Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mark 15:12-15 Pilate's Really Bad Day

Mark 15:12-15 NASB Answering again, Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?"  (13)  They shouted back, "Crucify Him!"  (14)  But Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify Him!"  (15) Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”

Men, have you ever been in that “No Win” situation?  You know, when your wife says something like, “Do you like this dress”? Or “Does this outfit make me look fat”?  What are you supposed to say about that?  Any answer may be the wrong answer and – you’re in T R O U B L E.  No win here.
Just maybe that is the situation Pilate found himself in after Jesus came on the scene in Jerusalem so many years ago.  The trumped up charges the chief priests accused Jesus of which they had no authority to enforce were dumped on him, Pilate. 

Who was Pilate?
"The pagan historian Tacitus (Ann. 15:44) writes: "Christ, while Tiberius was emperor, was capitally executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate." The procurator was generally a Roman knight, acting under the governor of a province as collector of the revenue, and judge in cases arising under it. But Pontius Pilate had full military and judicial authority in Juda, as being a small province attached to the larger Syria; he was responsible to the governor of Syria. Archelaus having been deposed (A.D. 6), Subinus, Coponius, Ambivius, Rufus, Valerius Gratus, and Pontius Pilate successively were governors (Josephus, Ant. 18:2, section 2)."

So, all that to say – Pilate (Pontius Pilate) was large and in charge.  He was the ultimate decision maker appointed by the Roman Emperor – Tiberius.  It was this Pilate that the Jewish leaders turned Jesus over to for punishment.
Pilate had been witness to the throngs of people cheering Jesus just days before as he rode in to town.  This man’s reputation was large and the last thing Pilate needed was some insurrection stirred up because he upset the populace.  It didn’t help th
at these Jewish leaders were so adamant about the desired outcome for this man Jesus.

Pilate had to be very uncomfortable as he begins asking questions.  Mark 15:2 NASB  Pilate questioned Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And He *answered him, ‘It is as you say.’"

Pilate makes no judgment but, Mark 15:3 NASBThe chief priests began to accuse Him harshly.”

Mark 15:4-5 NASBThen Pilate questioned Him again, saying, "Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!"  (5) But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.”

Amazed – indeed

We are not given what additional accusations were presented here nor the specific questions Pilate asked but we know this – Jesus was done answering pointless questions.

Pointless?  Yes, there was no point in giving truth to a bunch who had no interest in hearing the answer but were simply using questions to make a point of their own.  To trump up charges before Pilate.

“Jesus made no further answer” and because of that, “Pilate was amazed.”

What to do – what to do thinks Pilate.  I don’t want a riot.  These Jewish leaders are ticked but I don’t see anything in this man Jesus that warrants punishment.

Then it hits him.  Once a year we release one of the condemned at the request of the people.  I can implement that loophole right here – right now for Jesus.

So he puts it to the people giving them the choice to release a known murderer or Jesus.  He had to be thinking – these people that welcomed Jesus with such enthusiasm will surely ask for his release NOT the murderer Barabbas.  WRONG – the crowd having been riled up by the chief priests asked for Barabbas’ freedom and when asked – said, “Crucify him” regarding Jesus.

CRUD!  Now what do I do?

Mark 15:14 NASB  “But Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify Him!’”

Well that was unexpected but I have my way out – the people want this even though he is innocent so far as I can see.

I’ll disown the whole thing Pilate says to himself.

Matthew 27:24  “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.’"

With that – Pilate was done.

The question I have for you is whether Pilate’s no win situation and the solution he finally came to a valid one.  Did he effectively wash is hands of the whole thing?  Was he truly guiltless in the crucifixion of Jesus?

I think the washing of the hands is illustrative.  In fact, the washing of hands was a known and practiced ceremonial cleansing that the Jews would have recognized.

Pilate in so doing was claiming his own innocence in the forthcoming brutality and death of Jesus.  But could he do that?

Can we, hover over a basin of water, wash our hands ceremonially and proclaim our innocence?  NO!!!

Pilate could no more cleanse himself from this sin than can we.  Ironically, the death Jesus was about to endure at the hands of Pilate was the only way that Pilate could possibly have been made clean.  It is the only way this terrible sin could have been wiped away.

It is the only way ANY sin can be removed.  The death of Jesus, His sacrifice is the only washing that could have removed his guilt.  That death, some two thousand years ago is the only way any of us can be cleaned.

We don’t know the fate of Pilate.  We know some Romans even some Roman leaders came to know Jesus and his work of salvation accepting it for themselves.  Maybe he did.  Most likely he didn’t.

What is your choice?  Belief in what Jesus did as a cleansing of the blood on your hands or not?  AMEN!

Friday, March 7, 2014

John 3:3-8 My Birthday Remix

John 3:3-8 NASB  Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus *said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  ‘Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'  ‘The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’

So yesterday was my birthday.  Many of my Face Book friends made me feel very happy and loved by expressing their well wishes on this date which rolls around annually.  For the record I reached the speed limit.  We’ll not discuss which one.  It is nice that the social media tool reminds our friends to reach out and give a thoughtful sentiment to those of us celebrating these milestones of life.

Ah, but I have two birthdays so don't put away the cake too soon. 

In Jesus' day there was a Pharisee, one of the Jewish leaders who came to see Jesus to talk about spiritual things.  Nicodemus was his name and we know he was listening favorably to what Jesus was sharing because he proclaimed, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." John 3:2.  But – He was also confused.  And I’m afraid what Jesus had to share with him during their conversation would perhaps confuse him a bit more.

You see, Jesus flat out said Nicodemus needed to be “Born again” John 3:5 in order to see the kingdom of God.  Thinking in the terms of this world that is way out there and Nicodemus responded accordingly.  "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" John 3:4.  From his perspective, he just couldn’t make sense of this wacky idea.
But what about us?  Do we get what is being said here?  What is this additional birth and why is it necessary?  Gee – loads of questions there Dale
As foundation we should understand that birth is the point of entering into life and it is from this perspective that Jesus' remarks take shape.  When we are physically born from our mother’s womb we enter into life in this world.  That’s the birth I celebrated yesterday, my birthday.  Woo Hoo!
It is entering into life spiritually that happens for those who become Christians.  They are literally born into their spiritual life so according to Jesus they are “Born again” and yes, it makes sense in those terms.  This is where the term Born Again believer comes from which is of course redundant.  Why?  Because in order to be counted a believer you must what?  ... Be born again.  So, all believers are born again. 
So what about that second birthday?
On the day when you are born again you might say you have a second birthday.  It is clear from many personal testimonies that lots of people can point to their exact date of second birth.  They remember it clearly and can provide through their personal testimonies the dramatic witness of an evangelist for example that drew them to a new life in Christ.
We’re all not that way.
Just as I don’t remember my birth into this physical life, I don’t remember my birth into spiritual life.  Just as I am alive and therefore must have been born, I am alive spiritually and therefore must have been born again.  I know of my physical birth and birthday because I was told that it occurred a speed limit ago.  I do not have anyone that specifically witnessed my spiritual birth and is able to give me that precise date.  I know however that I have that second birthday because of faith that I know to be real.
So what about you?  Do you have a second birthday?  Whether you know the date or simply know that it is true – that second birthday is truly the one to celebrate.  AMEN

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mark 10:7-9 Keeping the Promise

Mark 10:7-9 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (NASB)

 It was our anniversary two weeks ago.  We celebrated 31 years of marriage together by first going to CBCC for my daily treatment and then to a very nice dinner.  When the girls in the radiation treatment area saw that my wife was with me this particular visit (she had been before) they asked for the first time if she would like to see what the machine looks like.  I said I thought she would.  They also asked if there was some special reason she was with me this visit and I said it was our anniversary.  And so, as I got on the table and prepared for my treatment someone went out to get Sharon.  She came in and got the nickel tour of the treatment room while they got me in the correct orientation for my session.

 Treatment only takes about two minutes once everything is ready to go.  So, in no time I was done and getting my shoes back on when one of the girls came back in and asked, "How many years?"  I said, "31".  She said, " What is the secret?"

 Well …

 I contemplated my answer and then said, “A Christian marriage.”

 Silence …

 After the awkward moment I supplemented my answer with, “Making a promise and keeping it.”

 Well that met with a little more overt support and discussion about how few could and did actually make and keep commitments or promises these days.

 Since then I’ve had a chance to think more about this encounter and the truth of the situation.  Statistically my first answer may be untrue as we see virtually the same divorce rate occurs among Christians and non-Christians.  So, perhaps that’s just not it.  So, what about my second or follow-up answer around making a promise and keeping it?  Perhaps that is getting closer to the truth.

 I can say that in my marriage we are together today because we have both made a commitment and are very determined to keep the commitment.  Maybe we're both just that stubborn.  We would also very readily confess we are not the easiest people to live with and there are plenty of witnesses to that over the years but we have lived by our promise.

 I believe however it is the promise itself that must be examined in order to fully appreciate its power and perhaps render strength to my original answer.  In the marriage ceremony several questions are asked of the couple with regard to the commitment they are making.  Those questions of commitment or covenant are where the power of a lasting marriage are derived.  Perhaps the power of the promise is not even fully understood at the time but is appreciated after the fact and strengthened with understanding.

 The fact is that the promises made in the marriage ceremony are not simply between the husband and wife but between husband, wife and the Lord.  Sharon and I agree that our promise was not just to one another but to God Himself as well.  In some way making that promise to love honor and cherish all the days of my life was strengthened with the knowledge that it was made not just to my wife but to God.  I know Sharon feels the same way too.

 So the scripture says, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." I’ll not be the one to argue, disagree, object or rebel.  AMEN!