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Apr 02 2015

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Death

April 2, 2015 | By

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
(Mark 15:1-5 ESV)

I don’t think Mark 15 is a chapter that can be read lightly by anyone who loves and knows Jesus. Beginning with Peter’s denial of his association with Jesus Christ in Mark 14:66, we can see “death” in the forms of denial, deception, murder, injustice, corruption, mockery and torture, all before the ultimate climax of the crucifixion of the Son of God. We see here how Jesus experienced all of these forms of death, and it is an essential part of the Gospel message that it was for us, each of us as individuals, that Jesus Christ gave himself entirely over to all of these experiences and His death.

Consider the silence of Jesus, or the silence of the Word. Jesus responded to Pilate, then he was accused by the chief priests and questioned again by Pilate, but he made no further reply. As Mark’s account of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ reads, we see no more words spoken by Jesus Christ until three in the afternoon, the time Jesus breathed His last. When the Word became silent, we see the immediate breakdown of the structures and authorities of the world, which are ironically supposed to be for the good of humanity, protective and life-giving. A convicted murderer was set free in society as the One who went around healing and already having brought the dead back to life, was crucified. The very place, within the foremost human government of its time, where justice was supposed to reign, was ruled by manipulation, falsehood and corruption.

As I read this passage and see that Jesus was handed over to be crucified, I cannot help but see how the society and community suffered as well. And I cannot help but think that as Jesus entered into His last moments and crucifixion, in addition to carrying the burden of our sins on Himself, He also showed us a picture of the depravity of society without God speaking. When the Word went silent, there seems to be some sense in which He also took on the burden of the failed human system of justice and social order. It is Jesus Christ alone Who saves us from death; human society and systems cannot save but also experience forms of death without Jesus actively speaking.

Pilate may have been amazed when Jesus was silent while accused, but I imagine this amazement was nothing compared to what he would have felt if he was with the centurion who was standing before the cross when Jesus died. He and many more must have expected that Jesus had now fallen silent for good. Nonetheless, the centurion spoke, breaking any silence of speech, with the beautiful words, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” No one asked him to be silent or to not share this with anyone. Likewise, we are not called to be silent! If Pilate was amazed at the silence and Jesus’ death caused the centurion to confess that this was the Son of God, what is the response to the rest of the Gospel message, that silence and death was not the end! Jesus is no longer silent; let’s reflect on how it is that Jesus seeks to speak, to us, to the lost who Jesus longs to reach and to the world. Just as Jesus’ silence led toward death and gave us a picture of death spreading in the larger community, in what ways can we take part in Jesus’ desire to speak and be life-giving to the world? And as we consider this, let us remember that it is our Lord resurrected from death who calls us to do this.

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your name. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]

This is part of a series of Lent related blog posts written by various members of The Crossroad body and inspired by the free devotional guide Journey To The Cross. Closing Prayer added from The Worship Sourcebook.