Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Arrested on Thanksgiving

I know a person who was arrested for something she did not do. They handcuffed her on Thanksgiving Day and put her in the police car while her children watched outside the window. The next morning the arrest and charge were splashed across the small town newspapers. But when she was proven innocent the verdict was never published.

Jesus also was publicly accused, mocked, taunted and crucified in front of those he loved. His accusers never admitted to his innocence. He knows exactly how we feel when we are unjustly treated. We can take comfort in him and know that our Father will one day publicly avenge us (Romans 12:19).

Monday, July 30, 2012


"And he, bearing his cross, went to a place called The Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him, and two others with him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center" (John 19:171-8).

Jesus had told his disciples, "He who does not take his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38). "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:24-27).

Isaiah gives us a picture of Jesus crucifixion in chapter 50 of his book. We learn about Jesus self talk as he carried his cross, "For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me" (7-8).

There are times when we must make a determined decision to set our face like flint iin order to follow him regardless of the cost. God the Father will not leave us alone. He will be with us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Door Posts

Pilate prepares a sign in Hebrew, Greek and Latin to place over the cross, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews".

When the Pharisees read the sign they argued with Pilate. "Do not write King of the Jews, but 'he said I am the king of the Jews."

Which sign is over the door post of your heart?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Responding to Tyranny

It is important that we do not miss Jesus' point to Pilate, "You could have no power against me unless it had been given to you from above" (John 19:11).

We rejoice when governments are good and we are living in peace, but what does this mean if we are living under tyranny? How can we reconcile the cruelty of men and the sovereignty of God? (Romans 13:1-7; Acts 4:27-30).

Some mysteries will not be fully understood on earth, but Jesus has given us an example how to respond. We place our trust in God who will judge righteously (Hebrews 5:7-8; 1Peter 2:13-17, 18-25, 3:14-17).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where Are You From

Why would Pilate care where Jesus was from? Part of the story of the prophesied king was that he was from Bethlehem and descended from king David (John 7:41-45). Things were changing for Pilate. Suddenly there is spiritual struggle going on inside his mind. But Jesus refuses to answer Pilate's question, "Where are you from?".

In frustration Pilate declares, "Do you not know that I have the power to crucify you, and the power to release you?". Jesus' silence had brought out the very point that Jesus wanted Pilate to understand. We can see that point in Jesus's response.

"You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin" (John 19:11).

Jesus is not simply referring to Judas. Our sin delivered Jesus to the cross. We have no place to stand in seeing ourselves better than Pilate. We Know who Jesus is and still have at times betrayed him. Oh the wonder of the grace and forgiveness of Our Lord!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Backed into a Corner

Pilate appears to be disgusted with the people. "You take him and crucify him, because I find no fault on him.". He has had enough of their games. But the Pharisees know the political ropes well. "We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God." Scripture says when Pilate heard this is was "more afraid". Why would this frighten him?

Perhaps because the emperors of Rome called themselves Gods and sons of God claiming divine right to rule the people. If Pilate allows someone to claim divinity, he is supporting a rebellion against Rome. Or perhaps he had heard prophesies about someone claiming to be divine taking over Israel. Listen to his immediate question to Jesus. "Where are you from?" (John 19:6-8).

Remember Herod had heard from the Wisemen that a king was to be born in Jerusalem. That Herod was long dead but his son knew the story. The Pharisees were clearly indicating that Jesus was leading an uprising against Rome.

Anti- Christian movements use the same tactic today saying that Christians want to take over governments. But our kingdom is not of this world (John 18:35).

Monday, July 23, 2012


Remember when the Pharisees sent officers of the temple to arrest Jesus and the officers did not do it? They told the Pharisees, "No man ever spoke like this man" (John 7:46-47). Why do the officers now join in demanding for Jesus' execution? (John 19:6).

The answer is found in John seven. When the officers expressed their respect for Jesus, the Pharisees used the officers' sense of pride against them. "Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is cursed" (John 7:47-49).

The desire to be part of the "in the know" group lead the officers away from the truth. They emulated their superiors until they too were shouting for Jesus crucifixion.

Pride grows like a cancer until we become so blinded that we no longer recognize the truth.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blind Hatred

Pilate went again to speak to the people. "Behold I am bringing him out to you, that you may know I find no fault in him." "Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said 'Behold the man'!" (John 19:4-5).

In other words, "Look, you can see how much we have beaten and tortured this man to get at the truth. If he had done something wrong he would have confessed it by now.".

Most likely Jesus' eyes and lips were swollen and black from being beaten in the face. Blood from the thorns must have been trickling down his cheeks. It was obvious the man had been tortured. But the Pharisees showed no compassion. His innocence meant nothing to them. They wanted him dead, so they began to shout, "Crucify him! Crucify him" (John 19:6).

It is difficult for us to comprehend that kind of injustice, but we may encounter people during our life time who want to harm us. Our innocence has no bearing on their interactions with us. When that happens, we need to be cautious and remain steadfast in the truth. Do not allow the actions of others dictate our actions.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


When the people did not accept Pilate's offer to free Jesus, Pilate had Jesus beaten. While other writers give us more details about this form of torture, John gives us a brief description. The soldiers mocked him, putting on him a crown twisted together out of branches of a throne bush. They placed a purple robe on him and blindfolded him. Then they hit him in the face with their hands saying, "Prophesy! Who is the one who struck you?Luke 22:63-65).

When you are blindfolded, you cannot see where the next hit is coming from and are unable to either defend yourself or prepare for the blow.

Have you ever been the brunt of a cruel practical joke? Has anyone responded to an idea you had with sarcasm? Have anyone ever put you down publicly? Can you remember the anger and indignation you felt? You may have lashed back defending yourself in an attempt to put the person in their place.

Jesus, though he had the power with a single word to take the breath out of each attacker, choose to silently accept the cruel treatment. He taught us by example not to lash out at those who are treating us unjustly, but to trust God who will judge every persons' actions, either now or eternally (2 Peter 2:21-25).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


God had commanded the Israelites that every 50 years at the Passover they were to forgive all debts. Any land that had been sold was to return to its original owner. All slaves were released. It was called the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). Jesus was crucified on the Day of Atonement during the year of Jubilee, the holiest day in Israel.

It was to this tradition that Pilate was referring when he said to the crowd, "You have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover". He then offered to release Jesus. But the crowd chooses to have a robber by the name of Barabbas released instead of Jesus (John 18:38-40).

They chose someone who robs from them over someone who healed their sick, raised their dead and revealed the Father's love to them. We click our tongues and shake our heads at their foolish choice.

But, really, what are we doing when we make choices that are clearly against God's commands? Are we not choosing what Satan, the robber, offers over the abundant life offered by the Lamb of God (John 10:10)?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Philosophical Question

Jesus said, "For this cause I was born. For this cause I have come into the world, thai I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice" (John 18:37). Pilate responds, "What is truth?"

Jesus spoke of truth and Pilate responded as though it were a philosophical question. The twentieth and twenty-first century culture has responded the same way. It is as though they have taken Pilate's words as a mantra. Philosophers have said "Every thing is relative. There is no truth". But their sentence contradicts their thesis. If there is no truth, then the statement itself becomes untrue. It is a nonsensical cycle.

If we say there is no truth, we think we avoid having to deal with who Jesus is. We avoid facing our depravity and our need for God.

But truth exists regardless of whether we acknowledge it's existence or not. The day will come when we will stand before the Truth and the location of our eternal existence will be pronounced. Better we should come to the Truth, now than be judged by the Truth later (John 3:16-17, 14:6).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Earthly Kingdom

The circumstances point to Pilate's question to Jesus, "are you the king of the Jews?" as being a sarcastic gibe. The entire throng chanting for his crucifixion is proof enough that he is not the kind of king Pilate would be familiar with. So what other motive than to mock Jesus would Pilate have to ask the question?

Jesus knows this but he answers Pilate's question as though it were sincere. “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).

We also need to remember Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. It is easy for us to get caught up in things of the world because we live in bodies that belong to this realm.

We live here temporarily, but our king has given us a mission to accomplish before we go home (Ephesians 2:10; James 4:14; 2Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 4:1). The circumstances in our lives are our mission. If we are parents, our mission is to love them as Christ loves us. If we are single our mission is to be an example of the love of God to the world. If we have a job, our mission is to represent Christ in the work place. Whatever we do, we do in a manner that is worthy of our calling as God's representatives (1Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17,23).

We live in this world. We are not of this world.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Question

John reveals quite a lengthy discussion between Pilate, the Jews and Jesus. We see Pilate in a debate with himself. The historian Josephus wrote that Pilate was sent back to Rome because of a particularly harsh suppression of a Samaritan uprising. Therefore we know Pilate was not a gentle man and had no problem with executing someone.

He questions Jesus, "Are you a king?". Jesus asks Pilate, "Are you speaking for yourself or did someone else tell you about me?" (John 18:33-35).

Pilate immediately becomes defensive. "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and chief priests have delivered you to me. What have you done?"

Pilate wants to distance himself by attributing the issue of Jesus' kingdom to a local ethnic problem. He does not think it has anything to do with him personally. How could it? But Pilate had to face the same question we all must face. Is Jesus our personal King or do we distance him from us by relegating him to a religious argument?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The lesson of the Preatorium

The Pharisees knew God's law but they did not know God. They began persecuting Jesus when he healed a lamb man on the sabbath (John 5:1-16). Yet, they were willing to commit the greatest injustice that ever took place on the sabbath. They led Jesus bound to the Praetorium but did not go in themselves "lest they be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover" (John 18:28-29).

The Praetorium was the Roman's version of the court room. It sometimes referred to the entire court yard as well as the building. The Jews were not allowed to touch things that were considered unclean, for several hours before eating the Passover and they considered things that belonged to the Gentiles as unclean. However, the religious rulers did not hesitate using the very people they hated to do their dirty work.

They told themselves they were going to have Jesus killed for the sake of their nation (John 11:49-52). But they hated Jesus because he continually pointed out their inconsistencies (Matthew 23:24-36; John 7:7) Man's depravity leads him to hide the truth even from himself.

We need the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin (John 16:8-13; James 1:22-25).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


First the servant girl asked Peter if he was one of Jesus' disciples (John 18:16-17). Then a group of servants asked him the same question (John 18:25). Finally a relative of the servant whose ear Peter cut off in the garden asked him if it was Peter whom he saw in the garden. Peter denied it and immediately the rooster crowed ( John 18:27).

At that instant "Peter remembered the words of Jesus "Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times". Peter went out and weep bitterly (Matthew 26:75). He had been determined to remain faithful to the Savior, had even brought a sword to fight against overwhelming odds (John 13:37, 18:10). All his enthusiasm for the Lord did not sustain him when he let his life was threatened.

Jesus was not surprised that Peter failed. Remember he not only prophesied this would happen, but he also prayed for Peter that he would recover from his failure (John 13:38, Luke 22:31-32).

If you have failed; if you buckled to the pressure to deny Jesus in one form or another, the Lord knew before it happened that you would travel down that road. He has prayed for you, that you would remember his grace and mercy and be restored to him (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

He has prepared for your restoration (Ephesians 2:1,4,9; Philippians 4:6-7, 12; Romans 14:4; James 4:7-8, 12).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

John's Influence

John refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was one of the three inner circle that consisted of Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:1-4; Mark 1:29, 5:37; Luke 8:51). Yet John also had a close relationship with the high priest, so much so that he had influence with the servant girl who was in charge of the gate into the of the pharisee court yard (John 18:15-16).

John told us earlier that many of the pharisees believed but kept silent for fear of loosing their place in the synagogue (John 12:42-43). These passages lead me to think John had spoken often with the religious leaders about the Christ.

John loved Jesus. He felt loved by him. He was so dedicated to our Lord that he risked his life to follow Jesus, not only into the court yard but to the cross (John 19:26-27). Judas had known the priests in order to betray Jesus. John knew them in order to share Jesus with them.

It is not who we know that is important, but what is our motive in knowing them.

Monday, July 9, 2012


John did not miss the irony in the political treatment of Jesus. When Jesus answered Annas' question with a question, one of the temple officers slapped Jesus saying, "Do you answer the high priest like that?"

The soldier demands Jesus show respect to the former high priest yet he slapped the Son of God, the creator of the universe, the one who held the soldier's life in his hands.

Self righteousness blinds us to the truth.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Turning the Tables

The high priest father-in-law, Annas questioned Jesus concerning both his doctrine and his disciples. Jesus did not betray his disciples though they had all forsaken him (John 16:32).

Jesus recognizing the inconsistencies of his Interrogator, turned the questions back on him. "I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”

Jesus publicly stated who he was and why he had come. He did not speak for others. He spoke only for his Father. He did not expose his disciples when they forsake him, nor took revenge. He remained true to his Father's mission and never allowed his actions to be controlled by others.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Defining Who We Are

We see political maneuvering throughout the ordeal of Jesus' persecution and death. First they led him bound to the high priest's father-in-law, Annas. After he has had a chance to interrogate Jesus, he sends him on to his son-in-law, Caiaphas. They have to go through the facade of presence of justice by having each level of political power condemn him.

Then they send him to Pilot. He in turn sees an opportunity to gain political favor by sending Jesus to Herod. Once Herod is finished with his taunting he sends him back to Pilot as a kind of thank you for the entertainment, but you will have to do the dirty work, gesture (Luke 23:6-12). Even the soldiers used Jesus as sport, degrading and taunting him (Matthew 27:27-31; Luke 23:11; John 19:1-2).

All the levels of political powers condemned Jesus, mocking all his words and who he was. But their devaluing did not change the truth.

Do not define yourself by other people. Define yourself by God's words (1Peter 2:9-10).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Cup

Jesus expressed to his disciples and to his Father that he did not want to go through the horrific pain of the crucifixion (John 12:27-28; Matthew 26:39; Hebrews 5:7-8). He told his disciples to pray to be able to face the dark times because that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). Jesus concludes his inner struggle By trusting his Father.

"Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me to drink? (John 18:11).

There many times that we have been rescued from something we thought we were going to have to face. There are other times when God rescues us by walking with us through the trouble. The song puts it this way, "sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes he calms his child".

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Out of a Sound Sleep

When the crowd of soldiers, officers and pharisees came stomping, shouting and waving their weapons into the once quiet garden, Peter and the others were startled awake from a deep sleep (26:36-46). Peter's first response is to draw his sword and attack the man closest to him, which turned out to be a servant of the high priest (John 18:10). Jesus immediately tells Peter to put away his sword.

Remember Jesus told the officers to allow his disciples to leave. Even after Peter lashes out, no one in the crowd pursues them when the disciples flee for their lives (John 16:32). Scripture specifically states this happened so none of the disciples would be lost (John 18:8-9).

There is at least one other time we see this happen. When God delivered Israel out of Egypt he specifically led them away from war because he knew they would give up too quickly and turn back to slavery (Exodus 13:17-18).

God knows what we are prepared to face and will arrange for our protection (1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 1:11). Remember, if you are facing it, God has prepared for you a way through it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

You Have Given Me

There are four times in chapter 17 that Jesus referred to the Father giving certain disciples to him.

"I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me" (John 17:6). "I pray for them, I do not pray for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours, and all mine are yours, and yours are mine" (John 17:9). "Those whom you gave whom you gave me, I have kept and none of them is lost except the son of perdition that the scriptures might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). "Father, I desire that they also whom you gave to me may be with me, where I am..." (John 17:24).

Now in chapter 18 we see it once more. "Jesus said, 'I told you I am. Therefore, if you seek me, let these go their way'. That the saying might be fulfilled which he spoke, 'Of those you have given me I have lost none' (John 18:8).

We desire God because he first desired us (John 13:18; 15:16; 2 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4; John 3:27). Our ministry, our influence, our eternal existence is in our Father's hands.