Reflections on John

IF_Equip_JohnReview

Boy, where do you begin when considering our 55 day journey through the Book of John? I have reviewed my journal and hardly know which day to highlight over another. I’m trying to take a step back and look at the whole.

Certainly the first word that comes to mind is BELIEVE. Everything Jesus did and said was to point to His mission to be a Savior and demonstrate God’s love for us. There was constantly the choice before those who saw Him – believe or not to believe. It is the same choice I have every moment of every day. Believe He is God, Believe He has a plan. Believe He loves me. Believe I can trust Him. Believe.

The second word is ONENESS. John presented the oneness of the Trinity. God is the original community – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – equal in essence – singular in purpose – distinguished in duties – united in mutual appreciation. As His own we are called into this same oneness.

That oneness is to be demonstrated in our community, the church – the ragtag army He has given the mission of sharing His message with the world. “Love one another as I have loved you.” To the degree the world sees this – they will also see we are His disciples. This is our calling card, our introduction – the feat that opens doors.

We are not left to “do community” on our own – no the mystery is – we are invited into the community of the Godhead. Jesus prayed for each one who would believe – that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:21-23

The challenge of loving is my moment by moment choice as well. Failure is a given. Forgiveness is required. Frustration is endless. And I know fruitfulness only comes as the by-product of abiding in Him.

On any given day, believing, loving and abiding can seem insurmountable tasks for me. In fact, they are impossible apart from Him. When they are accomplished – well there is no doubt in my mind who gets the credit or the glory!

Interestingly the Oneness has a purpose – that the world may Believe. Jesus’ mission has not and will not change, right up to the day He returns.

IF all this is true – it strikes me that each of us has a unique place in this mission – gifts and callings to pursue – and while I have believed this a very long time – this study has poured something flammable on the embers for me.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

To IF:EQUIP and all of my sisters on this journey – I am grateful.  Can’t wait to continue our travel as we follow Jesus together.

John 21:20-25

day 55

Jesus has just affirmed His forgiveness of Peter and given him a ministry of shepherding His very own sheep but Peter wants to know about John…what about this man?

Peter and John go way back. They are like best friends. They are a team. Peter relies on John and John relies on him. They both are following Jesus, to be sure, but together they go, in tandem. Peter thinks of the question and John gets the answer. They both race to the tomb. John stops, Peter goes in. John recognizes Jesus, Peter jumps out of the boat. John has taken in Jesus’ mother. Peter has failed Jesus and needed forgiveness. For all his self-confidence and bluster Peter wants to know about John. Surely he’ll be assigned with me in this new job? Lord, do you see how much he loves You? You will honor him too, right? (I totally get this. I don’t think Peter is jealous or wondering if John will get something better. I think Peter believes he needs John. And I think Peter believes John needs him.)

Jesus is pointed in His response. “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (Is Jesus telling him to be a lone ranger and mind his own business? No, I think he is telling him, don’t be distracted. Who you need is Me. Peter you follow me and John will follow me and we are all going to end up going together.  Trust Me not only for yourself but for the one you care about deeply – your brother John.)

It’s interesting to consider what John might have been thinking. He is watching this all take place. He surely knows Peter as well as Peter knows him. And you know what else John knows and has known for a good while? ….John knows Jesus loves him. He is the disciple whom Jesus loved. And what is more, when Peter was walking with Jesus, he looked back and saw John following them.

John was not intimated by Peter’s assignment; he didn’t feel left out; he didn’t seem worried. John was following Jesus. (This is how I want my relationships to work. I need the inner circle of life friends God has given me. I need the diversity of our gifts. But my security or ability to fulfill my unique calling is not found them. It is found only when I follow Jesus. We need to be all pointing each other to Jesus. The most perfect companionships are found in the company of the ones who are also first following Him.)

It is from this place of utter security the disciple Jesus loved bears witness by writing these things and he affirms – all these things about Jesus are true.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. It would be impossible to write down everything that Jesus did. The Gospel of John actually ends abruptly compared to the other three Gospels but John’s intention was not to write it all. His reason was that anyone who heard his testimony might believe:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

About God?
God has made the ultimate sacrifice to make it possible for us to Follow Him.

About Me?
Love One Another but Follow Jesus

About the World?
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

John 21:1-19

day 54.jpg
All the Gospels together tell that the disciples saw Jesus after His resurrection for 40 days until He ascended. John is the only Gospel to record this particular story.

Seven of the disciples are basically hanging out when Peter, who is probably bored, decides he’s going fishing. This is a great idea so everyone says they’ll go too. They’ve been following Jesus for a long time. Now they are at a loss for what to do with themselves. So they fished all night.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

It’s John who put two and two together – “It’s the Lord!” And it’s Peter who throws on his shirt and jumps in the water so he can get to Him the fastest. In spite of his having disappointed Jesus, Peter does not hold back in approaching Him. (I might be a little hesitant or self-concerned after such a failing but – that would about me because Jesus forgives and that’s that.)

Jesus has a fire going; He’s already cooking breakfast but asks for some of the fish they have caught – “153 large fish and the net didn’t break.” (Without Jesus – 0, with Jesus – 153 — I’m just sayin’.) The scene is a little like the last supper. Jesus is acting as the servant. These disciples had no doubt it was Him – which implies they were getting comfortable with seeing Him this way.

When breakfast was over Jesus approached Peter. Three times Jesus asks “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (Three times – the same as the number of times Peter denied knowing Him.) And three times Peter answers “Yes, Lord; You know that I love you.”

After each answer Jesus tells Peter to “Feed my sheep”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”. Peter may have been floundering but now Jesus is giving him a specific new life’s work. Jesus has just appointed him a Shepherd of his flock. He goes on to tell him by laying down running his own life he will bring glory to God. (I think Jesus wanted him to know though it might be difficult, his life was going to glorify God – guaranteed!)

Peter must be wondering if he can live up to this. He had denied Jesus before. Maybe he was worried but clearly Jesus was not. His directive for success was simple: “Follow Me.”

About God?
God is intimate in His calling for each of His followers.

About Me?
“Follow Me.” ~ Jesus

About the World?
With Jesus, 153 to nothing!

John 20:19-31

day 53

 

It’s the Sunday of the resurrection. Early that morning John and Peter visited what would be an empty tomb. Mary has wept and then seen Jesus. She has told everything to the disciples.

The disciples have gathered, behind locked doors because they are afraid of the Jews. It stands to reason they would be suspected of taking Jesus’ body. Moreover the tomb guards have been bribed to lie. The Jews have gotten just what they wanted so far… no joke – there is reason to be afraid.

Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” This is where Jesus comes in – right into the midst of our fears – and offers His peace. (Boy, this has to be a sermon preached a million times.  I mean it’s so obvious. I guess the question is not do we know about this offer but whether we have ever taken Him up on it. It’s a on again, off again, thing with me.)

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. No doubt His entrance was shocking and they were more than apprehensive about these latest events. They have heard some stories but… So Jesus offers them some tangible proof. How could there be these wounds if it wasn’t really Him? Then they were glad. 🙂 (You know “glad” like a little smiley face. Not! That’s a ridiculous understatement of the ESV…filled with joy, overjoyed, rejoicing – HE’s Back! That would be more like it.)

Back and in charge and handing out assignments –

First, you’ll need weapons:
1. My peace – you can’t rely on the world for stability or comfort
2. My direction – you might get disoriented so remember who sent you – rely on My directions as your compass
3. My Spirit – you can’t do this work in your own power

The assignment: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Whoa! Isn’t God the only one who can forgive sins? He has been telling them all along that He would be sending them out to carry the same message the Father has given Him. That message is the good news that Jesus is the way to have ones sins forgiven. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” Acts 10:43-44. Conversely, to not believe is to be left in your sins. So, here is their mission – to affirm to all who will hear – Jesus is the way of forgiveness. There is no other.

Thomas is not inclined to believe that Jesus has been there just because the rest tell him “we have seen the Lord” and seen His wounds. Thomas wants to see it all for himself. (This reminds me we each have to come to Jesus in our own way. Great witnesses, sermons, life stories, sad movies, other people’s miracles – for as good as they might be – don’t measure up when one is looking to personally encounter Jesus. In fact, they shouldn’t. In fact again, this goes back to the three weapons. The first two are for the comfort and direction of the witness. The third is the One who draws the hearer to Himself – in His time and in His way.)

Eight days go by…waitingwaiting….waiting. (This is a standard God tactic.) Was the delay for Thomas’ benefit?

Again Jesus enters even when the doors are locked. (Ha! I love that. Jesus knows His own – even the doubters, the stragglers, and the fearful – and He is faithful to show up – in fact, you can’t keep Him out.) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. This is the reason John has written anything.

Why?                 So that you may believe
What?                That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
To What End?   That by believing you may have life in his name.

That’s the bottom line. John – it’s a whole book about believing.

About God?
He’s got your number.

About Me?
Accept Jesus’ peace and the fear of the world disappears.

About the World?
Do not disbelieve, but believe.

John 20:11-18

day 52

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. This stands in contrast to Peter and John, who have entered the tomb, “believed” and gone home. You gotta think the disciples spoke to her before they left…tried to tell her what they thought had happened…there was nothing more to do here…go home. But Mary remained…crying until…

… She stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. It might take a second to sink in but this would get my attention! “Woman, why are you weeping?” This is a rhetorical question. As angels they know what’s going down – why else would they be there? Considering what they know, why would anyone be weeping instead of rejoicing? Humans!

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Mary might be emotional in her grief but she’s practical in her mission – she is looking for the body.

Now isn’t this just like God. He puts things in terms we can grasp. Mary needed a body – she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Here is the body she is seeking but it is not what she expected. She can’t tell its Jesus because she is looking for a dead man, not someone standing and talking to her! (I’m sure I’ve done the same – looked for the Jesus that fits my picture rather than the living, miracle Jesus standing right in front of me!)

It is not until He speaks her name that she recognizes Him. (The life changing part of this journaling project has been to stick around until Jesus speaks my name. That’s when my re-story telling becomes my story. Reading the comments from women all over the place on the IF:Equip page proves it to me. We may have silly questions and clouded vision but when Jesus speaks to us by name – then we know it is truly Him.)

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary is tenacious. Jesus understands and appreciates this about her. I think it is one reason He gives her this new assignment – “go to my brothers and say”. He knows she will follow through. (I can be tenacious. It’s a gift and a curse. Those with this calling can be like a self-guiding missile – intent upon the original target and unwilling to change course. This is a good lesson for me- don’t be a self-guiding missile. Be a Jesus guided one.)

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”. Now let me say, this is an event you cannot keep to yourself.

About God?
He knows each of us and made us exactly the way we are – for His purposes.

About Me?
If you have encountered the Lord, you have Jesus’ permission to go tell.

About the World?
“God is not dead” is not a movie. (John 20:11-18)

John 20:1-10

day 51

Now on the first day of the week – this would be Sunday morning, very early, while it was still dark. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. The other Gospels tell there are actually 3 women who have come bringing spices to anoint the body. John focuses on this Mary. She has been waiting – from 6 pm Friday night until now – waiting for a very long and sad Sabbath to be over.

She “saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb”. It was going to be a troubling stone to get moved – the women had talked about this on the way. And now she finds it moved – expecting that no good has come from this. (Sometimes God opens a door but I don’t recognize it is Him. Instead I fear the worse – like something has created havoc while God was looking somewhere else! If my heart is about following Him, why don’t I expect He will always be ahead of me? I think it is not about trusting His provision or goodness. My uncertainty is to how well I am following. Jesus addressed my insecurity: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and no one will snatch them out of my hand John 10: 27-28. It strikes me that to be concerned of the quality of my following is, in and of itself, evidence of my desire to follow. He is certain I will hear His voice.)

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Still intent on her mission to anoint the body of Jesus, Mary runs for help. She has no expectation that Jesus is any more than a dead body and dead bodies don’t just walk away – (she’s right – dead bodies don’t.)

BurnandJeanPierre
So Peter and John run to the tomb. (The image fixed in my memory is Bumand’s painting – they run with the background of a Resurrection sky!)

John “outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.” Was it reverence or terror? I don’t know- but he was frozen at the doorway.

Peter, of course, does not stop at the door – he’s inside looking at everything. Surely the neatly folded head cloth is a curiosity – no rushed body thief at play…Then John comes in and he saw and believed.

What did he believe? Hearing Jesus’ words and knowing the scripture had not prepared him for this outcome. These things had not combined in his thinking. But now, in this startling moment John believes in the resurrection.

About God?
Jesus has laid down His life for the sheep. He will not lose even one.

About Me?
When in doubt, stop and listen for the Shepherd’s voice.

About the World?
To the one who enters the empty tomb – look and believe.

John 19:38-42

day 50

One might think with the apparent death and defeat of a leader, any clandestine followers would just fade into the woodwork – to be saved the potential disgrace, if not for fear. – Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were going to have to decide.

These were “proper Jewish leaders”, both on the Sanhedrin court that condemned Jesus. I imagine them as maybe dissenting opinions to the council’s injustice. Nicodemus had once tried to be a voice of reason among them (John 7:50) and Joseph was “a good and upright man” (Luke 23:50) “waiting for the kingdom of God” (Mk 15:43). Being two people in a crowd of 70 make you feel kind of small and vulnerable. (Having been a dissenting voice many times, I know how misunderstood and unappreciated one feels.)

Hey – they were secret Jesus followers for a reason – and maybe would have stayed that way except that the disciples were notably missing in action.

The Law (Deut. 21:23) required that a body not be left overnight but be buried that same day. They might have pulled off the burial as “followers of the Law”. Call in some servants to get it handled and still maintain your reputation.

But no, I think the line has been drawn – to be for Jesus or against Him and they chose to step in to the light. (There have been occasions when it was expedient, I thought, to just not say I was a believer. But there inevitably comes a time when the position is untenable. It doesn’t have to be a crisis – but to believe permeates one’s being and …what is the saying? “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” (Emerson) – it is the same for one’s soul.)

Jesus, their Messiah, will not be shortchanged at His burial. They will do what they can to honor Him – the best of tombs, fine linen and the fragrance of myrrh and aloe. Let there be no question of their love any longer.

About God?
God is patient.

About Me?
How might I be courageous for Jesus today?

About the World?
Knowing Jesus inspires one to courage.

John 19:28-37

day 49

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus has completed His mission. He hangs on the cross for His final moments on earth knowing He has done all that is required. Knowing too, that the last few prophecies confirming His claims to be the Messiah are set to be fulfilled. God has left nothing out – not one jot or tittle – all will come to pass just as the Father has planned.

Jesus is thirsty thirsty to be reunited with His Father, thirsty to pour out the Spirit on His friends, thirsty for the Living Water to flow to the ends of the earth. The last taste of sour wine reminds me that there is new wine coming. When Jesus voluntarily bows His head and gives up his spirit – His earthly life – I image His many words will return to His followers’ minds – brought to their (and my) remembrance by the Holy Spirit:

“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” John 10:18 NLT

“…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24 NASV)

“Since it was the day of preparation…the Jews asked that their legs be broken…” The Jews have spent the last 24 hours breaking the Law but now when their deeds are on public display they are so concerned about keeping it? And at what cost to the men already dying a painful death? Their motives had nothing to do with compassion and everything to do with appearances. (When, for expedience’s sake, am I short on compassion? When do appearances rank higher with me than real people who are hurting?)

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. Even in these polluted motives God affirms again the true identity of Jesus – two more prophecies fulfilled. And John affirms these things to be true by his eye witness testimony – “that the Scriptures were fulfilled”.

“…that you also may believe…” Everything Jesus said, everything Jesus did, everything John has written – everything is for this purpose…that you also may believe.

About God?
God’s plan will be fulfilled – down to the last and smallest detail.

About Me?
Everything Jesus said, everything Jesus did – everything is for this purpose…that you also may believe.

About the World?
And the one sitting on the throne said … “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. Rev 21:6 NLT

John 19:16b-27

day 48

John, the writer, is not Mel Gibson. He spares us all the gory details about beatings and the crucifixion. John is not out to win Jesus followers based on sympathy, emotion or horror. Throughout – or at least up to Chapter 19, John’s message has been what he perceived Jesus to have been saying – “I am God in the flesh, come to make the Father known to anyone who will believe and to welcome them into an eternal relationship with us.”

So, just the facts: So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Now I see the picture in my mind because we’ve all seen a movie or a drawing – a road, winding up to a hill, three crosses, the tallest center one holds Jesus and there is a sign nailed above His head.

It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. Now that’s what I’m talking about…a billboard arranged by Pilate. The other Gospels expand on the amount and kind of foot traffic that passed this location “near the city” and it was high and varied. Interesting Pilate had the inscription in three languages – no translation needed.

So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” What did Pilate know? I don’t think he was just saying, “Naw, just leave it. I don’t want to bother with a rewrite.” I don’t even think he was just trying to tick off the Jews. I think he was shaken by his encounter with Jesus and couldn’t get His claims out of his mind. I think he was too afraid not to acknowledge Jesus in some way. Of course this offends the message the Jews want publicized.

The soldiers take Jesus’ clothing and divide it up. Why tell? This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” John’s is the only Gospel that tells about this fulfillment of Scripture. And from where is this taken? Psalm 22:18. This is the Psalm, written by David about 1000 years BC that describes the suffering of death by crucifixion as well as this tidbit about the clothes. It seems perfectly in keeping with John’s testimony that Jesus is to be believed.

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John is the only Gospel that tells this story. Maybe it’s because John is the disciple mentioned – “the disciple whom he [Jesus] loved”. You have to think – Jesus is hanging on the cross. He has been nailed alive to some wood and hoisted in the air – He has to be in pain. Still He looks down and sees His mother and asks His friend to take care of her. (Really, it’s a challenge not to focus on one’s own pain much less in the midst look out for someone else!)

In contrast to the soldiers’ gambling over a jacket there are these three Mary’s and at least one disciple standing with Jesus. I have all kinds of things to say about the staying power of women but does loyalty, devotion, fidelity, allegiance, even cover it here? Could they even process this event? The implications of this scene go in a million directions. Your son, your family, your friend, your teacher is being killed. The claims He offered to save the world – the ones you bought into – look like they are going up in smoke. When life falls apart and crashes in around your ears where do you end up….at the foot of the cross – that’s where.

About God?
In every way and in every circumstance God is always loving and caring for us.

About Me?
When life falls apart and crashes in around my ears, where do I end up….at the foot of the cross – that’s where.

About the World?
Don’t be distracted by things. They don’t last. You for eternity – that’s another matter.

John 19:1-16a

day 47

Pilate is between a rock and a hard place. The Jews refused his offer to allow Jesus to be the Passover Prisoner release. They insisted Jesus was guilty of sedition and treason– for it was unlawful for anyone to claim to be a king other than Caesar. He cannot afford an uprising but he doesn’t want to be bullied by the Jews either.

So he makes some attempts to appease the Jews by having Jesus flogged. His soldiers find this funny is a sick sort of way.  Either they are accustomed to being cruel or feel the liberty in riotous atmosphere.  They mock the Jews and the “King of the Jews” by crowning Jesus with thorns and adorning Him in a purple robe.

Pilate is probably hoping this torture and embarrassment will show the Jews how impotent Jesus really is – how the charge is overstated. But it backfires. The Jews are more enraged – “Crucify him, crucify him!” They are and have been intent on Jesus dying since the prophetic utterance of Caiaphas “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:50 ESV)

“Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” Pilates tries again. It was unlawful for the Jews to execute anyone – that was Rome’s prerogative – so Pilate knew they really couldn’t act.

The Jews counter with “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” This information was unsettling to Pilate. It is one thing for them to make Jesus out as a “king” of this quirky Jewish culture – Pilate had assessed Jesus – he had no army or strength and was not really a threat to Rome – but to claim deity?– That was not a measurable earthly claim but a spiritual one and it was reserved for Caesar. How could Pilate accurately evaluate that?

He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Pilate is trying to get some physical evidence to refute the Jews’ claim but Jesus is silent on this. Pilate is stressed. This thing is escalating and he is incredulous that Jesus doesn’t fear his power.

Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” Jesus reminds Pilate – you have been put in this place of authority by God. Whether Pilate took “from above” to mean the deity Caesar or the true God is not as important as the burden of responsibility he must now feel. Now Pilate was convinced he needed to release Jesus.

(It is a fearful thing to find oneself under the authority of a human institution that seems to hold your future and your life in their hands. If that institution is adversarial it is terrifying – you don’t know what they will do; you dare not allow yourself to believe in mercy; you pray for rescue but the knot in your chest does not lessen. What would change today if I believed even that ungodly, human institution only had authority over me because God had ordained it? Would that not cause me to recall the One who loves me beyond measure is in control of all things? Would that not remind me to trust Him? “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18)

There came the time that Pilate ran out of options. He could not be seen as opposing Caesar. “Now it was the day of preparation of the Passover” and so Pilate prepared the sacrifice and delivered Jesus to be crucified.

About God?
God is full of grace and mercy.

About Me?
If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need? (Rom. 8:32)

About the World?
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will. (Proverbs 21:1)