Archive for March, 2013

Crucify Him!

I will therefore chastise him, and release him.  (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)  And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:  (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)  Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.  But they cried, saying Crucify him, crucify him.

Luke 23:16-21

Pilate here was wanting to release Jesus.  He was going to chastise him, and then release him.  But the people would have none of that.  They did not want Jesus, who is described in Hebrews 7:26 as “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” to be allowed to live.  They wanted to crucify him.

There would be no passing the buck on this decision.  This desire to “crucify him, crucify him” would bring pain, destruction and death upon them and the generations to follow.  In Matthew 27:25, they cried out, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”  History would bear out the results of that statement.

The people wanted Jesus crucified.  They would not allow Him to be released.  In fact, they were willing to release Barabbas (a known murderer) instead of Jesus.  Their hatred for Jesus was so great that they wanted a murderer walking among them rather than the innocent Lamb of God.  The truth was, being confronted with Jesus was being confronted with their own sinfulness.  They hated Him and rejected Him for the same reason that people today hate Him and reject Him.  Two thousand years ago, the mob cried out to “crucify him!”  Today, the mob continues to reject Him.  Let us not be counted among them.  These people made their decision, and it is a decision that men must make even today.  Let us be sure to make the right one.

No Fault

And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.  I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

Luke 23:13-16

In this passage, we find Jesus standing before Pilate, on trial for saying that He was the Son of God.  Herod saw Him first, and then He was passed along to Pilate.  After their examinations of Him, Pilate made a profound statement: “I… have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod…”

Pilate (nor Herod) could find no fault in Him.  These were His “judges.”  They conceded that they there was no fault in Him.  Of course, we know that He was perfect.  He lived a perfect, sinless life.  We know that He lived a perfect life because we read it in the Bible and we believe the Bible.  But Pilate and Herod had him right there in front of them.  They were looking for something wrong, and they couldn’t find anything.

Pilate surely had no knowledge that his words would echo through history: “no fault in him.”  Pilate couldn’t have known that his simple words would be an everlasting testament to the innocence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Even Pilate understood, on some level, that Jesus was perfect.  He could find no fault in Him, and neither can we.  He was the perfect, sinless Son of God.  Pilate could see that, and so should we.  What a wonderful Saviour!

The Multitude

And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.  And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.

Luke 23:1-2

One of the many sad aspects of the betrayal, trial and crucifixion of Jesus is the fact that is was not just something done by a few of His enemies.  It wasn’t a conspiracy of the scribes and Pharisees.  It wasn’t even a clandestine operation by the Roman government.  It was done with the full knowledge and approval of the multitude.  “…the whole multitude of them arose, and led him to Pilate.”

This was the same multitude that, not long before, He had compassion on.  This was the same multitude that had seen their sick healed, their lame walk, their deaf hear, their blind see and their demon possessed be made whole.  This was the same multitude that had seen Him feed the five thousand.  It makes you wonder if there were any of those people who had eaten of the bread of His miracle there in the multitude who led Him away to His death.

He was betrayed by Judas, one of His disciples.  But He was also betrayed by the multitude that He had loved and helped during His entire earthly ministry.

Sadly, had we been there, we would likely have been in the multitude.  We would have been among those who condemned Him to die.  We would have been right there with them.  He loved and healed and helped the multitude and then they turned on Him and betrayed Him.  He has loved and healed and helped us – let us not turn on Him and let us never betray Him.

He Is or He Isn’t

Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God?  And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.  And they said, What need we any further witness?  for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.

Luke 22:70-71

There are many people in the world who belive that Jesus was “just a good man” or “just a good teacher.”  There are many who truly believe that Jesus was not the Son of God, but just a good example for us to follow.  But when we look at these verses and others like them, we can see that those positions aren’t possible.  Jesus was either the Son of God or He was not.  In these verses (and others), Jesus told everyone that He was indeed the Son of God.  If He wasn’t the Son of God, then He was a deceiving liar.  If He wasn’t the Son of God, He most certainly wasn’t a “good man” or a “good teacher” or a “good example.”  If He wasn’t the Son of God, He wasn’t any of those things.

But we know that He was the Son of God.  He was exactly who He said He was.  He was God, come in the flesh.  As John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

We know that, in the person of Jesus, God Himself became a man and dwelt among us.  He lived a perfect, sinless life and died a sacrificial death.  He did it all for us.  We know Him and we know what He did for us.  When we read passages like this one, we believe what He said.  We know that He was a good man and a good example.  But we also know that He was, in truth, the very Son of God.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (Hymn)

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Elisha Hoffman (1887)

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Chorus:
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Chorus

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Chorus

I truly is a joy, honour and privilege to lean on the everlasting arms every day of our lives.  It is “sweet to walk in this pilgrim way” because we can depend on Him.  And we do have no reason to fear or dread and we can have peace because we can lean on the everlasting arms of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Bitter Defeat

And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.  And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.  And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:61-62

After Peter had denied the Lord three times, the Lord “turned, and looked upon Peter.”  Just that one look from His Saviour brought Peter back to his senses.  Just seeing the Saviour look at him caused him to remember all of the things that He had said earlier.  Peter immediately remembered all of the words of the Lord.  Sadly, it was too late, as Peter had already denied the Lord.

I’m sure that this was a bitter defeat for Peter.  He loved the Lord.  He would have done anything for the Lord.  He was the only one of the disciples with enough faith to leave the boat and walk on the water toward the Lord.  He was the first one who said that he would die for the Lord.  But here, he was the one who failed the Lord.  Peter had sinned, and was defeated.  He “went out, and wept bitterly.”

We have all failed our Lord at one time or another.  We have all “sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”  (Romans 3:23)  As Christians, when we sin, we are often brought back to our senses simply by the look of the Saviour.  We remember the words of the Bible.  We realize that we have just failed our Lord and the sting of bitter defeat sets in.  Maybe we have even, like Peter, gone out and wept bitterly.

These bitter defeats sting us deeply.  But, like Peter, we can not let them keep us down.  We need to, also like Peter, get forgiveness, get back up, and keep going on for the Lord.  Peter got back up, and was used mightily on the day of Pentecost to preach to thousands of people.  He was bitterly defeated, but he did not stay bitterly defeated.  Neither should we.

The World’s Fire

And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.  But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.  And he denied him, saying Woman, I know him not.

Luke 22:55-57

Peter had started this chapter as the bold “take no prisoners” fisherman who said he would follow the Lord Jesus to death.  But he now begins what might have been the darkest time of his life.  The transition between the two was remarkably fast.

It began with his “following afar off” in verse 54.  When he said that he would follow the Lord to death, he was following close to the Lord.  When he began to deny Him, he had been following afar off.  He had allowed some distance to come between him and his Saviour.  After following afar off, he found himself sitting down among those who would crucify his Lord.  He was warming himself beside the world’s fire.

When a young woman said that she had seen Peter with Jesus, Peter denied it, saying, “I know him not.”  He had the boldness to take a sword swipe at one of the (probably armed) men who had come to arrest Jesus, but did not have the boldness to even claim that he knew Jesus when confronted by a young girl.  What was the difference between the two that caused his failure?

I think that the answer can be found in the fact that he was not close to the Lord during his denial.  He could not see Him and was warming himself at the world’s fire among the enemies of the Lord.  The same things can cause us to fail in our Christian lives.  Getting farther away from the Lord and closer to the world will always cause our faith to waiver.

Following Afar Off

Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house.  And Peter followed afar off.

Luke 22:54

In this chapter, Peter told the Lord that he was ready to die with him.  Later in this chapter, he backed up that bold talk by attacking with a sword one of the men who had come to take Jesus.  Peter loved the Lord and wanted to protect Him.  He could probably not have imagined that he would soon deny the Lord three times.

Peter’s moments of weakness and failure began here in this verse: “And Peter followed afar off.”  Once they had taken Jesus and Peter had realized that he was not going to be able to defend Him, he began to follow afar off.  That following afar off very quickly led to an outright denial.

In our Christian lives, we can usually tell a lot by checking to see how closely we are following Him.  Every time we fail in our Christian lives, we can look back and find a place and time where we started following afar off.  One way to have a successful Christian life is to keep a close eye on our walk with the Lord, making sure that we are never following afar off.

Following afar off isn’t something that happens immediately.  It’s something that we seem to drift into.  We read our Bible out of duty and not out of love.  Our prayers become perfunctory instead of heartfelt.  We start to enjoy the things of the world more than we should.  Our love for the Lord begins to weaken, ever so slightly.  Those are the things we need to be watching for.  Those are the things that will tell us how closely we will are following Him.  Let us never be guilty of following afar off – because we understand what that will lead to.

He Never Stopped Healing

When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?  And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.  And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far.  And he touched his ear, and healed him.

Luke 22:49-51

As Jesus was being betrayed, Peter cut the ear off of one of the servants of the high priest.  Peter was ready to fight, and, as he had told the Lord earlier, was ready to die with and for Him (he would later find his faith wavering, however).  Being a fisherman, he was not likely skilled with a sword, so in his swing, he cut the man’s ear off.  Instead of joining the fight, Jesus “touched his ear, and healed him.”

It would be interesting to know what this man was thinking – one of Jesus’ disciples just cut his ear off, then Jesus (the man he was there helping to arrest) touched it and healed it immediately.  I wonder if he, like the centurion at the cross, found himself suddenly believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But it is not the amazement that the healed man must have felt that I would like to focus on today.  Instead, it is the attitude of our Lord.  This was His most trying hour.  He was about to be crucified and He knew it.  He had just been betrayed by one of those closest to Him.  And yet, He still healed this man.  He healed the man who was coming to take Him to the cross.  This man would have been His avowed enemy.  And yet He still healed him.

Let that be a lesson to us.  We should always be working to help others – even those who are considered to be our enemies.  We can always be helping someone.

Rise and Pray

And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye?  rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

Luke 22:40, 45-46

Before Jesus was betrayed and crucified, He went to the Garden to pray.  He took His disciples with Him, and told them (in verse 40) to “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”  He knew what they would be facing in the very near future.  He could see what was going to happen.  He had already warned Peter about Satan trying to destroy him.  The disciples would face temptations in the next days and hours that would try in their faith in ways they had never seen.  They needed a night of prayer to prepare them for what was to come.

Unfortunately, they fell asleep.  The Bible tells us that they were “sleeping for sorrow.”  They didn’t understand everything, but they knew what was going to happen to their Lord – He had told them.  If you have ever gone through a dark hour in your life, you know about “sleeping for sorrow.”  But sleeping won’t help.  Prayer will help.

When Jesus found them sleeping, He didn’t get angry at them.  He just repeated His original command: “rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”  That is wonderful advice for us for every single day.  We need to rise and pray: at the beginning of the day, at the beginning of any undertaking, or any time we need help, comfort or guidance.  And we do this “rising and praying” to avoid temptation.  Prayer will help us whenever temptation rears its ugly head.

Like these disciples, we often find ourselves sleeping through life.  We need to heed our Lord’s advice to “rise and pray.”