Priests, Pundits, and Pilate

Turning from the Truth

I want to examine Jesus’ accusers at the time of his crucifixion and what led to it. There was offense given and taken. There was accusation and those who knew what was true and turned from it. There was intention and perception. It is the responses in several people I want to consider.

You may look up the passages by clicking the following scripture links: Luke 22 Luke 23; Mark 14 & Mark 15; and John 18 & John 19 (The Message).

The priests and the pundits were the first to take offense to what Jesus was teaching. They were so caught up that their authority or what they were professing was being challenged, they sought a way to kill Jesus. They would rather stick to their way of doing things under the law than to walk in a new covenant which would have given them a far better life. Isn’t this how people are today? Many of us will just accept laws or what someone else teaches instead of seeking out the best answer for ourselves through the Holy Spirit. We could be walking in the fulness of God in all aspects of our life, but instead we accept ‘status quo.’ The Holy Spirit is the best counselor or guide for All areas of our lives. Why don’t we go to him before we make any decision, not just spiritual ones?

The priests and pundits were so intent on carrying on the way things had always been, they would not accept Jesus’ teaching or position in their lives. They perceived Jesus as a threat to their system. What changes are we unwilling to make because it isn’t how things have always been, what we are comfortable with, or accustomed to? They started to accuse Jesus of claiming to be the Messiah. They were so spiritually blind they decided he was blaspheming God. Their first accusation held some weight based on what they professed, IF he weren’t the Messiah. The accusation wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the people though, so they started adding exaggerations to justify themselves. They fed off the indignation of each other. The group of them felt emboldened because they had others to go along with them. How do we get more power when we find someone to agree with us, even when we’re wrong?

The priests and pundits couldn’t see the proof right before their eyes. These were people who were leaders in the church, teaching others how to live their lives according to the law, yet they couldn’t see the fulfillment of the very prophecies they taught. How often do we have the truth before us and ignore it? They were hesitant to kill Jesus because they knew the people would be angry, so they sought out people who would go along with their deluded plans. God used their human hearts to carry out his plan. They taught the law but didn’t follow their spiritual side. They used Judas to locate Jesus. They used Pilate to try to convict him and made accusations that Jesus was starting riots when he traveled around teaching and healing people. Pilate sent him to another jurisdiction so he wouldn’t have to deal with the reaction of the people. He was a very wise politician – wise in keeping the blame from himself. Was he innocent though? How do we pass the buck when a hard decision is before us, do we choose an easy way out?

Herod eventually passed the buck back to Pilate, but he was excited to meet Jesus. He had heard of the miracles which had been performed by Jesus and he wanted to be entertained. When Jesus didn’t cooperate, Herod was offended. Jesus would not entertain him, he wouldn’t even answer his questions. Herod starting hurling accusations at Jesus along with the priests and pundits. Herod didn’t even know firsthand but he was willing to go along with the crowd because his authority to make Jesus speak or perform fell short. Herod used his own misguided authority to have his underlings join him in mocking Jesus. They even dressed him in a royal robe and called him names. Herod’s perception was to go along with the crowd. His intention was to put Jesus in his place but he was afraid to convict him. Do we get excited to be entertained? How often do rulers fear the reaction of the crowd and make a decision based on popularity? How often do we? Herod ruled from hearsay, not a firsthand account. He was guilty of not investigating the charges. He was guilty of listening to gossip. He was guilty of seeking entertainment and not the truth. He was guilty of esteeming himself higher than God.

Jesus was once again before Pilate who had listened to the charges and found Jesus was not guilty. He dismissed the charges, saying he couldn’t verify anything Jesus was accused of doing. Pilate knew he had an innocent man before him. “That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.” Luke 23:12 Pilate had a choice to make, he could have released Jesus. He wanted to release Jesus but the crowd who obviously gossiped among themselves had decided to listen to the leaders of the day, the priests and pundits. They followed along blindly with them and asked to have Jesus murdered. Again, Pilate had a choice and decided not to make the decision but gave Jesus to the crowd to be killed. He was guilty of pride, he was guilty of not doing the right thing. Pilate washed his hands because of his guilt but it didn’t remove his irresponsibility or guilt. Pilate followed after corruption. How do we stand up when the choice is tough to do the right thing? Do we go against what we know is truth to appease the desires of others? Pilate’s intention was to free Jesus but he changed his mind due to pressure. Pilate went against his own knowledge to give in to the popular decision. Pilate’s perception was that he had to hand Jesus over to keep his own followers content. Pilate was guilty by association.

Prayer: Father help me to follow after truth, not what makes me comfortable. Help me to make decisions based on your will for my life and not go along with the intent of other’s. Help me to perceive what is noble and correct. Help me to respond to everyone I come in contact with with your Word and stand for what is accurate. Help me not to be offended when others accuse me falsely. I commit my way to you Father. Amen

TRUST

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. John 14:1

What a wonderful exhortation that Jesus gave us. Trusting in God is such a key to our lives that we are admonished all through the Bible not to trust fellow-men, money, or the things of the world. Mankind will fail us, even those we admire because none of us are perfect and none of us have the power to save others.

Don’t put your trust in human leaders. Don’t trust in people. They can’t save you. Psalm 146:3 (NIRV)

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:5

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. I Timothy 6:17

We have even been admonished not to trust our own thoughts or knowledge.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Proverb 3:5-8

We are given so many promises when we put our trust in God. He gives us wisdom and directs us daily if we seek His will. He gives healing and peace beyond measure. He will give us strength for everything we face in life, when we Trust Him.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

When we trust in God through his son Jesus Christ we know His deep love. Our trust should only be in God who will embolden us through the Holy Spirit. If we trust God fully each day, we will learn to love with his love and walk in peace and He will supply all of our needs (not wants unless they align with His will for our lives).

 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:16-18

Prayer: Father help me to put all of my Trust in you wherever I go and in whatever I do. I know that when my Trust is in you, I am not troubled by the cares of this world. I give you my whole heart and I know you give me your love so that I may show your love to others. I have peace, understanding, wisdom, strength and health. Thank you. Amen.

God Put a Song in My Heart

Do you live in the “who you were” before Christ or the “who you areIN Christ? Do you know that God loves you? I don’t mean do you have head knowledge of this fact? I’m talking about heart knowledge. The kind you can carry with you everywhere you go and not have any doubt.

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLT)

There are plenty of people who know God loves them. They can quote the verses. “For God so loved the world…” and sing the song “Jesus loves me…” but in their hearts and their minds they’re holding back. There is something in their past or some truth that has not been revealed to them. For many it is something they have done in their lives, which even though they’ve asked forgiveness for it, they haven’t forgiven themselves.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and will purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

For others it is something they don’t want to give up to serve God. Some sacrifice they’ve been convicted of that they feel is too great to serve him. It doesn’t matter that God gave up his own son for them. (More on this later.)

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Then we have the doubters, those whose lives have been fraught with hardships or sorrows. They don’t see how God could allow bad things to happen to good people; therefore God must not exist.

I can honestly say I’ve been in these scenarios, some longer than others. I’m currently in the most peaceful state of mind, heart, and soul, where I plan to stay. I know who I am IN Christ. I am Chosen. I am Loved. I am His beloved and I sing about it when I have the chance. I love to sing praise songs to God.  God has put a song of peace in my heart. The best thing I can tell you about how to get there is if you have a personal relationship with Christ, and you know that he died for your sins and have accepted him, then you need to read the Bible daily. Before you read it, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal his truths to you so that you may understand as you read. God said that he would do this for us.

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.” I Corinthians 2:10-15

There are some things about me that only a few people know. I don’t want sympathy and this is why I don’t usually share my story but I feel that God has told me to start sharing some of the things I’ve gone through in my life. When my son was a toddler, I had dizzy spells for several weeks which didn’t clear up for some time. I went to the doctor a couple of times and was given some pills for vertigo and the doctor told me it was probably a persistent virus. After three months, the doctor decided I should get a CT Scan of my brain and said he would have the results in a week or so. The very next day he called to say he wanted me to go in for an MRI and he had already scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. They had found a mass, which they wanted to get a closer look at. I saw a neurosurgeon the day after the MRI. The neurosurgeon gave me the report that it was a tumor, which was the size of a dime in circumference and about three inches long in the white matter of my brain. He said he couldn’t biopsy it without doing severe damage so he wanted to monitor it through multiple MRIs. I had to have an MRI every month for three months, then once every three months, once every six months, once a year, every two years, and then every five years to make sure it didn’t grow. My family panicked and I didn’t especially like the report but I prayed about it. God gave me the most indescribable peace about this tumor. I felt like he told me “Don’t worry, I’ve taken care of it.” I have walked in that faith and that peace ever since, no matter what circumstances have arisen. This was about fifteen years ago.  There wasn’t any change until I had a near-fatal car accident in November of 2001.

I was traveling to my son’s school when I was t-boned by a woman in a full size pop-top conversion van who was doing 85 in a 50 mph zone. Out of eight windows in my Volvo, only two were still intact. The frame was bent and both axles were broken. The rear bench seat was crunched down into a width of one foot and the front passenger seat was in my driver’s seat.   I was unconscious for four hours. I woke up in the ER with several doctors and nurses working on me. They gave me some pain medication and I passed out again. I was in and out for several more hours and later that day I finally came to with a horrible headache from the concussion. I had a crescent-shaped scar on my forehead and a head full of glass where I had broken the windshield. I would later find out I needed spinal surgery to replace three discs in my neck and knee surgery to take out the mass of nerves which formed from my knee slamming into the dash. My doctor told me the only reason I was alive was because I was driving a Volvo. I told him it was because God saved me.

Volvo Nov 01

Nine months after the car wreck, I was trying to return to my landscaping business and I had planned to start with a light day of spraying roses for a client. My son, who was nine, wanted a cinnamon roll so we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru. As I pulled in to pay, I put my truck in park, which I never do. The next thing I remember, I was on a gurney being loaded into an ambulance with a police officer telling me I had passed out. There was a ten-foot brick wall straight in front of my truck in the drive-thru about two to three car lengths in front of me that I would have hit if I hadn’t put my truck in park. I have no explanation for why I did this because I had never put a vehicle in park at a drive thru before, not even waiting in line. They took me to a local hospital where all I wanted was two liters of ice water to drink and to go to sleep. I couldn’t get enough sleep. I was so exhausted for three days and every muscle in my body ached. I went to my doctor and they ran test after test. One week later, my son described in detail what happened, he had been so traumatized by the events he couldn’t tell me before. I guess he had to process it all in his mind. During that week, I was having trouble with my memory and my speech. I had dysphasia; I would think one word and I would say another. For instance, if I wanted the salt, what I would say was “Please pass me the sugar.” What my son described was a grand mal seizure. We were able to fit the stories from the clerk at the McDonald’s and what my son told me to realize I had a fifteen-minute grand mal. This is what caused the muscle aches and thirst. It was like I ran two marathons back to back my neurosurgeon told me. It also caused my six month memory loss and speech problems. The speech cleared up within a couple of months but I never fully regained the memory I lost. I knew we had taken a vacation but I couldn’t tell anyone when we had, without looking at a calendar. There were places we went in the year before that I totally forgot.

Three weeks later, I had a second grand mal but it was much shorter in length and they put me on medication. These are a result of the brain tumor and it grew slightly when I had the car wreck. The forceful blunt trauma during the car accident had also shifted the position of the tumor in my brain. When I had the first seizure, there was no warning signal of any kind. People who have seizures or auras usually have some occurrence that lets them know that a seizure might be about to happen. I didn’t have anything, but before the second one I did. To me, it sounds like I have gone into a tunnel and noises are very muffled, or non-existent. Sometimes I get light-headed or dizzy but after an aura or a seizure, I usually have a headache and sometimes nausea, and I’m almost always tired.

There are a few other miraculous ways when I have faced death and lived, but I’ll save those for another blog. The stories I’ve shared were all related.

Recently, I went to a celebration dinner for the people who voluntarily give of their time in our church. On the way home, we were visiting and I shared some of my story with the people I rode with regarding what I’ve already shared. I can’t work in places that have beepers, doorbells, scanners, loudspeakers, two-way radios, or drive-thrus because the frequencies they emit can trigger seizures. I found this out the hard way. Now, I usually just have an aura, which is a precursor to a seizure and through prayer and calmness of mind over matter I don’t have a seizure, but I’m supposed to take it easy for a day or so if I have an aura.

After I shared my story, one of my friends asked to pray for me that the tumor would be healed completely and dissolved. I don’t usually share anything about it because I walk in the confidence that I know God has told me that it has been taken care of and I haven’t had to have surgery and I am healthy. God has given me that much peace that I don’t dwell on it or think about it. Even when I do have an aura, I am not reminded of why.

When my friend asked to pray for me, it struck me that nobody had ever asked before. This doesn’t mean others haven’t prayed for me on their own before, because I am sure that people have and I’m truly grateful for those who pray privately! It was just a fleeting thought. My natural person and heart got in the way for a second and I thought. “Nobody ever cared enough to ask to pray for me before.” BUT, just as quickly, as I had that thought God said to me “Don’t you think I care enough?” I know he does and if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be here today to tell this story of His miraculous love!! Which leads to the fact that we don’t need anyone to pray on our behalf. We can go to God with whatever we need.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

We, as believers, don’t need someone else to pray on our behalf for our needs. We can go boldly to his throne. He is our (Abba) Father. We can go to him with our petitions. He is not some high and mighty king who cannot be approached. He loves us as much as he loved Jesus, our brother.

Why do you think God sent Jesus? Because God wants to have a relationship with all of his children but he can’t unless we are willing.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18

We, his children, must open our hearts to him. He cannot enter closed hearts or closed minds. He can send the Holy Spirit to work but still sometimes we shut him out and only the ones who listen closely open their doors so he can communicate with them.

For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” Matthew 13:15

There are some children God spends the whole day with because they take him with them wherever they go but others he only sees once a day during their Bible study or once a week at church. There are others God only sees once a year but he wants to spend as much time with all of his children as they’ll allow him. On the other hand, we have access to him at any time but he only has access when we seek him or permit him. This isn’t the way he planned it, but it’s the way things are for now unless we change it individually and it saddens him. He longs to be with us!

Jesus’ sacrifice was God’s also. Think how hard it would be for you to sacrifice one of your children, even if you knew you would get them back. To watch them go through such a horrible torture. To put one child through such agony for a whole world of your children that may or may not receive you.

You may find this hard to relate to because he is God. Then relate to Abraham and Isaac because they are flesh as you are. He loves you just as much and more than Abraham loved Isaac. Nothing… nothing can separate you from his Love!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

God has so much love to share and he wants to be sure that he can share it with each one of us at any time with our consent. Let God put a song in your heart today.