Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, marking the first day of Lent. Since I do not come from a tradition that celebrates or promotes Lent, I needed to do a little research. What I knew is that Lent is an opportunity to grow closer to God. It starts on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter with the forty days mirroring the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11). What I did not know is that the ashes, on that Wednesday are to remind us of our sin and mortality. Despite my non-participation in Lent, I fully agree with taking time to remember Jesus’ sacrifice. Ironically, today we read from Mark 15, which details the story of Jesus death. While this is a morbid and depressing topic, it is right that we become intimate with it.
To be honest, I find that I have become desensitized to it. Jesus crucifixion is talked about so often that the conversation has become routine. In fact, how many of you glossed over the terrible circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death march? Take a moment to digest these words that Mark uses to describe it:
Do you hear the malice and hatred in these words? I can feel it. While I want to elevate myself above Jesus’ assailants, I cannot. I am compelled to ask, who am I? Have I not done this to him myself? Think about it, every lie (even the little white ones) every selfish ambition, each time I try to position myself a little higher, I aggravate his suffering. I am the betrayer. The benefit of studying Jesus death is that I must confront my own actions. Doing so takes me straight back to Peter at the end of chapter 14, “and he broke down and wept.”