Love to the End

"Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. - Mark 15:15

Thomas Kozaki was born in 1582 in Ise, Japan. His father Michael was a carpenter and a Christian. Michael met some Franciscan missionaries and he helped build the Franciscan convents and churches of Kyoto and Osaka.

In 1596, fourteen year old Thomas was an altar boy. The Japanese ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi wanted to rid Japan of Christians and he ordered their arrest. In Kyoto and Osaka, twenty-six Christians, including Michael and Thomas, were arrested. They each had a piece of their left ear cut off, and then paraded from city to city, traveling more than 400 miles.

For weeks a man shouted their crimes and encouraged their abuse. The arrested priests and brothers were accused of preaching the outlawed faith of Christianity, the laity of supporting and aiding them. They were each repeatedly offered freedom if they would renounce Christianity. They each declined. The twenty-six were crucified on February 5, 1597 at Tateyama (Hill of Wheat), in Nagasaki, Japan.

Prior to his death, Thomas wrote a touching letter to his mother. In it he says: "Remember also the innumerable blessings bestowed by the Lord Jesus Christ. As everything of this world can be lost soon, even if you might become poor and have to beg for food from people, please take care not to lose the glory of paradise. No matter what people may say to you, please forbear with patience and love to the end."

Jesus loved the world that He laid down His life for it. Today in prayer, thank the Lord for His love for you and that He is faithful.

"By the cross we know the gravity of sin and the greatness of God's love towards us." - John Chrysostom

God's Word: "When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left." - Luke 23:33

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2005, Devotional E-Mail DEVOTIONS IN MARK

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