Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 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?’)
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’
Mark 15:33-34, 37-39
Around a third of Mark’s Gospel is devoted to the last week of Jesus’ life. As the week progresses, Jesus becomes increasingly isolated and alone.
He’s alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. There’s no answer to his prayer that his Father would take away the ‘cup’, a metaphor used by the Old Testament prophets to refer to God’s wrath and judgment. He’s alone before the Sanhedrin, while outside in the courtyard, Peter denies knowing him. On the cross, he’s abandoned by his disciples, the women standing at a distance. As Jesus cries out the words of Psalm 22:1, all trace of the Father’s presence is gone. This was the awful reality of God-forsakenness, and agonised lament the response.
The gospel, Mark tells us, is the announcement of the good news about Jesus (1:1). Mark not only recounts what Jesus did that changed the world forever, he reveals how and why.
It’s no surprise that the liberating work of Jesus through the cross took place at Passover. For this was the new exodus that God was enacting to set captives free from sin and death, from the power of evil, once and for all. It was love and compassion that compelled Jesus to embrace his vocation as Messiah. Of all people, it was a soldier in the occupying Roman army who recognised the Son of God through his suffering, not through the conquering powerplays familiar to the world.
Both the Jesus-way of the cross and the Jesus-goal of the kingdom are necessary to live out the gospel and its implications for all of life today. Cross-shaped kingdom possibilities abound wherever we live and learn, work and play, shop and serve. They abound in every sphere we inhabit. They abound in the causes God lays on our hearts which reflect his justice and mercy, his concern for the poor, the broken, and the marginalised.
They abound in the structures and systems, the politics and cultures of our society. They abound amongst the people he’s placed us with – our families, colleagues, friends, and neighbours. They abound in the opportunities to share this good news with others. They abound in all of life, and they abound all life long.
The gospel changes everything. And we’re invited to play our part.
Senior Mission Associate, LICC
How are you learning to live the way of Jesus on your frontline this week? Join the conversation in the comments below.