30 Apr

A Second Chance

The story of John Mark, known as Mark, is a refreshing reminder that God gives second chances to those who repent and stay in the battle.

Mark was the son of Mary, the sister of Barnabas.  Her house was the place where Peter came after his release from prison.  Mark was likely among those praying for Peter’s release.

Mark was given the opportunity to accompany Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey from the Church at Antioch.  However, in the middle of the journey, Mark returned home.  This resulted in Paul’s refusal to take Mark on the second missionary journey, but Barnabas decided to take Mark with him to Cyprus, and Paul went with Silas to Asia Minor.

This second chance proved to be just what Mark needed because Mark later appears in Rome as Paul’s fellow worker.  Later in Timothy Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark with him “for he is useful to me for ministry” (II Timothy 4:11).  Also, Mark is the author of the book of Mark, the second of the gospel books.

Two lessons are to be learned from the story of Mark.  First, mistakes can be teaching tools. Mark was eager to go on the second missionary journey.  Secondly, encouragement from others serves to give motivation to continue on, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13).

Thank God for second chances!

02 Apr

The Mind of the Cross

The mind of Christ as He faced the cross was that of complete compliance to the Father’s will.  Seven cries from the cross reveal the mind of Christ as He endured the suffering of having been scourged: that is being beaten with a leather strap embedded with metal or bone and the pain from the slightest movement of the body nailed to the cross.

The first cry from the cross is a prayer of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). What mercy is this!

In the second cry, Christ honors the faith of the thief on the cross as He promises him: “Verily I say unto thee today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

How tender is the third cry as Christ shows His love for His earthly mother, committing her to the care of the beloved disciple, John, as He says: “Woman behold thy son” and to John: “Behold thy mother” (John 19:26-27).

The fourth cry comes after three hours of total darkness.  As Christ suffers alone bearing the sins of the world, He cries: “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). “My God” suggests the yielding to God’s authority.  Only Christ could satisfy the sin debt of humanity. The cry reveals the depth of loneliness Christ felt as He suffered alone.

The fifth cry is a cry of physical agony as Christ cries: “I thirst” (John 19:28). The request was answered with a sponge full of vinegar pushed into His mouth.

The sixth cry: “It is finished” (John 19:30) is a cry of victory that resounded throughout the universe. The plan of redemption that was set in place before the foundation of the world was finished. The long reign of human sin and death was broken. Christ’s task on earth was finished.

What a glorious cry is the seventh cry as Christ calls out: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46).  Christ uses the word Father, which suggests the security of the Father’s love. No one took Christ’s life; He willingly gave it into the Father’s hands.

The mind of Christ on the cross was centered totally on obeying the Father’s will. This should be an encouragement to obey Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  May we rejoice that we serve a risen Savior. This is the hope of glory.

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