April 4 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 22, 23)

Submitted by Michael K. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Luke 22:63-23:12

·       Mockery, accusation, curiosity

This passage contains a variety of responses to Jesus coming from the different parties involved: guards, elders of the people, and Roman authorities.

Both the temple guards and Herod’s soldiers are seen ridiculing and mocking Jesus. They beat him, blindfolded him, and insulted him. To treat an ordinary person in this way would be despicable and cruel, but how could they do this to Jesus, the Son of God? They had probably heard of him before, as some sort of religious figure or miracle worker, but certainly they had no idea of his true identity. They might have thought that he was just some crazy fanatic and thus felt no compunction is treating him in the way that they did.

The religious authorities accuse Jesus before Pilate and Herod, seizing upon their chance to finally be rid of him. They had been looking for a way to accuse him and put him to death, and now that their plan was in play, they pressed forward with vehement accusations. Their charges against Jesus are of sedition and blasphemy, that Jesus was opposing Caesar and putting himself forward as king of the Jews, and stirring up the people of Judea. I think the chief priests and teachers of the law probably recognized that Jesus wasn’t much of an actual threat to the Roman Empire. But he was a threat to their religious authority and the power/status they enjoyed, and so they had to do whatever it took to protect their own interests. They had him arrested and then accused him, not accepting the fact that the one they passed judgment on was the one who would be the ultimate Judge of their lives.

Both Pilate and Herod interview Jesus, and both end up finding no basis for a charge against him; they declare him to be innocent. But more than that, they find him fascinating and are curious about him. From the other gospel accounts, we know that Pilate was amazed by Jesus–his presence, the fact that he didn’t try to defend himself, but instead talked about his kingdom and about truth. Herod had wanted to see Jesus for a long time, and heard about his miracles. They probably both knew that Jesus was no ordinary man, and certainly not a criminal. But for all their curiosity, their declarations of Jesus’ innocence, and whatever they might have sensed or concluded about him, they remained passive and ultimately surrendered Jesus to the crowd and to the cross.

·       Son of God, King of the Jews

I think one common thread in all these groups is that they were ultimately wrong about who Jesus was. They did ask, however, and Jesus answered, “Yes, I am the Son of God.”  “Yes, I am the King of the Jews.” Yet these people did not believe him; they did not believe in him, and so they made the gravest error of turning against him, turning away from him. To be wrong about Jesus’ identity is the worst possible mistake someone can make.

Though I do declare that Jesus is the Son of God, I still struggle with living out the implications of this confession, and I can identify in myself the same twisted heart that underlies the responses of these groups of people:

  • The guards were calloused and cruel, thinking of themselves to be in control and in power over the pathetic figure subjected to their mockery and beatings. This is the same kind of callousness in my own heart when I willfully reject Jesus’ authority over my life and instead decide to choose my own sinful desires over obedience to him. As the soldiers dressed up Jesus in a robe and ridiculed him and feigned homage, they were implicitly asserting that Jesus was not who he claimed to be. In a similar way, I make a mockery of him because I don’t take my sins as seriously as I should. When I think I can take obedience to his commands lightly, at my own discretion or by my own interpretation, or have the brazenness to excuse my own sin, then I am like these soldiers, making a mockery of his holiness and divinity.
  • Like the religious authorities that vilified Jesus and sought to accuse him because they saw him as a threat to their own prestige and position, I see how I too can evaluate and treat God in terms of how He benefits or hinders my agendas and desires. Rather than recognizing who He is and redefining my life to fit into Jesus’ terms, I try to fit him into mine. I see this in how I still try to maintain my own comfort and sense of control even as I ostensibly follow Jesus. When there is intrusion or unexpected inconvenience in my life due to the demands of discipleship and needs of ministry, I need to check my heart and make sure that I recognize this as my identity as a disciple, rather than something that is out of the ordinary.  Though it’s clear that a life of discipleship means hardship and suffering, my resistance can become a way of accusing Jesus, and trying to hold him responsible for the small difficulties or inconveniences that I experience.

Submitted by Richard L. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Luke 22:63-23:12

  • What did Jesus endure from those who were guarding him?  What was His response to them?  What does this say regarding the nature of his love for me?

Jesus had to endure senseless beatings and the insult of mockery. Yet his response to the soldiers was to endure it. He didn’t snap back, retaliate, curse, or destroy them. No, his response was to accept the accusations, the absurd demands and abuse. He could have simply pointed out to them how utterly foolish and wrong they were and in so doing, put the “fear of God” in them and really put them in their place. Instead, he understood that they don’t know what they are doing. He sees through their fear, insecurities, pride, immaturity, and ignorance. And ultimately, he takes in their resentment and forgives them. His response was to continue toward the cross. The cross was the pinnacle expression of Jesus’ love for each of these men as he surrendered his rights, his power, his very life.

In many ways, I can come to Jesus with my own misunderstandings and misgivings and approach him with my unreasonable expectations of how I expect my life to be, such as, “Jesus should have solved this issue that I’m facing by now.” And yet in the same way that Jesus accepted the abuse of these men, the nature of his love for me isn’t to squash me down and reject me, though he has every right and power to do so. No, instead, he sees my foolishness and pride and forgives. His love for me isn’t based on how well I understand who he is or even what I can do for him. His love for me is simply that he chooses to love me.

  • How does Jesus’ example challenge me in my relationships?

Jesus’ examples challenge me to recognize that in my relationships, I don’t need to get in the last word each time or to make sure that in each argument, that my points are made clear, that the matters in which I clearly know that I am right in such and such particular ways have been articulated well and that the other parties yield to me. In many of my relationships, when I’m pointed out for the mistakes that I’ve made or even have been misunderstood, I want to make sure that my name is cleared and that my image can be restored to what I expect it to be. This isn’t the model that Jesus demonstrates nor is this the picture of love. Love as demonstrated by Jesus shows just to what extent he was willing to bear with them and be humble towards them. I’m so quick to get frustrated with people who don’t understand me or are not compliant. I’m quick to place judgment on others. I’m quick to roll my eyes and mentally check out of my friendships after disagreements. But Jesus’ patience and forbearance to those who hated him is truly a model that I need to emulate in all my relationships.

Luke 22:66-71

  • The religious authorities ask a very good question, and they get an accurate and truthful answer.  Yet, they end up condemning Jesus.  Why?

The reason why they were asking Jesus if he was in fact the Son of God, if he was in fact the Christ that they had all been waiting for was because they wanted an excuse to get rid of Jesus. They weren’t asking Jesus questions of his identity because they really wanted to know and perhaps actually follow him and repent. No, their probing questions were a means to an end to satisfy their deepest desire to get rid of him. Their assumption was that the Christ, the Son of God, whom they have been waiting for their whole lives, would come and confirm that they have been doing a great job as the top religious leaders of Israel. In fact, they wanted Jesus to be just like them. As far as they were concerned, Jesus of Nazareth, who only criticized their way of life and all the practices that they have held so dear, was annoying at best and at worst a threat that needed to be removed because so many people were beginning to follow him. They wanted Jesus out! And what better way than to have him say the most blasphemous claim in their eyes. After all, the Son of God wouldn’t be like Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God would be like them and anything shy of that picture that they have held onto would be unacceptable to them. So ironically, they got the answers they were looking for. They got the truth. But because of their prior notions of what the son of God would be like, they condemn Jesus.

  • What might be the question Jesus could have asked, that he knows “they would not answer”?

He could have asked them the question that he asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” He knows that they would not answer because again and again, Jesus was frustrated at their lack of response from the past. He has tried to engage them into understanding the heart of God. Yet each time, they remain silent and calculating. When Jesus asked them, “Tell me, John’s baptism – was it from heaven, or from men?” they couldn’t give an answer because too much of their image and reputation was at stake for them. It was far better for them to approach Jesus with their own expectations of how Jesus ought to be than to actually be open to hearing what Jesus had to say regarding their hearts. They would have been forced to do some hard reflection about their hearts and their lives and the authenticity of Jesus’ ministry.

  • What about these religious leaders serves as a warning for me?

The manner in which these religious leaders approached Jesus is a huge warning for me. Their continual refusal to engage with Jesus even though they were so close in proximity to Jesus shows just how easy it is to be right there with Jesus and yet have totally incorrect notions of how Jesus. But it is these notions of Jesus that ultimately prevented them from encountering the heart of God.

As I get older and as I my ministry responsibilities grow, I have an expectation as to how I need to be and how to carry myself. And often I’ll start to expect Jesus to fill a certain role that I need him to be in order to propel my own agenda, and the image that I have of myself. It’s no longer about Jesus and God’s heart bur rather about my own show. But I too need to confront with this question of who I claim Jesus to be. Will I allow him today to be my master and Lord? Will I surrender my expectations,  hopes, fears, agenda, and rights to him today? Will I surrender my pride and allow the word of God, the church to address me and point out the ways in which I’m a sinner, the ways that I need to grow and repent?

Luke 23:10

  • Although the chief priests and the teachers of the law turned out to be utterly wrong about Jesus, they vehemently accused him.  How can I avoid this kind of dangerous blindness in my life?

For me, one of the ways I can avoid this pitfall is to continue to seek feedback and correction in my life from those wiser and older than me. The problem with the teachers of the law was that they were part of a self-affirming group. They affirmed one another and there was no opportunity for anyone from the outside to correct them. Many times, I simply want to affirm and reaffirm my thoughts, my actions and tell myself that I’m right without wanting to hear from others. But as I’ve learned to receive feedback, I’m able to see the follies of my thinking, and am able to see the specific ways in which I am a sinner. I am not a sinner by theory. I am a sinner in many specific ways and I can identify the people that I have hurt. If I simply refused to allow my leaders to speak truth into my life and point out areas of my life that I’m blind to, I will simply remain like these teachers of the law, totally wrong and blind.

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