Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me today, so that I may serve You with fresh dedication.
Read Mark 15:16-20
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood; Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! What a Savior” (Philip Bliss, 1838-1876).
Roman flogging was so vicious that victims sometimes died. Jesus would have been a pitiable figure by this point. The rough mockery of the soldiers simply adds to that. How could such a figure be a king? Like the crowd entering Jerusalem, like the Jewish leaders and like Pilate, they misunderstand the nature of Jesus’ kingship. If he is a human king come to establish a new free Jewish state, then he is indeed a pitiable failure who has achieved nothing. However, that is not the story that Jesus has been telling, nor the one that Mark wants his readers to grasp.
The story we are to see here is that of the Creator and King of the universe establishing his reign through sacrifice, not the exercise of power. Jesus’ story has been of true greatness, revealed through humble service and sacrificial giving (10:41-44). Seen like this, the figure of Jesus is not one for ridicule but for worship. Here we see a vast, infinite love which will, if understood correctly, leave us awed and overwhelmed.
We, too, can fail to grasp the true nature of Jesus’ kingship. We may not mock, but we can ignore. In a telling and moving poem, Studdert Kennedy imagines Jesus coming to a modern city; “they simply passed him by … And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.” Recognizing the true nature of his kingship will lead not only to awe and worship but to a changed set of priorities, challenging us to lay aside our desires for power and status and give priority to the needs of others (Phil. 2:1-11).
Take a moment to examine your priorities. How will you respond to this challenge today? Pray for opportunities to serve others in Christ’s name.
Loving Savior, You have set an example, that I may follow in Your footsteps. I pray Your Spirit to work through my weakness, so that I can have a servant heart.
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