Scripture Mark 15:1-14 (15-47)
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!” (Read through the rest of the Passion story in your Bible, Mark 15:15-47)
Holy Jesus, we remember that in life, and even in death, you bore witness to the deep and abiding love of God. With God’s help, we pray to be bearers of that same love. Amen.
Ways to Reflect:
Listen to or sing “Ah Holy Jesus” from UMH #289
During this Holy Week, we remember the sad and tragic episodes that lead up to the crucifixion of Jesus. This hymn describes the many betrayals that Jesus experienced in the last days of his life. Some of those to whom he had offered love turned against him. This hymn invites us into the story, reminding us that we also tend to turn away from Jesus. Yet we are also reminded in the closing verse that God’s love for us endures, despite our shortcomings.
Play (touch): Massage or Wash Your Feet (or someone else’s!)
The Gospel of John tells us that on the night before Jesus’ arrest, he washed his disciples’ feet. They were taken aback. They felt unworthy to receive such an act of kindness from their teacher and leader. Yet Jesus insisted, demonstrating the power and goodness of showing love through kindness and service to others. Take the time to give yourself a foot massage or even wash your feet. Feel the contours of your feet. Give thanks for the many miles they have walked, carrying you through your life. If you are so inclined, massage or wash the feet of a friend or loved one. Pray for them as you serve them in this holy and intimate way.
Taste: Make Pretzels
Did you know pretzels have a long tradition as a Lenten food? They could be made with simple ingredients and did not require many of the heavier food ingredients that people have traditionally avoided at Lent. Furthermore, the traditional twist of the pretzel evokes arms folded in prayer. Bake these simple pretzels, and as you twist them, be reminded of Jesus in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his arrest.
Watch: View A Sunset
“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?” (Mark 15:33-34) When Jesus was dying, the light gave way to shadow. Go outside and watch a sunset. As day turns to night, pray for all who dwell in the shadow of death. Remember that sunsets eventually give way to sunrises.
The gospels say Joseph of Arimathea arranged to take possession of Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial. In those days, bodies were treated with many pounds of spices and aloes. Myrrh and sandalwood would have been common, among others. Find a lotion or ointment with aloe in it. Open it and smell the strong scent. Place some on your hands and rub it in, remembering how even in death, some of Jesus’ friends and followers delicately and lovingly cared for him and his body. Give thanks for those who care for you.