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.

Is It Worth It?

2 Corinthians 11

What can I physically and emotionally endure? How much pain, stress, and anguish can I take? Well, probably not as much as Paul. He states in this chapter five times he received thirty-nine lashes by the Jews. Three times he was beaten with rods. He tells us here he was stoned which we remember from Acts 14. Stoning is intended to kill a person. Three times he was lost at sea and shipwrecked. He references threats from both his own people, the Jews, as well as the Gentiles, the Romans.

Let’s stop and reflect on that for a second. The two dominant groups at the time were the Romans who wanted to kill Christians for denouncing that Caesar was God and Jews who wanted to persecute Christians as well because they did not believe Jesus was the true Messiah. Both wanted Paul dead. He also references danger from the wilderness, hunger, thirst, the cold, and not to mention false brothers here. Whew! Quite the list!

Let’s revert to Acts 14 where Paul was stoned in Lystra for a moment. They dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead (Acts 14:19). He was not though, and we are told by Luke here in Acts that not only did he get up and go to Derbe to preach the next day, but when he was done there he went back to Lystra where he was just stoned! We are told in Acts 14:22 he was “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

I recently finished a great book which I highly recommend called What Is God Really Like? Each chapter is written by an all-star team of pastors. One pastor gives an analogy by asking the question whether you would tell a surgeon operating on a loved one to save their life to hurry up? I don’t know what you are going through right now, and it may be something very terrible and for that I am extremely empathetic and sympathetic so I hope this is not taken the wrong way. But, whatever pain and anguish Satan is causing you (because it is not God..see Romans 8:1), God is using that which Satan thinks is for his glory to positively shape your heart and soul into the person he wants you to become and to impact those around you. He is performing a delicate surgery in just the right amount of time to make it a perfect and successful one. Although God may not reveal the answer now or even in this lifetime, we must ask ourselves what God may be wanting to do in our lives and the lives of those around us through this to reveal his glory?  Let’s learn from Paul. Would you be ok with your present or future suffering if through it you could help just one person know Jesus and have eternal life in Heaven? If not one, what about ten people…or one thousand… or maybe even ten thousand people?

God is the supreme potter. He is shaping what looks like a mess of sloppy clay which is your life into his masterpiece. Have you ever looked at the backside of a beautifully crocheted piece? It looks like a huge jumbled mess with colors in the wrong places and different size strands hanging off of it everywhere. This is how we see our lives and how Satan wants us to see it. Flip over that crocheted piece, and what do you see? Again, it is a perfect picture, a masterpiece. THAT is what God sees because he sees our entire life and the lives of those around us.

Ultimately, all we can do in tough times is go back to the only truth that exists and that is the Word. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose.”  I don’t know what pain and suffering I, or you, may go through in this life and quite frankly I don’t want to think about it. Jesus tells us not to worry about it (Matthew 6:34). But, I know one thing, my life here on Earth of somewhere between 33 and hopefully 80 to 100 years is like one grain of sand amongst all the beaches of the Earth when compared to the length of eternity. Romans 8:18 tells us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” A week ago we read 2 Corinthians 4:17 which says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” I struggle with this like most, but I am growing to try to enjoy the precious present of each day, and I am extremely grateful for Jesus’ saving grace on the cross. When we see his face and spend eternity with him and others who the Holy Spirit helped be saved through our earthly lives, there will be no doubt to the answer to the question, was it worth it?