Separation saves lives

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

(Mark 15:33-34, NIV)

During this time of social distancing, lock downs, and quarantines, it’s worth reflecting on how critical separation is proving for the saving of lives. The first Good Friday was the ultimate separation to save lives for eternity.

15 thoughts on “Separation saves lives”

  1. As always, you provide insight, blessing and hope.
    It should be remembered that at the time, the referencing of scripture was not how we do it today by book, chapter and verse but by stating the commencing passage of the scripture – Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani is thereby a direct and purposeful reference to Psalm 22 and Jesus was stating to the crowd that he was experiencing a mirror of that and every Hebrew in that crowd would have known that.
    This is also a prophetic Psalm pertaining to fulfillment by the Messiah.

  2. Doesn’t the author of the Gospel of Luke have another view? Lk 23: 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”…… 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last. There is no separation here indeed just the opposite. The writer of 1 Peter reports that Jesus was preaching after his death…an activity that seems incongruous with separation from God.
    But if I accept Mark’s account as accurate and your interpretation as true, why is a temporary separation from God so bad? According to the Gospels Jesus knew he would be resurrected after a few days and glorified for eternity. Surely any thinking person would volunteer themselves for a weekend separated from God in order to save humanity and gain eternal life. Welcome your explanation.

    1. I take it the separation is taking place while he is on the cross, during the period of darkness, as Jesus cries out. The separation is bad, because it is Jesus taking the sin of humanity and paying the price for it under God’s judgment. Not a weekend holiday from God, but substitutionary atonement. The innocent one paying the debt of the guilty. Truly Good Friday.

      1. I am looking at your assertions and interpretations as an outsider. You will need to show why “paying the price for it under God’s judgment” is necessary. In Judaism human sacrifice is forbidden (Deut 24:16) so did God change the rules for Jesus? Some writers of the Hebrew Bible are clear when taken in context that sacrifice is not an essential component for forgiveness of sins (1 Kgs 8:46-50, Deut 4:26-31, 2 Chron 6:36-39, Jer 3:29-30,Ez 18:21-23, 33:16, Hos 6:6, Dn 4:27, Prov 10:2, 11:4, 16:6, 21:3, Jonah).
        The death of a righteous person can trigger repentance but human substitutionary atonement is a Pauline innovation. It is an abomination to Jews and it robs God of his mercy. These blog posts where you assert forgiveness for the believers by implication relegate the unconvinced to hell….at a minimum the documents on which you base your case would need to be internally consistent…which they are not.

      2. Not a Pauline innovation. Jesus said himself, ”for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to Serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) which is awesome news for all who have rejected him.

      3. Grant, I agree that Deuteronomy 24 forbids human sacrifice for the sins of others. I agree that the verses you reference in brackets all speak of God’s mercy and his willingness to forgive sin, without making mention of a sacrifice of atonement.However, I am surprised that you have omitted any mention of the priestly/temple/sacrificial system so much at the heart of Israelite worship. The Day of Atonement and other sacrifices are a significant reminder to people of the damage of sin and the cost of forgiveness.The Bible makes it clear that the blood of bulls and goats and other animals could never take away sin, and yet they highlight the reality that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. (Hebrews 9:22) Hebrews demonstrates that the whole sacrificial system was pointing forward as a shadow points to the reality. The sacrifice of animals was pointing forward to the sacrificial perfect lamb of God.

        Sacrificial penal substitutionary atonement is not unique to the Apostle Paul. It is found in the writings of John, in his letters, and in Revelation. It is the clear teaching of Peter. It is the big message of Hebrews.

        The Bible makes it clear that no person is qualified to take the punishment for another’s sin. See also Psalm 49:7-9. Yet there is an obvious reason for this. Each person is sinful and only a sinless one can redeem the life of another. Jesus, and only Jesus, qualifies to do this. And this is not simply a good guy taking the place of bad guys. This is God in the flesh reconciling the world to himself.

        The gospels show Jesus preoccupied with his mission to head to his rejection, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. HE explains this in Mark 10:45 as the Son of Man giving his life as a ransom for many.

        I suggest further reading on the thread of sacrificial atonement in Scripture:

        Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross

        Leon Morris, The Atonement

  3. If “every Hebrew in that crowd would have known that” why in both Matthew and Mark did they think he was calling Elijah?….their behaviour doesn’t support a theological aha moment about Jesus’ separation from God. Surely if the story is a record of fact then the Jews would have rather followed their usual mode of interpretation- when the first part of a passage was quoted the rest was assumed…i.e. the faith and praise of God 22: 22-31 and Ps 23.

    An alternate view to prophetic fulfilment is that the narrative was shaped by the Psalms. We will never know but “the uncomfortable conclusion probably has to be that most of the words from the cross are part of the elaboration in the diverse retellings of Jesus’ final hours” James D.G.Dunn, Jesus Remembered

    1. I think it most reasonable that Jesus did have Psalm 22 in mind as he calls out. He is calling out in faith, trusting that God will deliver him. As he has been promising to his disciples, recorded in the earlier chapters.

  4. “Jesus said himself, ”for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to Serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)” That Jesus said these words is an assertion based on Church tradition and faith.

    The Gospel of Mark is an anonymous document which doesn’t give its sources. There is clear evidence that the words in Mark purported to be from Jesus are not. In Mark 2:26 the author attributes an error of fact to Jesus when he mistakenly names Abiathar as the high priest rather than Ahimelech/Abimelech (that isn’t known for sure either). The legendary nature of the scene is supported by the observations that David in 1 Sam 21 is not said to be hungry and the bread is brought out by the priest, David is never said to have entered the temple in the original. These Markan additions to the OT story which fit his purpose along with the stated error are just one snippet of evidence that are fatal to your assertion. Furthermore this supports the consensus of non-faith based scholarly opinion that the majority of Mark is not eyewitness testimony.

    1. Accepting any historical account depends on tradition and faith. We weren’t there so we depend on those who were and others who did the research. I trust Mark’s Gospel puts me in touch with Jesus and what he said. Not only, but I trust that Jesus is alive today and that I have a relationship with him that is real.

      1. Your approach in this conversation has been to assert your “trust” in scripture. Little to no attempt has been may to lovingly address the specific concerns I raised for doubt. Rather you tout your personal experience as a barometer of truth!….given the self-indulgence of your approach and the way you treat those who honestly query your dogma that speaks volumes.

      2. Hi Grant

        You and I have gone round in circles on many of these same points before and I didn’t have the time over Easter to do it again. You have previously asserted that my arguments are circular and come back to my faith that God is there. I have conceded some of this. Of course, I can’t prove God, any more than someone can disprove him. However, something significant transformed the early disciples and convinced them that Jesus had died for their sins. I am persuaded it was the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

        At this time when everyone seems to have time for Netflix, board games, and gardening, I have never been busier. This past fortnight I have had to climb a massive learning curve, learn how to engage with church in isolation, upskill my limited technical skills, adjust to living independently from Fiona for a time, loss of sleep, settling Marcus back into Australia after he came out of quarantine, and more. Forgive me for not ‘lovingly address’ your concerns. If you think this is self-indulgence, so be it. But seriously! If you want me to explore things further I will, at least to the ability I can. Many of your questions over the years have pushed beyond my expertise and resources and I know you have access to some ancient historians and New Testament scholars. Perhaps, others will be of more help than me. I’m a GP, not a specialist. I, too, rely on the specialists.

      3. I do trust Scripture, and it is an existential experience for me. However, I am not touting my experience as a barometer of truth. Rather, it is the expression of my attitude to God when there are things I do not understand or cannot answer.

        I probably should have said, “I’m too flat out to answer your questions before Easter Sunday and maybe for a while.” My quick replies clearly came across to you as smug or patronising or such like. I apologise for offending you. This was not my intention. I assume things are probably stressful for you as they are for me, so we should probably cut each other a little slack.

    2. While it is true that Mark does not name himself as the author of this Gospel, like the other Gospels, the most ancient manuscripts all include KATA MARKON (according to Mark). This at least is evidence that it is an early tradition. The early church fathers mention Papias describing Mark’s close connection to Peter and commentators acknowledge the likelihood that Peter has influenced the shape and content of MArk’s Gospel.

      There are various perspectives on the problem of Abiathar in Mark 2. I found this detailed article by renowned Greek and NT scholar to be very helpful.

  5. If you are too busy to address the questions then just say so….but each time I wrote a comment or presented evidence you replied. I am not going to apologise for seeking answers to honest questions. You publish this blog to present a viewpoint which doesn’t in my opinion ring true with the textual and historical evidence.

    The questions I have raised here don’t require a specialist. Your appeals to readers use a plain meaning approach to scripture….so do my questions. Matters such as the incongruity of the text with the churches traditions. And the canons lack of a cohesive message concerning what is required to be put right with God?….. are fundamental.

    All my questions and my grating request that you ‘lovingly address’ these are borne out of concern. They are designed only to provoke a deep, honest reflection on the Bible, the shortcomings of personal experience, the uncertainty of historical knowledge and the fragile nature of our abilities to understand the ultimate.

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