Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first sixteen verses of the nineteenth chapter. When you come to the words which are found in this passage of scripture you will find yourself staring face to face with a Jesus who is no longer free to teach in the synagogues of Judaea and Galilee, but a Jesus who is now in the custody of the chief priests and elders of Israel. After Judas successfully betrayed Jesus in the garden and led an insurrection against the Son of men in the place of quietness and rest, we now find Jesus bound and in the custody of those who vehemently opposed and hated Him. Upon coming to the words which are written and recorded within the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find Jesus still in the custody of the chief priests, however, there is something that has shifted at this point during the events of the week or the passion of Jesus. What would begin with Jesus being betrayed by one of His own in the garden, and what would continue with Jesus standing trial before the high priest Caiaphas, would now find Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate who was the perfect of Rome who oversaw and governed Judaea, Jerusalem and the Jewish area at that time. While Herod was in fact king and governor over Judaea, the ruling authorities and powers which were present in Judaea were still subject to Roman occupation and Roman subjugation. What we find in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John is not Jesus standing trial before His own people, but a Jesus who now stands trial before the most powerful nation of the world during that tome. While Jesus didn’t necessarily stand before Caesar and while He didn’t physically stand before and in the presence of Caesar, it might very well be said that what would begin with Jesus standing trial before religion within His own nation would ultimately and inevitably lead to His tanging trial before Gentiles and Gentile rulers and authorities. What we find written within this passage of scripture is a Jesus who found Himself in the custody of religion, and religion which would and could not put Him to death itself, but which would enlist the assistance of the world system during that time. Despite the vehement hatred of the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of Israel toward and against Jesus the Christ, they would and could not put Him to death. What’s more, is that we even find them unwilling to violate the Passover by putting Jesus to death themselves, nor even entering into the judgment hall where Jesus stood trial before Pilate lest they define themselves and be unable to celebrate the Passover. How absolutely and incredibly interesting and intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that despite the vehement hatred and malice which religion had toward Jesus the Christ, they were unwilling to put Jesus to death themselves lest they somehow defile themselves and be unable to partake of the Passover.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped and captivated with and by the fact that when we come to the nineteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John, we find Jesus no longer standing trial before religion in religions house, but now standing trial before the world and in the midst of the worlds system. What we find when coming to this passage is a Jesus who was betrayed by one of His own, a Jesus who was despised by His own people whom He came to dwell among, and now handed over to the world and to the Gentiles by His own people. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t Rome, nor was it Roman soldiers who sought to lay hands on Jesus, nor was it even Pilate who sought to lay hands on Jesus in order that they might put Him to death. Perhaps one of the most incredible realities that is found within the trial of Jesus which He stood before and in the presence of Pilate is that neither Rome, nor Pilate were offended with Jesus the Christ—either with the words which He spoke, nor the works which He performed in the midst of Jerusalem, Judaea and Galilee. What we find within these set of verses is not a Roman Empire which sought to lay hold of Jesus in order that they might put Him to death, but rather we find religion angry and offended with Jesus. What we find within this passage is a direct confrontation with the fact that Jesus wasn’t sought out by Roman soldiers, nor was Jesus ordered to be taken into custody by Pontius Pilate, but rather we find Jesus being bound and taken into custody by His own people, and being handed over to those who ultimately had no quarrel with Jesus. How absolutely intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus neither offended nor upset the Roman government, nor even the Roman system which was in place during that day. Nowhere in any of the four gospels do we find Rome being offended with Jesus—either with the words which He spoke, nor even with the works which He performed. When Jesus was handed over by the chief priests and elders of Israel, He was essentially and effectively handed over to those who ultimately had no quarrel with Him and those who neither hated, nor opposed Him. How absolutely interesting it is to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate and when Jesus was handed over to the Roman government He was handed over to one who could find no fault with Him. During his time speaking to and interrogating Jesus THR Christ Pilate could not find any grounds for offense, nor could he find any wrong in the mouth of Jesus, nor even in the actions of Jesus. This is quite astonishing and quite remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it dramatically alters and shapes how we view the trial which Jesus found Himself standing before Pilate of Rome.
As you come to the words which are found within this passage of scripture you will be directly confronted with the fact that there was absolutely nothing that Jesus said, nor anything He did which angered, upset and offended Rome, nor Caesar, nor even Pontius Pilate who was prefect of Rome over Jerusalem and Judaea. One of the most astounding realities which I find concerning Jesus standing trial before Pontius Pilate was not only that Jesus has not offended him, but also that when he spoke with and interrogated Him he could find no fault with anything Jesus had spoken or done. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that Jesus stood trial before those who had no quarrel with Him, and would be tortured by those who may have had hated and malice in their hearts in general, but ultimately had no quarrel with or against Jesus the Christ. If we are to understand the events which took place during the trial and torture of Jesus the Christ we must understand and recognize that not only did He stand trial before one who had no quarrel nor offense with Him, but He was also tortured by those who really had nothing against Jesus the Christ. I would dare say that when the Roman soldiers unleashed the full force and might of their hatred, rage and anger, they weren’t doing it against one whom they hated and one whom they had a quarrel with. Please note that when I write and speak these words I am in no way condoning or excusing the actions of the Roman soldiers who tortured Jesus Christ with chords which they made with chips of bone and glass connected to them. When we think about Jesus standing trial before Pilate there in the city of Jerusalem, we have to recognize and come face to face with the incredible reality that Rome had absolutely no issue or offense with Jesus the Christ. It was true that Rome would squash and put down any Jewish rebellion and any Jewish insurrection, however, they neither sought out, nor did they pursue Jesus the Christ to put Him to death. We must come to terms with the incredible reality that when Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate He stood trial before one who was neither offended nor angered by Him, and even after speaking to Him found no wrong or fault with Him. How absolutely incredible it is to think that when Jesus was handed over to be crucified, He was handed over by one who found no fault with Him, and even one who sought to release Him. Please don’t miss this incredibly important reality of Pilate seeking to release Jesus, for if it had been according to the divine will of God for Jesus to be released from custody and once more freely walk among the people who had handed Him over to Rome, the Father would have allowed it to be so. Instead of being released by Pilate into the midst of those who hated and opposed Him, Pilate would ultimately hand Him over to be crucified by Rome itself. The most powerful nation of the world during they time would be given authority and power over Jesus the Christ, the Son of God simply because the Heavenly Father ordained and appointed it to be so. Even Jesus Himself declares unto Pilate that he would have no power, nor would he have any authority over Him it it weren’t given by His Father who was in heaven.
If there is one thing I cannot help but think about and consider when encountering Jesus who stood on trial before Pilate and essentially Rome itself, its that not only did and not only could Pilate find any fault with Him, but Pilate also sought to release Jesus from the hands of those who had been raided and lifted up against Him. Oh how absolutely and incredibly intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus has not said or done anything to anger or upset Rome, and yet Rome was given authority and power over Him in this life and in the world. Despite and regardless of everything you read in the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you must naturally and logically come face to face with the reality that Rome had no quarrel, nor did Rome have any offense with Jesus the Christ. Nowhere in any of the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ do we find Rome attempting to silence Jesus, nor even cause His works to cease taking place among the people within Judaea, Jerusalem, Galilee, and the various other locations Jesus traveled to. There is not a single instance, nor is there a single occurrence found within the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ where we find the Roman world system and the Roman world government seeking to silence Jesus and to cause His works to come to an end because it somehow offended and angered them. In fact, there is one instance and one occurrence found within these four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ when Rome or at least a representation of Rome actually came to Jesus on behalf of his servant who lie home sick and quite possibly on the verge of death. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, you will find the account of the Roman Centurion who came unto Jesus on behalf of his servant who lie at home sick and quite possibly on the verge of death. This Roman Centurion came unto Jesus on behalf of his servant in hopes that Jesus would offer and provide healing to his servant that his servant might recover and be made whole. When Jesus offered to journey with this Roman centurion in order that He might come unto this servant, the Roman centurion responded by emphatically declaring unto Jesus that he was not worthy to have Jesus come under his roof. What’s more, is the Roman centurion would go on to declare unto Jesus that he himself was a man under authority and obeyed the voice, the word and command of that one who was superior to him, and he himself was a man of authority who had those underneath him whom he would give order, commands and directive to, in which they would obey. This centurion would declare unto Jesus that all Jesus needed to do was speak the word and speak the word of authority concerning his servant and his servant would be made whole. This centurion recognized and understood the power of a command, and understood the power of an authoritative word, and as a result of this understanding, he declared unto Jesus that all Jesus needed to do was speak the word and his servant would be healed and made whole. Of course we know the account of this centurion would end and conclude with Jesus marveling at the faith which was displayed by him, and Jesus speaking the word which brought about the healing of his servant which lie at home sick.
As you read through the four New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will quickly come face to face that nowhere in any of the gospels are there any instances and occurrences of Rome being angered and offended with and by the words which Jesus the Christ spoke, nor even the works which He performed. Nowhere in any of the four gospels will you find Jesus somehow violating Roman law, nor will there be any instances and occurrences when you find Jesus violating the established order that was set in place during that time. In fact, when Jesus was tempted in regards to whether or not it was lawful to pay tax unto Caesar and unto Rome itself, Jesus asked for a coin that was in circulation during that time. Upon the coin being brought to Jesus He proceeded to ask for who’s superscription was found on the coin. When they spoke unto Him concerning the superscription of Rome and of Caesar on the coin, Jesus declared unto them that they were to render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar’s and those things which ought to be rendered unto God be done as such. This example is quite powerful, for undoubtedly they sought to trap Jesus in somehow declaring that it wasn’t lawful to pay tax unto Rome and unto Caesar, and yet Jesus recognized and understood the established authority that was present in the earth during that time. Jesus recognized that His Father in heaven had given Rome authority and power in the earth during that time, and instructed those whom He spoke to submit themselves to the governing authority and authorities which were present during that time. How remarkable it is to read the words which the gospel writer wrote concerning this particular event and to consider the fact that not only did Jesus recognize and understand authority, but so also did Jesus instruct those to whom He spoke to submit and give themselves to the authorities which were present during that time. When Jesus was tempted concerning submitting to the authority of Rome through the paying of taxes, Jesus not only responded by instructing those who tempted Him to pay taxes to Rome and to Caesar, but he was actually instructing them to do something far greater than simply pay taxes—namely submit themselves to the authority which was found in the Roman Empire itself. When we read the words which are found in this passage we must understand that what Jesus was doing was more than simply instructing men and women to pay taxes unto Caesar, but also to give unto God those things which belonged unto God. Pause and consider this reality for a moment, for Jesus recognized the importance of submitting and respecting authority that was set up and established in the earth, as well as recognizing the authority that was found in the living God who was indeed His Father in heaven. What Jesus emphatically and boldly declared on this particular occasion was that men and women ought to submit themselves to the authority and to the authorities which were present and established in the earth, but men and women were also supposed to submit themselves to the authority of God. What Jesus was doing was more than just instructing them to render unto Caesar those things which were Caesar’s, but also to render and to give unto God those things which were God’s. Thus, that which Jesus did was draw a dividing line between that which ought to be rendered unto God, and that which ought to rendered unto Caesar. What’s more, is that even in and even with these words Jesus didn’t speak against Rome, nor did He somehow suggest that God was superior and greater than Rome and/or even Caesar. Of course we know that the living God who sits upon the throne in heaven is far greater and far superior than Rome and even Caesar the man, however, when speaking these words on this occasion, Jesus made no such declaration—even when He was tempted by those who sought to find an occasion to accuse Him.
The more I read and the more I consider the words which are found within the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Jesus was handed over to those who had no quarrel and those who were neither angered, nor offended with His words or His works. If you begin reading with and form the twenty-eighth verse of the eighteenth chapter you will find the trial of Jesus shifting from the house of the high priest, and from the house of religion to the house of Rome and to the house of the world system during that time. As you read the words which are written and recorded within these chapters you will quickly encounter and quickly come face to face with the incredible reality that Jesus was taken into custody by religion, however, it would not be religion that would put Him to death, and it would not be religion which would ultimately sentence Him to death. Though it would religion that would ultimately cry out for the death of Jesus, and for Him to be crucified, it would not be religion that would ultimately put Him to death. What’s more, is that you almost get the sense that religion couldn’t crucify and couldn’t put Jesus to death without and apart from the help of Rome, and even the world’s system during that day. If you read the four gospels you will find that religion and the religious spirit was greatly upset and offended by Jesus the Christ, yet when the time came for Jesus to be taken into custody by religion and the religious spirit, they would and could not crucify and put Jesus to death. Instead, what we find within the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is religion and the religious leaders of that day appealing to Rome that Rome might ultimately put Jesus to death according to their custom and according to their law. Despite the fact that religion was highly and deeply angered and offended by Jesus the Christ, religion would and could not ultimately kill and crucify Jesus the Christ, but would need the help and assistance of Rome to be able to ultimately and finally put Jesus to death. We must recognize and understand this, for despite the tremendous anger and offense religion had toward and which religion took up against Jesus the Christ, it could not lay hold of or even seize Jesus the Christ until the appointed time, and until the hour had come. As you read and study the New Testament gospel of John specifically, you will find language concerning the hour of Jesus having not yet come, and then a transition taking place when that hour had indeed come, and when Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of His accusers and adversaries, and when Jesus would ultimately be tried in the house of religion by religion itself. Starting with the end of the twelfth chapter you will come face to face with the reality that the hour of Jesus’ departure from the earth had come, and the hour of His suffering and crucifixion had come. What’s more, is that when you come to the thirteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel you will find the apostle John once more writing and declaring of Jesus that He knew that His hour had come which He would depart from this earth and return unto His Father who was in heaven. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this absolutely incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the absolutely wonderful and incredible reality surrounding the anointed time of God, and the sovereignty of God over the circumstances and events of our lives.
I have previously written concerning the cross and the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ being the ultimate set up and trap with which the Heavenly Father would judge the gods of the nations, and I firmly believe that the darkness which was spoken of for a span of three hours while Jesus was upon the cross was all the principalities, all the spiritual wickedness, all the unclean and evil spirits, all the demons, and even Satan himself converged upon the cross of Calvary for what they believed would be the ultimate triumph over the Son of God. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read of the darkness that covered the earth during that time, it was more than simply a darkness that was experienced in the physical and natural sense, but was also a spiritual darkness which would and could be felt in the earth as the powers of darkness converged upon that central location of the cross. It is written in the Old Testament book of Exodus that the Lord would execute judgment against the gods of Egypt, and through the ten plagues which were wrought upon Egypt, through the Passover, through the deliverance of the children of Israel from their slavery and bondage, and even at the parting of the Red Sea, the living God entered into judgment against the gods of Egypt, and ultimately triumphed over them. Concerning the cross of Calvary which is the ultimate symbol of the Passover, we find the living God entering into judgment—not against the gods of Egypt, not even the gods of Rome, but against the gods of the nations of the earth. I firmly believe and am absolutely convinced that it would be there at the cross where the powers of darkness and the gods of the nations would converge in and upon one central location as Jesus could essentially be considered as “bait” in the company and presence of the powers of darkness. I would dare say that Jesus hanging there upon the cross was essentially the spring that would set the trap in motion, for as Jesus hung their upon the cross as divine bait before the gods of the nations, the living God was preparing to enter into judgment against the gods of the nations and ultimately judge them. It would be there upon the cross where the living God would enter into and execute judgment against the gods of the nations, and would do so using the cross upon which Jesus hung. The cross is more than just a symbol of death and suffering, but the cross is also a symbol of power, of victory, or might, and of triumph, as Jesus the Christ would triumph over him who had the power of death, and as Jesus would make a public spectacle of the principalities and powers of darkness openly triumphing over them. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for to do so would be to bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of the tremendous victory and triumph which Jesus would execute over the gods of the nations as He hung there upon the cross. There is not a doubt in my mind that the living God used the cross of Calvary to set in motion a divine trap that would cause the gods of the nations to converge in one single location in order that He might completely overcome and triumph over them. Oh how absolutely wonderful it is to think about the fact that the living God would and could use something as cruel as a Roman instrument of torture to ultimately and completely bring about His victory, His triumph and His purposes within the earth.
I mention this concept of the cross being a divine trap that was set in motion and used in order that the living God might enter into judgment against the gods of Egypt, for it wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates the ability of the living God to execute judgment against the gods of the nations, as well as the powers of darkness. What I am speaking about and what I mean by this is that the living God was able to use the Roman instrument of torture and death to accomplish His divine plan and purpose of salvation and redemption, as well as executing judgment against the gods of the nations of the earth and the powers of darkness. I. mention this particular reality, for there is not a doubt in my mind that the living God would and could use the hatred, the anger and the offense of the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel to accomplish His plans and purposes of salvation in the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that the living God used the offense and the hatred the chief priests, the scribes and elders of Israel had in their hearts in order that He might bring about His divine plans and purposes in the earth. I believe with everything that is in my heart that the living God would and could use the hatred, the offense, the animosity, the anger, and the malice which was found to be present within the hearts and minds of the religious leaders during that time in order that he might ultimately bring Jesus Christ before the power of that day which had the ability to crucify and put Jesus to death. It would be the hatred and animosity of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel which would ultimately bring and position Jesus before Pontius Pilate in the midst of the city of Jerusalem where Jesus would stand trial before the most powerful nation and power of the world during that time. It’s worth noting that the anger, the hatred, the animosity, the malice, and even the offense of the chief priests wasn’t enough to put Jesus to death, for they would ultimately bring Him before the Roman prefect and Roman governor during those days and demand that He be put to death according to their custom. In all reality, that which they were seeking and that which they were crying out for was for Jesus to be put to death according to Roman law and Roman custom rather than staining the hands of the Jewish people with the blood of Jesus the Christ. This is actually quite remarkable and quite astounding when you take the time to think about and consider it, for the living God would use the hatred, the anger and malice of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the religious community in order that He might accomplish His plans and purposes in the earth—namely, bringing Jesus before the Roman Empire in order that Rome might put Jesus to death upon the cross. How incredibly intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that it was the offense of religion which took Jesus into custody, and yet Jesus would ultimately be put to death by those who had no quarrel, nor any type of offense with Him during that time. There is absolutely no indication that Rome had any quarrel or offense with Jesus the Christ, and yet it would be Rome who would ultimately put Jesus to death upon the cross of Calvary outside of Jerusalem.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be brought face to face with the tremendous reality that the living God was able to use the hatred, the offense, the malice and the anger of religion and the religious community to accomplish His divine plans and purposes in the earth, and how this God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What I mean by this is how it directly applies to our lives, and how the living God can use those situations and circumstances within our lives—regardless of how difficult they might be to bear and to handle—in order that He might accomplish His plans and His purposes. If the living God could use the hatred, the anger, the malice, and the offense of religion in order that He might bring about His divine plan of salvation and redemption in the earth, then I would dare say that the living God can use absolutely anything He wants and desires in order that He might accomplish and bring about His own plans and purposes. Even the Old Testament account of Joseph highlights this reality, for Joseph—when standing before his brothers as the second most powerful man in all of Egypt—declared unto those who had betrayed him and sold him into slavery that what they meant for evil, the living God meant for good that He might fulfill and accomplish His divine plans and purposes. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that the living God is capable of using absolutely anything that is found to be present within our lives in order that He might bring about His divine plan and purpose. There is not a doubt in my mind that the living God used the hatred, the anger and offense of religion and even of the religious spirit to accomplish His divine plan and purpose of putting Jesus on the cross, and the living God even used the cross of Calvary to execute judgment upon the gods of the nation in order that He might triumph over them in power and authority. I firmly believe that the cross upon which Jesus hung and died was in all reality the greatest set up and the greatest snare in all of human history, for it would be there at the cross all the powers of darkness and all the spiritual wickedness and principalities would converge in one single place in order that they might witness and behold the death of the Son of God. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what that scene must have looked liked in the supernatural and spiritual realm as the gods of the nations of the earth, as the spiritual wickedness in high places, as every principality, and as every ruler of darkness converged upon the cross of Jesus Christ in order that they might not only taunt, but also surround Jesus the Christ and gloat over their triumph over Him. I believe that in that moment when Jesus cried out before and unto the Father, saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” what He was actually doing was crying out in the midst of being completely and utterly surrounded by all of His enemies and all the powers of darkness which were present within and upon the earth. There have been some that would argue that when Jesus cried out to the Father asking why He had forsaken Him that the Father had turned His back on the Son, and that He had turned away from His Son, and while this might bear some semblance of truth, I would dare say that the more accurate rendering and understanding of this cry from Jesus on the cross is Jesus being completely and utterly surrounded by the powers for darkness, completely surrounded by the gods of the nations, completely surrounded by the spiritual wickedness in high places, and even Satan himself as they taunted and jeered against, before and around Him.
As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are written and recorded within the final verses of the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, as well as the first sixteen verses of the nineteenth chapter, I can’t help but see all different players and different parties that were involved in bringing about the death of Jesus the Christ upon the cross. Upon reading these verses as a whole and seeing how they are interconnected with each other, you will not only encounter Pontius Pilate with whom Jesus would stand trial before in the Hall of Judgment, you will not only find the chief priests and Pharisees, you will not only find the Jews, but you will also find the Roman soldiers who not only struck and smote Jesus , but who also plated a crown of thorns which they placed upon His head, and who beat and scourged Him. I am completely and utterly amazed at how many different roles were played in the trial and ultimately the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ in order that He might be put to death, and ultimately be put in the grave. While I not only come face to face with the reality of the hatred, the malice and the anger of those who opposed Jesus the Christ being used to accomplish the divine plans and purposes of the living God, I also come face to face with the presence of those who were actually used to bring about the death of Jesus the Christ—namely, the Jews who cried out for His crucifixion, namely the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees who handed Jesus over to Pilate, and even Pilate who ultimately sentenced Jesus, and the Roman soldiers who scourged, smote and ultimately crucified Jesus the Christ. Ultimately, it would be a combination of various different parties that would be used in order to bring about the death of Jesus the Christ and the divine plan and purposes of the living God, and it would be the hatred, the malice and the offense of religion that would position Jesus the Christ before the one who had the power to sentence Him to death upon the cross. Oh, as we read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture we must come face to face with the tremendous reality that in order to put Jesus on the cross, and in order to ultimately put Jesus to death and put Him in the grave, a number of different parities would be involved in the process, as the Father would use the Jews, the religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, and even Pilate himself to bring about the divine and eternal plans and purposes of living God. Oh that we would recognize this reality and come face to face with what the living God can and will use within our own hearts and lives in order that He might fulfill and accomplish His divine plans and purposes—plans and purposes which we neither understand in the moment, nor are fully aware of until the appointed time when we are given the ability to understand that which the living God was seeking to accomplish within our lives.