John 18 Authority Speaks to Authority

Jesus speaks to Pilate. He begins to answer Pilate’s question on what He has done, as owner of a kingdom, (an other – world kingdom.) This answer falls on the Roman ears in a startling manner. Romans believe in many gods, in many spiritual realms and Pilate may understand that before him now stands “a god” from the realm beyond his understanding. Clearly to Pilate, Authority has spoken to his own authority. Ah ha! So He IS a king! Pilate so concludes to Jesus confirmation. That must delight Pilate at first to think he is beginning to get the picture. I imagine it unfolded further in his mind as he puts it together .

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a born king

an other world king

a truth king

Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. Pilate hears a challenge? What does Pilate think he is hearing, comprehending and needing to do- a man of authority in one world is confronted by a king born here, into the world where Pilate is set up to judge him,  yet belonging to another world.

Who is really in charge?

If ever one must stand before human authority, will we stand under and through the Holy Spirit? I read of a woman who was from Iran, a believer who was afraid that she might be arrested and she knew she could not withstand questioning and might give away the names of those she led in her small secret house church. She prayed she would not be arrested. But she was. And she was terrified. But when they took her for questioning the Peace of God came upon her and she found herself witnessing truth, love and compassion. This happened each time she was taken from solitary for questioning. Fear in between, peace under trial. In the end, she was released, and her questioner came to Christ along with his family. This encourages me. I can trust that under trials, which may come, my God, Jesus, His Holy Spirit, will fill me with His peace, and give me all words to speak.

Just as Jesus spoke truth to authority then, He continues to speak truth through believers. Will I trust Him for my own needs today?  Who is really in charge?

 

John 18 The Ministry of Truth

IMG_4554Because Pilate is in the position of authority, he has an opportunity to experience true witness from The One who is Faithful and True – not that he knows this.

Jesus in turn, is ministering truth to Pilate, even in His final hours, Jesus reaches out to the very one who will send Him to the cross, just as Jesus allows and expects and even planned.

What have You done? ” is Pilates next question to Jesus. His questions sound like he is annoyed and frustrated to be thrust so early in the morning into this confusing circumstance. Perhaps he is thinking ‘how can I comprehend you crazy subjects who deliver your own guy up to me, for me to deal with’

  • Do I get thrust into situations where I must deal with something, someone, some problem where I need to ask the basic ‘why are you here with me?
  • What am I to do?’
  • Or am I experiencing the side where I have been shoved into a place of judgment?
  • Will I minster love and truth to the ones who judge me?

John 18 Intentional Questioning

IMG_4554Based on the complaint that Jesus was a criminal, and the crowd was calling for the death penalty, Pilate goes inside to where Jesus is, indeed, as the Passover lamb in human flesh, outside the holy walls, The Perfect Sacrifice stands and listens to Pilates question: Are you the King of the Jews? Certainly Pilate knew what happened a few days ago as Jesus entered this Roman controlled backwater town he was in charge of administering.  He had to know something of the reputation of whom he was dealing with. I wonder what was going through Pilate’s mind as he walked back and forth between the Jews and Jesus? ‘What’s the true story here? What is right? and I must be careful’

  • Why do I ask the things I ask?
  • Do I want to really know who Jesus is or do I just want to be careful, to CYA?
  • Do I ask because of what others say?
  • Do I seek God out of duty or true desire?

Lord, cleanse me of my wrong questions. Let me seek You with a true and honest heart, searching for You with all my heart -for You promise to be found that way.  As I grow in my knowing You, keep me honest with myself and with You.

John 18 Enough

According to Matthew 26:2 at the last supper Jesus had said: you know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the son of man is to be delivered up for crucifixion. He had said before they left for Jerusalem in Matthew 20:18-19 behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles, to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up. Mark and Luke also report this prophecy Jesus spoke and that His best friends did not comprehend it at the time. This was not the first time Jesus had alluded to how He would die. John has three other times, 3:14, 8:28 and 12:32. Jesus made it clear that the incident of Moses “lifting up” the serpent in the wilderness to heal the dying was a prophetic example of how He must be lifted up to save the dying world from the power of death itself.

IMG_4944The desire of those who bring Jesus before Pilate is a desire to kill the One whom will save them. It was not just to put Him to death, Jewish authority had the power to stone people but to take it to Pilate was to specify a death reserved for the worst criminals, a death without honor, a death filled with shame, a death fully naked before the public view. They were after much more than simply to have someone killed.

What went through the minds of Peter and John as they heard this? Were they starting to remember the prophecy and understand or were they still in shock, unable to comprehend what was unfolding? When I have gone through shock, life becomes a blur and there is no ability to understand the events as they unfold. There is a super heightened awareness of moments that sear themselves into my memory, never to forget the visual moment. Perhaps some people have that experience and remember words, for me the visual has precedence over the words. Although there are a few times the words, or at least the gist of them are just as powerfully kept locked in my brain. Were these two men, Peter and John now connecting those dots? Or were they still fumbling around just to survive the ongoing trauma?

Lord, let me trust You in times of trauma, turn to You to carry me through, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to know that in the midst of all this trauma, You have a perfect and good plan. I may not be able to follow what it is, but I can trust You and obey You in the moments as they unfold before me. You are enough!

John 18 Vague Accusation

Recap. A handful of Jewish officers, under the authority and behest of the high priest and his father in law, in the middle of the night, roused the Roman troops of hundreds, to arrest the man, who days earlier, had been welcomed by massive crowds of Jews who have traveled to Jerusalem from all over the country and beyond to celebrate Passover. They had called him their king and held a spontaneous parade and now, in the early morning hours of the Passover day, they stand in the yard outside the governors office wanting the governor to come out to them to talk because they hold to a rule that says they can’t eat Passover dinner if they defile themselves, which entering his place would do.

Right. Let’s be on the Govenor’s good side. Let’s make his life easier. Yet they may think they are doing such a thing. They may see their actions as preventing an uprising, which both groups would be keen on.

camel 5Pilate has to leave his office, his place of work, to go outside to conduct the interview with the arrested man. First he demands to know the accusation. I suspect he is not excited and happy to be outside just now, it’s very cold, remember? He gets a rather vague answer from the accusing authorities. In fact, it’s rather an odd answer to the very direct question. What accusation do you bring against this man? Pretty straightforward, what did he do? Now if your child were to answer your direct question with a defensive remark like this one, I think little red warning flags would be going off in your head. If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered him up to you. Translate to “if little Johny had not been a bad boy, we wouldn’t be here to tell you.” Really? All that was asked was what did he do, and this is your answer? What did he do!

Pilate is the Roman judge. He judges when Roman laws are broken. Local laws, like our state laws, are judged at the local, not the federal level. Pilate hears that no Roman law has been broken by this non-accusation accusation. The vague charge receives a vague reply. He tries to send them home. But then they declare they are after a death penalty, which can only be given out under Roman authority, not local. Sigh. It’s instantly clear what they are after (and it is for prophecy that it is logically so.) Pilate must continue to investigate now.

Watch out for vague accusations that seem harmless at first, for behind them might lurk dangerous plans. Evil is rarely direct. Plans for destruction and death are often wrapped in vagueness, falsehood and deceit.

Lord, keep me alert and prepared for the trickery and deceit of evil. Make me wise in my response to vague accusation and alert to potential dangers.

John 18 Sham Piety

IMG_0385v.28 They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat Passover.

The above is a little insight into the ways of evil. First, those intent on harming Jesus work through their own legalistic set ups, propped up by the ruling political authority. Then, after striking out on their own middle of the night kangaroo courts, they turn in the early hours of the morning to the political courts, the Roman halls of government, in this case. They act as though they are not “participating” by standing outside, as if this will not “defile” them. But they have entered ‘enemy territory’ mentally and spiritually and are indeed defiled. The intent of evil defiles them.

  • In what areas of my own life, do I enter mentally but not physically into places that defile me?

Lord forgive me! Make me aware of my own hypocrisy and cleanse me from my wrongdoing. Cleanse me. Renew a right spirit within me.

John 18 Shame and Community

DSCN0976Oh Peter, what anguish of heart, soul and mind you were feeling. How painful was that cock crow, that knowing gaze from your Master? Was it a slap in your face? How awful a crash to your pride and self image. You had convinced yourself you would die for him, with Him, but you ran. You hid. You denied. You had no clue what that would look like and feel. Now that the time had come, and you discover you cannot keep your bold promise, you see yourself as a failure, a liar, a betrayer, at a complete loss. How horrid these next days! I am so glad for you that you did not desert your friends, but you sat with them in that upper room, locked away but not alone in your grief. You did not isolate yourself but you and your friends stayed together.

  • When I discover my own ultimate weaknesses, do I stick with my friends or do I isolate?
  • Do I lean further on faith and trust and wait for God to do the next thing?
  •  Here it is again:  Trust and obey,  for there is no other way.  No other way.  No other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

John 18 Failure to Witness

Jerome to Sedona 7Already, the work of Jesus in the garden to one of the least of these, was bearing fruit. Peter had sliced off the ear of a slave. Jesus had healed that man.  At the warming fire, in the courtyard of Caiaphas, from a Roman officer first and now by a slave, (a relative of the man Peter had struck) asked Peter if he was not indeed in the garden at the arrest of Jesus. This man who questioned Peter had been there, had been bowled over at the declaration I Am, and had seen the attack by a disciple on his relative and in the dim light of those lanterns had also seen the healing. Doubtless the two relatives had discussed this at whatever opportunity they had on the march from the garden to Annas’s house and now at Caiaphas’s. He must have had very personal questions about whom this man was who could do such a thing. What was at work in his heart? Full of wonder and a desire to comprehend the current goings on, here was hope he could perhaps understand something about this miracle done for a slave of Rome by hearing from Peter.

Yet Peter again denies Jesus and the cock crows. Oh, what arrows through Peter’s heart as Jesus captured his gaze! Luke tells us this. Peter goes off and cries at his own failures. He is a completely broken man. The kind God can use when surrendered to Him.

And the slaves?  What of these men?

  • When I fail to acknowledge God, will someone else fill the gap?
  • When another has missed an opportunity to witness, will I step up and claim knowledge of Christ and share Him with others?

John 18 Fight or Flight

We know how this interrogation by the high priest affected Peter. He only went further into his denial mode as he heard  the statement of Jesus,  Why do you question Me?  Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; behold, these know what I said.  Would they question Peter next?  Naturally, one of the officers warming himself at the same fire, now at the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, turned to Peter asking if he was one of those disciples.

  • Did this officer want to provide just that sort of witness?

To Jerome 89A 53

  • Would Peter do such a thing?
  • Would he willingly choose to stand up in front of that hostile crowd and testify to what Jesus had said?
  • Did Jesus want him to do this?
  • What would the consequence be?

Peter was unwilling to admit a connection to Jesus and once again denied being a disciple. Perhaps Peter could not understand what was happening, or he understood too well the railroading that was underway and did not want the focus turned upon himself for he knew not what to do. Perhaps he could not handle being abused. To fight and die was one thing, but to submit like Jesus was to this unjust trial and abuse? Jesus had previously stopped him from reacting in defense of Him, and countered his attempt to fight. Peter was told not to fight, (fight or flight response) so he had the opposite response, flight.  While he was physically there, he chose to not be officially there for Jesus and denies knowing Jesus.  Again. Peter was under the power of fear.

  • When have I allowed fear to rule me?
  • When I have fought and fled?
  • Can I stand under persecution without either of these reactions?

Not without His Holy Spirit, that is for sure. Lord, prepare me for whatever is before me. May I trust in You at all times, especially in times of injustice.

John 18 Confrontation

DSCN4379The system was corrupt. Jesus was arrested by a large force of Roman soldiers and a handful of Jewish officers. He was taken first to the non-ruling former high priest and then He was bound again and taken to the current high priest. It’s all a night job while the city sleeps. Before the crowds could even know it was happening. It was about expediency. And how did Jesus respond under the control of an unjust system? He confronted Annas and spoke truth, in a pointed statement of his own honesty that contrasted with what was happening just now to him. I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. What is Anna’s point? Obviously he should know what Jesus has been teaching for Jesus has never been secretive….like Annas is being with Him just now. Talk about confrontational!

  • So am I honest and open in my own teaching and discussions?
  • Am I guilty of saying one thing and doing another?
  • Am I guilty of gossip? Loose talk and secretive words that can’t stand the light of day?

To be like Jesus is to be always honest and truthful.

After being struck, Jesus says further if I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong, but if rightly, why do you strike me?

That confrontation to the Roman officer moved Annas to send Jesus to the proper Jewish authority. Wow.

I wonder how that answer affected this man, the officer?  Especially later, post-resurrection?