A Life of its Own

The occasion of the writing of 1 Thessalonians was the coming of Timothy, who Paul sent to the city when he could “stand it no more” (1 Thessalonians 3:1,5), that is, not knowing if their faith had truly taken hold. The Apostle’s stay in Thessalonica (modern day Thessaloniki) was relatively brief, at least three weeks, but likely much more, with Paul and his party (Silas) settling into a trade there to make ends meet, so as to not be a burden to his hosts. Nonetheless, he was concerned that he did not finish the job, having to be escorted out of the city in the dead of night (Acts 17:10).

His young partner delivered good news though, that they had indeed already suffered as Paul did, having been opposed by the same kind of detractors when they in turn passed Paul’s gospel along, causing him to say, “You also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

In Thessalonica, Paul and his associates taught their message in a hostile environment, on the heels of being beaten and jailed in Philippi. Paul was not a glutton for punishment, but a faithful servant honoring his calling from the Most High (Acts 9:15) despite the cost, for he was emboldened and approved by God, entrusted with the gospel, and therefore, spoke the truth with authority. But fierce opposition and physical persecution was to be his lot:  “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:16

But Paul did not shout his message on the street corners. First, he “reasoned” with the Jews in the synagogue for three straight weeks, but he was forced into a less visible ministry in the houseHold of Jason (Acts 17:5) as the Jews rose up against him. There he imparted God’s word to new converts as parents would to their children (e.g. as a nursing mother, as an encouraging, exhorting, imploring father). Nevertheless, he and his people had become notorious. “These men who have upset the world have come here also.” (Acts 17:6)

It is worth saying, as time goes by, and much more quickly these days, the opposition Paul faced we will face in our lives. Settling down to reason with someone over coffee may not be possible. Paul tells us in his second letter to Timothy:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal,  haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NAS)

We have witnessed recently in a very real way what opposition looks like. It’s aggressive and intimidating, it’s in your face, leaving no room for civilized discourse. It’s good to know that the spoken gospel of Jesus Christ will be enough to exclaim in these situations, and will discharge our responsibility. Remember, Paul says, to “avoid such men as these.” So even Paul knows you’ll not be successful in “engaging in a conversation.” You see, no amount of logic will cause these “revilers” to change their minds. We need to become convinced that in God’s message we have the opportunity to deliver powerful words that will take on a life of their own. So at least shout back the good news before you walk away.

Please note this. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 says, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” This gospel is so powerful on its own that the Thessalonians “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). A dramatic reversal. So blown away at the Thessalonians’ response with so little runway was Paul, under so much opposition, he said this:

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NAS)

The lesson in this letter is that the message and messengers of Jesus Christ will always be opposed, sooner or later. Paul was doggedly pursued throughout his ministry, but he persevered. It is also apparent the gospel is resilient and transforming, and it speaks for itself.

It may very well be that in the difficult days ahead, all we’ll be able to get in edgewise will be, “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.” This is what I heard a believing police officer tell a protester who relentlessly harangued him from the street corner. As he walked away he shouted back, “Read the Bible, read the Bible, read the Bible.”

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Model Church

6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NASB, emphasis mine)

The church at Thessalonica was born in a tempestuous time span of three weeks. Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy came on the scene, stirred up trouble in the synagogue, and had to leave out the back door at night. Their host, Jason, was dragged before the magistrates to answer for these men who allegedly “upset the world.” Out of this chaos was born a special body of believers. They became the example of a local church body as they imitated their founding fathers and the Lord. So dramatic and obvious was their calling, one minute they’re following idols, the next they’ve turned 180 degrees to serve “a living and true God.” How was their authenticity so individually and collectively obvious? Acts of faith. Labors of love. Persevering hope, especially in the imminent return of the Lord and our rescue from the coming wrath.

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Called Out or Just Out?

9 Make every effort to come to me soon;
10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 2 Timothy 4:9-13 (NAS)

I have been here before. Working with an “all in” person when I wasn’t all in. If I didn’t have the same struggles I would write off Demas as many do. He’s likely been the target of many a critical sermon, of how not to finish strong. We wag our heads at him. We cluck our tongues at him. How dare he leave behind the battered and beleaguered Paul in the dungeons of Nero!

But Demas wasn’t Paul. Did he abandon the faith? No. He abandoned Paul. I would think Paul would have said he was an apostate if he was. Demas served Paul with Luke and Mark and Aristarchus in prior campaigns, and could be considered to be on Paul’s “A” team. Further, Paul’s reaction to his desertion and the falling dominoes thereafter indicate he was quite useful to the apostle in the work. You’d think Paul would have sensed something was up! But driven “Type A’s” aren’t normally gifted with the sensitivity and awareness to assess the individual mindsets of the team. They’re just driven.

The one thing that bothers me, though, is Paul says that he “loved this present world.” You can’t put him in the homesick category as was Mark (also known as John Mark) at one time. And certainly Crescens and Titus weren’t guilty as well. Both seemed to have advanced to the stage that they had their own ministry visions in Galatia and Dalmatia, respectively.

No, Demas’ reason for leaving seemed to be the culmination of a preoccupation with what it’d be like to escape the drama who was Paul to live a more normal, comfortable, perhaps safe life. It’s likely that Thessalonica was Demas’ hometown. It was a big cosmopolitan city, capital of Macedonia, on the Via Egnatia, and he’d be free from the constant beck and call of one who some might call “a controlling individual.” It’d be like early retirement.

I’ve lived long enough to know you’ve got to be wary of the color of the grass on the other side, as they say. Yes, the “worldly life” is powerfully alluring, but could he not tough it out just a little bit longer with the world’s greatest missionary? But he had reached his breaking point, and it appeared that he completely “zoned out” the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

There are some lessons to learn from this incident.

  1. Think long and hard before you abandon a ministry, or perhaps a church. Instead of letting emotions and resentment get the upper hand, deal with it. It’s between God and you, and you may need to address an issue man to man. It’s much better to reach a mutually acceptable decision than to abruptly leave everything and everyone in the lurch. Pride is the biggest obstacle to getting real with your emotions and others.
  2. If you are a minister of God, and we all are to be in some form or fashion, you’ll always need to have something viable to go on to, another objective on your list. Both Crescens and Titus left Paul too, but they were setting out to continue to fulfill there own callings. Outside of Timothy, and certainly Luke, there was no one closer and more trusted by Paul than Titus. It stung for sure to see him go on his way, but Paul could understand his decision, since he himself left the Ephesian elders on the beach weeping.
  3. God always takes care of his people and his ministries. He’s ultimately responsible. There’s a saying that “the cemetery is full of indispensable people.” In Paul’s life, none of these men were that, but perhaps Luke, and he faithfully stayed on through thick and thin. Don’t think for a moment that all will be lost to the ministry or man you leave behind. God will restock what’s been expended. In other words, even you are expendable.
  4. I hope Demas just needed some fresh air, and that he found his spiritual legs ultimately. It’s a dangerous thing to separate from a godly work with only the world to sustain you. A writer said this about the world, that it’s “the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale, [that] subtle informing spirit of the world of men who are living alienated and apart from God.” Up to that time, Demas was living and breathing God’s word and will with Paul. Now he’d be exposed.
  5. I know that Mark did not wander off when he “deserted” Paul in Pamphylia. The word for “desert” in Acts 15:38 meant to “depart,” not the same word that meant to “abandon” someone or thing as Demas did Paul. The record shows Mark was always productive, that he attached himself to another giant of the faith (Peter), was greatly encouraged by and ministered with Barnabas, reclaimed himself in Paul’s eyes eventually, and was actively involved in his own ministries and pursuits in various places, including the penning of a gospel. I really admire his tenacity to get back on the field. One last point, he was again willing to depart on a missionary tour with Paul (Acts 15:37-39). Inwardly, it might have been quite disheartening to not be wanted by Paul, but he’d grown to the point that he could deal with it, and Barnabas was no slouch himself. So, the lesson here is leaving something for something else, even with strong personalities involved, may be God’s will for you and me.
  6. There are men out there who have been called to greatness. They need people to help then get where they want to be, and, as such, are quite demanding. You know this when you sign on. Even in prison awaiting death, Paul issues forth a request for Timothy to reorder his life and ministry to help his mentor. From the beginning Timothy followed orders, even to endure a painful circumcision later in life (Acts 16:3), and to take wine for his stomach when he was convicted not to (1 Timothy 5:23). I read about the cloak Paul wanted Timothy to retrieve from Carpus at Troas and bring with him. This cloak was made out of wool woven so thickly that the garment stood in a corner on its own. Then there were the unwieldy and valuable books and parchments the Apostle wanted. Maybe I’m just like this but I immediately would’ve envisioned the extra mileage I’d have to put on to gather all these items, much less carry them to Rome, not to mention the details necessary to rendezvous with Mark. Mark too would have to drop what he was doing. But Paul had it all worked out. Tychicus would take Timothy’s place in Ephesus. And when you work for a guy like Paul, you know full well what “make every effort to come soon” means! But there will be a time when you can’t or won’t want to do someone else’s bidding.
  7. A man’s dying request trumps everything, most of the time. Yes, you’ll want to have with you your most trusted and beloved people in the end, perhaps for one last commencement address. But in Paul’s case, he had to prematurely say his final goodbyes to Crescens and Titus, and to Tychicus, who delivered Paul’s mail to Ephesus and Colosse, and perhaps to Titus, and who was thought of by the Apostle as a faithful and fellow bond-servant.

So, I truly believe that Demas let things get out of hand, probably was burned out, and was at his wits’ end. If he deserted anything, it was going to quickly turn out to be his “peace of mind.” Cognitive dissonance awaited him at his very first turn. If we learn from Paul’s other partners in the ministry, we can avoid the same fate by steering clear of any dark road in our minds. If you are a Paul, check the temperature of your troops once in a while. But of all people to cut some slack, it’d be to the irrepressible, indomitable Apostle, and I do.

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Pillars of Society

When you get up in years, when there’s more past than future to ponder, at least for me, I can’t help but wonder if what was done mattered.

There are those in a community who accomplish great things, or give great sums of money, who are remembered. Why? Because they make sure their names have been etched in as many places as possible. They call these people “pillars of society.”

Most of us will never do anything to warrant a special mention. We just come and go. At best, fond memories get passed along by the family, some quest or quirk. Beyond that, the only thing etched with our name on it is in a “gated community” somewhere, modestly hiding in the shadows of someone’s grand monument, who made one last futile attempt to make a statement.

But as a Christian, what goes on down here does matter to God. He’s especially interested in our faithfulness and our keen focus on his return, and on the effective application of our little strength on his behalf. In these actions we will get our new name etched on our own pillar in his new city.

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. Revelation 3:12

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Just Say the Word

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

I read this verse and I can think only of Twitter. In Noah’s day, you could hurl abuse at him only within earshot. Now, you can share your mocking to the world, as long as you can manage to keep it under 280 characters. Sitting courageously at their keyboards or standing alone with their phones, millions “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.“ They are “daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties.” 2 Peter 2:10

For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 2 Peter 3:5-6

Of course, Peter’s mention of a worldwide flood as judgement for runaway and rampant sin would be immediately scoffed at and ridiculed these days for sure. But it is true, that all things haven’t remained the same since creation. Oh, they don’t believe in creation either. Time for yet another tweet saying how Peter’s out of his [insert expletive here] mind, tacking on something I’m sure about “fairy tales.”

Peter was addressing this vile tendency to mock and scorn in a time of impending doom, warning it only takes one word from God to rain down fire and brimstone in judgement as promised, one word.

But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:7

For now, he’s “patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

But the point of all this is, he did eventually lose his patience, and he did say “the word.”

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Cutting Room Floor

It should not take the threat of war or act of terrorism or pandemic to put us in a mindset to yearn for the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We should always be looking up and longing for the Lord’s return. Doing so is “crown-worthy.” “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

Our knowledge of the Second Coming comes from a study of biblical prophecy. In Peter’s second letter, he discusses the role of prophets and prophecy in our Christian lives. It’s been my observation that many churches avoid eschatology, and therefore fail to teach the whole counsel of God. It’s viewed as too complicated, allegorical, controversial or impractical for today’s style of worship. Pragmatic preachers play it safe by deleting Revelation, major chunks of Daniel, and Ezekiel from their playlists, and contort themselves over passages in 1 Thessalonians that allude to the Rapture. But God’s word is replete with prophetic utterances, and they all live in harmony with practical teaching once illuminated by careful study and the Holy Spirit. The “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” should be always on our minds. These passages and books are the missing puzzle pieces in the biblical story.

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 2 Peter 1:16

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

Prophecy surely was on Peter’s mind once he, James and John witnessed the Transfiguration on the Mount. Seeing Jesus glorified alongside Old Testament heroes Moses and Elijah made prophetic teaching “sure” or certain for one, and raised the priority of constantly reminding believers of God’s end game.

Peter urges us, in fact, to “pay attention” to this teaching, not to avoid it like the plague. He says, as we grope our way through the squalid darkness of this world, prophetic promises serve as “a lamp shining in a dark place.” They give us enough illumination to make it to the dawn. It’s interesting that Peter refers to the “morning star,” a reference to the coming Lord himself (Rev. 22:17).

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21

There are a couple of warnings that need to be issued when considering a prophetic statement or truth. The first is that it needs to stand on its own without equivocation. It is not ”a matter of one’s own interpretation.” Many times you hear a personal twist added. Yes, Christ’s return for his church is imminent, and the times are ripe for him to return, but I think it must get a lot worse before he comes. No, his return was imminent in the early days of the church, as can be gathered from 1 Thessalonians. Such a qualifier adds a requirement that’s a matter of one’s own opinion.

The second is marginalizing prophecy, as though it’s a mere footnote. Peter warns that “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:21 It’s God’s word.

A proper focus on prophecy is to address it when it comes up, head on. A systematic study of the word will always bring us to it. For example, you don’t conclude your study of Daniel at the end of Chapter 6, but you teach it all. It’s challenging to work through, and there will be grumblers who complain about it like the people did of the writings of Paul, that they’re too difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16). But you soldier through, because it will be worth it. You can’t leave five chapters on the cutting room floor! If you do you miss this:

Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him. Daniel 7:27

 

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Back’s Against the Wall?

We call them “no win” situations, when the odds are stacked against you, when the rug has been pulled from beneath you. Between a rock and hard place is incredibly frustrating to those wanting some blue sky. Runners get trapped in the pack, unable to break to the outside to start their kick. Much of life is like that. Forces are pulling you back or blocking your way. Worse, the forces are not natural road blocks, but those actively engaged in attempting to erode your chances to succeed. Instead of thriving you’re diving for cover, using valuable time and energy on defense.

In this context read Psalm 31. If you see yourself, there’s hope in the Psalmist’s conclusions. He’s thought it through. He’s assessed his plight. Despite the odds, despite the unreturned calls, all along the Lord’s got his back, and he’ll have yours.

You have seen my affliction; you have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a large place. Psalm 31:7-8

The Lord sees what you’re dealing with. He’s not let the enemy in whatever form get the best if you. He’s always got the upper hand. As such, we think we’re on shaky ground, but he’s set us “in a large place.”

You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Psalm 31:20

We can be paralyzed by what may be going on behind our backs, real or imagined. Most times it’s real, because evil is real. We don’t really want to be a conspiracy theorist but most times the handwriting is clearly visible on the wall. Try as you might, the “strife of tongues” is extremely hard to conceal. Nevertheless, our God hides us in “the secret place,” and that’s in his presence. There, no one can touch us.

He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. Psalm 31:21

When you’re under siege, you’re surrounded, cut off from supplies physically, and terrorized psychologically. With time the attack will come, but in many cases, those inside the wall turn on each other, as do our thoughts on us. The Lord knows what you’re going through. What you need most is his lovingkindness, which is is not in short supply.

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand.” Psalm 31:14-15

The Lord wants our back against the wall with nowhere to run. Why? Because he wants to force us to trust in him. He’s got control of whatever dire circumstances we’re encountering. We need only to yield control and the outcome to him! When we finally throw up our hands and admit our times are in his, we’ve arrived at that “large place,” that “secret place,” where his lovingkindness abounds.

[All scripture NASB]

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In Times Like These…

In times like these, there must be a running conversation going on with God. Might as well strap on the headset. What’s necessary is more akin to the coach talking to you in your helmet. You’ll get the play but you’re the one who must execute.

I’ve been focusing on a couple of psalms these days for inspiration and encouragement. Psalm 27 and 28. I can’t say it’s a word for word study, but one where you read a line and ponder it. As I do, other truths wander in. Here are some words I’m focusing on.

The Lord’s my savior. Is he capable of such a task? Well the worst case always is death, and he conquered it. I’d say yes.

The Lord’s my strength. Again, his hand lent in my behalf is the same one that pulled Peter out of the sea, healed the blind and lame, and lest I forget, bears the marks of the cross.

The Lord’s my shepherd. He guides me along life’s treacherous paths, and in many cases, he carries me when I’ll never make it through with my own two feet.

The Lord’s my sanctuary. Everywhere I am, I can retreat into the holiest of holies. I may be under the assault of the world, in the middle of the fiercest storm, or at death’s door, yet I am, in my mind and heart, in his inner sanctum.

The Lord’s my song. You might wonder how we can sing at a time like this. The Lord led the disciples in a hymn as he left the Upper Room to meet his fate. And what we sing is not the same old song but a new one, with a fresh stanza added during and after each trial or test. If you see someone singing in times like these, he or she must be sheltering in God’s most holy place.

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Bias for Action

Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Mark 15:43

Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mark 15:46

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Mark 16:1-3

After Jesus breathed his last breath, practical problems ensued. How would his followers gain control of his body? How could he be properly laid to rest and where? How could they work around the prohibitions of the Sabbath? And when his body was placed in the tomb, how would the massive stone be moved to finish the job of embalming the body?

Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Christ, “gathered up courage” and asked Pilate to take the body for burial in his tomb. The death of Jesus had finally emboldened him to come out in the open and face a man who had just had Jesus beaten to a pulp and crucified, and his request was granted. If we gain anything from the Lord’s gruesome death it should be boldness, for Jesus endured to the end. While there was enough courage available for Joseph to speak out, the driving force seemed to be the deadlines set forth in the law. He did the responsible thing.

The women, on the other hand, acted out of love and devotion. Despite the fact the tomb was guarded and a stone blocked access to Jesus’ body, they set out early in the morning anyway in hopes that it would all work out. With the disciples huddled together “mourning and weeping,” they had to do something, anything for their Master. They had a bias for action. As a result, they were richly rewarded, for they put themselves in a position to see the empty tomb, and later, the resurrected Jesus.

Do we need to gather up courage this Easter? Do we need to reposition ourselves to experience the empty tomb and witness the risen Christ? It will involve stepping out of our comfort zones into the unknown, and it will cost us something (note Joseph bought a cloth and contributed his tomb, and the women bought spices). But it all will be worth it.

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Missing the Point

Every other year when I was a young boy our colorful, i.e. bombastic, and ambitious choir director would have the chancel choir perform a choral work called “The Seven Last Words of Christ” (Theodore Dubois). One of the lines I remember most was “death he doth merit!” This chorus was delivered with passion and unrestrained volume. One could see all the veins in the throats of the tenors, and the sopranos alone, including my mother, could rend the temple veil in two. Later in the work, the director would himself dramatically and rhythmically utter in Aramaic, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!” He’d go on slowly and solemnly, “That is to say, ‘My God, My God, why hath Thou forsaken me?’”

Mark’s account of the Passion of Christ (Mark 15) seems to whisk along, falling far short of Gibson’s agonizing plodding portrayal. But it’s appropriate in the sense that the chief priests were hellbent to rid themselves of this man who had so dominated them for three years. That they raged with envy was clearly obvious to Pilate. Then there’s the mob mentality on vivid display. The people who had a week ago chanted “Hosanna, Hosanna” to their king, viciously turned on Jesus. Everyone including the thieves crucified with Christ, at least one of them, “hurled abuse” at him. Then huddled together at the foot of the cross were the Roman soldiers, who capped off their fun and games with the King of the Jews by casting lots for Jesus’ bloodstained garment.

One man in all this madness, though, recognized who these crazed people had wanted crucified, and he was the centurion. As the rest of the world danced for joy, his eyes were riveted on the wrenching heaving body of the Lord until it went limp. He heard and hung on all seven of his last words, and came to this undeniable conclusion, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39

In three short days, he’d have to change “was” to “is.”

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