Lenten Devotional // Day 39 Good Friday

Friday, April 15
THE CRUCIFIXION by Suzanne Bassler

Mark 15:1-47
At daybreak, the chief priests—with the elders, legal experts, and the whole Sanhedrin—formed a plan. They bound Jesus, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” The chief priests were accusing him of many things.
Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? What about all these accusations?” But Jesus gave no more answers, so that Pilate marveled.
During the festival, Pilate released one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. A man named Barabbas was locked up with the rebels who had committed murder during an uprising. The crowd pushed forward and asked Pilate to release someone, as he regularly did. Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” He knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of jealousy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. Pilate replied, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done?”
They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified.
The soldiers led Jesus away into the courtyard of the palace known as the governor’s headquarters, and they called together the whole company of soldiers. They dressed him up in a purple robe and twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on him. They saluted him, “Hey! King of the Jews!” Again and again, they struck his head with a stick. They spit on him and knelt before him to honor him. When they finished mocking him, they stripped him of the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Simon, a man from Cyrene, Alexander and Rufus’ father, was coming in from the countryside. They forced him to carry his cross.
They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place. They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. They crucified him. They divided up his clothes, drawing lots for them to determine who would take what. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The notice of the formal charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.
People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself and come down from that cross!”
In the same way, the chief priests were making fun of him among themselves, together with the legal experts. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself. Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross. Then we’ll see and believe.” Even those who had been crucified with Jesus insulted him.
From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”
After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.
The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.”
Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the younger one) and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him.
Since it was late in the afternoon on Preparation Day, just before the Sabbath, Joseph from Arimathea dared to approach Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was a prominent council member who also eagerly anticipated the coming of God’s kingdom.) Pilate wondered if Jesus was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him whether Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead, Pilate gave the dead body to Joseph. He bought a linen cloth, took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in the cloth, and laid him in a tomb that had been carved out of rock. He rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was buried.

I am going to let you in on a guilty pleasure of mine. I love the show The Righteous Gemstones on HBO. It is all about the Pastor of a megachurch, his corrupt family, and the craziness that they get into when they aren’t on stage. There are definitely some cringey moments, but there have also been some that got me thinking. In a recent episode, one of the Pastor’s sons has created a “God Squad” - fit men who spend their time living like Jesus. When one of them does something that is outside the expectations set for them, they are to “bear the cross” to prove their strength and commitment. It is a massive wooden cross with two metal handles right where Jesus’ wrists would have been nailed. Several men lift it from laying flat on the ground to let the person bearing it get underneath and grab the metal handles. Then, they attempt to walk so many steps and lift this thing to a standing position. Two men are seen attempting it, one fails, and one succeeds. After the one succeeds, he questions the strength of their leader, the Pastor’s son, and asks him if he can bear the cross. Due to an injury, one of the men steps up and offers to bear the cross in his place. He fails miserably. But it posed this question for me. How many people would do that for you? Who would bear a cross for you? Or better yet, would die for you?

I will be the first person to admit that my faith often falters. I am not a perfect Christian, I do not excel at all of our 5 practices all the time, but isn’t that the point? Aren’t we always supposed to be a working version of ourselves, always striving to be better, to be more like Jesus? Jesus carried and died on a cross for us so that we could fumble, falter and continually work on ourselves.

Question for Contemplation
Think of a time in your life when you felt like you failed. How can you give yourself grace, like Jesus would have, and move on? This may look like trying again or acknowledging that it isn’t meant for you.

Jesus, son of God, thank you. Thank you for bearing a cross and dying for us. You have given us life, a life that allows us to fumble and make mistakes, but always get back up and move forward, continually working to be the best version of ourselves. Help us give ourselves grace when we fail. In your name we pray, Amen.

1 Comment

Mike Bassler - April 15th, 2022 at 4:54pm

We are truly a work in progress. None of us are perfect, but we keep trying!