Mark 15:1-39: As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”
For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!”
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort.
And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
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!”
Sometimes, when you least expect it, something incredibly meaningful leaps out at you, leaving you in stunned silence. This exact thing happened to me earlier in the week. Reading a meditation from a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge Mass., I was a little quizzical when the writer said there are five Gospels. Immediately I thought of things like the Gospel of Thomas, one of many writings from the time of Jesus that didn’t make the Canon of Scripture. But the author was going in a much more spiritual direction. He suggested there is the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of John and the Gospel of You! That’s right, he is suggesting that each of us has a Gospel, or should have one, based on our understanding of our relationship with God and our spiritual journey. I had to spend some time with that idea. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought he was right.
So as we enter the most important week in human history, as we deal today with the dichotomy of emotions in the wild emotional frenzy of the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday and the slow painful unfolding of the death of the One that means everything to us in the Passion Narrative; what are we writing in our own Gospel?
The reality is that Christianity is not a spectator sport. We are part of the unfolding spirituality of the world. By the very nature of our baptism, at which time the Holy Spirit was imparted to us, we are in relationship with the One who created everything and we are called to speak up about what that means.
In the books of the Bible we have a variety of views and understandings of relationships between God and people. Some are straight forward, others immensely complicated. Sometimes the views don’t have all the same details and that’s okay. I believe the Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit are God’s gift to us to ask questions, to search deeply for meaning, to try and make sense out of details that seem to conflict or don’t make sense. We are asked to investigate, discuss, debate, learn, grow, and share!
So let me ask you this. What does the Gospel of You look like? What has influenced it? Are you actively involved in writing/rewriting it? Have you had a spiritual moment lately that has influenced your Gospel?
Never will there be a better time to think about your own Gospel story than Holy Week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Friday at 11 am and next Sunday at 6:30, 8:30 and 10:30 in the morning we will gather here at St. James Westminster to encounter the Holy Week story. We will hear from the writers of various Gospels, Epistles and Old Testament volumes. We will have chance to ponder the Last Supper, the Trial, the Crucifixion, and ultimately the Resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. It’s not a drama we watch, but (His) story that we participate in.
What will be added to the Gospel of You as a result?
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery