Spiritual Director · July 4, 2017

Devote #53

My Bible readings for today were from 2 Kings 17 and Mark 15. These are two completely different times and accounts, but I noticed a common thread that ran through them and that same thread can still be seen today. Let me explain…

In 2 Kings 17 we are introduced to the last king of Israel. His name is Hoshea. Like many of the other kings before him, he disobeyed the Lord, but the Bible tells us…
“… but not as much as the earlier Israelite kings had done.” 2 Kings 17:2 CEV

He was the last king of Israel, because God had had enough and allowed them to be overtaken and captured by the king of Assyria. We’re told…
“All of this happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God.” 2 Kings 17:7 CEV

Then, when you flip your Bible open to Mark 15, we read the whole account of Jesus being brought before the ruler of the land, Pilate. There He’s questioned and given the death sentence. He’s hauled away by the soldiers, who go over and above their call of duty, by beating Jesus, spitting on Him and taking advantage of Him. The Bible says…
“When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus…” Mark 15:20 CEV

Then Jesus is taken out to the “Place of the skull,” Golgotha and nailed to a cross as the people watch Him hang there and die. How cold blooded does that sound?

But the cruelty doesn’t stop.
“People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus.” Mark 15:29 CEV

And even…
“The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.” Mark 15:32 CEV

It nevers seems to end! Well, actually it did. Because roughly six hours later
“Jesus shouted and then died.” Mark 15:37 CEV

So, how do those two chapters relate? One shows the ramifications of disobeying God and though they were told time and time again by the prophets what would happen, they kept right on going in the own way. The other shows the ramifications of someone who obeyed God. It cost Him His life, but that’s why He came. He came to bridge the gap between us and God so that we could be set free from our own captivity.

The first one shows us what happens when we don’t change our course and turn back to God. The second shows us the price that was paid, Who paid it, and why.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: It’s easy to live a mediocre Christian life. It’s easy to read a chapter like Mark 15 and not be moved. But not today. Here in the United States it’s the 4th of July – Independence day. It’s the day we celebrate our freedom. Because of the all-atoning work of Jesus, my friend, every day is Independence Day. Celebrate that!

Forgive me for not changing my course. Help me see the cross again in my life. Thank You for setting me free. In Jesus name I pray, Amen


P.S. As many of you might have heard, I am answering a new call on my life. My last Sunday at Lutheran Church of the Master in Brooklyn Center, MN will be July 16. Then I will be setting out and ministering to national pastors in places like Papua New Guinea, Argentina, Peru and Liberia. In order to do that I will be raising my own financial support. I will be sending you another mailing telling the story. I’d like to invite you to read the letter and if the Holy Spirit quickens your spirit, prayerfully consider providing your financial support.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.