Reading (Mark 15:33-41)
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
We live in a beautiful part of the country surrounded by fields, many of which contain sheep. At this time of the year it is lovely to see the small lambs in the fields with their mothers. When I see lambs I am often reminded of an incident that happened at one of the schools where I worked. The school cook decided that it would be good to educate the pupils (in this case all girls) about what they were actually eating and so decided that he would use pictures to show the girls where the food came from. This all started well when on the first day we had pork and the cook put a picture of a pig above the food where it was being served, chicken caused no problems either, but later in the week when we were having lamb for lunch the cook made the mistake of putting up a picture of a really cute little lamb, just like the ones we see in the fields at the moment, and to his surprise the girls refused to eat the food. His choice of image, that of a small lamb, meant that the girls felt unable to eat the food. Following this all images of animals were taken away and the girls were much happier not knowing what they were eating.
We are now in Holy Week, we have rejoiced with those who saw Jesus enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and we wait to rejoice again on Easter Sunday. However, we cannot simply go from one Sunday to the next without considering what happened in between. As painful as the images from Holy Week are, the reality of what Jesus did for us cannot be avoided. It is not easy to look at The Lamb of God as he is sacrificed for us, to know that it was for us, for you and for me, that he died in such a terrible way.
Our reading from Mark’s gospel tells us of the women who were there at the crucifixion. These must have been some incredible women, for they were there witnessing all the pain and the suffering. And then there was the centurion who also witnessed what was going on and he was able to say with certainty that Jesus was the Son of God. If we avoid the events of Holy Week we miss out on the opportunity of knowing where our faith comes from.
As part of the Creed that we often use in our services we say:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, …
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
It is not that I want to stay in Holy Week for too long, I can’t wait for Easter Sunday, but I will pause and acknowledge the image of The Lamb of God, as he takes away the sins of the world.
Jesus Christ, let me never forget what you did for us when you died at Calvary.