Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Then I was inspired:" Holy Saturday 2009

And they tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn't take it.
"Myrrh" shows up three times in the Gospels: most famously, in Matthew 2:11, one of the gifts of the Magi. And again in John 19:39: "Nicodemus--the one who had first gone to him at night--came too, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about seventy-five pounds." Scholars agree this is a "wildly extravagant amount," meant to indicate devotion, not history.

And they crucify him, and they divide up his garments, casting lots to see who would get what.
Psalm 22:18-"They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."

It was 9 o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. And the inscription, which identified his crime, read, 'The King of the Judeans.' And with him they crucify two rebels, one on his right and one on his left.
Mark's gospel more clearly identifies Jesus' "crime" as treason against the Pax Romana, a direct connection to chasing the moneychangers out of the Temple at Passover, something sure to stir the populace too much at a politically charged time (Passover being the central recognition of the creation of the nation of Israel). "Judeans" is a Roman word, referring to the area Rome called "Judea."

Those passing by kept taunting him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Ha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!"
"Why did you not tear asunder the heavens and come down, that, when you appeared, the mountains might shake, that fire might blaze as it blazes in bruswhood when it makes water boil?" Isaiah 64:1. No, not necessarily what the author of Mark had in mind; but the sentiment is an old one, indeed.

Likewise the ranking priests made fun of him to each other, along with the scholars; they would say, "He saved others, but he can't save himself! 'The Anointed', 'the King of Israel,' should come dwon from the cross here and now, so that we can see and trust for ourselves!"
Again, with the sentiment. And "The Anointed One" is, in Hebrew rendered into English: "Messiah."

Even those being crucified along with him would abuse him.
Psalm 22, again. "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying: "He trusted on the Lord that he should deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him." Psalm 22:6-7

And when noon came, darkness blanketed the whole land until mid-afternoon. And at 3 o'clock in the afternoon Jesus shouted at the top of his voice, "Eloi, eloi, lema sabachtani" (which means, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?").
Psalm 22:1, verbatim. Notice that none of the Jews standing by recognize the language. It being Passover, they immediately think of Elijah.

And when some of the standing nearby heard, they would say, "Listen, he's calling Elijah!" And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a pole, and offered him a drink, saying, "Let's see if Elijah comes to rescue him!"

But Jesus let out a great shout and breathed his last.
This is the first canonical telling, and the most human description of the crisis.

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