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.
I am not eloquent enough to convey the true “WOW” factor to the moment of Jesus’ death. There is no way to describe something that clearly when I was not there to witness it for myself. But the emotion shown through this passage in Mark really hits me hard – the centurion who recognized Jesus for what he truly was. It is just so heartbreaking that our salvation had to come through such wicked means.
The two big things that I really think about here is that it was dark from noon to three and it didn’t occur to the people mocking Jesus on the cross that he had anything to do with that – was it not an unusual occurrence for it to go from daylight to night during those hours?
And the other is of course the tearing of the temple’s curtain (or veil). Again obviously during Christ’s reign there were a lot of miraculous things that happened through Jesus and demons that would possess people, but I am pretty sure that the symbolism of the ripping of that curtain would have been pretty obvious to anyone that had been listening to Jesus teach.
For any of you not familiar with this passage, the curtain that I am referring to is one (this specific one is estimated to have been around 60 feet long) that divided the Holy Place in the temple from the Most Holy Place indicating that through Christ’s death we could now be in the presence of God.
To give you a feel for what it would take to tear this veil, it was described as being four inches thick and horses tied to each side of it could not pull it apart. And yet, at the very moment of Jesus’ passing this veil rips all the way in half. It is just incredible.
I am not going to pretend that I know everything there is to know about the Bible, about Jesus’ life – but I have been reading the bible since I was five years old, so I am very familiar with my own perceptions of the life of Christ. And I celebrate Good Friday as I do Easter – because of this horrible sacrifice of a truly perfect being, I have the opportunity to spend my life in the presence of God. Amazing.