Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 76: Mark 6:1-29 & Psalm 77 - What Kind of King is Jesus?

Today's Reading: Mark 6:1-29 & Psalm 77

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What Kind of King is Jesus?

"And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, 
and gave them authority over the unclean spirits." - Mark 6:7

Today's Gospel reading could be called "A Tale of Two Kings." We see both King Jesus and King Herod exercising their royal authority among their closest followers. The contrast could not be clearer:

King Jesus speaks the truth and demonstrated His power as king so clearly that people are left stunned and puzzled. They ask, "Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?" (v. 2) He then gives authority to His twelve closest followers, whom He sends out to preach the Gospel and cast out demons. His reign thus brings wisdom, power, deliverance from oppression and salvation from sin.

King Herod is precisely the opposite kind of king. He throws a big party for himself on his birthday, full of self-indulgence. He also gives authority to one of his subjects, his step-daughter. Only instead of giving her authority to proclaim forgiveness and deliver people from demons, Herod gives her authority to kill an innocent man and have his head presented on a platter. 

We can judge rulers by what they do and by what they empower their followers to do. President Ulysses S. Grant was generally considered an honorable man himself, but he allowed many in his administration to abuse their authority, and so he is remembered as an effective general but a poor president.

Sadly, we have to acknowledge that much evil has been committed in the name of Jesus by those who claim to be His followers, but the true followers of Jesus have been the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. The followers of Jesus have created the world's first hospitals, universities, public schools, and orphanages and created just war theory and the concept of universal human rights. They have also led the way for the elimination of foot binding in China, widow burning in India, slavery in the UK and the US and a whole host of other evils around the world. In all, the kingdom of Jesus has been the source of more good in the world than anything else in the history of the world, by far.

Prayer Based on Psalm 77:

For times of deep distress . . .

I cry aloud to You, O God,
    aloud to You, and You will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek You, my Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember You, O God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. 

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” 

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the Right Hand of the Most High.”

I will remember Your deeds, O Lord;
    yes, I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will ponder all Your work,
    and meditate on Your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like You, our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    You have made known Your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed Your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph.

When the waters saw You, O God,
    when the waters saw You, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

You redeemed Your people by the hand of Your Son,
   who took our sin upon Himself,
   the wrath that we deserve was placed on Him.
Then, he conquered death in His powerful resurrection,
   the grave was overthrown by His unquenchable life.
Let me never forget.
   Let me always remember.

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