Open Your Bible
Mark 15:1-47, Isaiah 52:13-15, Isaiah 53:1-7
BY Jen Yokel
Lent and Holy Week end with an invitation to contemplate history’s darkest day. We know how the story ends, but let’s not rush past this. Let’s make space to remember.
Mark’s account of Jesus’s final hours is relentlessly brutal. As Jesus waits before Pilate’s questioning “like a lamb led to the slaughter,” He offers no defense for himself (Isaiah 53:7). He stands in vulnerability, letting humanity throw its worst at Him.
Even as Pilate finds no fault and offers to spare His life according to Passover custom, the mob demands His death even louder. The chief priests fling accusations and stir up the crowd against Him (Mark 15:11–14). He is mocked by the empire’s soldiers, the passersby, and “even those who were crucified with him” (vv.16–32). His broken, tortured body becomes a spectacle for a jeering crowd that still watches for a miracle that never comes. Even the charge written against Him on the cross—“The King of the Jews”—reads like an insulting joke.
This is no ordinary execution, and it’s certainly not the hero’s death of epic fables. Humiliation upon humiliation, pain upon pain (v.34).
Yet even in this darkest hour, He was not alone.
Women who loved Him, followed Him, and supported His ministry watched from a distance. If He did come down from the cross, they would be the first ones by His side. If not, they would care for Him still in death.
A Roman centurion was watching. When he saw how Jesus faced death, the moment when He “let out a loud cry and breathed his last,” (v.37) something moved this soldier to acknowledge the truth—this is no ordinary man, but truly the Son of God (vv.37–39).
Joseph of Arimathea, an esteemed member of the Sanhedrin, was there too at the end. He boldly asked for Jesus’s body so He could be laid to rest with some dignity before the Sabbath arrives. He likely had no idea he was part of setting the stage for the greatest miracle of all (v.43).
Sunday, we will celebrate. We will say “He is risen” with joy-filled hearts. We know this darkness will pass away, a pause before the final victory.
But for now, let us wait. Let us linger on the threshold a little while. Let us wait alongside the women and the centurion and Joseph and everyone who had hoped for a Messiah, who felt like their dreams had breathed their last with Him.
Because Sunday, the light breaks through.