I Find No Fault With This Man: What Fault Have You Found With This Man Called Jesus

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of this New Testament book. When you come to the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find the trial of Jesus before the religious system and leaders of that day coming to an end. As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering it I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the events which led to the suffering of Jesus the Christ was not merely a betrayal by one of His own, but also the trial of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders during those days. In all reality, I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when you read the account of the suffering of Jesus the Christ you will find Him being betrayed by relationship and tried by religion. What’s more, is that not only was Jesus betrayed by relationship, but He was also accused by religion. BETRAYED BY RELATIONSHIP, CONDEMNED BY RELIGION! The more you read and consider the account of the suffering of Jesus the more you will find yourself encountering the tremendous truth that the event which first and foremost led to the suffering He would experience and endure was indeed the betrayal of friendship and the betrayal of relationship. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and powerful truth, for when we think about the suffering of Jesus we must needs recognize and understand that He wasn’t betrayed by religion, nor was He even betrayed by sinners. When we stop and consider the account of Jesus the Christ and the suffering He would face and endure we must recognize the absolutely astounding reality and truth that Jesus was indeed and was in fact betrayed by relationship and betrayed by friendship rather than by sinners and by religion. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to it, for when we seek to understand the events which led to the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ we must needs recognize that Jesus was betrayed by relationship in the place of intimacy.

            BETRAYED BY RELATIONSHIP IN THE PLACE OF INTIMACY! BETRAYED BY RELATIONSHIP IN THE PLACE OF PRAYER! BETRAYED BY RELATIONSHIP IN THE PLACE OF FELLOWSHIP! As you read and consider the narrative of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane you will find that He brought the eleven remaining disciples with Him unto the garden while He would take Peter, James and John further into the garden with Him as He knelt and bowed before the Father in prayer. You cannot read the words found in the four gospel narratives and not encounter the tremendous fact that when Jesus was betrayed by one of His own—when Jesus was betrayed by friendship and relationship—He wasn’t betrayed in the Temple, nor was He even betrayed in one of the synagogues. This is actually quite interesting when you take the time to think about it, for when and as you think about and consider the account of Jesus in the garden you will quickly come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that He brought His disciples with Him into the garden where He might pray before and unto His Father who was in heaven, and it was there in the garden, and there in the place of prayer and fellowship He would be betrayed by one of His own. It would be there in the place of intimacy and fellowship Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own who would bring a contingent of captains and members of the guard with clubs and staves. It would be there in the garden of Gethsemane Judas would not merely come alone, but would come with those who were armed with weapons as though they were coming upon and coming against a criminal. It would be Judas Iscariot who would not only betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries, but it would also be Judas who would bring the enemies and adversaries directly unto Jesus in the place of fellowship and intimacy. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth, for when we think about and consider the encounter in the garden we must recognize that not only did the serpent enter the garden again, but so also did enemies and adversaries enter into the garden.

            WHEN THE SERPENT ENTERS INTO THE GARDEN ONCE MORE! WHEN THE SERPENT BRINGS ENEMIES AND ADVERSARIES INTO THE PLACE OF INTIMACY! WHEN THE SERPENT BRINGS WEAPONS INTO THE PALCE OF INTIMACY! If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when I read the narrative of Jesus in the garden it’s that when Judas entered into the garden—not only was it a manifestation of the serpent once more entering into the garden, but it was also another demonstration and manifestation of the serpent targeting Adam. If and as you read the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Romans you will find the apostle Paul writing how within and throughout history there were essentially two Adams—the first Adam who was formed by God of the dust of the earth and which became a living soul after the breath of life was breathed into him, while the second Adam was not only sent by God, but was also the begotten of God. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read in the gospel narratives concerning Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane is a powerful fulfillment of that which the LORD would proclaim before and unto Adam, Eve and the serpent in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve had transgressed against the command of the LORD by eating and partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In all reality, I would dare say that if we are to understand what truly took place in the garden of Gethsemane it is absolutely necessary for us to not only understand and recognize the events which took place in the garden, and not only understand the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of the epistle written unto the Roman saints, but we must also understand the words found in the four gospel narratives concerning Satan entering into Judas thus enabling him to carry out his betrayal against the Son of man there in the garden. Not only this, but I do not for one single minute believe that it is any coincidence that the betrayal of this second Adam took place in a garden, for there is not a doubt in my mind that the serpent would once more enter into the garden—and not only enter into the garden, but invade the garden and invade the place of intimacy, fellowship and prayer. When you read and consider the words which are found in the four gospel narratives you will find that while it was indeed true that Satan desired to have Peter that he might sift him as wheat, Satan would actually be permitted to enter into Judas Iscariot, and thus enable him to carry out the betrayal of the Son of man. It is with this in mind I invite you to first consider the narrative which is found in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, as well as the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the epistle written unto the Romans, and even the words which are found in the gospel narratives found in the New Testament. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages to get a true and proper understanding of exactly what took place there in the garden of Gethsemane with Judas, with Jesus, and with all those who were a part of what unfolded there:

            “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall  ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; ait shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:1-24).

            “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being not justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:1-21).

            “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude” (Luke 22:1-6).

            “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, HE loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, doth thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knwoest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every white: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray Him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean” (John 13:1-11).

            “When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night” (John 13:21-30).

            Each of these passages of Scripture must be carefully considered, for when you take them into account concerning what took place within the garden of Gethsemane—not only will you encounter Jesus the Christ as the first Adam, but you will also find the serpent once more entering into the garden. What we must realize and recognize, however, is that this time the serpent didn’t enter the garden to destroy the first Adam, but the serpent would enter into the garden that he might destroy the second Adam. Scripture makes it very clear in three distinct places that Satan also called the Devil entered into Judas, and it was Satan who would entice and enable Judas to betray Jesus. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that when Judas entered into the garden it wasn’t simply Judas who entered into the garden, for there was something much darker, something much more dangerous, and something far more sinister that took place in the garden on that evening. As you read the words which are found in the gospel narratives written by the apostle John, as well as the beloved physician Luke you will find that just as the serpent would be found in the first garden with the first Adam, so also would the serpent once more enter into the second garden where the second Adam was. We must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for it has the awesome and incredible power to demonstrate and reveal unto us just what took place in the garden on that night when Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. It would be there in the midst of the garden when the serpent would once more enter, and it would be there in the garden when the serpent would target for destruction Adam—this time, however, it would not be the first Adam which was formed of the dust of the ground, but it would be the second Adam which was sent from the Father and was the only begotten of the Father. It would be on this particular night the serpent would enter into the garden—and would not only enter into the garden himself, but would enter into the garden with enemies and adversaries, as well as with weapons. The more you read the gospel narratives the more you will come face to face with the powerful truth that there in the garden the serpent would indeed lift himself against Jesus the Christ who was indeed the Son of man and the second Adam.

            I sit here today and I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth that the events which led to the suffering of Jesus the Christ began with a betrayal of friendship and relationship in the place of intimacy and prayer, and it would be that betrayal which would ultimately lead to Jesus’ being tried, accused and condemned by religion. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when considering the suffering of Jesus the Christ that He wasn’t betrayed by religion, nor was He betrayed by sinners, but instead He was betrayed by relationship and friendship. The more you read and consider the words which are found within the gospel narratives the more you will see and discover that when Jesus was betrayed He wasn’t betrayed by those who hated and despised Him, but rather was betrayed by one who had walked with and followed Him for three and a half years The more I read and the more I consider the gospel narratives the more I can’t help but encounter the tremendous truth that throughout the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will never find Rome itself taking offense with Jesus the Christ. IF and as you read the four gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will not find a single encounter between Jesus the Christ and Rome. There would not be a single time within the gospel narratives Rome ever took offense with Jesus, nor would Rome every raise themselves up against Jesus the Christ. Despite the fact that Jesus came preaching a new and entirely different kingdom in the midst of a land that was entirely and altogether controlled by the Roman Empire, Rome would never raise and lift themselves up against Jesus. We know that when the wise men from the East showed up asking and inquiring about that One who was born King of the Jews it was Herod who was greatly troubled and disturbed by the idea and concept that there would be one who was born among them who was king of the Jews. We know that when Herod realized that he had been deceived and tricked by the wise men he would proceed to launch a campaign to try and destroy this One who was born King of the Jews. We know that Herod launched a vicious and cruel campaign against all the infant boys under the age of three with the attempt to destroy this one whom the wise men professed and proclaimed to be King of the Jews.

            I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that when you read the four gospel narratives you will never find a single occurrence when Rome itself lifted their heel, nor the power and might of their military strength against Jesus. You will never find Rome sending a single legion against Jesus the Christ, nor will you ever find Pontius Pilate mounting a campaign against Jesus the Christ, but rather you will find it was the religious leaders and system of that day seeking to destroy Him. What makes this narrative all the more intriguing and interesting when you think about and consider it is that while it was true that religion would seek to destroy Jesus, it would be relationship that would actually betray Jesus into their hands. It would be religion that would be greatly offended with Jesus the Christ and would seek to destroy Jesus the Christ, and it would relationship that would actually betray Jesus into the hands of those who sought to destroy Him. What makes this all the more captivating is when you think about and consider the fact in order for the suffering of Jesus to actually occur it would take the betrayal of relationship and the accusation and condemnation of religion. You cannot read the gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous fact that both the betrayal of relationship and the offense of religion would work together to bring about the suffering of Jesus the Christ—and not only the suffering of Jesus, but also the death and the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. It would be the betrayal of relationship and the offense of religion that would actually be the catalyst that would work together to bring about the suffering and the death of Jesus the Christ as Judas would enter the garden and bring with him the enemies and adversaries of Jesus the Christ armed with weapons as though He were a common criminal. When Judas would enter into the garden—not only would he enter in knowing he would betray the Son of man with a kiss, but Judas also knew that he would bring the enemies and adversaries of Jesus the Christ into the place of intimacy and relationship. It is truly something intriguing and worth considering that when Judas entered into the garden he would bring the enemies and adversaries of Jesus with him armed with weapons, and would bring all that hatred, all that animosity, all that malice, all that rage, and all that anger toward and against Jesus into the place of intimacy, fellowship and prayer.

            The more I think about and consider the truth surrounding Jesus in the garden the more I am brought to consider how Jesus entered into the garden with His disciples knowing He was going to pray before and seek the Father, however, He also knew that it would be there in that place He would be betrayed by one of His own. It’s worth noting that when you read the gospel narratives found in the opening books of the New Testament you will see Judas entering into the garden of Gethsemane with the enemies and adversaries of Jesus who had one goal and one objective—to destroy, to kill, and to remove Jesus the Christ from the midst of the equation. You cannot read the gospel narratives and not encounter the powerful truth that the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people, and even the chief of the people sought to destroy Jesus, and now they would finally have their opportunity to do so as they had one of His own willing to betray Him into their hands. It’s actually worth noting and pointing out that despite the anger, despite the rage, despite the fury of the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees, and the chief of the people toward and against Jesus—it wouldn’t be until the appointed time ordained by the living God they would actually be able to rise up against Jesus the Christ. Time and time again within the gospel narratives you will find the scribes, the chief priests, and the elders of Israel seeking to destroy Jesus, and yet they would be given no authority over Him. It wouldn’t be until the time ordained and appointed by the living God they would actually be able to exercise dominion and authority over Jesus—and even that only because the Father had ordained and appointed it to be so. It would be according to the divine will and timing of the living God that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel would actually be able to lift up their hands against and upon Him.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to truly understand the suffering of Jesus the Christ we must needs understand that the suffering of Jesus was made possible by the betrayal of relationship and the accusation and condemnation of religion. It would be the betrayal of relationship and the accusation of religion that would work side by side together to bring about the destruction of Jesus the Christ. It would be the betrayal of Judas there in the garden—the betrayal of Judas there in the place of intimacy, in the place of fellowship, and in the place of prayer—that would ultimately deliver Jesus into the hands of His enemies and His adversaries. Pause for a moment and think about this awesome and incredible reality, for it would be there in the midst of the garden of Gethsemane Jesus the Christ would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies and His adversaries that they might destroy and put Him to death. What’s more, is that when you read the words which are found in these gospel narratives you will find that it wouldn’t be in the Temple, nor would it be in the synagogues Judas would lead the enemies and adversaries of Jesus against Him, for the beloved physician Luke writes and records how Judas would seek to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries “in the absence of the multitude.” We must needs recognize and understand this, for not only would it be in the place of intimacy and prayer Judas would betray Jesus, but it would also be in the absence of the multitudes Judas would be able to betray Jesus into the hands of those who vehemently opposed and despised Him. It would be there in the garden of Gethsemane Judas would lead enemies and adversaries against Jesus, and it would be there in the garden of Gethsemane Judas would usher various means of weapons against Jesus—even if those weapons would not be used. It would be there in the midst of the garden Judas would betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and His adversaries, and it would be there in the midst of the garden Judas would essentially lead an insurrection against the eternal Son of God who was the only begotten of the Father. It would be there in the midst of the garden Judas would lead a small army against Jesus in the place of fellowship, in the place of intimacy and in the place of prayer.

            This concept of Judas leading an insurrection in the place of intimacy and fellowship, and this concept of Judas leading a small army into the place of prayer is something that is truly astonishing when you actually take the time to think about it, for it brings us face to face with how the serpent desires to operate among us within our midst. If we want to truly understand the activity of the serpent within our hearts and our lives we must needs recognize and understand that he not only targets the place of intimacy, the place of fellowship, and the place of prayer, but He will also seek to destroy the person and presence of Jesus the Christ from that place. It is the ancient serpent who led an insurrection against the word of God, as well as against the authority of God, and it would be that same serpent who would enter this garden and lead a second insurrection. The insurrection that would be mounted within the garden of Gethsemane would not be one against the physical man Adam, but would be an insurrection against the second man Adam. It would be this second insurrection that would be mounted in the place of prayer and fellowship, for the serpent always seeks to invade those places of intimacy and fellowship within our hearts and lives. Not only this, but we must also understand that the serpent can and will seek to raise himself up against us in the midst of the place of intimacy and prayer that He might destroy the person and presence of Jesus the Christ within our lives. It wasn’t merely Judas that entered into the garden on this particular night, but it was the serpent who would once more enter into the midst of it. It would be the serpent that would enter into the garden that He might destroy the person and presence of Jesus the Christ from the midst of the earth. It would be there in the garden where not only would the betrayal of relationship be put on full display, but so also would the offense of religion be manifested.

            If we are to truly understand the reality and concept of Jesus’ suffering and death we must recognize and understand that in order for Jesus to be delivered into the hands of sinners who would crucify and put Him to death—not only would the betrayal of relationship need to be at work, but so also would the offense of religion need to be manifested. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it wasn’t merely the Romans and sinners who put Jesus on the cross, but rather it was the betrayal of relationship that would deliver Jesus up to the offense of religion, and it would be the offense of religion that would ultimately deliver Jesus up to the cruelty of sinners. THE BETRAYAL OF RELATIONSHIP, THE OFFENSE OF RELIGION, AND THE CRUELTY OF SINNERS! The more we think about and consider the tremendous reality surrounding the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ the more we must realize and recognize that there would essentially be three distinct elements that would be at work to bring about and facilitate the suffering and death of Jesus, for it would be relationship, religion and sinners that would all work together to bring about the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ. Not only this, but it would be the divine will, the divine plan, and the divine purpose of the living God that would make possible these realities within the life of Jesus the Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for when we think about the narrative of the suffering and death of Jesus we must needs realize that at the very heart of the betrayal of Jesus was the serpent who would once more enter into the garden, and the serpent who would once more lead an assault and insurrection against the divine plan and purpose of the living God. It would be the serpent who would once more lead an insurrection and rebellion in the midst of the garden—this time, however, the insurrection and rebellion would not be against the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but this time the insurrection and rebellion would be against the very person and presence of Jesus the Christ. For three and a half years the serpent also known as the Devil and Satan would seek to destroy Jesus the Christ, and yet during that time the serpent would be unable to bring about the destruction of Jesus, for it wasn’t the appointed time ordained by the Father, nor was it the divine will of the Father that the Son be destroyed until that time that was present within His heart and His mind.

            The more I think about the narrative surrounding the suffering of Jesus the Christ the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that It was relationship that would betray Jesus into the hands of religion in the place of intimacy, fellowship and prayer, and it would be the offense of religion that would ultimately take Jesus—and after accusing and condemning Him would deliver Him into the hands of sinners. It would be in the hands of sinners Jesus’ physical body would be torn and ripped to shreds as Pilate would authorize the torture of Jesus the Christ with the full intention of releasing Him. It’s interesting and worth noting that even when Jesus was brought before and unto Pilate this Roman appointee declared in the hearing of religion—and not only in the hearing of religion, but also in the hearing of the angry crowd and multitude that He found no fault or offense with Jesus. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that even though the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel found fault with Jesus and sought to accuse and condemn Him Pontius Pilate would find absolutely no fault with Him. PILATE WOULD FIND NO FAULT WITH JESUS! ROME WOULD FIND NO FAULT WITH JESUS! THE EMPIRE WOULD FIND NO FAULT WITH JESUS. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering this narrative surrounding Jesus the Christ standing trial before Pontius Pilate, for when Jesus stood before Pilate He wouldn’t merely be standing before one who had been appointed by Rome to govern in the land of Judaea, but Jesus would stand before Rome itself. Pontius Pilate would indeed be a representative of Rome and the Roman Empire, and therefore when Jesus stood before Pilate He wouldn’t merely be standing before Pilate himself, but He would be standing before Rome as the empire that would rule and govern within and upon the earth during those days. It would be when and as Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate it would be declared by Pilate—and perhaps quite honestly by Rome itself—that there was no fault that was found in the person of Jesus the Christ.

            Pause for a moment and think about this reality for a moment, for even though Jesus would be accused by religion, and even though Jesus would be condemned by religion—when Jesus was brought before a representative of Rome there in the land of Judaea there would be no fault that was found in Him. When we think about and consider the narrative surrounding Jesus standing trial before Pontius Pilate we must needs recognize and understand that Pontius Pilate listened to and heard absolutely everything that was said and spoken concerning Jesus the Christ, and even after he heard the arguments against Jesus the Christ he would still find no fault with Him. It is something worth thinking about and considering how Jesus would stand trial before Pontius Pilate, and even after hearing the arguments that were lobbied against Jesus the Christ Pontius Pilate would find absolutely no fault with Him. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

            “And the whole multitude of them arose, and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked Him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And He answered him and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I FIND NO FAULT IN THIS MAN. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee, He asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem tat that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words: but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: AND, BEHOLD, I, HAVING EXAMINED HIM BEFORE YOU, HAVE FOUND NO FAULT IN THIS MAN TOUCHIN GTHOSE THINGS WHEREOF YE ACCUSE HIM: NO, NOR YET HEROD: FOR I SENT YOU TO HIM; AND, LO, NOTHING WORTHY OF DEATH IS DONE UNTO HIM. I WILL THEREFORE CHASTISE AND RELEASE HIM. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all the at once, saying, Away with this man, and release not us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him. And he said unto them the third time, WHY, WHAT EVIL HATH HE DONE? I HAVE FOUND NO CAUSE OF DEATH IN HIM. I WILL THEREFORE CHASTISE HIM, AND LET HIM GO. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that He might be crucified. And the voice of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will” (Luke 23:1-25).

            The words which we find in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke is actually something worth taking into consideration, for although Jesus had been betrayed by relationship, and although Jesus was accused and condemned by religion, it would be Pilate who found no fault with Him. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find and discover that no more than one occasion Pontius Pilate would declare concerning Jesus that he found no fault with Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for when you think about the trial of Jesus the Christ you must needs recognize and understand that Jesus the Christ would stand before Pilate—and ultimately Rome itself—and not only would Pilate not find any fault with Him, but we might even say and declare that Rome itself would find no fault with Jesus. The words written and recorded in this passage of Scripture clearly indicate that not only did Pilate find no fault with Jesus, but also at the same time Pilate sought that He might release Jesus during those days and at that time. As you read the words written within the first twenty-five verses of this passage of Scripture you will find that Pontius Pilate was one who heard the accusations and arguments against Jesus the Christ, and yet despite hearing all the arguments and accusations against Jesus, he would find no fault with Him. I have previously written and stated that you can search the gospel narratives through and through and you will not find a single instance or occurrence where Rome took any offense with Jesus, nor with the words He spoke, nor with the things He taught, nor anything else that Jesus came teaching and doing. Jesus would come preaching and teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven, and He would come preaching and teaching the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the most powerful empire during those times, and yet Rome would not voice any concern, nor any offense, nor any quarrel with Jesus the Christ. Even if you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse and chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew and read through the final verse and chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John you will not find a single occurrence of Rome every taking any offense with Jesus the Christ—whether it be the words which proceeded forth from His mouth, or the works He performed in the midst of Judaea and Galilee.

            One of the most fascinating realities surrounding the suffering of Jesus is that after three and a half years of public ministry He finally stood before a representative from Rome—yea, even Rome itself—and in that moment it was declared of Him by this representative that he would find no fault with Him. After three and a half years of public ministry in the region of Galilee, and in the region of Judaea, as well as the city of Jerusalem Jesus would finally stand before Rome itself—even if it was merely a representative of Rome and not Caesar himself—and it would be proclaimed by Pilate that he found no fault with Him. Not only did Pilate declare of Jesus that He found no fault with Jesus, but so also did Pilate emphatically declare that He certainly found no reason or cause to put Him to death. What makes the narrative of Jesus’ trial before Pilate so captivating is when you think about the fact that as Jesus stood before Pilate it would be declared of Him that he found no fault with Him—and not only this, but Pilate would also declare of Jesus that he did not find anything in Jesus that was worthy of putting Him to death. Not only this, but Pilate was also willing to release Jesus rather than sentencing Him to death—a fact more often than not overlooked and paid very little attention to when thinking about Jesus and His standing before Pilate. It’s quite remarkable to think about and consider the narrative of the suffering of Jesus and think about the fact that Jesus would stand before Pilate—not once, but twice—and on both occasions Pilate would declare of Jesus that he found no fault with Him. Pause for a moment and think about that statement—the statement from the mouth of a representative of Rome that he found no fault with Jesus. Despite the fact that the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, and the chief of the people found fault and took offense with Jesus, Pilate himself saw absolutely nothing in Jesus that warranted death.

            How absolutely incredible it is to think about Jesus’ words when He declared that He would be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinners, and yet once He was finally delivered into the hands of sinners, and once He finally stood before Pilate himself there was absolutely no fault that was found in Jesus. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of Israel had spent the previous night falsely accusing Jesus of various different words and actions during those times, and yet when Jesus finally stood before Pilate—the one who would and could ultimately sentence Him to death—Pilate sought to release Him. It’s truly worth thinking about the fact that Pilate who was a sinner sought to release Jesus rather than putting Him to death and crucifying Him. Pilate heard all the arguments and accusations lobbied against Jesus the Christ, and yet when all those arguments and accusations were finished and had come to an end Pilate had purposed that Jesus did not deserve to die. Stop and think about how absolutely astounding that thought is—the thought that Pilate who was a sinner found no fault in the person of Jesus. Not only this, but Pilate who was a sinner found absolutely no merit or validity in the accusations and arguments which were raised against Jesus the Christ, and he sought to dismiss them from before him. WHEN SINNERS SEEK TO DISMISS THE CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST JESUS! WHEN SINNERS FIND NO FAULT WITH JESUS! WHEN RELIGION IS OFFENDED WITH JESUS, YET SINNERS FIND NO FAULT WITH HIM! It is something worth thinking about and considering when you truly take the time to consider how it was religion who took and found offense with Jesus the Christ, and yet when religion sought to deliver Jesus into the hands of sinners it was sinners who found no fault with Him. That representative of Rome which was tasked with the responsibility of governing the people of Israel had Jesus standing before Him, and heard all the accusations which were lobbied against Him, and despite all those arguments he found absolutely nothing evil in Him. What a truly captivating thought it is to think and consider how Jesus stood before Pilate who was a sinner—and this sinner heard the arguments against Jesus—and Pilate saw absolutely nothing in Jesus that supported the arguments against Him.

            WHEN SINNERS SEE THROUGH THE ARGUMENTS OF RELIGION AGAINST JESUS! WHEN SINNERS SEE THROUGH THE ACCUSATIONS OF RELIGION AGAINST JESUS! WHEN SINNERS SEE THROUGH THE OFFENSE OF RELIGION WITH JESUS! There is something absolutely beautiful about the fact that although religion was greatly offended with Jesus, and although religion sought to accuse Jesus before Pilate who was a sinner—Pilate who was a sinner seemed to see right through their arguments and accusations. Stop and think about what Pilate would have and must have seen in Jesus to look and see beyond the arguments and accusations that were brought against Him. There was Jesus of Nazareth standing before the most powerful man in Judaea at that time, and it was Pilate who heard the accusations and arguments of religion against Him, and yet Pilate seemed to see something religion could not. Oh, I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we see and what we find here has a direct link and connection to the entire public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as Jesus regularly associated with publicans and sinners. Jesus was constantly mocked and ridiculed for eating and drinking with sinners, and throughout His ministry it was the sinners rather than religion who seemed to embrace Him more. Now here we have Jesus standing before one who might very well have been a chief among sinners, and one who might have been a consummate sinner, and yet Pilate who was undoubtedly a sinner found absolutely no fault with Jesus. Moreover, Pilate who was undoubtedly a consummate sinner would hear and listen to the arguments and accusation of religion, and their arguments seemed to fall on deaf ears. In fact, it wasn’t even because of the arguments and accusations lobbied against Jesus that ultimately caused Pilate to sentence Him to death, but rather it was the outcry of the crowd and the mob which cried out in his hearing to crucify Jesus the Christ.

            I sit here tonight thinking about and considering the powerful truth surrounding Jesus’ standing before Pilate there in the land of Judaea and Galilee, and how Jesus would stand before this one who was a sinner accused of religion, and Pilate would find no fault with Him. Pilate would hear and listen to the arguments and accusations which were raised against Jesus the Christ, and after hearing all those arguments Pilate would determine in his heart that there was no fault with Jesus. If there is one thing about the trial of Jesus before Pilate of Rome it’s how often religion can in fact and does in fact seek to accuse Jesus before and in the company of sinners. We would like to think that religion does not and cannot accuse Jesus before and in the company of sinners, and yet the trial of Jesus demonstrates and reveals just how much religion can and does in fact seek to accuse Jesus in the company and in the presence of sinners. Nowhere in the gospels will you find publicans and sinners accusing Jesus before Pilate, but rather you will find religion which sought to accuse Him in his presence. What adds even more weight to this is something which has already been mentioned—namely, that within and throughout the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ there is not a single account of Rome every taking offense with Jesus the Christ. There is nowhere in the gospels you will find Rome finding any fault with Jesus, and there is nowhere in the gospels you will find Rome taking offense with Jesus. Rome which was the dominant superpower during that time would never once lift up its military might and strength against Jesus the Christ, and in fact it wouldn’t be until the days of the early Church Rome would actually begin persecuting the body of Christ. Rome itself would indeed crucify Jesus to a cruel tree, and Roman soldiers would plate a crown of thorns upon His brow, and Roman soldiers would brutally and cruelly torture Jesus by severely flogging Him, and yet even that wasn’t because Pilate found any fault with Jesus. I would dare say that the suffering and torture of Jesus the Christ at the hands of Roman soldiers ultimately had nothing to do with Rome finding any fault and wrong with Jesus the Christ, but rather it had everything to do with the baser instincts that were found within the hearts and souls of those soldiers who carried out their orders.

            I can’t help but wonder what would and could have happened if there was a Roman soldier who like Pilate found no fault with Jesus, and as a result of their finding no fault with Jesus refused the order to severely flog Jesus. Pause for a moment and think about what it would and could have been like had there been any Roman soldier during that time who would have received an order and command to carry out the sentence against Jesus, and yet they refused to carry out the sentence against Him. We know that Pilate found no fault with Jesus, sought to release Jesus, and saw absolutely no need to put Jesus to death. The only reason Pilate put Jesus to death was because he sought to appease the people of Judaea and Galilee that there might not be a revolt or rebellion within the land of Judaea and Galilee. The only reason Jesus was sentenced to death by Pilate was because he feared the mob and feared the crowd, and rather than experiencing an uprising and revolt gave into their outcry against Jesus the Christ. Oh there is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading the narrative of the trial of Jesus that sinners found no fault with Jesus, and yet it was religion that found fault and took offense with Him. Even though Pilate would ultimately sentence Jesus to death, and even though Roman soldiers would carry out the orders to crucify Jesus, and even through Roman soldiers would carry out the order to severely and cruelly flog and scourge Jesus, they would not do so because they found fault with Him. In fact, if you read the narrative of Jesus’ death upon the cross you will find a Roman centurion actually making the emphatic declaration that this was truly and indeed the Son of God. What an absolutely astonishing and captivating thought it is to think about and consider how Pilate would find no fault with Jesus, and a Roman centurion—after beholding the death of Jesus, and the earthquake and darkness surrounding His death—would declare of Him that He was truly and indeed the Son of God.

            A question I find myself asking is whether or not within this generation and within our days it is not so much sinners that find fault and offense with Jesus, but rather religion. If what we see, witness and behold in the gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and His trial before Pilate is any indication concerning the generation in which we are living in,  I would dare say that more often than not it is not sinners who find offense with Jesus, and it is more often than not sinners who find fault with Jesus, but it is religion that actually finds fault and offense with Jesus. In fact, there have been a number of times I have heard those outside the Church say their biggest hindrance in coming to the person of Jesus the Christ is not Jesus Himself, but rather those within our churches. Stop and think about how many times you have heard those outside the church speak and declare that their biggest argument and quarrel is not necessarily with Jesus Himself, but rather with those within our churches, and those within our houses of worship. What’s more, is even when you witness and behold the trial of Paul the apostle of Christ you will find him standing trial after appealing to Caesar, and as he was speaking before them in their hearing there was one who actually declared that the apostle Paul would and had almost persuade him to become a follower of Jesus the Christ. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that more often than not it is not sinners who find fault and take offense with Jesus the Christ, but it is religion that finds fault and takes offense with Him. It is important that we pay close attention to this, for we must needs ask ourselves what image and presentation we are giving the world concerning Jesus the Christ, and do we by our actions and our words accuse Jesus before the world? Do we as those within the Church accuse Jesus the Christ before the world and actually give a false presentation concerning Jesus the Christ in the eyes and sight of those outside the Church? Do we as those within the Church accuse Jesus the Christ before those outside the Church, and as a direct result of our accusations and arguments against Jesus actually turn them off to the person of Jesus the Christ?

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find myself wondering what the rest of the story was for this centurion who made the declaration that Jesus was truly and indeed the Son of God. Did this centurion have a life changing moment there at Calvary and come face to face with the reality that despite the fact Rome had put Jesus to death He was truly and indeed the Son of God? I can’t help but think about the fact that it’s possible this Roman centurion would have experienced a powerful transformation there at the cross of Calvary—one that might very well have played over and over within his head. I can’t help but wonder if this centurion would indeed spend a considerable amount of time replaying and rehearsing in his heart and mind the events which took place there at Calvary, and would indeed find himself at a crossroads of faith having encountered Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. Despite the fact that they had put Jesus to death, and despite the fact that they had nailed Jesus to a tree this Roman centurion would come to the place within his own heart and soul that Jesus who had just died upon the cross was truly and indeed the Son of God. What a powerful thought and concept it was to think about how Pilate found no fault with Jesus, and Pilate saw no reason or purpose to put Jesus to death, and even after Jesus had died upon the cross it would be a Roman centurion who would declare within himself that this was truly and indeed the Son of God. Oh I would love to think and consider that the story, the narrative and the account of this centurion did not and would not end with the declaration that Jesus was indeed the Son of the living God, but would continue as he wrestled within his heart and soul concerning the identity of Jesus the Christ. Oh if there is one thing we must ask ourselves when reading these chapters and verses it’s not only what image we are portraying concerning Jesus the Christ, but also whether or not we are actually accusing Jesus before those whom we encounter and come in contact with. If there is one thought I would leave you with as I finish this writing it’s what image of Christ are you presenting to those you interact with on a daily basis. Are you through your words and your actions accusing Jesus the Christ before those you interact with on a daily basis, or do your words actually powerfully declare and proclaim that Jesus is truly and indeed the Son of the living God? Oh that we would be willing to come face to face with how we present Jesus the Christ within our generation, and would truly and indeed—not only acknowledge that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, but also demonstrating through our words and our actions that He is such.

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