The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 66
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.I have struggled with how to write about Chapter 14 and 15 in Mark's Gospel. These chapters are hard for me on this discipleship journey because those who followed Jesus have disappeared. Jesus is being beaten, imprisoned, and mocked. He is put on trial by first the religious authorities and then the political authorities. If the disciples have betrayed, deserted and denied Jesus, how are we to stay faithful, to continue to follow Jesus. How do we stay here with Jesus in the pain and heartbreak? How do we stay here when the world is tearing Jesus apart?
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. Mark 15:1-20
This question has been ever present in my mind as the news this summer has been unfolding. With planes being shot from the sky full of people on the way to a vacation but crossing the path of armed conflict. With people trapped on mountains by a group of people determined to create a state in a place already governed that has multiple faith communities but this group wants one and only one way and is willing to kill and behead people to gets its way. With young people being shot without even checking to see if they are armed, with young people being shot because we have decided that their bodies are not worthy. With people who are demanding change being met with armored vehicles and tear gas. With daily news reports of another young person dead, caught in the crossfire. How do we stay there in the pain, the anger, the terror? How do we respond to this pain? Do we flee, run away, do we desert the pain? That's the example the disciples gave us of fleeing when the rubber hits the road, when the trouble strikes. But how should we respond? What should we do?
If our job is to follow Jesus, we need to look at his response to situations of pain and conflict. In this trial, Jesus is being asked to accept an identity, a name, a role that he hasn't claimed. Pilot, the government authority, the empire's symbol of power, ask's Jesus if he is the King of the Jews. Notice Jesus' response, he says, "You say so." The religious authority and the government authority are making Jesus into a threat to the political order. But Jesus doesn't claim this identity. Jesus doesn't accept their definition of who he is. Jesus claims to be the teacher, the Son of Man, the Beloved, the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One. Jesus' understanding of this is very different from the expectations of a Messiah. He is not the King of the People; he is not seeking to be a military hero. He is showing us a different way. Jesus' understanding of being the Beloved of God is to walk with the people who are hurting, who are captives, who are in need of healing. He walks among them sharing the Good News of God. He heals people. He frees people from what binds them and shows us a different way to live. We are invited to stay with people in their pain and to confront the authorities who are causing this pain, by going to their seat of power and saying enough. We are to say this is not how we are meant to live with each other, this is not how we are to treat each other. And we are to seek God in those moments of pain, to take the time to pour out our heart break, our anger, our outrage and ask God's will.
God, sometimes the pain and the hurt is to real, too deep. We want to turn away from the feeling and emotions it is causing in us. We want to run away to a happier time and place. Yet the pain will still be there. The people who are hurting and being hurt will still be struggling with a system that has stacked the deck against the. So God help us to stay with you and feel your presence in the midst of the heartache, the injustice, the pain. And while we have stopped here this moment to rest in your presence, please comfort and strengthen us. Show us your way forward, show us your will. Amen.
Le Tenebre/ Our Darkness Taize