I don’t know what I was expecting of The Mark Drama, but it wasn’t this. After years of hearing about a performance – part recitation, part summary – of the gospel of Mark doing the rounds in Europe, it was exciting to be in the audience tonight for the Australian debut. Yet primarily it shocked and unsettled me, house lights up for most of the performance, no place to hide unbidden emotion.
Like the emotion of the scene where Jesus enters Jerusalem, the crowd screaming in excitement for long, so long a time. And it occurred to me that he knew what they would scream only days later.. that this triumphal entry was not only tinged with sadness in hindsight. Jesus, as he heard the praise, knew it would turn to murder. Who could bear it?
Like the emotion of Peter weeping after the rooster crows. Impetuous, eager to please Peter, sobbing loudly at his own betrayal. There are times, in the drama, when you long to cut away, a neat fade to black and a shiny next scene. It is hard to think on these things… I never want to be uncomfortable, even for a moment. Instead it spirals out, the realisation, the grief, as in life. As in His life.
Maybe the most affecting characters were the Pharisees, so sure and relentless. In the middle was Jesus, healing and hugging, casting out and renewing, walking on water and calming the storm, and then we would cut to the side, and here are the religious men, asking some self righteous question about another triviality. You want to scream at them – did you see what he JUST did? 2 seconds ago? And you’re asking him THAT? As blind people receive their sight at his touch, the jeerers on the edges see everything but the truth, and it is crushing in its familiarity.
I shudder at them the most, recognising their likeness. Having stood myself in their sure shoes, spoken as mine their hateful words.
It is over so quickly, before you are ready. Jesus is risen, the women can’t believe it, and the house lights rise. Is it true? They ask it and we are asked the same.
So many plays for my emotions fall flat – I can see what you’re doing and I will not play ball. But this was not a play, no frivolity or trick. It felt like a glimpse, a possbility, a hint at what it may have been like to be there. Not only there in my damning, sin-soaked mockery – I know too well what that is like – but also as an onlooker, not yet sure who Jesus is. And then the realisation.
I am thankful for anything that reminds me afresh of what it cost my Saviour to ransom me. I need to hear it every day, the echoes of nails hitting his hands.
And so you should see it if you can – for Sydney peeps there are still tickets, here. And you should read the gospel of Mark for yourself, and meet Jesus again, or for the first time. He probably isn’t what you expect, this Lord of glory. He is still, 29 years and counting, not what I expect. In my wildest dreams I never could expect such a Saviour.
“See the King who made the sun, and the moon and shining stars. Let the soldiers hold and nail him down, so that he could save them.”