Formations 03.28.2021: God’s Son Is Revealed

Mark 15:25-39

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. Have you ever experienced devastating disappointment—a letdown so overwhelming that your sadness felt insurmountable? I think Jesus’ followers experienced that on the day he died. No matter how many times he had hinted at what would happen, I imagine they watched the events unfold that terrible day with their mouths agape. The horror washed over them as they saw this man, their beloved teacher and their friend, tortured and hung on the dreaded cross.

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. Knowing the rest of the story—what happened on the glorious third day—makes it easier for us modern readers to accept Jesus’ crucifixion. But the disciples, again in spite of what Jesus had told them, didn’t personally know the rest of the story on the day he died. I imagine it was difficult for them even to think about the things he had said when he was healthy and whole. He was bleeding now, gasping for air, dying. Watching his pain was too painful and frightening for them, and many of them couldn’t bear to stay.

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. The women, though, stayed at the cross. Mark (along with the other three Gospel writers) points out that “[t]here were also women looking on from a distance…[who] used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem” (Mark 15:40-41; see Matt 27:55-56; Luke 23:49; John 19:25). They knew this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, but they couldn’t bear to leave Jesus at the pinnacle of his suffering.

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. Jesus came to show humans the beautiful possibilities of a life in tune with God: loving neighbors as we love ourselves, sharing with those in need, caring for the lost and lonely and forgotten, looking after the sick, helping sinners find a better way, welcoming all who need a place to belong. But his methods insulted the religious authorities and other people in power. They decided to get rid of him. And ironically, amid the devastating disappointment, the overwhelming letdown, and the striking sadness of Jesus’ death, Christ our Lord became ever more powerful. A Roman centurion, an agent of those in power, watched him die and confessed, awestruck, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (v. 39).

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Yes, surely God could have brought salvation to the world in a less bloody, heart-wrenching, agonizing way. Jesus could have lived into old age traveling around and revealing God to everyone he met. He could have died of natural causes and been honored with days of mourning and funeral rites. But that’s not what happened. Even so, God gave “beauty for ashes” (Ps 61:3, KJV), and in death Jesus, God’s Son, became the crucified Lord—revealed to a Roman centurion. Revealed to his disciples. Revealed to us.

Discussion

• When have you been disappointed when a situation didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped?

• How do you handle occasions when you think “this isn’t the way it was supposed to be”?

• What are some circumstances in your life that turned out differently than you wanted, but you were able to see how God worked in them more powerfully than you could have imagined?

• What do you think the Roman centurion saw in Jesus on the cross that convinced him of Jesus’ true identity?

• The next time you think, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” how can you reorient your perspective to see God at work?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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