give ear to the words of my mouth.
The Lord spoke to Moses telling him the necessity for presenting offerings and the way to make atonement for failing to observe all commandments. Atonement was necessary whether the failure was intentional or unintentional.
Severe punishment was required for some offenses: Exile for high-handedness ignoring the law; death for working on the Sabbath.
Moses was again faced with revolt. Some of the men who had been chosen by the assembly as leaders confronted Moses: Why are you leader of all? Only you? These questions were similar to the ones that Aaron and Miriam had asked.
Moses was angry, but God does the punishing.
In Mark's gospel, the Jewish council violated several of their own laws. Luke's gospel deletes many of these violations. John's gospel leaves out the trial before the council. We're left to ponder the decisions each of the gospel writers made.
In the passage we're looking at today, Mark continues to show the Jewish leaders trying to silence Jesus. They press the crowd to call for Pilate to release a murderer rather than Jesus.
Mark tells us their motive was envy.
Pilate's motive was to satisfy the crowd.
We might well reflect on the motives that underlie our own decisions. What effect does envy have on what we do? Whom are we most ready to satisfy? Whose approval means the most to us?
The first reaction to the crucifixion of Jesus was mockery. Mockery by passers-by and by the chief priests and the scribes. "If he's the Messiah, why doesn't he do some Messiah-like thing?" Even the two bandits being crucified next to him taunted him.
Mark is making an important point. What does Messiah-behavior look like? What do we expect of a savior, of an anointed one chosen as our leader? What does it mean for us that our Christ has suffered and died? What does it mean for us that our Christ was rejected by religious experts and deserted by his closest followers?
And what does it mean for us that a centurion, an officer of the occupying Roman army, recognized that this man was God's Son?
What does it mean for us to remember that Jesus had women disciples? ones who were not hiding away at this frightening time but were witnesses to the crucifixion?
Prayer for Today: O lord our God, with every action we take, stir within us the question of our motive. Are we driven by envy or the need to please onlookers? Are we willing to suffer in order to follow Christ? Amen.