Day 31 of Lent: Passers-by

Yesterday we saw the soldiers at the foot of the cross, casting dice to see who would get Jesus’ clothes.  They were just “passing time.”  Today, in the next verse in Mark 15:29-31, the author comments on “the passers by.”  They see Jesus and “deride” him for not doing one more miracle to prove himself – come down from the cross!  Even the chief priests “mock” – save yourself like you saved others!  The two robbers hanging next to him “”revile Jesus.  Passers by deride, revile and mock.  In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul says, “For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus became sin.  He was not an innocent person crucified for our sins.  He became sin.  Guilty as charged.

         When I think of “passing by,” I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  A man is beaten up and robbed on the road to Jericho and left to die.  A priest sees him and passes by on the other side of the road.  A Levite sees him and passes by.  But a Samaritan, a foreigner, stops and cares for the man, carrying him on his donkey to safety.  Many debate what causes people to pass by others in need.  Too busy?  Might get sick?  Don’t speak their language?  No time right now!  There is a definite sense of superiority when we deride, revile or mock.  Jesus asks  then and now, and us, who is the true neighbor?  The one who has compassion is the conclusion and we are charged to go and do likewise.

         As we “pass by” others between now and Easter, let us pray for eyes that see their struggle and how we can help.  May we have ears that can take time to listen to the other with an open heart, not focusing on our watches.  And if necessary, Lord give us the wisdom for when we can lend a helping hand.  May we not be guilty of looking for one more miracle, one more good deed by the other so that the person deserves our compassion.  May we give freely as we have freely received.

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