A Good Friday:
Reflecting on the Crossroads of History
One disciple had betrayed him.
Another had thrice denied him.
All eventually deserted him.
Except the women.
They watched from a short distance away (Mark 15:40-41).
• • •
Jews and gentiles alike had mocked Jesus with royal tones (Mark 14:60-65; 15:16-20; 15:31-32).
Jewish authorities conspired and colluded with Roman principalities (and, if we are perceptive, with sinister spiritual powers) in order to corrupt justice and crush Messiah Jesus (Mark 15:1-15).
The Roman soldiers dishonored the Son of God.
The Jewish priests disowned the Son of Man (Mark 14:62-64).
The crowds had mistaken him as merely the son of David.
Now he was mocked with a crown, with a robe, a scepter, a placard (Mark 15:26). They exalted him high on a cross.
The corrupting, colluding, conspiring powers thus collided with Christ at that crossroads of history.
Their verdict was death.
And so, at this moment—where the old covenant declines, where the blood of the new covenant is poured out—darkness descended and extended over the land (Mark 15:33).
• • •
Any of us who owns a computer knows that troubling season in which we find that it runs ever slower and slower. It takes longer to boot up and tends to freeze with increasing frequency. Frustratingly, files get corrupted. It may need some cleaning up. It may need a system upgrade. Old hardware becomes obsolete, it ages, and soon disappears (see Hebrews 8:13).
If you’ve ever uploaded an upgrade and clicked “install,” you know what happens next.
The timeline appears showing the progress of the upgrade.
It can seem like hours.
Eventually the computer reboots.
The screen goes dark.
You stare back at yourself in the inky blackness.
And you wait and wonder and worry.
On the day Jesus died, there was no eclipse of the sun. A change was in the works in the darkness. It was a destabilizing, even disassembling, as we shall see. Underway was a reboot, a renewal, a replacement.
• • •
The High Priest illegally had torn his clothes (Leviticus 21:10), disowning and denouncing Israel’s Messiah (Mark 14:63). In response, God ripped his temple-clothes, the lavishly embroidered curtain (Mark 15:38), disowning and denouncing the High Priest. Thus began the disassembling of the temple that would reach its climax about forty years later (AD 70).
As that temple decreased, a new temple, a living temple, was birthed (and christened, if you will), having no geographical center, but with Christ himself as its cornerstone.
Within days, the High Priest had been replaced with another—namely the Messiah, whose life will never end (Hebrews 6:20; 7:16), who now mediates in the heavenly tabernacle.
• • •
A short distance away the women watched and witnessed (Mark 15:40-41).
A gentile soldier confesses that Jesus was the Son of God (Mark 15:39).
A Jewish man, a member of the council honors Jesus’s body (Mark 15:42-47).
The women knew which tomb.
The women witnessed the empty tomb and even their Lord Jesus risen from the dead (Mark 16:1-7; Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:11-18).
The Divine verdict was life (see Acts 2:12-24)!
And the disappointing and disappointed disciples are restored and renewed in Galilee, though some still doubted (Matthew 28:16-17).
Then they are commissioned as witnesses (Matthew 28:18-20).
• • •
Now, I am particularly struck, even convicted, by the realization that if our culture is ignorant of Christ, of his cross, of his kingdom, then that is the church’s failure, our own flaw, my fault. For those of us being saved, we know the cross as the power of God. Let us learn and relearn this, let us remember and recount this good news to each other…and then to the world.
Even in our knowledge, far too often we are silenced by the fears of social disapproval. Worse, far too often we permit our culture to take the lead, to lead us, the church, as if we were betrothed to the spirit of the age rather than to Christ Jesus. We too are tempted to dissemble, to deny, to desert, to defect.
May we renew our love for the Son of God, confess the Son of Man as Lord of our lives, to restate our loyalty to King Jesus. May he be uppermost in affections, receiving our highest allegiance. May he lead us and guide us through the colluding and corrosive and corrupting powers of our own cultures, those found among ourselves, even those discovered even in ourselves. Today, may we confess our sins, our departures, our denials, our ignorance, our fears.
Lord have mercy!