Mark 15:53-41: Remove your shoes.

“33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 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?’).  35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’  36 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.  37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.  38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’  40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,  and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.” NIV UK

A few years ago, in our church, we were doing a series on the cross. We asked an esteemed retired pastor to speak on Isaiah 53. He’s a much-loved, regular visitor; widely known and respected as a Bible teacher. He must have been well into his 80’s by this time. He’s been preaching for years. But he took our breath away when he said he had never before preached from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. He taught us something significant in his very admission of reticence. He showed us that we should revere God’s Word, and especially the central truth of the cross.

I don’t want to say anything about today’s passage, other than to ask that we ‘remove our shoes’, and stand with ‘’the centurion’’ (39) ‘’in front of Jesus’’, and allow this scene to impact us, as it did for him.

I will add, though, that we stand on holy ground. But we can also affirm that the way into the holiest place of all has been opened to us (38).