Strength, Faith, and Love of the Savior

 

Today’s Reading: Mark 15

The Passion of Christ is familiar to many Christians because it is the essential foundation of our faith and beliefs.  In Mark Chapter 15, the apostle explains in such detail of the account from Gethsemane to the Cross.  While reading this passage this week, one section continued to speak to me:

Mark 15: 15

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[a] Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

After reading this passage and chapter many times in my life, I have always speed through this part of the Scripture.  I wonder if I have been too preoccupied to get to the cross or have I not fully understood the gravity of the entire process of the trial and the crucifixion. Pilate has for the previous14 verses, tried to persuade the Jewish people to release Jesus and not to punish him, but in the end he submits to the crowd and then gives him the full extent of the punishment.  In verse 15, the word that is subtle and somewhat obscured is “scourged”.  This particular word has so much heaviness that it needs to be examined.

 “Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt.  The usual instrument was a short whip with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals.  For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post.  The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.  As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues.  Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.  Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.  The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.  After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.”

 

With this new understanding of the true nature of the punishment that Christ endured allows me to worship him more and have a deeper understanding of his true devotion to us as followers, friends, and family in faith.  In this passage three themes are presented: The Strength of a Savior, The Faith of a Savior, and the Love of a Savior.

The Strength of a Savior: The raw strength that Christ had during his last hours astonishes me.  After the persecution of the religious council, he is subjected to the scourge that completely disfigures him and damages all aspects of his body.  He is just barely living, then he takes his cross( ~ 80-300lbs) to a destination that is far away.  The strength of the savior is more than anything imaginable.

The Faith of the Savior: The faith of Christ during this passage is a beacon to us to continue to push to the goal.  During this time, Christ was having internal conflict with the human and the divine that is seen in the garden of Gethsemane.  But his faith in the Father and the knowledge that all things work for the kingdom allows him to complete his mission.

The Love of the Savior: All of the entire gospel rest on the Love of the Savior that he has committed and executed the plan of salvation for all.  Without the love for us and the desire to make us whole, he has been completely broken and shattered to give us another chance of redemption.

The true description of passage allows me to worship this awesome Savior.  The strength, faith, and love that he has shown through the cross can never be taken easily or likely.  It is a choice that has to be truly embraced.  The question that I pose to myself daily is: How can I show my gratitude for the sacrifice that He has given me?   Let us ask each other and ourselves this question so that we may live more like Christ.

Hello Mark

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

 Hello, it’s a Monday and I’m here to welcome you to the gospel of Mark. Are you excited? I’m so excited! This has been such an awesome time of new beginnings. We aren’t reading the Gospel of Mark quite yet today, but instead we’re getting acquainted with our new author. Of course, I’ve done my usual research and uncovered some interesting facts for us. The Gospel of Mark is actually anonymous. In 326 AD, Eusebius, an early church historian, preserved the words of Papias an early church elder. Papias, quoted another elder, probably John, as saying that Mark recorded Peter’s preaching about Jesus but not in order. Therefore, since the first century, Mark was considered the author of this Gospel.

Mark was actually named John Mark and was the son of a widow named Mary. The church of Jerusalem sometimes met at Mary’s house (see Acts 12:12-17). Some sources say that Jesus’ last supper took place in Mary’s house as well…but we don’t really know so we can’t get too excited! Mark and Barnabus were cousins (Col 4:10) and together they traveled with Paul on that first missionary journey. Mark became like a son to the apostle Peter and also became close to Paul. Shortly before Paul’s execution, he asked Timothy to “bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). After Paul’s execution, Mark moved to Egypt and established churches.

Mark wrote his gospel in Rome around the time of Peter’s martyrdom. He wrote primarily for the Roman Gentiles and used Latin terms rather then Greek. Mark’s Gospel is believed by many Bible scholars to be the earliest Gospel written. There is evidence that it served as a source for both Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Mark’s writing begins with John the Baptist preaching and then moves on to Jesus’ public ministry. We see Jesus in action as a servant and then Jesus is revealed to us as the Messiah when he performs several miracles. By the end of Mark’s gospel, we move quickly toward the events of The Last Supper, the betrayal, the crucifixion and the resurrection. What an opportunity we have in these next few weeks to get to know Jesus through Mark. I’m ready for God to move in our life as we follow in His footsteps: serving, sacrificing and saving. I’ll leave you today with four key themes of Mark’s Gospel to consider. I challenge you to write them down and watch for them to come up in our daily study of Mark. I’ll be making notes each day about the words of Christ and how they fit within our personal faith journey.

Jesus Christ:

  • Mark demonstrates that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
  • He overcomes disease, demons and death
  • Jesus chose to die for us

Servant:

  • Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament by coming to earth
  • He came as a servant, not a conquering king
  • By giving his life he performed the ultimate act of service

Miracles:

  • Mark records more of Jesus’ miracles in his Gospel than sermons
  • Mark reveals Jesus’ true identity as the Messiah through accounts of his miracles

Spreading the Gospel:

  • Jesus directed his ministry to the Jews, he was met with opposition
  • Jesus also ministered to the “non-Jewish” world including Roman soldiers, Syrians, and other Gentiles.
  • Many believed the good news and followed him
  • Jesus’ final message to his disciples was to go out to the whole world and preach salvation

 Author’s note: Much of today’s historic information was drawn from a collection of study Bibles. I primarily use the NIV Life Application Study Bible (Zondervan), The HCSB Study Bible (Holman Bible Publishers), The ESV Study Bible (Crossway) and various online sources such as: biblegateway.com, biblestudytools.com and blueletterbible.org. Of course when writing about historic figures, one can only use the collection of data available and then present it in a way that honors the source. I’ve done the best I can to collect facts and share them with you in a digestible Monday morning fashion. There is always lots more Christian literature available to us! If you want more information about the Gospel of Mark or have knowledge you’d like to share, please comment below.