Monday, July 21, 2008

Matthew 27:11-26


11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, ``Are You the King of the Jews?'' And Jesus said to him, ``It is as you say.'' 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, ``Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?'' 14 And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge , so the governor was quite amazed. 

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, ``Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?'' 18 For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. 

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, ``Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.'' 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21 But the governor said to them, ``Which of the two do you want me to release for you?'' And they said, ``Barabbas.'' 22 Pilate said to them, ``Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?'' They all said, ``Crucify Him!'' 23 And he said, ``Why, what evil has He done?'' But they kept shouting all the more, saying, ``Crucify Him!'' 

24 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ``I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.'' 25 And all the people said, ``His blood shall be on us and on our children!'' 26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

"Pilate was officially procurator or governor of the province; and he was directly responsible, not to the Roman senate, but to the Roman Emperor. He must have been at least twenty-seven years of age. That was the minimum age for entering into this office. He must have been a man of considerable experience, for there was a ladder of offices, including military command, up which a man must climb until he qualified to become a governor. Pilate must have been a tried and tested soldier and administrator. He became procurator of Judea in A.D. 26 and held office for ten years, when he was recalled from his post."

"When Pilate came to Judea, he found plenty of trouble, and much of it was of his own making. His great handicap was that he was completely out of sympathy with the Jews. More, he was contemptuous of what he would have called their irrational and fanatical prejudices, and what they would have called their principles.

The Romans knew the intensity of the Jewish religion and the unbreakable character of Jewish belief, and very wisely had always dealt with the Jews with kid gloves. Pilate arrogantly proposed to use the fist." "He began with trouble. The Roman headquarters were in Caesarea. The Roman standards were not flags; they were poles with the Roman eagle, or the image of the reigning emperor, on top. In deference to the Jewish hatred of graven images, every previous governor had removed the eagles and the images from the standards before he marched into Jerusalem on his state visits. Pilate refused to do so.

Later, Pilate decided that Jerusalem needed a better water supply-a wise decision. To that end he constructed a new aqueduct-but he took money from the Temple treasury to pay for it." 

"Later Christian legend was sympathetic to Pilate and tended to place all the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews. Not unnaturally, legend came to hold that Pilate's wife, who it is said was a Jewish proselyte, and was called Claudia Procula, became a Christian. It was even held that Pilate himself became a Christian; and to this day the Coptic Church ranks both Pilate and his wife as saints. 

3 observations about Pilate:

1. Pilate was clearly impressed with Jesus.

2. Pilate sought some way of escape.

3. Pilate sought to unshoulder the responsibility for condemning Jesus. There is that strange and tragic picture of him washing his hands.

However you view Pilate and his actions, his question still penetrates our world when he said, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?" So, what will we do with Jesus? What will you do with this Jesus?
 Everything banks on that one question. Jesus?

Matthew 27:1-10


1 Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred, together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2 and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor. 

3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, ``I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.'' But they said, ``What is that to us? See to that yourself!'' 5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, ``It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.'' 7 And they conferred, together and with the money bought the Potter's Field as a burial place for strangers. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: ``AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; 10 AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER'S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.''

The leadership agreed that they must get rid of Him-to death, if possible. Their basic charge all along was blasphemy-claiming to be equal with God. Yet they did not dare put him to death by stoning as the law commanded in case of blasphemy, because they feared the people. They therefore consulted, or took counsel together, to determine on what pretence they could deliver him to the Roman emperor, or to fix some charge of a civil nature, by which Pilate might be more likely to condemn Him. The charge which they fixed on was not that on which they had tried him, and on which they had determined he ought to die, Mat 26:66; but that of "perverting the nation," and of "forbidding to give tribute to Caesar," Luke 23:2. In other words, it was a political accusation, hoping that the Romans would do the deed of ridding them of this Jesus Who had turned their little positions of power upside down.

Pontius Pilate was the governor appointed by the Romans over Judea. The governor commonly resided at Caesarea; but he came up to Jerusalem usually at the great feasts, when most of the Jews were assembled, to administer justice, and to suppress any little uprisings or demonstrations, if any should arise. The duties of the office of governor were chiefly to collect the revenues due to the Roman emperor, and, in certain cases, to administer justice. Pilate was appointed governor of Judea by Tiberius, then emperor of Rome. John says John 18:28 that they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment-that is, to the part of the praetorium, or governor's palace, where justice was administered. The Jews did not, however, enter in themselves, because this would defile them, especially during the Feast of Passover. In Nu 19:22, it is said, that whosoever touched an unclean thing should be unclean, For this reason they would not enter into the house of a heathen, lest they should contract some defilement that would render them unfit to keep the Passover.

This brings us right back to the leadership, always conniving, calculating and consulting with one another how they might stay in power! People are always expendable at this point, when their positions are threatened. This is such a subtle morsel that all leadership seems to swallow and struggle with. This is precisely what I've seen within the Church. When a normal, humble person takes on a position of leadership, something changes. They take on an air that looks down upon others and then naturally move into protecting their positions of power. It is subtle and it is ugly!

Judas didn't realize that this whole thing would go so far as to put Jesus to death! He had found a slippery slope and went straight to the bottom-fast! Note that those who used Judas as a tool to betray Jesus had problems with receiving back the "blood" money. So, their conscience was a bit twisted. They felt a sense of moral compulsion to not handle the "blood" money to receive it back into the Temple, BUT they felt fine about offering the "blood" money to get rid of a person who threatened their man-made existence.

I can't help but think of the passage that applies to everyone in this paragraph: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world (or any portion of it) and lose his soul?"

Matthew 26:57-75


57 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. 

59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, ``This man stated, `I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.' ''

62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, ``Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?'' 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, ``I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.'' 64 Jesus said* to him, ``You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter , you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.'' 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ``He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?'' They answered, ``He deserves death!'' 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, 68 and said, ``Prophesy to us, You Christ ; who is the one who hit You?''

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, ``You too were with Jesus the Galilean.'' 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, ``I do not know what you are talking about.'' 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said* to those who were there, ``This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.'' 72 And again he denied it with an oath, ``I do not know the man.'' 73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ``Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away,.'' 74 Then he began to curse and swear, ``I do not know the man!'' And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ``Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'' And he went out and wept bitterly.

Everything turns real dark for Jesus and things are moving fast! He knew it was coming. He warned His disciples that it was coming! BUT NOW, just as Jesus warned Peter personally that he would deny Him, it all unfolds.

Have you ever known clearly what is the right thing to do, then you did the wrong thing? THEN, you remember what the Lord says or you are reminded what Jesus would do in that situation. You feel awful about your performance or lack of performance.

Have you ever experienced this kind of thing?

Well, if you do, then Jesus has a later word for you. It happened to Peter after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus found Peter and his buddies fishing. When they came around the fire to sit down with Jesus, very little was being said because they were all so guilty for scattering, especially Peter! Jesus only wanted to know one thing, when speaking to Peter. Do you love me? In other words, no matter how bad your performance or lack thereof, Jesus is most concerned about your heart's response to Him. "Do you love me", he says. Well do you?

Matthew 26:47-56


47 While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied , by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, ``Whomever, I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.'' 49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, ``Hail, Rabbi!'' and kissed Him. 50 And Jesus said to him, ``Friend, do what you have come for.'' Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. 
51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, ``Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53 ``Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54``How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?'' 

55 At that time Jesus said to the crowds, ``Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. 56 ``But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.'' Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

Matthew simply tells us that one of the disciples drew a knife and, prepared to resist to the death and to sell his life dearly, wounded a servant of the High Priest. When John tells the same story (Jn 18:10), he says that the disciple was Peter, and the servant was Malchus. The reason why John names Peter, and Matthew does not, may simply be that John was writing much later, and that when Matthew was writing it was still not safe to name the disciple who had sprung so quickly to his Master's defence. This was a courageous move by Peter, not just an impulsive one. He was willing to take on the mob alone.

Here is a perfect illustration of Jesus' struggle of "not-my-will-but-yours" now applied with respect to Peter. Jesus' arrest and subsequent death are all part of God's will to deliver all mankind. Although Peter was good-intentioned, he was working for the wrong side. 

This is why we must keep disciplining ourselves to wait on Jesus to lead out BEFORE we take over! I struggle with this every day! I get caught up in making things happen for God rather than waiting on Him to do those same things His way. What's interesting is that doing it my way always takes so much energy, stress with a little worry thrown in, all maybe not even producing the desired results. That's the natural way of doing life! His way usually is so much easier, seems so right and almost normal AND the results are beyond our wildest imaginations. That's the supernatural way of doing life!

I think this has a lot to do with Jesus' approach to everything. You see, Jesus calls His disciples into REST, not to be STRESSED. How's that working for you?

Matthew 26:36-46


36 Then Jesus came* with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said* to His disciples, ``Sit here while I go over there and pray.'' 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said* to them, ``My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.'' 

39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ``My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.'' 40 And He came* to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ``So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 ``Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'' 
42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ``My Father, if this cannot, pass away unless, I drink it, Your will be done.'' 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came* to the disciples and said* to them, ``Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 ``Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!''

There are many things that could be said here, but three observations stand out to me:

FIRST-Jesus sure did slip away a lot to pray! In Luke's Gospel you can see this same kind of thing frequently. If Jesus felt the need to pray in order to walk with the Father, then I am certainly in more need than I normally think.

SECOND-Jesus struggled humanly with this cup of being the sacrificial Lamb-with what He had to do-then turned the struggle into "Not my will, but yours." It's OK to struggle. In fact you must expect it. But as you struggle you want to end up right where Jesus did-NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS, LORD!

THIRD-What were they doing when they prayed so long? This is where I've missed it a good part of my life. Ever try praying for an hour or two? I have and either I fell asleep or my mind continued to wander or I ran out of things to say. What I've come to realize is that an extended time in prayer is not all about me and my prayer requests. It's about letting my requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6ff) for sure, but then it's all about listening to what God has to say to me. I've practiced a form of this for years. I pray something at night-a question-and wake up in the morning with the answer or many options to a sticky situation. I take this as a word from God. That's exciting! But this is a little different. After talking my heart out to the Lord, then it is important and so very instructive just to sit there and listen to what He wants me to know. So, with pen and paper or a blank computer screen I am learning to wait and listen for God's heart and His orders for my next steps. People come to mind. Actions pop up. NOW THAT IS EXCITING!

Prayer doesn't need proof that it works; it needs practice!