The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews. In Latin this is abbreviated INRI. The sign often appears on depictions of the cross. Jesus has been betrayed by sinful men and turned over to other sinful men to be executed in the most painful way imaginable. He does not have any appeals.
I’d like to consider for a moment what might have been going on in the minds of his disciples. He was their teacher. They were persuaded that he would be the Messiah, the one who would rescue Israel, becoming the conquering king. This seems to have come to an end. They understand life and death. They know that he will not come back. Any wishful thinking is over. The Romans don’t let people escape on their way to be crucified. It simply doesn’t happen. All the hopes and dreams of Jesus’ followers have come to an end. They do not understand his claims to rise from the dead.
What would our response be? It would likely be just as faithless as theirs. The journey is over. It’s done. No hope left. And the person we’ve followed, who became our friend, has died. I cannot blame them for departing.
The good news is yet to come. At this moment all looks dark.
Just a brief note on the topography. While it is normal to depict the crucifixion as taking place on a hill, there has been no such hill identified and the Scripture does not say anything about the elevation of the site. It may be a hillock or a knob that looks like a skull. It may simply have a name based on the fact that people die there. It could be a place where someone once found skeletal remains of someone, notably a skull. Sometimes the name just sticks. Whatever the actual location, we can trust that it was known to the people. The death of Jesus is a very real event which happened in a very real place at a specific time. John makes sure we know that.
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