The Roman legionaries were experts at inflicting pain. Jesus was flogged, had to carry his cross to the place of execution, was nailed to the cross, and died in public gaze. St Mark, in today’s Gospel, chapters 14: 1 – 15:47, doesn’t dwell on the physicality of the event. Rather, he focusses on the spiritual, psychological, and emotional pain suffered by Jesus for us. While he prays a desperate prayer, realising what is ahead, his friends sleep. One of his closest friends betrays him. One chosen to be a leader denies him three times. The others abandon him. One who had given up everything to follow Jesus now gives up everything – including his clothing – to get away from him. He is subjected to an unjust trial. The Roman governor, knowing he is innocent, hands him over to death, freeing instead a known criminal. The crowd who acclaimed him on Palm Sunday change their tune and cry ‘Crucify him’. He is stripped of his clothing and dignity as he carries his cross to Calvary and is crucified there. There are a few women looking on from a distance. Even God seems to have forsaken him. Jesus dies alone.
Let’s journey with Jesus this week, mindful of the centurion, and of St. Paul’s words: “He was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high… so that all beings…. should bend the knee at the name of Jesus, and every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father’. (Philippians 2)