Good Friday is a difficult day to understand and a difficult day to experience. This is where our journey has taken us, to the day that Jesus will lose his life for the thing he was most passionate about: The Kingdom of God
We often hear the story of the crucifixion as a composite of the four Gospels. Our challenge is to hear it as Mark tells it.
It was nine o”clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o”clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
The story of Jesus’ death is hard for us to really grasp because we know how it ends. We know that on the third day that Jesus will rise again, that on Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We marvel at the good news that life always triumphs over death.
But for those at the foot of the cross on Friday of The Last Week, they do not know this yet. For them, the story ends. Jesus dies and the way of life, the new life for all people that Jesus is so passionate about, has been taken away.
There is a large crowd, but notice in this crowd the disciples are nowhere to be found. They have all fled, most likely out of fear. Just the night before, Peter did as Jesus predicted, denying knowing him three times.
Mark tells us that there are three women who are present at the foot of the cross:
Mary Magdalene- thought to be the most important of Jesus’ female followers
Mary- we are told the mother of James the younger and of Joses
Salome- a common female name in the first century
It is clear that Jesus and the earliest Christians gave women a status that they could not achieve anywhere else in society
As they watch the man they followed crucified, being put to death in the worst way possible, what is going through their minds, their hearts? We are told that darkness comes over the earth. Darkness is symbolic with suffering. Not only is Jesus suffering, but those who are at the foot of the cross, notably the three women, are suffering. Heartbroken. It seems as though death has the final word. It seems as no new light will break forth, which is the worst kind of darkness that any of us can experience.
Today, we acknowledge the darkness. We are reminded of the brokenness of the world.
However, even in the midst of death, God’s will is always life. God’s will is always for more and more light to break through. There is always more to the story when God is involved.