Thursday, June 23, 2016

Day 96: Mark 15:21-47 & Psalm 97 - Are You Looking for the Kingdom of God?

Today's Reading: Mark 15:21-47 & Psalm 97

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Are You Looking for the Kingdom of God?

"Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." - Mark 15:43, ESV

Everyone is looking for something. Some of us are looking for entertainment, diversion from the cares of life through cheap thrills. Some of us are looking for approval from others, desiring the pat on the back or the acceptance from others that might make us feel better. Still others of us desire power and control; we seek ways we can impose our will on others or shape our circumstances to our expectations and desires. 

What are you looking for?

In today's passage, we meet several people who are involved in some way with the crucifixion and burial of Christ. Simon of Cyrene was there. We don't know what he was looking for, but he would be compelled to carry Jesus' cross. Later, he would almost certainly become an active member of the church, along with his sons, Rufus and Alexander, which is why their names are included in the narrative.

At the cross itself, we see the mockers, who were seeking to humiliate Jesus. These people enjoy making their enemies suffer humiliation in addition to defeat. Others at the cross offered Jesus some sour wine on a reed. They were not seeking to relieve Jesus' thirst but to prolong His life in the hopes of seeing something spectacular happen.

Among all of the people in today's passage, we are told explicitly of only one who was "looking for the kingdom of God." We are told that he was "also" looking for the kingdom of God, which indicates that he was not the only one whose gaze of expectation was directed toward the kingdom of God. Because Joseph of Arimathea was looking for the kingdom of God, he was given a unique role in the death and burial of Jesus. His role was specifically foretold in Isaiah 53:9. 

So, are you looking for the kingdom of God? What would this look like? In your daily life, as you go through trials and triumphs, blessings and burdens, opportunities and challenges, what are you seeking? What drives you? Are you looking for some form of your own glory - your renown, your acclaim, your approval, your control? Or is your heart being guided by the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done"? Are you looking for the kingdom of God?

Prayer Based on Psalm 97:

O Lord, You indeed do reign over all the earth! Let all the earth rejoice in You reign, instead of seeking to establish our own. You reign in righteousness and justice and with incredible power. Your ways are right, just and majestic in power and glory! When we turn aside to idols, we suffer harm and loss. We are fools to take glory from You. Have mercy on us!

As You turn us from our idols, let us rejoice in You. Let us receive the light and joy that comes only from You, And let us always give You the thanks You are due as our Great God and Father! In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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