As we move into week 3 of the lock down or is it week 4 (?); I’m not sure anymore, time seems to be moving so differently since all our routines changed so dramatically. I’m finding that days are blurring into each other, is it really Friday today? Is it really Good Friday?
Isolation is affecting us all in different ways, last night at 10:00 PM I realised that I hadn’t exercised all day so had a glorious but slightly eery bike ride around Redhill and Reigate. The roads were so empty it felt like a scene from The Walking Dead.
Isolation and staying at home means different things to different people, the team at RBC have been making an effort to check in and keep in touch with the folks who may be finding isolation more troubling than others.
It struck me today how isolation is an oft missed theme of the Easter story and especially the horrific Good Friday narrative. Mark’s gospel brings a particular emphasis to Jesus’ lonely last hours on the cross:
The Death of Jesus, Mark 15: 33-41 (NIV)
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?”).[a]
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,[b] 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,[c] 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.
After three hours in the burning middle eastern sun, Jesus now suffers into the darkness, even the taunting that accompanied his first few hours are now silenced and Jesus is alone… isolated. Ever since Gethsemane he has been separated from all human support. Now as his life ebbs away in painful throbs he addresses his Father not with the close intimacy of ‘Abba’ but just the almost distant, formal ‘My God’. Jesus is now facing isolation from the very trinity he is part of, who can comprehend such isolation?
Then he dies, alone, isolated, rejected, silenced. In this account Mark doesn’t record any final words, just a cry, a final breath.
The torn temple curtain reference is strange, but it tells us two important points: now the way into God’s presence is open and the physical holy place that only priests could enter is accessible to all. To emphasise this Mark cites a pagan foreign centurion with the insight and discernment to recognise who Jesus was.
There’s a powerful dichotomy happening; the isolated saviour who dies alone ends our isolation from God. Jesus’ separation from his father allows our connection to our heavenly father.
Of course, the story isn’t over.
Sunday is coming.
I hope these words help, particularly if you are struggling with isolation this weekend.
We’ll be together again online at 7:30 PM tonight and tomorrow for our Holy Week reflections and then online at 10;00 AM on Easter Sunday morning.
Why not invite a friend to watch the service by sending them the link to our website?
Keep in touch