6 months ago I went to see a performance of the gospel of Mark. It was hugely affecting, far more than I expected. And when I heard that Moore College – where I live and spend my time – was putting on a similar performance, I was delighted and curious. In the end, tickets were purchased at the last minute and I came sheepishly, the friend I invited unavailable. Of two things I was sure, having seen it before. That it would be confronting and that I would be fine.
It was. I wasn’t.
It took about three minutes to wish the lights dim. The delight of the woman healed, after 12 years of bleeding, finished me. Because hey, I know that guy too, the one who made her well.
Truth be told, I knew many of the actors in the performance tonight, and I wondered how it would affect the suspension of disbelief. Would it just be my friends, playing dress-up? I expected so. But they weren’t who I saw.
That’s the thing, about the drama. It happened last time and it happened again tonight. In the brightest lit of rooms, you meet Jesus. You hear the words he spoke, said by others but you know they are his words. And you sit there, in the audience, and you pinch yourself, because 2000 years ago these things unfolded like this. Something like this. And here, you get a glimpse of what it may have been like.
As I sat there this evening, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. My King. Wondering what he must have felt like. Marvelling that he went through this, for me. I am still more like the cold naysayers in the wings than the people rejoicing at his touch, much of the time. And I hear his rebuke. And I hear his compassion. And how I need to hear it, today and ever.
For today I remarked that this season hasn’t felt very Eastery. As I rush around talking about Easter and cutting out Easter craft and eating Easter buns, I lament the lack of Easter feeling. And here it was, tonight, like a smack across my face. Like a gentle caress – look up. See your Saviour.
Tomorrow the shops are shut, and we have the day off work. For many of us there is church, lunch, family. I have a list of tasks to tick off. But tonight, I am shaken out of my stupor and reminded why this Friday is good. It is good because my Saviour went to the cross, silent and innocent, for me. It is good because it is impossible for me to be saved, but for God nothing is impossible. It is good because he took my place, this Jesus, Son of the Most High. And it is good because the dawn will come, and the tomb is not the end.
Tonight I am astounded at the work of the performers, thankful for the size of the audience, proud of college for putting it on. But mostly I am lowly and sad once again at the feet of my Saviour, who ransomed me. Mostly I am more thankful than I can ever convey to have been reminded, just in time, of what this season is all about.
It’s probably worth noting that I came tonight, as last time, with no intention of writing anything about it. But I write, as before, because I can’t sleep, can’t sit still, can’t fathom such a Saviour. This is the beauty of this performance, why the Mark Drama is special indeed. Because the truth about Jesus is more astonishing than any fading treasure thrown at you this Easter, vying for your affections, vying for your time. Will you take a moment to consider the man who went to the cross? This sea-calmer and demon-caster and sickness-healer is also the sin-fixer. The life-giver. He has done it all, for you.
And so there are questions – ask them. And there are fears – have them allayed as you meet him in his word. Tonight, tomorrow, this Easter, don’t miss out on meeting Jesus. “Don’t be afraid – only believe.”
“Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”