.
+ I will obediently seek your will and walk in your ways until my life’s end.
Heavenly Father: I cannot keep these promises on my own; my track record speaks for itself. Fill me continually with your Spirit and help me become the person you envisioned me being, even before I was born. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Were you there” – Andrea Thomas
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen