Alone - Good Friday Sermon w/worship devotional

Inspired by Mark 15:16-39

Good Friday might not seem like the usual place for a Star Trek reference, but you know me, I can find inspiration in just about anything! One of my favorite Star Trek scenes is from the movie The Final Frontier. Let me set the scene for you, Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy, and Mr. Spock are on vacation together in Yosemite National Park. Captain Kirk had spent the day doing some very dangerous mountain climbing on El Capitan. So dangerous in fact that he ended up falling, only to be saved by Mr. Spock using some kind of levitating boots. Hey, it’s Star Trek. Dr. McCoy, who was already angry that Kirk would do something so dangerous, is watching all this happen from below and just about has a heart attack thinking that his best friend was about to die.

That night, around a campfire, McCoy lays into him about how irresponsible that was! He says, “Maybe it didn’t occur to that macho mind of yours but you should have been killed when you fell off that mountain!” Kirk replies, “It crossed my mind…and even as I fell, I knew I wouldn’t die…I knew I wouldn’t die because the two of you were with me…I’ve always known, I’ll die alone.” Nothing more is said about it and the movie continues on to their next adventure. But I don’t think it takes a Star Trek fan to figure out what Kirk was talking about. You see, the connection between these three, as friends, as coworkers, spending most of their adult life together, was so strong, that he just knew that there was no way he could die as long as he was with them, his friends, his soulmates.

by Bartolom√© Esteban Murillo 
What struck me this year, as I read this old story from Mark for the umpteenth time was how alone Jesus was when he died. Isn’t it something how you can read a story multiple times and get something different out of it each time? This time it was his aloneness that hit me, and it hit me pretty hard. The accounts of his death in each of the four Gospels are a little different. Luke shares a conversation that he had with a believer who was hanging on the cross next to him. John wrote that Jesus was able to have a conversation with his mother and himself. Maybe it’s also because Mark is so short and to the point, but his aloneness was almost unbearable this time around.

Maybe it’s also this virus that has my heart a little more tender when it comes to aloneness. I was watching the news the other day, something I’ve been doing less and less because there’s only so much your heart can take, and they were interviewing a doctor. He was reiterating just how important it is to follow all the safety guidelines that our government has urged us to follow. And to drive that home, he shared something that he thought a lot of people aren’t realizing about this virus. He said, when people die from it, they are guaranteed to die alone. They will not be able to have any family with them, there won’t even be any skin to skin touch by a doctor or nurse. They will simply die alone. My heart broke when I heard that, and he was right, I hadn’t considered that before he shared it.

I cannot fathom what it must be like to die alone. Just like I cannot fathom what Jesus must have gone through as he died alone according to Mark’s account, without his friends, without his family, without his followers, without his God even. But this I do know—this will not be our fate. On the cross, Christ promised to be with us, no matter what. Whenever my girls share with me a painful experience with one of their peers, I always tell them, “Remember what that feels like, so that you never make someone feel the way your feeling now.” I believe that is why Jesus had to die alone, so that he would know what that feels like, so that he could make sure none of us feel that way, especially when we come to our end. I can’t think of a more powerful way that Christ has conquered death, by conquering the aloneness of death. As you ponder the mysteries of the cross today, know most assuredly that this isn’t one of them. We will not die alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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