Friday, Feb. 17 – Mark 15

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a “fast forward” button for life? When those parts that seem to be taking a bit too long, are so painful or don’t make sense, we could just speed through them to get to the happy parts?

But life doesn’t come to us that way. It comes to us like a story, with chapters of tragedy and grief, beauty and joy all mixed together. Yet what we often forget, is that any story’s power is determined by the gravity of what must be overcome. Without a villain, darkness, or valleys, the victories and mountaintops would lose their meaning and power.

In the story of Jesus, this means that without Friday, there can be no Sunday. Without death, there can be no resurrection.

Mark 15 is one of those chapters in the Gospels, those parts of Jesus’ story that we would love to fast forward through. As I read this chapter, I found myself angry at the Jewish leaders who wanted Jesus killed, angry at Pilate who could have used his power to change the story, angry at the soldiers who mocked him, and even most of his own disciples who had long since deserted him.

But as I stepped back and asked Jesus for humility, he reminded me again—you are those characters as well. There is pride, greed, defensiveness, cruelty, and even cowardice in all of us throughout the story of our lives. Yes, we could read these stories and sit on the “high horse” or our pride, thinking that we would have stuck with Jesus to the end, or been one of the Jews who truly believed he was the Messiah the whole time.

Or, if we’re honest, we can pray, “Lord, increase my obedience even when it hurts. Dismantle my pride. Turn my anger into holy action. Help my lack of faith.” Most importantly in Mark 15, “Help me not rush through the uncomfortable, painful parts of the story that I might miss the depth of your love for me.”

Oh, we would love to fast-forward through Mark 15. But without Mark 15, there’s no Mark 16. The power of any story is the gravity of what had to be overcome. What makes Jesus’ story the most powerful of all? He overcame our sin and death, forever. Now that is the greatest news of all.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Which character do you find yourself most identifying with in the stories of Mark 15? Why?
  2. Why do you think Jesus willingly gave himself up in the garden, was silent before Pilate, and didn’t fight back during his torture and crucifixion? What does this teach us about Jesus’ real purpose?