April 20, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Ahmi Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley

John 18:33-19:1

What can I learn about Jesus’ heart through his interaction with Pilate? I can learn about how much Jesus seemed to have wanted Pilate to focus on the truth of who He was, rather than what others said. Jesus could have ignored Pilate altogether, but, in His time of suffering, He still engaged with Pilate, to help him to come to terms with what he himself really thought of Jesus. It was obvious that Pilate was not used to considering the truth, and Jesus clearly wanted him to consider it and address it.  In the midst of unfathomable suffering, Jesus took time to engage the very man who was going to sentence Him to death, not in an attempt to free Himself but for Pilate to know the truth and be freed. It was ironic for a person who was governing and judging to be so unconcerned about truth.

What can I learn from this? That truth must be confronted. We can push it off for a while and we can even get pretty good at it, learning to dance around it, ignore it, and live with the immediate reality of what will happen to me to drive me to the next point. However, sooner or later, we need to confront Jesus, and the truth of who He is, because our outcome depends on whether we accept Him or deny Him.

We just finished GLive, and as we were all helping out in one form or another to make it happen for the college students, I marveled again, (in addition to how GLive comes together as amazing as that may be) at how God’s story keeps getting passed through college students on campuses. I know that I certainly could not care less about the truth when I was in college. I just wanted to relax and be happy, and determined to not be affected by anything that would disturb my well being. My truth was that parents did not stay together, that stepparents were harsh and discriminatory toward their stepchildren, that I was not free to contact my father or his family, that our lives were bent around how to pacify my stepfather. Then, Jesus confronted me with His truth claims through His church, which I had to eventually live out – to live for Christ, to submit to Him and no longer live to protect myself. So, it is a wonder to me how it came to be that I can be here today, concerned wholeheartedly about whether the truth is proclaimed or not, about how we can help one another live it out.

In the GLive Senior Skit, one of the main characters was based on Pilate and how truth was a dispensable element that cost him integrity, friends and faith. In this world of many truth claims, I was struck again of how important it is to cling onto the truth Himself, Jesus Christ, who ultimately remains when all others die. It was this truth that changed my life, and has turned me around to this path, of no longer trying to preserve my well being in loneliness. I saw myself in the final character in the Junior Skit, who finally realized that he was empty and alone, and what he needed was what he had rejected – the church. And, just as the final scene showed, I was welcomed back with open arms, waiting and praying friends. Such a church cannot stand united unless each member agrees upon who Jesus is and lives it out. This is why I do what I do today – to become such a church for others like me.

In addition to GLive, I had the privilege of helping out the last phase of the passion experience project at North Loop on Sunday. As I’ve been reading through the Passion Week Reader, and meditating on the cross of Jesus, I am so overwhelmed that He would have such a heart for each of us, to steer me out of my self-centered view again and again, to recognize, know, and live out the truth that Jesus Christ is the Lord.

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Submitted by Jon Chou, Gracepoint Berkeley

John 18:33-19:1

Contrast Jesus’ view of truth and Pilate’s view of truth as revealed by his action (19:1). Jesus welcomed the truth, and even in this case, where the truth was going to lead him to his death on the cross. Pilate’s view of truth was that it was secondary in his life. What was primary was surviving, pleasing the crowds, maintaining his position, juggling the outside demands on his life, maintaining the status quo, continuing to move up in the Roman world. For Pilate, if that meant having an innocent man, Jesus, who claimed to possess the truth,  beaten and flogged, and ultimately crucified, then so be it. The truth was that he has the Son of God before him, inviting him to hear the truth about knowing God, but Pilate had no room for the truth in his life because there were too many other priorities.

What evidence is there in my life that shows that I am on the side of truth? The truth that God is my creator and my lord means that my life is about him, that my choices, big and small, have to do with God’s will in my life and in this world. My life needs to adjust to fit into God’s plan of salvation for people. My schedule should be dictated by the demands of other people that God has called me to love. My time and energy are to be devoted to God’s work and God’s people.

The truth that I am a sinner, prone to temptation, means that my life needs to be built around community and accountability. I am not okay on my own. I cannot have a cavalier attitude about sin. I need to build boundaries in my life, even if they make life slightly more inconvenient, because sin is this scary thing inside of my heart that will devour me and others if I am not dealing with it. My sinfulness should continue to humble me and cause me to turn to God for forgiveness again and again, and to other brothers and leaders for accountability and correction. The truth of my sinfulness means that I will have to be corrected again and again about my sins and my character, and that is something I need to welcome. Sure, it’s unpleasant, and it tramples on my pride and ego, but the truth about myself is something I need to hear and confront regularly so that I can deal with it.

John 18:38-19:16

“Realizing that the priests were implacable and that resisting them would only endanger his career, Pilate finally gave in and ordered the Crucifixion. Certain features of Pilate’s examination of Jesus are significant. Pilate’s behavior shows that he was apprehensive of trouble. From the outset he was uncertain of his position. He oscillated between public confrontation with the Jewish mob and private interrogation of Jesus. Seven times in this brief narrative the author says or implies that Pilate ‘went out’ or ‘went in’ (18:29, 33, 38; 19:1, 4, 9, 13). Beneath his arrogant manner, there was an uncertainty that came from the conflict between Pilate the Roman judge and Pilate the politician. He finally succumbed to expediency.”

What is the process by which Pilate comes to the point of handing Jesus over to be crucified even though he declared him innocent three times? He first tries to not have to judge Jesus (v.31), wanting to just avoid the trouble in the first place. The people’s response force him to at least examine Jesus, and he finds no basis for a charge against Jesus, and in a effort to appease the crowd and not have to deal with Jesus, he offers Barabbas, hoping that the crowd will choose Jesus and get him out of this mess, so that this uprising will end, he can go back to normal life, and he won’t have to deal with Jesus. But the people choose Barabbas, and Pilate again tries to appease them by having Jesus, who he had just declared innocent of any charge, beaten. Already, he’s begun to compromise on his role as a judge because of the demands of the crowd and his desire to maintain the status quo. The flogging doesn’t work, and the crowds demand crucifixion, and even though Pilate does everything he can to set Jesus free, he ultimately caves in and gives Jesus up to be crucified. From the beginning, Pilate is trying to worm his way out of having to deal with Jesus, having to make a decision about Jesus, and ultimately his cowardice and desire to please the crowds leads him to condemn an innocent man, and reject what he probably strongly suspected to be the source of truth.

What does Pilate forfeit and what does he preserve through his final decision? Pilate forfeits his conscience, his self-respect as a Roman judge, and an opportunity to respond to the truth that Jesus offers him. He preserves his place in the government, life as he knows it, and his personal safety.

What is the irony of Pilate saying “Don’t you realize I have the power to free you or to crucify you?” Pilate had no power to free Jesus. He actually tried to free Jesus, but was unable to. He thought he was free and in control of his own choices, but ultimately he was weak-willed, cowardly, enslaved to the crowds he wanted to appease, and enslaved to his need to preserve himself. As a Roman judge and governor, he thought he had power, but the truth was that he didn’t even have the power to do the right thing and release Jesus, the very thing he wanted to do. In a way, his “power” prevented him from having real power to properly respond to Jesus, whatever the consequences might be.

What can I learn about true power from Jesus’ response to Pilate? True power comes from knowing the truth and being able to submit to the truth, even if that comes at great cost to myself. Because conforming my life to reality and the truth is the most important, and ultimately life-giving thing. True power and freedom is for me to confront the truth about myself, admit my sin, receive forgiveness, and experience the freedom that comes from being forgiven and restored to relationship with God. True power comes from submitting my life to the way God has designed me to live, in community, in relationship with him, in submission to his will, and that’s where real life and power and freedom comes.

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Submitted by Carol Chou, Gracepoint Berkeley

What is the process by which Pilate comes to the point of handing Jesus over to be crucified even though he declared him innocent three times? Pilate comes to the point of handing Jesus over to be crucified even though he declared him innocent three times by first trying to reason with the crowd that it would be better to have Jesus set free than a rebellious murderer like Barabbas. But when the crowd shouts for Barabbas to be released, Pilate realizes that the Jews are not being rational and are out for Jesus’ blood. He does not want to get in trouble with Caesar so to try to appease the crowd, Pilate has Jesus flogged. When that does not satisfy the crowd, he tries to shift the blame and responsibility for giving into the crowd’s demands. Pilate’s fears of immediate consequences and self-preserving nature overwhelm the truth that Jesus is innocent and caves in.

What does Pilate forfeit and what does he preserve through his final decision? Through his final decision to crucify Jesus, Pilate forfeits the truth that Jesus is innocent and undeserving of any punishment or death. He forfeits his integrity and any conviction he had that Jesus could be the Messiah and the truth. He forfeited courage to act upon truth in the face of opposition. Pilate preserved temporary relief from the Jews’ threat to rebel and report him to Caesar  He preserved his comfort and the need to put down a rebellion.

What have I forfeited to preserve myself in the past? In high school, I forfeited integrity, friendship, truth, and the ability to think for myself when some of the girls in the crowd I usually hung out with started asking me why I hung out with a particular girl. She was someone I had classes with and would work on projects with. We had fun together and ended up spending a lot of time together because of school. Suddenly, my friends thought she was weird. Like Pilate, I started feeling apprehensive about my friends’ approval of me and without even questioning why they thought she was weird or if I had any reason to think she was weird, I found myself distancing myself from her and she became alienated from everyone. I was self-preserving and selfish, only caring about myself, not the misery and loneliness that it caused her to the point that she ended up leaving our school. What a horrible thing to happen to anyone during a time when we are painfully insecure about what others think of us. At the time, I didn’t think much of it and it reveals how I forfeited compassion and was desensitized to others’ needs. My silence was wicked and I did nothing to defend her. Only after I became a Christian in college did I remember what happened with the truth of the horror of my sin, regret, and repentance before God whom I ultimately hurt with my cowardice.

Romans 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

What is the irony of Pilate saying “Don’t you realize I have the power to free you or to crucify you?” The irony of Pilate saying, “Don’t you realize I have the power to free you or to crucify you?” was that Pilate had no power. Even though he knew Jesus was innocent, he was at the mercy of the crowd and the fear of Caesar. He was powerless and it was actually Jesus who had true power.

What can I learn about true power from Jesus’ response to Pilate? Jesus voluntarily submitted himself to the suffering of bearing man’s sin and the cross. He could have stopped the suffering at any moment, but he resolved to accomplish the Father’s will of reconciliation with man.

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Submitted by Andrew Iskandar, Gracepoint Minneapolis

What is the process by which Pilate comes to the point of handing Jesus over to be crucified even though he declared him innocent three times? The first time he pronounces Jesus’ innocence, he tries to get them to choose him as the prisoner to be released for the Passover. When that doesn’t work, Pilate has Jesus flogged instead of just releasing him in order to satiate the crowd’s desire for blood. He hopes that they’ll be satisfied upon seeing his blood being shed and his body broken. But they are not. And then the third time, he tells the chief priests and officials to crucify Jesus themselves because he cannot for he found Jesus innocent. But they say that they cannot because they aren’t legally allowed to do so. And seeing that there is no other option. Pilate tries to pronounce Jesus’ innocence and to satisfy the crowds’ bloodlust, but he cannot. And so Pilate gives in to their demands and gives Jesus up to be crucified. It’s tragic to see Pilate, a man of supposed power and authority, have to do something he doesn’t want to do and in fact what he shouldn’t do. He knows that Jesus is innocent and instead of confronting the crowd and making that statement and decision to release Jesus, he tries “roundabout” ways. All this does is make him more susceptible to the shouts and demands of the chief priests, temple authorities, and crowds. And so in the end, he sends an innocent man to his death.

What does Pilate forfeit and what does he preserve through his final decision? In making this final decision, Pilate preserves his position as governor and the state of relative peace among his people. He achieves the security and comfort that he wants as he doesn’t have to make a “controversial” decision that could lead to riots and the lose of his governorship. Ultimately, he preserves his comfort, position and status. But in doing so, he loses his integrity and moral compass. He no longer does what he knows to be right, but rather what is more comfortable and easier.  In the end, he is responsible for letting an innocent man be killed. He knew that Jesus was innocent, yet he forfeits that conviction in order to achieve, what he believes, is the “greater good.” He is no longer a man of truth but a man of convenience. He will do whatever he feels to be “right” in the situation instead of doing what he knows is right.

What have I forfeited to preserve myself in the past? In the past, when I have chosen to lie instead of telling the truth, I preserve my image and reputation, but I lose my sense of integrity. By covering up the wrongs that I’ve done and attempt to make myself better then I really am, I end up damaging my conscience and ability to do what is right. I am no longer a consistent person and I become just like Pontius Pilate. And it’s not just “big” lies that this happens, it also happens when I try and color things to make the consequences or results of my actions better than they really are, when I try to embellish my efforts or diminish the negative impacts of my sin, or even in “white” lies. I lose a sense of “right” and instead become a person of “convenience.” And in doing this, I am no longer a person of integrity.

When I refuse to confess and admit my wrong, I preserve my pride but I end up losing out on the restoration of a relationship. When I get into a fight with someone or do something wrong that hurts them, I don’t want to confess the wrong that I did because it hurts my pride. I’d rather just let time pass and assume that “time heals all wounds.” But in doing so, the relationship that I have with that person becomes less. It’s less trusting, less open, less honest, less meaningful because I’ve chosen to do what is convenient for me rather then what is honest and truthful. And this is the same with God. When I sin and refuse to confess, sure I maintain my pride, but I end up losing out on having my relationship with Him restored and experiencing His grace and mercy in my life.

What is the irony of Pilate saying “Don’t you realize I have the power to free you or to crucify you?” The irony of Pilate saying “Don’t you realize that I have the power to free you or to crucify you…” is that he doesn’t have this power. He says he does, but he ends up doing what the crowd wants him to do, even through he wants to do the opposite. He know that Jesus is innocent and that the right thing to do is to release him, but he doesn’t. He cannot release Jesus because he feels the pressure of the demands of the Jewish rulers and the crowds. He ends up giving in to their demands and lets Jesus get crucified.

What can I learn about true power from Jesus’ response to Pilate?
“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.” True power is only in God’s hands. No one else has power in this world. Jesus had the power the save himself from the cross, but he lets it go in order to let Easter happen. God let’s himself be crucified upon the cross, letting go of His power, in order to enact His salvation. And so it only seems like the Pilate, Judas, the Jewish authorities, etc. have “power.” And so this just reminds me of God’s sovereignty over all things. God is the one who is in ultimate control. He is the only one with true power. Sometimes there will be situations in this world where it doesn’t seem like God is in control, but all I need to do is remember Jesus’ journey to the cross and be reminded that God has a reason and purpose for letting things happen. He is the one who is ultimately sovereign over all things and I can trust Him to redeem all things, just as he redeemed the cross and made it the Gospel and salvation for all mankind.

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