Today no one gets saved

Good Friday.

I didn’t casually choose the illustration: I never present violence, or anything meant to crudely shock.

I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ; I assume this is a still from it.

Either way, it shows what happened to Jesus, doesn’t it? The only reason to show it in any way less graphic would be in order to make us feel better.

That’s all Christ does, is make us feel better.

But not today. Today Christ does not save us. Today Christ, and we, are beyond saving—and hope. And love. And everything else in the world worth a damn.

Today we all go down.

From The Book of Mark. If there’s one day of the year on which you should attentively read this, it’s today.

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace, and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”

Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves.

“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

We are the people who killed Jesus.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Richard lubbers

    The crucifixion is not a beautiful thing. And it is appropriate to recognize it as such. Our rebellion brought that terrible event into play. Christians talk about how God demanded the death of Jesus to atone for our sin. But reading the text, it was hate, prejudice, fear, and a host of other undesireable human traits that brought about Jesus’ death. The crucifixion was as ghastly as humans can be. That is nothing we can sugar coat with cute bunnies, jelly beans, pretty flowers and little children dressed in their Easter best.

    Thanks be to God for raising Jesus from death, and in the process, giving us all hope and a chance to be less horrible than the crucifixion illustrates.

  • Marian Fisher

    To me, Good Friday was the one day God let Satan run rampant over the earth and did nothing to stop it. However, it was God’s plan all along to give us His Son to save us. Thank you God.

    • Lymis

      That’s a powerful image, but I agree with John. Satan stayed home that day too. Jesus’s betray and death was purely the result of human action and human fear.

      We can never forget what we’re capable of, nor the incredible power of God to turn even the worst of what we can do around into something wonderful.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Echoing what others have said here, reading those verses – I’m struck by the utter display of human nature. It was like, “Hey, everything I hate about humanity, right here.” When people really hate, they don’t want to simply kill the object of their hate – they want it/hir utterly destroyed. Torturing the already doomed comes with the territory. Mocking and “kicking ‘em when their down” is the common thing and crowd mentality. If you’re suffering, there’s no gurantee that those who are suffering the same as you are going to be with you – instead misery just loves company and sometimes likes to make it more misrable.

    I know my own proclivity toward the crappy behavior, too, so when I say I hate humanity / human nature, I’m a part of it, too – just a aware of my own skin.

  • Damon Gray via Facebook

    Thank you for reminding us it isn’t always easy. Thank you for showing us that we crucified Christ, and continue to crucify him every day. Whenever we do not love someone with our whole heart, whenever we feel anger and hatred towards another, when we are afraid of those around us, we prepare a cross for Jesus. All we can do is pray to be forgiven by His grace.

  • Will

    I appreciate that everyone will find meaning in this singular event in their own way.

    For me the meaning is most powerful when I view it in a completely humanistic way.

    A powerless human lived and taught love, kindness and equality.

    A group of humans were fearful of losing their power and money.

    A mob of foolish unthinking humans took their frustrations out on this one man.

    The situation is unique only because it was documented and installed into the religious catachism of millions of believers. But events like this have been played out over and over again to this day in our world of foolish, fearful and frustrated humans.

    Jesus’ resurrection is only fulfilled when you and I take what Jesus taught and live as he lived. Bringing love, kindness and equality wherever we go, all the rest of our lives.

    To be true and faithful followers, to be real Christians, we must follow the instructions of our teacher;

    Love the Lord your God (LIFE) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Mark 12:29-31

    Matthew 22:37-40

    May we be reborn and renewed this Easter.
    :D

    • http://sillama1.xanga.com Sil in Corea

      Thank you! You said it better than I ever could have done.

  • textjunkie

    I was at a Good Friday service today and realized for the first time that we don’t consecrate the bread and wine on Good Friday–that has to be done earlier in the week, and we use reserved bread and wine, and don’t do the whole set of prayers. Tomorrow, there’s no eucharist at all, reserved or otherwise.

    It was oddly sobering, to not hear the usual prayers of thanksgiving and remembrance of the resurrection, today. The hope and promise are not invoked, today.

  • Robert

    “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Is the most human statement in the bible. For me, it proves that Jesus was a human being and that he died on the cross. I have never been able to believe that he rose from the dead… to me he was a special person with wisdom, kindness and a new way of seeing the world. His humanity inspired me to be a better person, to develop a deeper compassion and to work with the homeless 20+ years ago… and to continue working with families to prevent homeless today.

    It has always surprised me that many people who profess to believe in Jesus the God… live such capitalistic lives based on greed, fear and smug self righteousness. How many members of the KKK were good Christians? How many Christians listen to the stuff being spouted on FOX News? How do the faithful accept the life of Jesus and the lives of their preachers… like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and Erwin McManus? These men have all turned the Jesus into a mega-business and live like top 1%. How do people not see the hypocrisy of it all?

    It all leaves me completely baffled, especially since I am a non-believer and live a life pretty much in line with the life and teaching of Jesus. But then, I am also gay and would be readily condemned to hell fire by most Christians who haven’t done half of what I have done in modeling my life after Jesus. Life is rather odd.

    • Wendy

      Robert, as a someone who is a Christ-follower, I think it’s safe to say you are more of a christian than those who profess to be “good christians”. Of course those same “good christians” would hate me since I’m pro-equality, pro-choice and bisexual.

    • Kate

      Speaking of very human statements made by Jesus on the cross, I highly recommend this article…

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2012/04/unforgiving-jesus-on-the-cross-an-unconventional-good-friday-reflection/

      Robert, I encourage you to not let the very obvious wealth and hypocrisy of the few blind you to the obscurity in which most Christians live, trying to do our bit to love and forgive (ourselves as well as others) and live each day with the same sort of desire you have to help humanity. We may not reach many people but try to touch, as Alexander Shaia teaches, “One heart. One heart. One heart. One heart”.

    • Allie

      Jesus was also quoting, though – and the quote in context is full of hope. Any educated Jew would have recognized the quote. It’s noteworthy that the sort of people who got their kicks out of watching criminals die on the cross were NOT educated, didn’t even know their own language, and thought Jesus was calling on Elijah when he said “Eli.” I wish this translation provided the original words, which make the misunderstanding plain.

  • Donald Rappe

    I agree entirely that we are the ones who crucified Jesus. I also remember that we are crucified with him. I love the Gospel according to Mark. I love it because it’s the oldest and least embellished, and I, after all, am an analyst. I am not much of an artist like so many here. I have read that all the Gospels record second-hand stories, but, there appear to me to be two primary witnesses whose words are transcribed in Mark. In chapter one the words “Jesus was walking… ” appear to me to be someone’s answer to the question “Where were you when you first met Jesus?” And the last such words appear to me to be the source of “they all forsook him and ran.” The book of Mark is clearly a work of art, but, it is based on a certain skeleton of a primary narrative and it’s correction and augmentation by another disciple. Shadsie knows how to make art out of skeletons. The part of the story in today’s lesson is all artwork and so I must wonder how to interpret this art? We (humanity) are the crucifiers. It is an ugly picture of us. Yet, the Human One (Son of Man) is the the Crucified. The artist who begins the story with a vice from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son… ” ends it with the words of the centurian saying “Truly, this man was a son of God.”

    And then the epilogues, beginning “Early in the morning, on the first day of the week…”.

    • Donald Rappe

      vice = voice


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