In our previous message we saw how the Jewish Sanhedrin acted as a lynch mob bringing Jesus to Pilate, the Roman Procurator of Palestine, to be sentenced to death. In John 18:29-30 we learn that when Pilate asked them for the charges, they disrespectfully answered him by saying “If He were not a malefactor we would not have brought Him to you.” They rudely ignored Pilate’s request for their charges against Jesus by implying to Pilate, “How dare you question our integrity.”
PILATE WAS NO DUMMY!
He was a shrewd politician. He knew of the popularity of Jesus with the Jewish masses. He had observed how the crowds honored Him. He knew Jesus had just destroyed the Jewish priest’s lucrative temple business by overthrowing the money changer’s tables and loosing the sacrificial birds and animals from their cages and pens.
According to Matthew 27:18 we know that Pilate was well aware of the religious differences and the bitter envy of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus So in John 18:31 Pilate turned Jesus back to the Jewish leaders with the instruction to “Judge Him according to your own religious laws.” A charge of blasphemy was of no concern to him.
THE SANHEDRIN CHANGE THEIR CHARGES AGAINST JESUS.
So the Jews switched the charges from blasphemy to the political charges that Jesus was inciting insurrection against the Roman government. Since it was Pilate’s responsibility to keep peace in the land, they decided that political charges might concern Pilate more than their earlier charges of religious blasphemy. Of course their political charges were lies and Pilate knew it.
Shrewd Pilate could see right through their charade. If Jesus had been fomenting Jewish insurrection against the Roman Empire, the priests would have been the first to stand alongside of Jesus. They and all of Israel hated the Roman oppression with the high taxes. Pilate knew that; so did not take their charges seriously.
The Sanhedrin feared the masses. If they killed the popular Jesus, they would have a riot on their hands. However, if Rome killed him; then they could lay the responsibility on the Romans.
Also Pilate feared the Jews. As keeper of the peace (Pax Romana), the last thing he wanted was a riot throughout the land. He feared the Sanhedrin for they led and controlled the people.
Also I believe Pilate feared the power of Jesus. There was something about Jesus that made him feel uneasy and that struck fear to his heart.
WHY NOT STONE JESUS?
When Pilate turned Jesus back to the control of the Sanhedrin, why did they not go ahead and stone Jesus, as was their custom with prisoners facing capital offenses?
I’ll tell you why. God would not allow it. Long before, it had been prophesied that Jesus would die by being lifted up on a cross. See John 12:32 and Psalm 22. Though the Romans were not aware of it, they were fulfilling Scripture by crucifying Jesus, the most excruciating form of torture and death devised by man. In fact, the very word, “excruciating” comes from crucifixion.
So the Sanhedrin ignored their capital offense charge that Jesus was a blasphemer and they manufactured new charges, bold-faced lies, that they hoped would gain Pilate’s attention. You can read the new charges in Luke 23:2.
1. We found this fellow perverting the nation. Lie # 1
2. He forbade paying taxes to Caesar. Lie # 2. What Jesus actually taught about paying taxes is found in Luke 20:20-26
3. He claimed to be King. Lie # 3. When the people tried to make Him king, He refused to allow it. John 6:15. The fact is that Jesus came into the world to be the Lamb of God to die for the sins of the world. One day He is returning to this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to reign. For details of this go to my series on PROPHECY
Isn’t it amazing that God tolerated this terrible mistreatment of His beloved Son, Jesus? If it were not for His long-suffering nature, He would have struck them dead instantly. Instead, He used their hatred to bring about the sacrificial death of His Son for our sins.
PILATE’S VERDICT: NOT GUILTY!
Based on the weak charges of the Sanhedrin, Pilate gave his verdict on Jesus. “I find no fault in Him.” Luke 23:4 Two more times, Pilate repeated this NOT GUILTY verdict. Luke 23:13-14 and 23:20-22.
PILATE TRIES TO “GET THE MONKEY OFF HIS BACK”
Back track to Luke 23:1-7 The pressure is building on Pilate to execute this man Jesus, who appears to him to be innocent. As the Sanhedrin continues to try to convince Pilate of Jesus criminal behaviour, they let it slip that some of His ministry was in Galilee.
A light flashes on in Pilate’s mind when he hears them mention the region of Galilee. He immediately thinks of the puppet king, Herod, who was given jurisdiction over that region. Pilate’s thought was, “GREAT! I will pass Jesus on to Herod and let him deal with this “monkey” that the Sanhedrin is trying to attach to my back.”
Herod, who ruled in Galilee, was presently in his palace in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Passover. So Pilate dispatched Jesus to Herod. We will deal with Jesus and Herod in our next article in this series and then later return to Pilate’s intensely interesting dialogue with Christ.
In the meantime, keep in mind that Pilate is dealing with a Man whom he is convinced is innocent of any crime.
The optimist says, the cup is half full. The pessimist says, the cup is half empty. The child of God says; My cup runneth over. –Anonymous
Culture is the enlightenment and refinement of taste acquired by education, discipline and training. As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to inculcate a biblical framework into our children and introduce Jesus Christ to them, so that they can approach the music, literature, art and anything else this world system offers them and increasingly discern between good and evil. The Apostle Paul gives the test for discernment in Philippians 4:8 “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
A subtle danger
More and more I am hearing Christians say it is important that we become familiar with the culture of our world, so that we might better relate with the Gospel. Armed with that argument, we immerse ourselves in the sinful culture of the world via movies, TV, music and literature, hoping to be able to sort out the good from the evil. Instead, we find ourselves being gradually drawn into the world’s culture and enjoying it. It may sound like good logic, but I question whether teaching our children to be familiar with the culture of this world is Scriptural.
Listen to God’s Word on this.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Psalm 101:3
“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken Thou me in Thy way.” Psalm 119:37
“Learn not the way of the heathen.” Jeremiah 10:2
“I would have you wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil.” Romans 16:19
Speaking, not of God’s creation, but of the world-system, the Apostle John writes, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lusts therof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. I John 2:15-17
Concerning our walk as Christians Paul wrote, “But fornication and all uncleaness or coveteousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which is not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this know that no whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them…. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done in secret.” Paul goes on in this extended passage in Ephesians 5 to teach us rather to be filled with the Spirit and he shows how this affects our lives in every situation.
Our responsibility to the world today
In Old Testament times God required Israel to kill the heathen lest the heathen’s children marry Israel’s children and turn the hearts of the children to false gods. Deuteronomy 7:1-6 God does not command Christians to kill the heathen today. Rather, we are to evangelize them and leave in the hands of God the saving or judging and destroying of unbelievers. But the point here is that God did not instruct Israel to learn their culture and teach it to their children.
In fact, God directed Abram to leave his family and his culture to go to a new land where God would direct him and there God would prepare him to be the father of a new nation, Israel, with its own distinctive culture, totally separated from the rest of the world. The purpose of this separation was to eventually make them a blessing to the whole world.
Jesus prayed for His own before He went to the cross, that as we live in this wicked world system, we would not become a part of the wickedness, but rather be a witness to unbelievers. John 17:15-18 “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them (cleanse and set them apart) through Thy Truth. Thy Word is Truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”
The trouble with modern American Christians is that we are all too much at home in this world. Under the guise of “learning to become culturally sensitive” we are becoming well adjusted with the world’s culture and lifestyle. We even enjoy it. It is becoming our life.
The pilgrim stranger mentality
Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of the Old Testament saints who lived as pilgrims and strangers; never feeling at home in this world. I challenge each of us to read the entire chapter and then contrast their lives with our lives as we consider how immersed and how at home we are in the culture of this world system.
I hear some of you reminding me of what Paul said, ” I am all things to all men that by all means I might win some.” I Corinthians 9:22 Yes, Paul tried to understand and identify with the people he was attempting to reach with the Gospel. There is no question about that, but in verses 24-27 he speaks of living a disciplined life. Christ was his life. The world system had little attraction for him. In Galatians 6:14 he said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”
The ultimate goal of teaching our children discernment
God rewards parents who have developed a Godly culture in the hearts and minds of their children. They are described in Psalm 144:112. “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth and our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” Strong, vigorous, beautifully charactered children rooted deeply in God’s Word and prepared to live a godly, useful life in a godless culture; that’s all any parent could ever ask.
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by a lynch mob of religious leaders and was bound with ropes and taken to the palace of Annas and his son, Caiaphas, the High Priests, and judged by His enemies; it was the worst travesty of justice in human history. Our holy God, in the person of Jesus, stood before the judgment seat of sinful men.
A travesty of justice
This judgment of Jesus took place sometime around midnight and continued until about 5 in the morning. That in itself was illegal; for according to the Mosaic Law, people were to be judged only during daylight hours.
Though God’s Law given in the Old Testament for the conduct of trials and the treatment of defendants is extremely fair and merciful; the Jewish religious leaders broke every law in the Old Testament concerning the treatment of prisoners and the conduct of trials when they tried Jesus. They punched him and slapped Him and spit in His face, They blindfolded him and scoffed Him. They hired false witnesses who could not even agree on their stories. The lynch mob that arrested Jesus hated Him with a passion and were determined to find some cause to present to Pilate to warrant his execution by crucifixion by the Roman soldiers.
Since the Roman Empire now occupied Palestine, the responsibility for capital punishment by stoning was no longer in the hands of the Jews. Now only Rome had that responsibility.
The only charge they could bring against Him was that He claimed to be God in human flesh, a fact that all genuine Christians accept as true; but a fact that Israel as a nation rejects.
Several hours later Jesus was murdered by the people who hated Him. His blood was shed by God the Father, as a final and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Those who by faith, whether Jews or Gentiles, receive that blood as the sacrifice for their sins are saved for eternity. Those who reject that sacrifice continue in their sins, lost for eternity.
The final and ultimate event that led to Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
A few weeks before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, an event occurred in Bethany that eventually brought this shameful treatment of Jesus to pass. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Read the story in John 11.
As many witnessed this supernatural event, it had a huge impact on the people. As the news spread, the crowds grew and it led to the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The masses of people were ready to receive Jesus as their Messiah and King.
The Jewish religious leaders were furious with Jesus. They called a Council to determine what action they should take to bring a halt to this worship and adoration of Jesus by the crowds. They determined that day, a week before the crucifixion, that Jesus must be arrested and executed.
Read John 11:47-53 to understand the thinking of Caiaphas, the High Priest, as he reasoned with the Jewish religious leaders concerning Jesus. His reasoning was that Jesus must die, or the nation Israel would die, and the religious leaders would lose their position and power with the people.
Actually, Caiaphas as High Priest was prophesying a truth he did not even understand. ” Jesus must die to save the nation- (and the world)”
The mockery of a trial before Caiaphas
The arresting mob bound Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and took him first to Annas, the former High Priest and then to his son, Caiaphas, the current High Priest. It was more of a lynch mob than a trial. They could not even get false witnesses to corroborate their stories. Finally, the basic charge was determined that Jesus was making Himself the Son of God. Of course, if that were not true, then Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, deserving to die. But if Jesus was indeed the Son of God, then the crowd was being blasphemous. Regardless, no defendant should have ever been treated as Jesus was; slapped, beaten, spit upon and mocked.
These Jewish leaders who knew well the Law of Moses had to know that they were breaking every law in the Book concerning trials and the treatment of defendants.
At the conclusion of this mockery of a trial before the High Priest, they asked Jesus if He was indeed the Christ or the promised Messiah. Jesus answered in Luke 22:67-71 “If I tell you, you will not believe and if I ask you, you will not answer Me nor let me go.” Then Jesus announced His future return. “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
Then said they all, “Art Thou then the Son of God?”
And He said unto them, “You say that I am.”
And they said, “What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth.”
With that conclusion, they led Him to Pilate to be sentenced to death by the Roman Empire.
(Let me add a personal note here. When I placed a link to this message on Face Book, my son, Steve and his wife, Margie. after reading my message each added personal comments to the message. As I reflected on the comments, I realized that they are indeed a fitting conclusion to this message, so I add them here just as they added them in Face Book.)
Here is Margie’s
And yet God used “the worst travesty of justice in human history” to accomplish the greatest good the world has ever or could ever know. What an incredible God we serve! What hope and courage it should give us to know that even Satan’s very worst can never be enough to thwart the purposes of God but will, in fact, always be turned to do God’s bidding.
Here is Steve’s
Not to be too redundant to Margie, but I think this hit me the same way. The lynch mob to be sure, was culpable for their own sins, but I think they played a comparatively minor role in this grand story. Isaiah wrote that “it pleased the Lord to bruise him!” Amazing words! They remind me of this old hymn. I’ll just share two versus from the middle.
“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
by Thomas Kelly 1804
Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning
Foes insulting His distress:
Many hand were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.
Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.
(And then Steve fittingly concludes)
“To be hard on the Jewish mob and the Romans is to let me off the hook. I blame no one but myself that Christ had to die like that.”
Don’t “Major on the Minors” or you’ll “Minor on the Majors!” – Karl Bastian
There is a time and reason to stand firmly without compromising an inch; but there is also a time and reason to compromise for God’s glory, for our good and for the good of others.
Compromising the Word of God and Biblical principles of right and wrong is evil. Compromising our preferences and desires for the good of others is loving and good.
We can never afford to compromise on Biblical truth or on Biblical principles of right and wrong. To do so would destroy the heart and purpose of our church and make us totally ineffective to the cause of Christ and bring disgrace to the name of Jesus.
“It’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.” Dr. Bob Jones Sr. taught this principle to us in chapel at Bob Jones University over fifty-five years ago. It has been one of the guiding principles of my life.
To do so would make us lukewarm and nauseous to Christ, as the Laodicean Church of Revelation 3:14-22 which Christ describes as the church of the end times before His return.
TWO STANDARDS AND WAYS OF LIVING
There are only two standards or ways of life for Christians: that which is based on the Bible and that which is based on the standards of our Satanic, evil cosmos or world system. There is no middle ground. Everything we do and enjoy is either motivated by our love for and devotion to Christ, or else it is motivated by our love for and desire for acceptance by the Satan-dominated world system.
I John 2:15-17 teaches us that we can’t have it both ways. Everything we love and desire and to which we devote our time and resources is either for God’s glory or else it is for our selfish satisfaction. There is no middle ground and there can be no compromise. We either live for Christ or we live for our selfish satisfaction. We either live to please Christ or we please the devil.
Jesus concluded His Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7 by warning us in Matthew 7:14-20 of the danger of false teachers who come to us as Christian preachers. He described them as “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. He taught that we can distinguish them by their fruit.
In Jesus’ Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24 Jesus described the course of the Church Age over these past two thousand years. In verses 11-12 He warned that in the end times many false teachers would arise and as a result of their teaching, their followers would grow cold in their love for Christ.
In Romans 16:17-18 The Apostle Paul warned Christians to identify and avoid preachers and teachers who preach contrary to Biblical doctrine.
In II Corinthians 6:14-18 Paul taught the doctrine of Separation, I have dealt with this topic at length in a series in this web site under the topic SEPARATION. I encourage you to read and study it with your Bible.
Not all compromise is evil. Some compromise is good.
COMPROMISING IN MARRIAGE
Certainly it does not take us long to discover that a good marriage involves the art of compromise. Two people coming from different families and different backgrounds must learn early the necessity of compromise, In courtship much time must be spent discussing and learning to compromise in areas where there is difference in thinking.
Of course, on the basic issues of life, including our relationships with Christ and our attitude towards the Bible, there can be no compromise. In those areas if there is no basic agreement, the relationship must be severed now and not after marriage. To ignore those basic issues is to court disaster in marriage.
COMPROMISING IN CHURCH
Here again, there can be no compromise on Biblical issues or moral issues; however, there must be open-mindedness and compromise in every other area.
I’ve worked with our Elders, our Church Council and our School Board now for twenty years. We have had some disagreements through the years, but such disagreements have been rare. When we disagree on matters, we do not argue, but we usually talk them through to an agreement. If necessary, we table the issue for a month or so and pray about it. When we come back together, we are usually in full agreement. In all these years, there has never been any bitterness or anger.
God has His will about every issue. We just need to seek His will on the matter. That normally leads us to either a change of mind or a friendly compromise. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to tell us in chapel at BJU that good men are always reasonable. I’ve found that to be so through the years. I thank God that He has protected us from unreasonable men on our Boards.
May God give you wisdom and discernment to know when to stand uncompromisingly and when to compromise and may He give you and those Christians with whom you work a spirit of reasonableness and gentleness in your dealings with one another.