Bible Reading

Six Agonizing Hours

Mark 15:25, 33–37

It was nine in the morning when they crucified 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, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “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.

Six Agonizing Hours

Crucified in the midst of a spring morning, in the rising heat of the day. By noon the temperature would be scorching. But a darkness came over the land. Not an eclipse, for a total solar eclipse lasts but seven minutes. And it doesn’t appear to have been a supernatural event, for the crowd didn’t panic – or even react. Perhaps, most likely, it was a cloudy sky kind of phenomenon. My imagination sees deep, thick storm clouds, but that may or may not be the reality.

Three hours of sun and heat. Three hours of foreboding darkness. Perhaps some relief for the Son of God – but perhaps just a sign for the watchers and the readers.

Six Agonizing Hours

Time to think;

to reflect;

to “Be,” but not in a good way;

to wait;

to dwell;

to wrestle through all five phases of death:

denial,

anger,

bargaining,

depression, and

acceptance.

Six hours of taunts;

of watching your mom

your siblings

your friends and

your ex friends

grieve over you.

Six hours to wonder why Plan B hadn’t been an option.

Six hours to blame others.

Six hours to hope for rescue … or that death would come soon – very soon.

Six hours to have faith and six hours to lose faith.

Six agonizing hours of total and utter abandonment and total and utter aloneness.

Six agonizing hours … for what?

It’s so easy, O Lord, to take “all this” for granted. To take our ease in the rituals of a weekly performance and hearing words that have so little consequence and demand little more. It’s so easy to say “Thank you” and to not join in your suffering.

Six agonize hours so that the church could be empowered to be Jesus for the world.

So that we would see and know the sacrifice expected for the sake of the Kingdom.

So that we would put aside our petty differences and our personal preferences in order to take up the cross and sacrifice our all for the sake of those who do not know or understand that being a Christian means embracing a life of six agonizing hours for ourselves … and that those six agonizing hours is the only thing worth dying – and living – for.

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