Category Archives: Lent

Lent.40: Joseph of Arimathea

holy week

Mark 15:42-47

Since it was late in the afternoon on Preparation Day, just before the Sabbath, Joseph from Arimathea dared to approach Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was a prominent council member who also eagerly anticipated the coming of God’s kingdom.) Pilate wondered if Jesus was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him whether Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead, Pilate gave the dead body to Joseph. He bought a linen cloth, took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in the cloth, and laid him in a tomb that had been carved out of rock. He rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was buried.

Mark 15:42-47, Common English Bible (c) 2011

Isn’t the description of Joseph from Arimathea intriguing? A prominent council member.  Eagerly awaiting God’s kingdom.

Best of all: he was daring.  It is not that he was extraordinarily brave.  He dared.   Dared to screw up the courage needed to approach Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus.  Dared to willingly risk his reputation among his colleagues on the council.  Dared to live out his convictions and commitment to the ways of God.  Dared to act.

-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 40


Lent.39: Jesus Dies

holy week

Mark 15:33-41

From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”

After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.

The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.”

Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the younger one) and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him.

Mark 15:33-41, Common English Bible (c) 2011

The women may have watched from a distance, but at least they were there.  They did one of the most important things we can do in the face of death: show up.  Be there to comfort the grieving, to support one another, to hold a hand or to offer a shoulder to cry on.  Being physically present for another is an act of grace, an act of love.

Many of the people who serve Jesus go unnamed and unrecognized.  The quote “do little things with great love” (St. Therese of Lisieux, a.k.a. “The Little Flower”) comes to mind.   Small deeds and random acts of kindness do make a difference – even when no one notices.

-Teressa Clark, 2012

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 39


Lent.38: Crucifixion

holy week

Mark 15:22-32

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place. They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. They crucified him. They divided up his clothes, drawing lots for them to determine who would take what. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The notice of the formal charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.[c]

People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself and come down from that cross!”

In the same way, the chief priests were making fun of him among themselves, together with the legal experts. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself. Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross. Then we’ll see and believe.” Even those who had been crucified with Jesus insulted him.

[c] Mark 15:28 is omitted in most critical editions of the Greek New Testament The scripture was fulfilled, which says, He was numbered among criminals.

Mark 15:22-32, Common English Bible (c) 2011

I would like to think that I would not have joined the crowd in mocking Jesus.  I cannot imagine intentionally yelling cruel and hateful things to one who is suffering – especially one who is so clearly unable to respond in any way.  But maybe that is what allows people to open their mouths.  When the ruling authority has declared someone guilty and that person is securely tied up with no chance of escape, it seems pretty safe to say terrible things.  With a few choice words, just one person can turn a crowd into a hateful mob.

What if I do not join in, but just walk away?  Is it enough to be silent?

Speaking up and working against injustice is often the more difficult and the more faithful response.

-Teressa Clark, 2012

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 38


Lent.37: Torture

holy week

Mark 15:16-21

The soldiers led Jesus away into the courtyard of the palace known as the governor’s headquarters,[aand they called together the whole company of soldiers.[b] They dressed him up in a purple robe and twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on him. They saluted him, “Hey! King of the Jews!” Again and again, they struck his head with a stick. They spit on him and knelt before him to honor him. When they finished mocking him, they stripped him of the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Simon, a man from Cyrene, Alexander and Rufus’ father, was coming in from the countryside. They forced him to carry his cross.

[aOr praetorium    [b] Or cohort (approximately six hundred soldiers)

Mark 15:16-21, Common English Bible (c) 2011

I remember when Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” first came out.  One of the boys in our Confirmation class went to see it for his birthday.  I asked if he thought I should see it.  After a thoughtful silence he said, “No.  It’s pretty gory.”

More than one confirmation student has been surprised at the gruesome details of the crucifixion – especially if we watch a reenactment of some sort.  Do you remember first hearing the details?

On another note, who do you suppose Alexander and Rufus were – besides the sons of Simon from Cyrene?  Why are they mentioned?  My best guess is that they were part of Mark’s community whom people knew and respected.  If you need to check out the veracity of the story, they are the guys to contact.

-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 37


Lent.36: Mob Action

holy week

Mark 15:6-15

During the festival, Pilate released one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. A man named Barabbas was locked up with the rebels who had committed murder during an uprising. The crowd pushed forward and asked Pilate to release someone, as he regularly did. Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” He knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of jealousy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. Pilate replied, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done?”

They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:6-15, Common English Bible (c) 2011

The crowd.  No estimate on size.  No description of individual participants.  No longer are there are individuals.  All have been sucked into something outside themselves, beyond their best judgment.

With a few choice words the crowd becomes a mob.  Thinking, caring, rational human beings lose their identities, say horrible things, and act in ways foreign to their ordinary daily lives.  No effort is made to consider the consequences.  Caught up in the moment, there is no time for second thoughts.

As Mark tells the story, Pilate knew better but bowed to the crowd.

This business of going along to get along still happens today – even when we know it is not in our best interest.  How do we resist?

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 36


Lent.35: No More Answers

holy week

Mark 15:1-5

At daybreak, the chief priests—with the elders, legal experts, and the whole Sanhedrin—formed a plan. They bound Jesus, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” The chief priests were accusing him of many things.

Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? What about all these accusations?” But Jesus gave no more answers, so that Pilate marveled.

Common English Bible (c) 2011

They “formed a plan.”  As I read and prayed with these texts this year, I’ve noticed how Jesus’ enemies wanted him to disappear but (a) they were afraid of the crowds (Mark 12:12) and (b) they really had no idea on how to make it happen.  “Delighted” when Judas offered to give Jesus up (Mark 14:11), they couldn’t manage to find two witnesses who agreed on Jesus’ crime (Mark 14:56, 59).  Having Jesus in custody seems too good to be true.  But now what?  They seize the opportunity to do harm.

Meanwhile, other than answering one question from the High Priest and one question from Pilate, Jesus is silent.  Silent.  Accusations fill the air and Jesus says nothing.  I, too, marvel at the silence.

Over the centuries, Christians have broadly blamed the Jews for Jesus’ death.  The gospel accounts point to the Jewish leaders of the day who first arrested and convicted Jesus.  But they were not the only ones who saw Jesus as a threat.  To be identified as “King of the Jews” is to be marked as an enemy of Caesar.

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 35


Lent.34: Denial

DSC01584 (2)

Mark 14:66-72

Meanwhile, Peter was below in the courtyard. A woman, one of the high priest’s servants, approached and saw Peter warming himself by the fire. She stared at him and said, “You were also with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

But he denied it, saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t understand what you’re saying.” And he went outside into the outer courtyard. A rooster crowed.

The female servant saw him and began a second time to say to those standing around, “This man is one of them.” But he denied it again.

A short time later, those standing around again said to Peter, “You must be one of them, because you are also a Galilean.”

But he cursed and swore, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”  At that very moment, a rooster crowed a second time. Peter remembered what Jesus told him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down, sobbing.

Mark 14:66-72, Common English Bible (c) 2011


Who, me?

No, not me.

Couldn’t be.

Or could it?

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 34


Lent.33: Questions

DSC01584 (2)

Mark 14:60-65

Then the high priest stood up in the middle of the gathering and examined Jesus. “Aren’t you going to respond to the testimony these people have brought against you?” But Jesus was silent and didn’t answer. Again, the high priest asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?”

Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Human One[f] sitting on the right side of the Almighty[g] and coming on the heavenly clouds.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? You’ve heard his insult against God. What do you think?”

They all condemned him. “He deserves to die!”

Some began to spit on him. Some covered his face and hit him, saying, “Prophesy!” Then the guards took him and beat him.

[f] Or Son of Man   [g] Or the Power

Mark 14:60-65, Common English Bible (c) 2011

I wonder who first told this story.  I wonder when it was first told.  I wonder how it changed over time.  And I really wonder if they truly “all condemned him.”  Once the high priest had spoken and few of the more outspoken or high-ranking leaders agreed, I wonder if anyone dared disagree.

– Teressa Clark, 2012

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 33

Lent.32: Lies

DSC01584 (2)

Mark 14:53-59

They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders, and legal experts gathered. Peter followed him from a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the guards, warming himself by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they couldn’t find any. Many brought false testimony against him, but they contradicted each other. Some stood to offer false witness against him, saying, “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple, constructed by humans, and within three days I will build another, one not made by humans.’” But their testimonies didn’t agree even on this point.

Mark 14:53-59, Common English Bible (c) 2011


As I read and re-read this text I keep coming back to the lies.  One group goes looking for a crime committed by Jesus.  They have been watching and waiting for him to slip up; some have tried to trick him or trap him into teaching against the rules.  But it has not happened so they get a few folks to come in with a made-up tale.   Once we human beings make up our minds, we sometimes do not have enough sense nor enough humility to change our thinking.  We begin to believe the lies we have been telling.

Another thing about lies is that they are hard to keep consistent – especially if two or more people are trying to corroborate a phony story.  The details will vary with each telling; the sequence will change inexplicably.   Besides that, rarely do two people tell a true story the same way.  Eye witness accounts of the same event are often at odds with each other.   As individuals with unique experiences in life, we do not hear or see or notice the same things at any given time.  It is something to remember as we wander through life.

-Teressa Clark, 2012

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 32


Lent.31: Jesus Arrested

DSC01584 (2)

Mark 14:43-52

Suddenly, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came with a mob carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests, legal experts, and elders. His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss, and take him away under guard.”

As soon as he got there, Judas said to Jesus, “Rabbi!” Then he kissed him. Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

One of the bystanders drew a sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear. Jesus responded, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like an outlaw? Day after day, I was with you, teaching in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.”

And all his disciples left him and ran away. One young man, a disciple, was wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They grabbed him but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.

Mark 14:43-52, Common English Bible (c) 2011

A mob – more than enough to take on Jesus and those with him.  Armed with swords and clubs – prepared for a fight.  And “someone” responded with a sword.

The other gospels indicate the “bystander” is one of Jesus’ disciples.  John names him as Simon Peter and says Jesus told him to put his sword away (John 18:1-12).  Only in Matthew does Jesus respond with the line “for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:47-56).  Luke is the only gospel to report Jesus did one last miracle, healing the ear of the high priest (Luke 22:47-54a).

Note that “All his disciples left him and ran away.”  Peter is going to get a bad rap for denying he knew Jesus.  But what about the rest of the disciples?  What about us?

-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 31