May 2, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“A Shattered Body”

Mark 15:16-32

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. 27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

In Where is God When It Hurts? (1997), Philip Yancey describes pain as the “gift nobody wants.” To prove his point, Yancey describes a world without physical pain through the eyes of lepers. As leprosy numbs the extremities, lepers are unaware of any accidental cuts or burns, eventually leading to loss of their limbs. Indeed, our body contains “a remarkable network of pain sensors” that keep us from injury. But what if you are exposed to pain and cannot do anything to change your situation? What if pain was not a warning signal but a reminder of your helplessness?

In one of the most famous biblical prophecies, it was foretold that the Savior would “be pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). Reading through today’s passage, we see that Jesus endured tremendous physical suffering. He was scourged (v.15), which involved a whip containing pieces of bone and metal. His head was fitted with a crown of thorns (v.17) and He was further struck and spat on (v.19). Finally, He carried His heavy cross and was later crucified on it, with nails protruding through His hands and feet.

Through no fault of our own, some of us endure excruciating physical pain today. Perhaps it was inflicted through a freak accident or through abuse of another. Some of us may have been born with physical conditions that prevent us from full health, while others have never fully recovered from injuries. And for those with no present ailments, the pains of attrition and aging eventually catch up to us.

For those of us suffering physically, we can take comfort that the King of Kings, who could have stayed away from all pain, endured the most excruciating death for us. God Himself bore our sins in His body on a tree (1 Peter 2:24).  Let us go to the One who is familiar with pain on an unimaginable scale.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You that You lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died. What a horrible and painful death it was!  Whenever I doubt that You understand my ailments, may I look upon the cross and remember Your nail-pierced hands and feet, Your pierced side and Your crown of thorns. May I never forget the pain You endured so that I may have life and life to the full. In Your name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Timothy 3


Lunch Break Study

Read John 20:24-9:  Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Questions to Consider

  1. It is certainly in God’s power to resurrect Jesus in a new body, and yet, Jesus is resurrected in His original body. What could be some reasons?
  2. Jesus calls those who have not seen and yet have believed “blessed.” While Jesus has ascended, how may unbelievers still see glimpses of Christ?
  3. How may Jesus use your ailments for His kingdom?

 Note

  1. While the scars serve as proof that this was really Jesus (and not some imposter), they also symbolize a deeper truth—that God can redeem even the most painful of experiences for His glory and for our lives.
  2. Through His church as she bears her cross. That is why Paul is able to say, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24). As much as suffering is difficult, how we handle suffering can provide a tremendous witness to the watching world. For some proof, find out more about Joni Erickson Tada or Vaneetha Rendall.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

The apostle Paul spoke about “a thorn in the flesh” that God used to prove the sufficiency of His grace and power (2 Cor. 12:9). How is God making this reality known to you today? Take some time to pray and reflect.

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