April 5 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 23)

Submitted by Jessica C. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Luke 23:13-25

  • Power, compromise
  • They kept shouting; their shouts prevailed

No one would argue that Pilate was a man in position of power. He was a Roman governor with armies of soldiers under him. He had the power to determine the fate of criminals—to sentence them, punish them, or in some cases, release them. He also had the power to crucify men, something that the religious leaders did not have. And yet, with all the power that he had, he was ultimately powerless when it came to releasing Jesus. Though he “found no basis for [their] charges against him,” and Jesus had “done nothing to deserve death,” we see him becoming more and more powerless to the cries and demands of the crowd, and ended up resorting to compromises in order to both appease them and maintain his position of power. We see Pilate engaging in a struggle of will—torn between appeasing the crowd and sticking up for truth. We see him trying to find some wiggle room to be able to satisfy both, and therefore busy compromising and negotiating in order to find a happy medium.

I find myself many times in the same position as Pilate—a struggle of will of sorts. Having been a Christian for some time now, and being involved in ministry, there is a set of truths about God, about Christian life, about discipleship, that I know are true. They’re truths that I do not deny and are convinced in its rightness and legitimacy, because I’ve investigated them and found them to be true, and conviction in these truths have grown over the years. And yet, why do I find it difficult to faithfully, consistently live out these truths in my day to day life, truths that I know are true, right and good?  Because of external and internal sources that “shout” a different “truth”. Voices within and voices in this world that tell me that the truth of life is that I need to preserve myself, that I am an orphan in this world, that in this world of scarcity I need to grasp, I need to be shrewd, I need to carefully measure out how much I’m going to give to others. “Truths” of this world that says that my significance and worth comes from status, title, numbers, results, people’s approval and respect. Or another “truth” for Pilate would have been the call to maintain peace and order to his life–to exercise tight control over his life, and to do so at all cost. If he released Jesus, that would have meant opening up a whole can of worms, as riots and rebellion would start up in the city, as he would not only receive disapproval from Caesar, but his own position as governor (or possibly his very life) would have been jeopardized. There were the audible “shouts” of the crowd that he had to appease, but there were also the “shouts” within that painted a bleak future of his life. Therefore, in the end, though he believed in Jesus’ innocence, though he tried to make compromises and have the best of both worlds, the shouts prevailed.

As I reflected over the character of Pilate, I saw that when it comes to Christian life, the most miserable position to be in is when you’re living a compromised life–like Pilate, trying to find some sort of happy medium, where you can honor God’s truth and at the same time, honor yours as well and constantly in negotiation with God in terms of what you’re going to give to Him and how much. For me, these negotiations come in the form of wanting to do ministry and really love people the way I’ve been loved, but still be able to maintain a pretty clean, orderly, and controlled life where things are predictable, and where I can have some reserves leftover for myself. When it comes to the nature of love—how it’s all-consuming, giving, pouring out, sacrificing—I know that it’s simply not possible to have both, and yet, at the base level, I keep operating in negotiation mode as though it can. It is very sobering to see the end result of Pilate’s compromise. “Pilate decided to grant their demand.” Finally, he made a decision, but it was a decision to have his own way and reject truth.

For me, recently I made that fresh decision to listen to God’s truth and submit to His ways, instead of trying to compromise the terms of discipleship. We’ve been studying through the book of 2 Corinthians, and it’s been really good and challenging for me to reflect on the life and heart of Apostle Paul. Through his life, I’ve been seeing a living testimony of one who’s completely surrendered his life to God, and as I see God’s truth playing out in his life, it’s helped me to loosen my grip over my life and instead to fully embrace the total claims of discipleship and what it means to be a minister. There’s freedom I’ve experienced as I moved from that position of compromise, and instead to embracing God’s truth. And yet, I know that because I’m a sinner who keeps insisting on having things done my way, I’m not going to stray too far away from being in Pilate’s position again. And so, to prevent the “shouts” from prevailing in my life, I need to deepen my convictions in the truth, and allow God’s truths to take deeper root in my life. This happens through reflection over God’s word—something that I’m very fortunate to be able to amply receive through our church, as we have daily devotions as well as several messages each week.

As we go through Passion Week and reflect on Jesus’ suffering and the cross, it’s another opportunity for me to personally connect with the cross, and look to our Lord and Savior, who lived an uncompromised life. A life that completely surrendered to God, and embraced the ugly truth of our sins, and remained steadfast and unmoved in his walk towards Calvary, even at the cost of his very own life. He didn’t look for wiggle room; he drank the cup fully. The cross “shouts” loud and clear of God’s love for me, and my prayer is that I would allow the cross and God’s love to be what prevails in my life over the other shouts of this world.

Submitted by Kevin L. from Gracepoint Hsinchu Church

Luke 23:13-22

·      The crowd wanted to crucify Jesus despite the truth of his innocence.  What about Jesus made the crowd so irrational?

Throughout Jesus’ life, He claimed that He was God, that He could forgive sins. Jesus’ claims demanded the people to make a choice, either to accept Him for who He said He is, or to silence truth and get rid of Him. Truth is offensive because it points to human sin and claims that we are utterly broken. It is hard for human pride to accept this and simply accept that’s who we are. During the trial, Jesus was simply silent and did not try to defend himself. The crowd gave into mob power and irrationality. They did not stop to think, consider, or hear the truth that Jesus is innocent because they were determined to silence truth. This led them to even demand Pilate to release Barabbas, a criminal and a murderer, and to crucify Jesus.

·      Are there things about God or his words that make me respond in the way the crowd did?

There are times when God uses circumstances, people, or His Word to show me that I am a sinner through and through, and I can find it hard to accept or say I’m not like that and try to silence the truth. It could be an incident that revealed my pride, envy, selfishness, or my laziness. I try to make excuses by pointing to little decent things I did and say that’s me, and try to say the sin that I committed was a mistake, an anomaly. I try to say people don’t understand the circumstances, don’t understand me. All too often, when corrected or confronted with truth, my emotions and ego flare up, and make me not able to respond rationally to God or his words. I try to silence the truth by denying it, not thinking about it, or attribute ill intentions to the person telling me the truth.

Luke 23:23-24

·      Although Pilate was in the position to release Jesus, in the end, he was utterly powerless to do so.  What about Pilate ultimately allowed the “shouts” of the crowd to prevail?  What did he lack?

Although Pilate was supposedly the one in charge, supposedly the one who could declare that Jesus was innocent and release him, in the end, he was so powerless and basically a puppet to the crowd’s opinion and outcry. Ultimately, Pilate was so concerned about people’s opinion of him, people’s approval, not rocking the boat, maintaining status quo.

He was concerned about his position and his future, and what the people would do to him. Pilate lacked character and integrity to stand up for what he knew was true and right. Instead he gave in to his fears, gave in to the crowd’s shouts.

·      What can I learn about the progression of compromise from the progression of Pilate’s responses (Luke 23:4, 16, 22, 24)?

From the start when Pilate announced that he found no basis for a charge against this man, he gradually began to compromise and his passivity ended up sending Jesus to the cross. At the outset, he knew the trial was unfair and that Jesus was wrongly accused, but he did not just stop it right there. Instead, he compromised and gave into the people’s cries by saying that he would punish Jesus and then release him. He brought in Barabbas, thinking that the people would want to release Jesus, in comparison to the violent Barabbas. Instead, the people wanted Pilate to release Barabbas. Three times, he tried to speak to the crowd to tell them that he would release Jesus after punishing him. Pilate should’ve just made the decision since he was the one who was in charge and he knew what was the right thing to do.

Instead, he kept on going back to the people to try to appease them and satisfy them. But the punishment did not help and the people were unsatisfied, and in the end, Pilate gave in to the people’s demands. Through this progression, I learned that one must go with his convictions and end the progression of compromise–the sooner the better. Because if one gives in and compromises, it easily leads to another compromise and then to another, to a point where even if one wants to stop, he is not able to do so.

·      What kinds of “shouts” demand me to deny Jesus or compromise my beliefs?

The kinds of shouts that demand me to deny Jesus or compromise my beliefs include lies of this world that say to preserve yourself, fend for yourself. These shouts could come from society and even from people who are close to you. It’s a general feel of, “Are you sure you want to give your life entirely to Jesus?” “You should live for yourself and live it up,” “Who’s going to watch after you?” “You should try to make it to the top.” Or just looking at some professing Christians who seem to live more comfortable lives, I can say why does my spiritual walk have to be like this or I want to give a little into comfort. These are ways that cause me to compromise in my belief and faith.

·      What will determine my response to these “shouts”?

What will determine my response to these shouts is whether I have deep conviction and prior commitment to do what is right and pleasing to God and not give into my fears and desire for people’s approval. Ultimately, it depends on whether I am living to please God or to please people. I need to be deeply convicted that I am a sinner and that Christ came to die on the cross for my sins and my life no longer belongs to myself. I need to be deeply convicted that Jesus is the Way, that He came to save me and that He is Lord over my life.  Also, no matter what happens, I will trust in God and cling on to Him.

Luke 23:25

·      What is the irony in the outcome of the trial?

It is so ironic and tragic that the outcome of the trial was that the man who was in prison for insurrection and murder, who deserved to be punished and imprisoned was let out and released. On the other hand, Jesus, who was innocent and wrongly accused, was punished and not just imprisoned but crucified on the cross. It’s so ironic that each person did not receive the just payment of what he did.

·      How does this mirror what has taken place in my life?

This mirror what has taken place in my life, as I am the one who deserves to die and punished, yet Christ is the one who came to pay the punishment on the cross. I was the one who sinned, who rebelled against God, who caused hurt to God, to people close to me, and myself, and my just penalty is to be abandoned, live a shameful life.

My shameful past should cause me to be guilt-ridden and be forever away from God. If people really knew me, they would not want to be with me. Yet Christ came such that ultimately, He was the one who was abandoned by others, ridiculed and mocked. Jesus, the perfect lamb, came to take away my sins. I am undeserving of this kind of grace and love.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being my God and dying on the cross for my sins. Help me to not be like Pilate, who gave into his fears and desire for people’s approval. But help me to be a man who seeks to please You over men and live by my convictions. As it is Passion week, help me to really internalize this whole experience in a deeper way, personalize my sins, and really see why Christ had to come, why He had to suffer the agony and the pain and the shame. It is so unfair that Christ came to bear my sins, and that is such amazing grace.

Submitted by Tony C. from Gracepoint San Diego Church

Luke 23:13-22

  • The crowd wanted to crucify Jesus despite the truth of his innocence.  What about Jesus made the crowd so irrational?

For the chief priests and teachers of the law, Jesus had been a thorn to them, regularly pointing out their hypocrisies. For the people, many of them had been coming to the temple to hear Jesus teach since the day he entered Jerusalem. Hoping to find a Savior that would deliver them from Roman oppression, Jesus spoke about the widow who gave to God all she had to live on and how the beauty and majesty of the temple would one day be destroyed. Perhaps the reasons why Jesus made the crowd so irrational were simply because he was nothing like the messiah they were expecting; instead, his presence posed a threat and challenge to the ways many of them were living.

  • Are there things about God or His words that make me respond in the way the crowd did?

From the previous week’s devotions, when I reflected on the passage of The Widow’s Offering, there was a part of me that wanted to respond the way the crowd did. When Jesus commended the poor widow for her offering and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on,” I could not help but find these words from God as a challenge and rebuke to my selfish and calculative ways of living toward God at times. When I read this, there was a part of me that wanted to ask why Jesus had to confront me about such things. Didn’t he know that I already have other character issues that I need to work on? Rather than pondering on the truth that I was confronted with, I began to act irrationally. I saw Jesus as someone who was making things hard for me rather than someone who was only trying to speak truth into me, and I wanted him to go away so that I wouldn’t have to think about another character issue that I needed to accept and deal with.

Luke 23:23-24

  • Although Pilate was in the position to release Jesus, in the end, he was utterly powerless to do so.  What about Pilate ultimately allowed the “shouts” of the crowd to prevail?  What did he lack?

What ultimately allowed the “shouts” of the crowd to prevail were perhaps his fears – his fear of an uprising occurring, and his fear that his position as procurator would be in jeopardy. Even though Pilate knew that the crowd was being irrational, he lacked the courage to do what was right; instead, he chose to appease the crowd, and do what would be safe and be most beneficial for him.

  • What can I learn about the progression of compromise from the progression of Pilate’s responses (Luke 23:4, 16, 22, 24)?

From finding no basis for a charge against Jesus, to punishing and releasing him, to pleading with the people and then punishing him, and finally to crucifying Jesus, we see a progression of Pilate’s response to the crowd. From this I can learn that the progression of compromise oftentimes involves one’s lack of courage and duty to do what is right, and his partial surrender to the shouts and demands that stir up his ever-present fears and desires.

  • What kinds of “shouts” demand me to deny Jesus or compromise my beliefs? 

The kinds of “shouts” that demand me to deny Jesus or compromise my beliefs oftentimes come from our society’s culture, close people in my life, and my own sinful heart. Just to name a few, they are…How come you’re not investing more time into school or your work to advance yourself, but instead volunteering your time to serve God? Why don’t you find a good job first and then look for a good church around the area? Many people go to church on Sundays, how come church for you is not like that? it’s How come you try to care for others so much when they aren’t even your family members? Why are you being frugal to yourself and generous to others; shouldn’t you think about yourself first? There’s a lot more still, and many of them stem from my desires to do what is easy, convenient, and comfortable, and my fears of avoiding hardships, suffering, and sacrifice.

  • What will determine my response to these “shouts”?

My desire to do what is right, to do what pleases God, will determine my response to these shouts, and I know that it will involve courage and a sense of duty in order to carry out. When I hear shouts such as, “Why are you trying to care for others so much when they aren’t even your family members,” I have to remind myself that this is something that pleases God, and I should do it even if everyone else finds it strange or disapproves of it. When I hear shouts such as, “How come you’re not investing more time into school or your work to advance yourself,” I need to face my fear of not gaining respect and attention from others, and remind myself that a life that focuses on God and others is a more beautiful life to live than a selfish life that is focuses solely on my own advancements. These shouts will always appear and reappear in my life; and during these moments, I have to remind myself that these shouts are irrational, and I need to take courage and stand firm to do what is right, to do what pleases God.

Luke 23:25

  • What is the irony in the outcome of the trial?

The irony is that in the end, an insurrectionist that killed someone was set free from prison because of irrational demands from the crowd, but Jesus who was innocent and not guilty of any crime, and was only trying to speak truth into people’s lives, was punished and crucified.

  • How does this mirror what has taken place in my life?

In many occasions, the shouts that stir up my fears are presented before me, where I need to do what is right because that is what pleases God. But I’d have to admit that at times instead of doing what is right and pleasing to God, I choose to do what everyone else is doing even if it involves compromising the commitments or boundaries I have set up for myself.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response