Fellowship at Cross Creek
Intro… This particular passage seems to cry out for a bit more context. It is interesting observing both the religious leaders and Pilate’s responses, as well as, Jesus’ words…and how all this culminates in Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It’a a great study in mob rule, injustice, peer pressure, appeasement, restrained obedience and suffering…all things that are very much a part of life, whether we like it or not—it just is. And yet, it’s all a part of the plan…the plan of God’s salvation of the world, from its SIN, through the giving of His Son to atone for the sins of the world. Thus, similar to what we have been studying within the life of Joseph, God mysteriously, uniquely, divinely orchestrates man and man’s willful, sinful, imperfect choices to accomplish a greater purpose. Amazing. God is in control, and yet man chooses. Indeed a great paradox, and yet somehow true.
God be gracious to you as you seek to honor him.
Read Passage several times… (optional: if more than 12 verses, I would read only twice).
John 19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.
Why did he have him flogged? To buy off or appease the religious leaders? Did he think, if I flog him, maybe that will be enough and they stop insisting that I put him to death? Was it like the movie? How many times did they strike him? Did they use the cat-o-nine-tails? Did his mother or family or friends witness him being flogged?
2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe
Why did they do this? Was this a joke? Why were they allowed to taunt him? Did they get a laugh or rise out of making sport of him?
3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.
Obviously, they do not believe he is the king of the Jews. Why again and again? Why rub it in? Because he is vulnerable? Where is the accountability? Obviously there were witnesses to all of this. Life has a funny way of being so surreal. Here the soldiers are actually stating the truth, only they think that it is not the truth. What an irony. They think he is a weak nobody. How could they have known they were dealing with the Creator of the Universe. And he allows them to do all this—unbelievable! What self-restraint! What self-control! What discipline! I would have wanted to defend myself and reveal the truth, but he chose not to. He chose to not play his trump card here, contented to fulfill his purpose to die for the sins of mankind. Wow!
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”
5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
Why did he say, “Here is the man”? Any man? Just a man? Not the king? Here is the person? Here is the guy you are so afraid of and so intent on getting rid of.
6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
Pilate is trying to absolve himself of condemning an innocent man. But it will not work. Either stand up for what is right or capitulate – (give in).
7 The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
Here is the Jews’ answer. What law is this? Is this from the Old Testament? But how do they know that he is not telling the truth? Have they given him a fair hearing? Were they open to the real truth? Why were they not open to considering that this was the real Son of God? That he was not lying? That he was telling the truth? How do we mirror this type of rush to judgment or kangaroo court today? Are we willing to reserve judgment in order to find out the truth? Even if that means going against the crowd? What does the Son of God mean? Does this mean he claims to be of the same essence of God? That he is God? God in the flesh?
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid,
Why was Pilate afraid? Does he think this could be true? Does he know that there is something different about this man? Could this charge be true?
9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.
What does he mean here? What is Jesus supposed to answer? Bethlehem? Nazareth? Heaven? From God? Before Abraham was I AM? Why does Jesus not answer? What does this do to Pilate’s head?
10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
What is Pilate’s tone here? Is he angry? Insecure? Threatening? Here he says it here, “I have the power to free you.” Here is takes responsibility for what is about to happen because he has the power to stop it or make it happen. Pilate’s own words condemn him.
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
Jesus is saying that God has allowed this. That Pilate’s authority or position is because God has allowed or ordained it. You are just a puppet—a pawn in a much larger drama, kind of like Pharaoh with Moses. Then he condemns the true culprits in this drama, the religious leaders. They knew what they were doing. Pilate was trying to do the right thing. Ultimately, he will not be strong enough. He will give in to outside pressure. To fear.
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
Why did Pilate try to set Jesus free? Why was he not angry with Jesus? Did he believe him to a certain degree? Did he have doubts? But the religious leaders again outsmart him, appealing to his fear of Caeser, the most powerful ruler of the known world at this time. Do you oppose your emperor, Pilate? The consequences could be catastrophic to his career.
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha).
Is he about to render a decision? This seems like a specific place.
14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
So had Jesus celebrated the Passover a day earlier with his disciples? Could that be done? Is he mocking the Jews, when he says, “Here is your king”?
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
They sound so intense, so passionate.. Again he attempts to avoid the responsibility, but they only shout that much more intensely. No king, but Caesar—what a lie? They don’t really believe in or want to serve Caesar. They are just using it as a ploy to crucify a greater threat, Jesus.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
Pilate gives in.
17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)
Was his cross heavy? How far did he have to travel? A hundred yards? A mile? Why was it called the place of the Skull? Did it look like this? Or was it because men were crucified or executed here?
Who? Pilate, Jesus, soldiers, Jews, Man, chief priests and their officials, the Son of God, the one who handed me over, Caesar, king.
Where? On his head, to him, in the face, came out, out to you, back inside the palace, Where do you come from?, from above, out, on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement, away, over, to the place of the Skull
When? Then Pilate took Jesus, once more, when Jesus came out, as soon as, when Pilate heard, from then on, when Pilate heard this, day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour, finally.
- Pilate has Jesus flogged. 1
- The soldiers mock him with a crown of thorn, a purple robe, cries of “Hail, King of the Jews!” and blows to the face. 2-3
- Pilate brings Jesus out before the Jews, stating that he believes Jesus to be innocent of any crime deserving death. 4
- Jesus comes out wearing the robes of his regal mockery. 5
- The chief priests and officials shout for him to be crucified. 6a
- Pilate, again because he feels that Jesus is innocent, attempts to turn him back over to the Jews so that they can crucify him. 6b
- But the Jews insist that he be put to death because he has committed blasphemy, allowing himself to be identified as God’s Son or the Messiah. 7
- Pilate responds to this claim in fear. He asks Jesus who he is? Jesus does not answer. 8-9
- When Jesus does not answer, Pilate threatens him with his authority to have Jesus executed or not. 10
- Jesus does speak and informs Pilate that Pilate’s authority is from heaven and those who have handed Jesus over to Pilate are guilty of a greater crime. 11
- Pilate attempts that much harder to release Jesus, but the Jews challenge him by acknowledging their allegience to Caesar and no other king. 12
- Pilate sits down at his seat of judgement in order to render a verdict, once again trying to shun the responsibility. 13-14
- But once again the Jews shout him down seeking Jesus’ crucifixion. 15
- Finally Pilate capitulates and hands Jesus over to be crucified. 16
Summary… Pilate struggles both over Jesus’ identity and innocence, but finally under enough pressure from the Jews, he relents to their pressure, and orders Jesus to be crucified.
Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)
- People can be very cruel, in this case, including the soldiers. They have no idea who it is that they are cruelly tormenting.
- Some things are not always as they seem. For example, for a higher, more divine purpose—man’s redemption from sin via Jesus’ atonement–Jesus restrains himself from defending his regality and employing his divine authority to both stop his mockers and have them destroyed (as Elijah the prophet had Jezebel’s false prophets destroyed at Mount Carmel…1 Kings 18).
- Anybody alone can be quick to judge, and therefore, quite often is proned to being closed-minded in considering the true evidence of a case. Now put the person with even partially like-minded individuals and the affect is exponential…thus the “mob effect” can occur in an instant. When individuals sense a tipping in either direction, in order NOT to be turned upon or linked with the minority position, even good or faired-minded or indifferent individuals can and will become assumed within the “mob’s” growing sphere of influence, and thus seemingly, the mob as a mighty one.
- Some…perhaps most… people, even soldiers, commanders or political leaders, such as Pilate in this case, even when the evidence or truth lies in another direction, out of expediency, can and will cave into the pressure.
- As Jesus clearly points out, God is the ultimate authority. In fact, NO king has his power without God’s permission for that authority.
- When strongly enough motivated, people will and can go to great lengths to accomplish an agenda, even an evil one.
- Justice does not always prevail upon this earth now, but someday, upon his return, it will.
Thanks… In our study of Sin’s Story, I recently observed John 8, and it’s questionable inclusion of the story of the woman caught in adultery, in a new and different light, a light previously provided to me by John 4, 6 and 7. In John 7, Jesus or Yah-Saves clearly reveals to us that the special or living water he offers in both John 4 and 7, first to the Samaritan woman who was at the Jacob’s well in the heat of the day to draw water herself and then later to those in attendance within the Temple courts, is a water that when tasted becomes a spring or river of living water in which the person it proceeds from may drink of it again and again and such that he or she will never thirst again. Now that is a pretty amazing water. A taste that leads to the birth of a well, spring or river that will never ever run dry again. And what is this taste or well…the Spirit of God, Yah-Saves declares….the Spirit of the living God.
In addition, from John 6, Yah-Saves makes it also clearly apparent that the bread of life Yah-Saves is offering, and encourages his listeners to partake of, is a bread that leads to never hungering again. And what is this bread? Himself. Or his atonement. His sacrificial death or atonement for the all the sins, crimes and imperfection of mankind. In other words, a worshiping sinner would place his hand on the living sacrifice he was about to offer and then take its life as an atonment or restitution for one’s crime or imperfection. Yah-Saves now offers himself–as John the Baptist declared upon Yah-Saves’ baptism–as the lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. I will die for your sins. I will make atonment for all your wrongs. Thus, you are forgiven or released or saved or delievered from your sins…those things that not only harm you, others and Creation, but eventually, according to Scripture, cost you eternal life or paradise with your Creator after the resurrection of the dead. Yah-Saves is offering a divine atonment for sin…amnesty or immunity from prosecution. That which we were never going to get ahead—our righteouness being more than our mistakes or sins–Yah-Saves now provides or offers. This metaphorical meal…this metaphorical eating and drinking, delivers the sinner from penalty of his or her sins, while at the same time, giving the now released sinner, the one thing that can help him or her deal with, struggle with, overcome, grow beyond his or her sins…the Holy Spirit of God…the Spirit who according to Yah-Saves will be given after he returns to where he came from in order that he might lead the world into all truth by convicting or exposing all sin, righteousness and true judgment (John 14-16). The Spirit that awaits to be poured out upon the Christ’s church at Pentecost. The Spirit that has quietly caused Christ’s very imperfect church to expand over the entire globe. The Spirit that encourages every freed son or daughter–because they are no longer a slave to sin’s power, guilt and shame (John 8:31ff)–to freely and courageously step out of sin’s deceptive shadows so that they may freely bask in truth’s light and thereby, over time, begin to Spiritually grow up or mature into the image of the Son whose sacrificial obedience purchased their release from sin.
So how does John 8 confirm John 1-7 or the living bread or the Son and the Spirit or atonement and truth? The one who could throw stones, because he had no sin, chooses NOT to throw stones at the woman caught in adultery. Why? Because as he has repeatedly stated again and again and again, he has come to SAVE the world, NOT to condemn or judge it (someday he will… upon his second coming or return, but NOT now. This appearing is about treating sin at its root…at the Spiritually cellular or DNA level…to offer the cure to every man and woman, atonement and healing…judgement and power…justice and truth. The woman, who was caught in her sin…the very act…was brought to Yah-Saves as a condemned slave to sin, but by the grace and mercy of the One who came to save us, she leaves as a daughter or heir of God, forgiven, no longer condemned, free from the bondage of her many sins’ crime, guilt, shame and attraction, and with only one admonition…go and sin (in this case, commit adultery) no more. Though Yah-Saves or John does not tell us here, at this point in the story, it does becomes clear, particularly in John 14-16, that man’s only hope against sin’s power will be via the Comforter or Spirit’s truth and power, which the Father will give fully to man after the Son’s atoning death, resurrection and departure.
Struggle (Truth/Application? 1) I shot my wad, both barrels last Sunday. I knew I was doing it when I did it. I knew I could have saved one of the barrels for this Sunday…of all Sundays…Easter Sunday, but I just didn’t know how to do it, and with time running short, I unloaded both barrels. Having unloaded both barrels, I have been completely lost this week. Okay, maybe not completely lost. I have experienced moments of great contentment interspersed with frustrated anxiousness about what do I do for Easter Sunday… the Big Event. Was this a mistake? Was this God’s plan? If it was another Sunday, I would have just plowed through with the next passage in John or the what next does Yah-Saves say about sin? But the expectation is that one must interrupt the flow and teach something related to Easter, which ironically, is where we are headed—we are just not there yet. So, one has to jump ahead, when I am not ready to jump ahead. Oh, Lord, how is it that within the arena of teaching something that am intending to teach on, from your Word…within the same book of the Bible…the Gospel of John…and within the next fews weeks or months, I can have this much difficulty? Is life that fragile? We are NOT even talking about seemingly major sins, wrongs or indiscretions. We are talking about seemingly this smallest of Spiritual variations—feeling obligated to teach an Easter sermon mere weeks or months before I would have done it anyway! And this can cause a person to struggle, to avoid, to procrastinate, to, like Jonah, run away? Are you kidding, God? Is sin that deadly insidious? I plead guilty. A sinner in constant need of grace…in constant need of direction, inspiration, motivation…what a baby I am! What a baby I am! At just about the time I begin to think I am pretty cute…stumbling upon biblical-life themes…that, on the surface, for some, might be obvious…because they have heard it a million times perhaps….when they were spoken or first revealed in Yah-Saves’ day…were NOT obvious at all! Biblical-life themes, which now seeing them afresh and in light of what was being taught by the Jewish rabbis within syngagogues and under the watchful eye of the great Roman eagle, at least for me, now literally explode off the page! And yet, even as the light intellectual truth explodes within my consciousness, because of a self-imposed deadline and expectation…the alleged high religious moment of the year…as if that moment can truly be scheduled?… Quietly, subtly that light has now paradoxically done its job within my heart, exposing my sin, my stubbornness, my lostness, my imperfection, my immaturity as a person, shepherd and teacher. How paradoxical…how ironic…how unforgivingly true. Daddy, dear Spirit, in my quagmire of thought, expectation and avoidance, you have exposed me. The light I beckon people to come into because of the immunity of our sonship and forgiveness can also be very brutal. Oh yeah, I forgot, sonship does not mean NO Discipline (Hebrews 12:1ff). On the contrary, it does mean discipline… it does mean pain…it just also means that despite the discipline, despite the pain, despite the exposure…despite the brightness of the light, I am forgiven…I am a son. I will not be cast out of the house; I will not be beaten as a slave (John 8:31ff). Rather I still have the father’s love. I still have heaven, despite my immaturity. I am in process. I am growing up. Exposure, discipline, tears, forgiveness, joy, life, growth, exposure, discipline, tears, forgiveness, joy, life, growth…because no longer a slave, I am a son. And why am I a son? Because I have eaten the bread; I have drunk the water; my sins have been paid for and I have been given the Spirit of truth…I have hope. I have life after, above, through and over sin…and its deadly insidious consequences. Is this the message I am to deliver, my Lord? Is this the answer to my prayer? What Pilate, the Sanhedrin and ultimately the mob failed to do, by God’s grace, I have been gifted the opportunity to do…to examine, study, consider, ponder, accept, trust, follow, seek out, discover, fall in love with and grow in…God…the Spirit and the Son…atonement and truth…living bread and living water…salvation from sin…forgiveness…release…the light of truth…Thank you, thank you, thank you…Though it be painful, it is truth. I choose no other course…
Your Student’s struggles?
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.