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

Roadblocks

We face all types of roadblocks in our life but the most important thing is how we deal with them. We must know how to manage roadblocks by perceiving whether to press through them, go around them, or avoid them. When we are in God’s will for our lives we will know which path to take. He guides us as we seek him in intercessory prayer, which is a prayer of petition on behalf of someone else by speaking the Word of God, not an itemized list of personal needs or wants. God knows what we need; we don’t have to tell him. Sometimes, we allow our minds to get in the way when we go to God in prayer. He understands our needs better than we do – our omniscient Father. We must pray what He puts on our hearts to pray for and it is not about us.

Last weekend, while I was out-of-town touring the countryside, I came upon five roadblocks in one day. The first one was the result of a storm, which prompted action by the utility companies to make repairs. There was a policeman blocking the road to reroute traffic. The second one was a downed tree, but we were able to drive around it. A while later, we came upon another fallen tree and we had to turn around. It was too large to move and there was no way around it. Next, after hiking a bit along the Pee Dee River, we returned to the car to find a flat tire, which had to be substituted with a spare. It was beyond adding air. The last one was a police barricade stopping all cars to check identification. I was given favor when I couldn’t find my driver’s license because it was in my camera bag instead of my purse. The policeman or deputy told me to pass through because I didn’t look “shady.”

One of the roadblocks I encountered.

Facing all of these roadblocks in one day caused me to pause and ask God what he was trying to tell me. If I had only encountered a couple of them, I probably would have chalked it up to being in the wrong place at the wrong time but five caused me to contemplate further what they meant. I reflected how three of them were impassable and if we are not in the will of God, our communication with him is cut off. We may try to hear from him, but he stops communicating until he has our attention. The communication flow opens once we are obedient and trust him. Then it is like a floodgate that has been fully opened. We hear from him and we have peace.

In that peace, we can touch others when we are fully reliant on God. Sometimes, we allow obstacles in our lives to cut us off from God’s instructions for our lives. We do this by not fully trusting him, when the Word says he will provide for us. Or we may allow activities to get in the way, which hinder us from our daily time alone with God. There are numerous ways we may permit things to obstruct our walk with God. Hopefully, we correct them quickly and get back on the path he has prepared for us. The farther away we stray, or the longer we don’t communicate with God, the harder it is to find his path.

Our lives are more simple and straightforward when we keep on the right path. There may be some roadblocks we can avoid altogether. We have to learn to recognize them and not be pulled into temptations. I want to avoid these obstacles, because it is more expedient when God levels our path. In avoiding these obstructions, we may have to search out an alternate route. Other times he allows us to go around them. When we pass through, this is a form of avoidance. Then there are times when we go through unscathed.

To pass through trials unscathed is victorious! Even though others may try to steer our course or be ‘in our face,’ God sanctions a way through without us being physically hurt. We may be emotionally hurt but it is our response that opens the door. If we allow emotions to take control and dwell in the pain, the doors may remain shut. Although we may get hurt initially, when we turn the emotions over to God, he opens the door or window for us to pass through. When we are hearing from God, the opinion of other people should not influence us. There have been well-intentioned people in my life who have tried to convince me to take different paths at times. I know from experience this is the time I need to immediately go to God and seek what action I should take. If they are correct, God will show me how to correct myself and what they are saying. But if I am already in his will, their words will not affect me and I will continue the journey He has set before me. At times, this is difficult because some of these people are people who I believe hear from God and I respect. There is the crucial point. They hear from God for their lives and sometimes others, but who is responsible for our actions? I hear from God and without hesitation, I seek His will for my life.

Here is a rhetorical question: Who is a better guide, the Holy Spirit or someone else? What I have learned is God will speak to me what he wants me to hear. If I’m on the wrong path, he will convict me but if I’m where he wants me, he will give me peace to continue on. His peace is the key to knowing we are following God’s plan. It is his peace I seek out and not other’s. He knows what is best for me and when I follow him with his Word, I attain that peace.

Whatever roadblocks you are facing in your life now, I pray that you will seek God to show you the way. You may have health issues, financial woes, a family crisis, or countless other things bothering you. Maybe you are going through more than one. Now is the time to get before God and let him calm the storms in your life. I intercede on your behalf for you to know whether to search for another way, trust him to pull you through, or how to avoid roadblocks altogether. I pray for his guidance through the Holy Spirit as you seek his will for your life that you will experience his love and indescribable peace. Praise him for the answer and read his Word. In love, K-D

Click on the Verses for this writing to read them: Psalm 143:10Proverbs 3:1-6; Isaiah 26:3-4Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 6:6-8Matthew 8:26; John 16:13-15Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:6-8;  Hebrews 12:5-12

Facets

I decided to look up the word facet and the following three definitions describe my understanding of the word ‘facet.’ I want to share how these meanings speak to me.

Facet: –noun

  1. one of the small, polished plane surfaces of a cut gem.
  2. a surface cut on a fragment of rock by the action of water or windblown sand.
  3. Zoology. one of the corneal lenses of a compound arthropod eye.

We are all like gems, maybe somewhat unpolished and uncut but underneath our outer cover is a brilliant gem which is spectacular when manipulated in the right hands. Those hands for my life are God’s. I have been a bit polished through God’s Word and sometimes cut, by trials I’ve been through. I try to turn all of my trials into victory by knowing in the end they are used for God’s glory. I know there is more to me that needs refining. Fine gems have the ability to disperse light. I hope to disperse the light of the world – Jesus Christ. One of the finest gemstones, a high-quality diamond is able to disperse light into a rainbow of colors. What a phenomenon in which a light can pass through a prism and result in this fabulous symbol to a great promise of God.  I want to shine like a jewel that will draw others to the light that radiates through me. Hopefully people see the Christ in me and the promises of God manifested in my life.

The second definition of facets expresses they occur by the action of water. I think of  the Living Water. Refining comes by drinking the water the Living Water, being purified by Christ. I love water in the form of a waterfall, flowing, seemingly living water. I also love the ocean and I live less than an hour from the coast. The ocean is a ceaseless flow of water, constantly moving with waves splashing on the shore. The waves change the coastline and rocks along the shore. What an awesome force, able to move or reshape the geography of the earth!  Our bodies are comprised of mostly water, from fifty-five up to seventy-five percent. I love to drink water as well. Jesus gives us a water which quenches our thirst and the well he draws from never runs dry.

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14

The last definition is a lens of an arthropod. Spiders and butterflies are arthropods which is interesting to me because these are my least and most favorite species, respectively. An arthropod’s lens or eyes are complex and are constantly adjusting, which enhances their ability to have remarkable vision. Have you ever tried to capture either of these creatures? Most spiders are quick to get away from their prey and will crawl rapidly away. Butterflies are equally elusive in temperate climates. We must use a net to capture a butterfly or catch them in a vulnerable state. This definition really stood out to me. When we are in a vulnerable state, we are tempted to look to the things of this world for comfort instead of God. If we are using our own vision to see things and people around us, we might be slow to respond and be captured by the things of this world. If we are looking through the eyes of God, which encompass everything and looks on the heart, we will stay on the path he desires for us and richly bless us.

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (The Message)

“Because of this decision” – the decision to follow Christ with a sincere heart gives us a glorious outcome. A decision is a resolution reached. We resolve ourselves to follow God and resolve is having a firmness of purpose. A decision leads to a resolution of our lives, and that resolution is eternal life when we believe on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we follow with our whole heart, we acquire purpose. I believe that purpose is to look at others through the eyes of God. When we have the eyesight of God and see with his vision, we will learn to evaluate circumstances and people differently than with our own limited mind. We will have more compassion on others and not be judgmental. We gain his vision by studying his Word, the Bible.

Prayer: Father, help me be a brilliant gem, shining for you. Thank you for the Living Water that I can drink from daily and be refreshed. Help me to have your vision and not my singular human vision but one where I see others through your eyes with compassion and your love. Thank you for the Holy Spirit in my life that is my advocate and speaks and guides me with the truth of your Word! Amen