WHEN THE AGENDA OF RELIGION AND HELL ALIGN THEMSELVES TOGETHER

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the final four chapters of the book—chapters eighteen through twenty-one. WHOM SEEK YE? I AM HE! (AS SOON THEN AS HE HAD SAID UNTO THEM, I AM HE, THEY WENT BACKWARD, AND FELL TO THE GROUND). THEN HE ASKED THEM AGAIN, WHOM SEEK YE? JEZUZ OF NAZARETH! I HAVE TOLD YOU THAT I AM HE! THEN THE BAND AND THE CAPTAIN AND OFFICERS OF THE JEWS TOOK JESUS, AND BOUND HIM, AND LED HIM AWAY TO ANNAS FIRST! (I SPAKE OPENLY TO THE WORLD; I EVERY TAUGHT IN THE SYNAGOGUE, AND IN THE TEMPLE, WHITHER THE JEWS ALWAYS RESORT; AND IN SECRET HAVE I SAID NOTHING) (THEN LED THEY JESUS FROM CAIAPHAS UNTO THE HALL OF JUDGMENT: AND IT WAS EARLY). WHAT ACCUSATION BRING YE AGAINST THIS MAN? (TAKE YE HIM, AND JUDGE HIM ACCORDING TO YOUR LAW) ART THOU KING OF THE JEWS! [MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD: IF MY KINGDOM WERE OF THIS WORLD, THEN WOULD MY SERVANTS FIGHT, THAT I SHOULD NOT BE DELIVERED TO THE JEWS: BUT NOW IS MY KINGDOM NOT FROM HENCE]. ART THOU A KING THEN? [[THOU SAYES THAT I AM A KING. TO THIS END WAS I BORN, AND FOR THIS CAUSE CAME I INTO THE WORLD, THAT I SHOULD BEAR WITNESS UNTO THE TRUTH. EVERY ONE THATIS OF THE TRUTH HEARETH MY VOICE]. I FIND IN HIM NO FAULT AT ALL! (BEHOLD, I BRING HIM FORTH TO YOU, THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM). [BEHOLD THE MAN!] [TAKE YE HIM, AND CRUCIFY HIM: FOR I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM] (ART THOU A KING? WHENCE ART THOU?) [THOU COULDEST HAVE NO POWER AT ALL AGAINST ME, EXCEPT IT WERE GIVEN THEE FROM ABOVE). AND THEY TOOK JESUS, AND LED HIM AWAY! AND HE BEARING HIS CROSS WENT FORTH INTO A PLACE CALLED THE PLACE OF A SKULL, WHICH IS CALLED IN THE HEBREW GOLGOTHA! [WHERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM, AND TWO OTHER WITH HIM, ON EITHER SIDE ONE, AND JESUS IN THE MIDST] AFTER THIS, JESUS KNOWING THAT ALL THINGS WERE NOT ACCOMPLISHED, THAT THE SCRIPTURE MIGHT BE FULFILLED! [IT IS FINISHED]. AND HE BOWED HIS HEAD, AND GAVE UP THE GHOST! [AND HE THAT SAW IT BARE RECORD, AND HIS RECORD IS TRUE: AND HE KNOWETH THAT HE SAITH TRUE, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE]. THE SHALLY LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED!

            FROM THE GARDEN OF PRAYER TO THE GARDEN OF BURIAL! FROM THE GARDEN OF WRESTLING IN PRAYER TO THE GARDEN OF WRESTLING IN DEATH! WRESTLING IN PRAYER, WRESTLING IN DEATH! [AND SEETH THE STONE TAKEN AWAY FROM THE SEUPULCHRE] AND HE STOOPING DOWN, AND LOOKING IN, SAW THE LINEN CLOTHES LYING WITH THE LINEN CLOTHES, BUT WRAPPED TOGETHER IN A PLACE BY ITSELF! [MAKING YOUR GRAVE]. THEN WENT IN ALSO THAT OTHER DISCIPLES, WHICH CAME FIRST TO THE SEPULCHRE, AND HE SAW, AND BELIEVED! [FOR AS YET THEY KNEW NOT THE SCRIPTURE, THAT HE MUST RISE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD] AND AS SHE WEPT, SHE STOOPED DOWN, AND LOOKED INTO THE SEUPULCHRE, AND SEETIH TWO ANGELS IN WHITE SITTING, THE ONE AT THE HEAD, AND THE OTHER AT THE FEET, WHERE THE BODY OF JESUS HAD LAIN! [AND WHEN SHE HAD THUS SAID, SHE TURNED HERSELF BACK, AND SAW JESUS STANDING, AND KNEW NOT THAT IT WAS JESUS]! TOUCH ME NOT; FOR I AM NOT YET ASCENDED TO MY FATHER! GO TO MY BRETHREN, AND SAY UNTO THEM, I ASCEND UNTO MY FATHER, AND YOUR FATHER; AND TO MY GOD, AND YOUR GOD! (CAME JESUS AND STOOD IN THE MIDST, AND SAITH UNTO THEM, PEACE BE UNTO YOU. AND WHEN HE HAD SO SAID, HE SHEWED UNTO THEM HIS HANDS AND HIS SIDE]. AND WHEN HE HAD SAID THIS, HE BREATHED ON THEM, AND SAITH UNTO THEM, RECEIVE YE THE HOLY GHOST: WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE REMIT, THEY ARE REMITTED UNTO THEM; AND WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE RETAIN, THEY ARE RETAINED! WE HAVE SEEN THE LORD! REACH HITHER THY FINGER, AND BEHOLD MY HANDS; AND REACH HITHER THY HAND, AND THRUST IT INTO MY SIDE! BE NOT FAITHLESS, BUT BELIEVING! BE NOT FAITHLESS, BUT BELIEVING! BLESSED ARE THEY THAT HAVE NOT SEEN, AND YET HAVE BELIEVED! AND MANY OTHER SIGNS TRULY DID JESUS IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS DISCIPLES1 THESE ARE WRITTEN, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD; AND THAT BELIEVING YE MIGHT HAVE LIFE THROUGH HIS NAME!

            AFTER THESE THINGS JESUS SHEWED HIMSELF AGAIN TO THE DISCIPLES! ON THIS WISE SHEWED HE HIMSELF! SIMON PETER SAITH UNTO THEM, I GO A FISHING! THEY WENT FORTH, AND ENTERED INTO A SHIP IMMEDIATELY! AND THAT NIGHT THEY CAUGHT NOTHING! [ENTERING INTO A SHIP WITHOUT JESUS! THE FIRST TIME YOU ENTER A SHIP WITHOUT JESUS! THE FIRST TIME YOU ENTER A SHIP APART FROM JESUS] JESUS STOOD ON THE SHORE: BUT THE DISCIPLES KNEW NOT THAT IT WAS JESUS! CAST THE NET ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE SHIP, AND YE SHALL FIND! THEY CAST THEREFORE, AND NOW THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO DRAW IT FOR THE MULTITUDE OF FISHES! IT IS THE LORD! CASTING YOURSELF INTO THE SEA TO MEET THE LORD! STEPPING OUT OF THE SEA TO MEET THE LORD! [WALKING ON THE WATER TO MEET JESUS, CASTING YOURSELF IN THE SEA TO MEET JESUS] EXPERIENCING FISH AND BREAD! EATING IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS! (COME AND DINE)! THIS IS NOW THE THIRD TIME THAT JESUS SHEWED HIMSELF TO HIS DISCIPLES, AFTER THAT HE WAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD! SO WHEN THEY HAD DINED! LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE! LOVES THOU ME! LOVEST THOU ME!

            When you come to these chapters found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find the final chapters describing the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ in the New Testament. While it is true that in the Book of Acts we find Jesus Christ preached and the power of Jesus Christ demonstrated, and while in the epistles we find Jesus Christ explained, we find within the New Testament gospels Jesus the Christ presented. JESUS CHRIST PRESENTED! JESUS CHRIST PREACHED! JESUS CHRIST EXPLAINED! As you read the New Testament you will find that the entire New Testament hinges upon one specific time within the history of humankind, and that is the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. You cannot read the New Testament and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the New Testament has at the very heart and foundation of it the life of Jesus the Christ. At the very core of the New Testament is the declaration of Jesus the Christ—a reality which is found in the four New Testament gospels, a reality that is found within the Book of Acts, a reality that is found in the epistles, and a reality which has its culmination the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ. What would begin in and with the four gospel narratives would continue in the New Testament book of Acts and would be presented even further in and with the New Testament epistles found in the New Testament. What makes this even more remarkable and astounding is when you think about the fact that the entire message of Jesus the Christ—Jesus Christ presented within the gospels, Jesus Christ preached in the book of Acts, and Jesus Christ explained in the epistles—would ultimately lead to that which we find in the prophetic book of the New Testament, which is the book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ. Interestingly enough the fourth and final New Testament gospel author would also be the same would who would present us with what would essentially be the final revelation of Jesus the Christ within the New Testament. We know throughout history Jesus the Christ has been preached, proclaimed, taught, demonstrated and manifested among us within the pews of our churches and within the streets of our cities, however, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that absolutely everything written concerning Jesus the Christ leads to that revelation which we find in the final book of the New Testament, which not coincidentally is entitled “The Revelation” or “The book of the Revelation” and has at the very heart of it a powerful picture of Jesus the Christ—that One who was presented in the four gospels.

            I sit here this morning and thinking about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that when you read the New Testament gospels you will find that the common theme and thread that is found within all twenty-seven books is the person of Jesus the Christ. The person of Jesus the Christ is presented before and unto us in the gospel narratives as four authors and writers took up the pen that they might present unto us a powerful picture concerning Jesus the Christ. Two of those authors and writers were actually eyewitnesses of the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and their accounts and narratives weren’t written based on reports and accounts they heard from others, but their accounts were based on actually beholding Jesus the Christ and walking with Him for three and a half years. The narrative which John Mark wrote would have most likely come from his interactions and dealings with that which he heard preached and taught from the apostles and the church, while the gospel narrative which was written by the beloved physician Luke was one that was created and presented based on factual evidence from eyewitnesses who actually beheld the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that the New Testament centers, is founded upon, is built upon, and hinges upon the powerful revelation of Jesus the Christ—a reality which is aptly and powerfully presented in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, for the final book of the New Testament is wonderfully named as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Pause for a moment and think about the fact that when the canon of Scripture was about to be closed and the name of the book, the name of the parchment, the name of the scroll was given the name “The Revelation”—and not only “The Revelation,” but also “The Revelation of Jesus the Christ.” What’s more is that if in the New Testament gospels we find Jesus presented, and if in the New Testament book of Acts we find Jesus Christ preached, we find in the Old Testament Jesus Christ prophesied. JESUS CHRIST PROPHESIED! JESUS CHRIST PRESENTED! JESUS CHRIST PRESENTED! JESUS CHRIST EXPLAINED! JESUS CHRIST REVEALED! We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth that is found in the canon of Scripture as a whole, for the entire Scripture points to the wonderful revelation of Jesus the Christ. What would begin as the seed of the woman in the Old Testament book of Genesis would eventually culminate in and with Jesus the Christ as the eternal King who would come back with the host of heaven, which would overtake and overcome His enemies, who would reign in Jerusalem for one thousand years, and who would fellowship with us in His Father’s house for all eternity.

            We must needs pay close and careful attention to this wonderful and powerful reality, for it is this reality that truly helps us to understand the revelation of Jesus the Christ in the New Testament. It is with these four chapters before us we find the final four chapters in the final gospel narrative which was written to present us with the person of Jesus the Christ. It is with these chapters we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth concerning Jesus the Christ, and how His being betrayed in the garden would ultimately lead to His being handed over into the hands of His enemies and adversaries, and as He would eventually stand trial before Pontius Pilate who was at that time the representative of Rome within the land of Judaea and within the city of Jerusalem. Not only this, but within these chapters we find the fourth and final narrative and account of Jesus’ being betrayed by one of His own in the garden, the fourth and final narrative of His being delivered into the hands of His enemies and adversaries, the fourth and final narrative of His standing trial before religion before ultimately standing trial before sinners. Isn’t it actually quite astounding to think about the fact that before Jesus ever stood trial before sinners He would first stand trial before religion. Before Jesus would ever stand trial before Rome He would first stand trial before Israel, and before Jesus would ever stand trial before sinners He would first stand trial before religion. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely tremendous and incredible that reality truly is when you consider that it wasn’t sinners which first accused and condemned Jesus. Not only this, but neither would Rome accuse and condemn Jesus the Christ—even when Jesus would stand before Pontius Pilate there in the land of Judaea and in the city of Jerusalem. Even when Jesus stood before Pilate after being delivered into his hands by the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, and the religious system during those days.

            Perhaps one of the most remarkable and profound truths I still cannot help but be absolutely captivated and gripped by is the fact that not only did Jesus stand trial before religion first before ever standing trial before sinners, but Jesus would also be accused by religion while being acquitted by sinners. Before Jesus would ever stand trial before Pontius Pilate He would first stand trial before religion, and it would be religion that would not only accuse Him, but would also condemn Him. Even Jesus Himself—when speaking unto the disciples—would declare how He would be delivered into the hands of the chief priests and elders of Israel, and how He would be condemned by the religious leaders before being delivered into the hands of sinners. It’s actually quite telling to think about the fact that not only did Jesus speak of His being condemned by religion, but He also spoke of His being crucified by sinners. CONDEMNED BY RELIGION, CRUCIFIED BY SINNERS! If you truly take the time to think about it you will find that it wasn’t sinners which condemned Jesus, nor was it sinners which accused Jesus, but rather it was religion that accused and condemned Jesus. Were it not for religion first accusing Jesus, and later condemning Jesus we might not have even seen Jesus standing trial before Pontius Pilate and standing trial before sinners. Of course we know that it was for this hour Jesus had come into and been sent to the earth among men, but it’s quite interesting and intriguing to think about and consider the fact that it wouldn’t be sinners which would seize Jesus in the garden, nor would it be sinners which accused Jesus of blasphemy and evil, nor would it even be sinners who would condemn Jesus in the hearing of Pontius Pilate. What’s more, is that it wasn’t even sinners who entered into the garden of Gethsemane to lay hold of and seize Jesus the Christ. It wouldn’t be sinners who would lead an insurrection against Jesus in the midst of the garden—this despite the fact that the motives of Judas, as well as the motives of the officers and band of men who accompanied Judas would be entirely and altogether sinful. It was indeed and it was in fact men with sinful motives who entered into the garden, however, it wouldn’t be sinners as we know and understand them to enter into the garden and seize Jesus the Christ. It would be one of Jesus’ own disciples who would enter into the garden to betray Him and it would be those of the seed of Abraham who would accompany Judas into the garden that they might seize and lay hold of Jesus to bring Him before religion.

            The more I think about and consider the awesome and powerful reality surrounding these final chapters found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John is that when we think about Jesus in the garden, and when we think about Jesus standing trial before Pontius Pilate—even when we think about Jesus the Christ upon the cross—we must recognize and understand that it wasn’t sinners who betrayed Jesus in the garden, nor was it sinners who seized and laid hold of Jesus in the garden. It wasn’t sinners who falsely and wrongly accused Jesus in the secrecy and darkness of the night, but it was religion who had wrongly and falsely accused Jesus in the secrecy and darkness of the night. It was religion who had not only accused Jesus in the darkness of the night, but it was religion who condemned Jesus to death and would deliver Him unto Pontius Pilate to actually carry out the sentence of putting Jesus to death. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and remarkable reality, for as you read the four gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that before Jesus would ever stand trial before sinners He would first stand trial before religion. To this day I find it absolutely astonishing to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would stand trial before Rome itself—Jesus would stand trial before Pontius Pilate who was the representative of Rome within the land of Judaea during those days—and as He stood before Pilate it would be declared of Him that there was no fault found within Him. What’s more, is that as you read the gospel narratives concerning Jesus’ standing trial before Pontius Pilate you will find that not once, but multiple times Pontius Pilate declared that he had found no fault in Jesus the Christ. You cannot read the gospel narrative written concerning Jesus the Christ and not come face to face with the fact that not only did Pilate find no fault with Jesus, but on more than one occasion He sought to release Jesus instead of further condemning, and ultimately crucifying Him. The trial which Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate would ultimately result in His being condemned by Pilate to be crucified, however, it wouldn’t be until after Pontius Pilate had publicly declared and announced that He had found no fault with Jesus the Christ.

            Within this gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find John the Baptist declaring concerning Jesus the Christ that He was the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world. What’s more, is that within the gospel narratives we find written concerning Jesus Christ that God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us that He might be a sacrifice and propitiation for us. You will recall in the Old Testament within the sacrificial system that had been ordained by the living God that any lamb which was to be presented as an offering and sacrifice unto the LORD was to be without blemish and without defect. That lamb which would be presented as an offering or sacrifice would and could not have any blemish or defect within and upon it that it might not pollute and defile the altar which was found present in the midst of the Temple and court of the LORD. It is this reality that makes the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Malachi so incredibly intriguing and captivating when you take the time to think about it, for you will find that through the prophet Malachi the LORD indicted, rebuked and condemned the people during those days for their defiling and polluting the altar of the LORD. The way they would defile the altar of the LORD was through the sacrifices and offerings they would present upon the altar—sacrifices which would be blind, lame, halt, and with defect and blemish. No longer would men and women present unto and before the living God that which was without blemish, but they would now give that which was inferior and that which had not been prescribed by the LORD to be offered and presented upon the altar of the LORD. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for one of the greatest truths that surrounds the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ is that it was absolutely and entirely necessary for Pilate to make the declaration concerning Jesus the Christ which he would make—and not only make before religion, but also before sinners. I sit here right now thinking about and considering this awesome and powerful truth and can’t help but encounter and come face to face that although religion would accuse and ultimately condemn Jesus, it would be Pontius Pilate who would publicly pronounce and proclaim—not only unto religion, but also unto sinners as well—that he found no fault with Jesus. Essentially that which Pilate would proclaim as Jesus stood before Him was not only that he had found no fault with Jesus, but also the innocence of Jesus. Despite the fact that religion accused Jesus, and despite the fact that religion condemned Jesus—when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate during those days and during this time he would proclaim unto all those who were present the innocence of Jesus the Christ.

            I can’t help but see an absolutely wonderful and powerful truth found within the words Pilate proclaimed concerning Jesus the Christ, for although he would ultimately deliver Jesus into the hands of sinners to be crucified, he would first openly and publicly declare that he found no fault with him. Before Pontius Pilate would wash his hands in innocence and deliver Jesus into the hands of sinners to be crucified he would essentially pronounce the innocence of Jesus. Despite the fact that religion would accuse Jesus, despite the fact that religion would seek to condemn Jesus, and despite the fact that religion would seek to indict Jesus for crimes He had not and did not commit, Pilate would openly and publicly declare before all those who were present during those days that he had found no fault in this man called Jesus of Nazareth. I am absolutely and completely convinced that it is necessary, and it was necessary for Pontius Pilate to openly and emphatically make this declaration and proclamation, for although we know that Jesus was indeed the sinless and spotless Lamb of God without blemish, it would be Pontius Pilate who would make the declaration that there was no fault within and surrounding Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that before Jesus would and before Jesus could be delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified it was first necessary that a declaration and proclamation would be made concerning and be made over Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus couldn’t have simply been delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified without first standing trial before Pilate. Not only this, but Jesus couldn’t have been delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified without Pilate first emphatically declaring unto both sinners and religion alike that he had found no fault with him. The declaration and pronouncement made by Pilate would have tremendous prophetic implications, and would actually carry with it eternal weight and eternal significance, for while Caiaphas the high priest would speak prophetically concerning the death of Jesus the Christ, so also would Pilate speak prophetically concerning Jesus the Christ, and how Jesus there was absolutely no wrong, nor was their any fault found within Jesus the Christ. Stop for a moment and think about these powerful truths—the truths that a religious leader would speak prophetically concerning the death of Jesus the Christ, and how a sinful leaders would speak prophetically concerning the innocence of Jesus the Christ. It’s truly something worth thinking about and consider these two distinct realities, for they help shine an absolutely powerful and incredible light on to what actually took place before Jesus would indeed be delivered into the hands of sinners. Consider if you will—first the words which the high priest would prophetically speak concerning Jesus the Christ, and secondly the words which Pilate would prophetically speak concerning Jesus the Christ:

            “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him, and led Him way to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest the same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:12-14).

            “Then many of the Jews which came to mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? For this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples” (John 11:45-54).

            “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release unto the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber” (John 18:38-40).

            “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him” (John 19:1-4).

            “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John 19:5-7).

            “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified” (John 19:12-16).

            GABBATHA! GOLGOTHA! THE PLACE OF JUDGMENT! THE PLACE OF DEATH! As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering this awesome and powerful truth I can’t help but consider the awesome and powerful truth that just as it was absolutely necessary for Caiaphas to speak prophetically concerning it being expedient for one man to die for the whole nation, so also was it necessary that Pilate speak prophetically concerning Jesus and how he had found no fault with him. I am absolutely and completely convinced that it was truly and indeed necessary for Pilate to make this declaration and pronouncement before Jesus would be delivered into the hands of sinners to crucify Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that it was absolutely and entirely necessary for Pilate to make this declaration concerning Jesus the Christ, and his finding no fault within Him, for when He was finally and ultimately delivered into the hands of sinners it would be proclaimed that there was no fault in Him, that He was truly and indeed innocent, and that Pilate saw no grounds in their accusation. I still find it absolutely remarkable to think about the awesome and powerful reality that not only did Pilate seek to release Jesus, but so also did Pilate make the public pronouncement—and not once, but at least two different times—that He found no fault with Jesus the Christ. It would be this public proclamation that would have unparalleled prophetic significance, for this declaration which was made by Pontius Pilate would be a prophetic declaration concerning the innocence of Jesus and that He was indeed qualified to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of men. I firmly believe within my heart and soul that Pilate’s declaration concerning his finding no fault within Jesus was absolutely necessary, for it would be something which would need to be declared at that time and before Jesus would and could be delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified. Pilate could have very easily have sentenced Jesus to death after hearing the accusations and condemnation of Him by the Jews, however—not once, but twice Pilate would proclaim that he had found no fault with Him.

            A PROCLAMATION OF INNOCENCE AND A RELEASE OF THE GUILTY! The more you read the words which are found within these chapters the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that almost intrinsically linked to the public proclamation and declaration by Pilate that he found no fault with Jesus, there was also the public release of he who was indeed guilty. In fact, if you read the gospel narrative written by the apostle John—and not only the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, but also those which were written by the other gospel authors—you will find that in addition to Pilate releasing he who was guilty while sentencing He who was innocent to death, Jesus would also hang upon a cross in between to thieves and in between two malefactors who were indeed guilty of crimes during those days. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely tremendous this truly is, for not only would Pilate pronounce Jesus’ innocence and that he had found no fault within him, but he would also release that one who was guilty that he who was innocent might be put to death. Oh dear reader, please do not miss the awesome and incredibly significance and parallel between the proclamation of Pilate and its direct and intrinsic link to his actions, for directly linked to his proclamation that he had found no fault in Jesus he would not only release he who was guilty, but he would also sentence He who was innocent. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely powerful and prophetic the words and actions of Pilate were, for not only would his declaration concerning Jesus be prophetic concerning His ability to serve as the sacrifice and propitiation of God for sin and transgression, but his actions would be prophetic in that he would demonstrate and put on display that for which Jesus would be crucified, and that for which Jesus would die. Jesus would indeed die in order that He who knew no sin might become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died upon the cross that we who are guilty—“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”—might be found and proclaimed innocent. We dare not and must not miss the awesome and powerful significance of Pilate’s words and actions, for Pilate’s actions and words would have tremendous significance concerning Jesus the Christ, as well as concerning the saints of God and disciples of Jesus the Christ throughout the years. In fact, I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found within these verses and chapters, for there is a tremendous amount of prophetic significance that is found and contained therein.

            The more I read and the more I consider the words which are found within these chapters the more I am brought face to face with the awesome reality that Pilate’s words and the declaration he made concerning Jesus the Christ would not only have direct links and implications to the release of Barabbas, but they would also have direct links and prophetic implications for what Jesus’ death would actually accomplish—not only then, but also within and through the years and generations. It would be very easy to read the narrative surrounding Pilate and to point the finger at him and condemn him for his actions concerning Jesus, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that Pilate was used as a divine instrument in the hand of God—not only to deliver Jesus up to fulfill the purpose for which He was sent into the earth, but also to speak prophetically concerning Jesus before He would be crucified, and would act prophetically in releasing Barabbas. There have been countless men and women throughout the years who have read the narratives surrounding Pilate and his delivering Jesus up to be crucified, however, it must be understood that although Pilate carried out the sentence of judgment against Jesus the Christ, and although Pilate delivered Jesus up to be crucified—it would be the Jews, and it would be religion that would actually condemn Jesus. Pilate would not actually condemn Jesus, but would be used as the vessel and instrument to fulfill and carry out that which the eternal Father had purposed for Jesus the Christ. Pilate would publicly proclaim and declare that he found no fault with Jesus, and it would be this declaration and this proclamation that would wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate the awesome and tremendous truth concerning this One who would be sentenced to death. In all reality, I would dare say that it was absolutely necessary for Pilate to make this proclamation and pronouncement concerning Jesus the Christ, for it would be this pronouncement that would actually help speak to and reveal the mystery behind Jesus the Christ as the sinless and spotless Lamb of God which would take away the sins of the world.

            As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the trial which Jesus would stand before Pilate I can’t help but be captivated with and by the fact that it wouldn’t be sinners who would condemn Jesus, but it would be religion that would actually condemn Jesus. It wouldn’t be sinners who would accuse Jesus the Christ during those days, but it would be religion that would actually accuse Him—and not only accuse Him among themselves, but also accuse Him before Pilate. What’s truly astonishing to think about and consider is when you think about the fact that although and despite the fact that religion would indeed accuse and condemn Jesus—Pilate would speak concerning Jesus the Christ and emphatically declare that he found no fault with Him. Despite the fact that religion had found fault with Jesus, and despite the fact that the Jews had found fault with Jesus, Pilate would find no fault with Him. Despite the same accusations which were brought against Jesus being voiced in his presence and hearing he would still emphatically and without hesitation and reservation declare that he had found no fault with Jesus. I firmly believe that Pilate could not have released Jesus even if he wanted to, for it wasn’t according to the divine will, plan and purpose of the living God. The living and eternal God never designed, nor did He intend on having Jesus stand before Pilate and stand before sinners and have Him be released after being accused and condemned by religion and by the Jews. Oh how absolutely powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that Pilate’s declaration concerning his finding no fault with Jesus was not only made in the company and presence of sinners, but it was also made in the company and presence of religion. Here we have one who did not fear God, and here we have one who did not honor nor serve the living God, and yet in the company of both religion and sinners alike he would declare that he found no fault with Jesus. There is not a doubt in my mind that these words were spoken prophetically by Pontius Pilate concerning Jesus the Christ that both religion and sinners alike would be able to hear and understand that there was indeed no fault, nor was there any wrongdoing in Jesus the Christ. There was absolutely no wrong, nor was there any fault found within Jesus the Christ, and yet Pilate would make the proclamation in the hearing of religion and sinners alike that there was absolutely no fault with this man.

            The declaration and proclamation Pilate made concerning Jesus the Christ would not only be an indictment and affront to the accusation and condemnation brought against Jesus by religion, but it would also be a powerful declaration in the hearing of sinners that this One who stood accused and condemned was entirely and altogether innocent and without fault. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this powerful truth and reality, for there is not a doubt in my mind that both religion which seeks to accuse Jesus, as well as sinners which hear the accusation(s) against and the accusation(s) of Jesus the Christ need to hear and understand that there is absolutely no fault, nor any wrong, nor any evil found within the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus the Christ would be delivered unto Pontius Pilate and would be brought unto Him having been wrongly and falsely accused—and even when Pontius Pilate heard the accusations which were brought against Jesus he still found no fault within Him. Pilate heard the words which were brought against Jesus the Christ, and he heard the accusations which were raised against him, and yet Pilate would find absolutely nothing wrong with any thing that was spoken concerning Him. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely incredible and powerful this is when you take the time to think about, for it is something worth recognizing and understanding. Pontius Pilate would hear the accusations of religion toward and against Jesus—and not only did he not find any fault with Jesus, but he also saw no reason for Jesus to die and to be crucified. Despite the fact that Pilate would ultimately be the one who would deliver Jesus into the hands of those who would crucify Him, he would find no fault in Him, and saw nothing in Him that was worthy of death. Pilate would hear all those words which were spoken unto Him concerning Jesus, and more than once declared that there was no fault, there was no wrong, and there was no evil within Jesus. OH that we would recognize and understand this, for it’s something worth thinking about and considering how religion seems to find fault with Jesus, and yet it’s highly possible that sinners find absolutely no wrong, nor any fault with Jesus. It was religion which found fault with Jesus, it was religion that was offended with Jesus, it was religion which accused Jesus, and it was religion which condemned Jesus, and yet when Jesus stood before Pilate—yea, even Rome itself—he found no fault with him. Stop and think about that truth, for Pilate’s declaration concerning there being no fault with Jesus would not merely be his own declaration, but it might very well have been considered a declaration of Rome itself.

            I sit here thinking about and considering the powerful truth surrounding Jesus’ standing trial before Pilate and I am absolutely and completely gripped with the fact that Jesus would initially stand trial in the presence of religion before He would ever stand trial in the presence of sinners. It would be when Jesus stood trial in the presence of religion that He would be falsely and wrongly accused, and yet when Jesus stood in the company and presence of sinners there would be no fault found with and against Him. Oh think about the tremendous danger of religion, for it was religion which found fault with and took offense with Jesus, and it would be religion that would condemn Jesus to death, and would ultimately bring Him into the hands and presence of sinners. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly remarkable and powerful reality, for more often than not it is not necessarily sinners that have offense and find fault with Jesus, but it is religion that has the ultimate offense with Jesus the Christ. The more I think about Jesus’ standing trial before Pontius Pilate—and not only Jesus’ standing trial before Pontius Pilate, but also standing trial before the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the like—the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that the words and actions of Pilate are a powerful prophetic manifestation which took place during those days. The words which Pilate spoke concerning Jesus the Christ, and how he found no fault with Him must be recognized and understood, for the words which he declared would bear incredible weight concerning Jesus’ being able to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of man. It would be Caiaphas who would prophetically declare that Jesus would be offered up for the nation of Israel—and not only for the nation of Israel, but ultimately for all the nations of the earth—and it would be Pilate who would complete the prophetic revelation that was made with Caiaphas. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is indeed a prophetic revelation that began with Caiaphas concerning Jesus dying for the nation, and would continue with the words which Pilate would proclaim concerning Jesus. Pilate would indeed continue and complete the prophetic revelation concerning Jesus—not only in his words concerning Jesus’ innocence, but also his actions in releasing that one who was guilty. Jesus would indeed be innocent, and yet rather than the innocent going free and the guilty dying it would be the guilty going free and the innocent dying.

It’s truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading these words that even before Jesus would actually be delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified and put to death the full weight and significance of His death would be seen in the hall of judgment. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that there in the hall of judgment the mystery of the cross and the mystery of Jesus’ death would be put on display before religion and sinners alike, and how neither religion nor sinners truly recognized or understood what was going on. Not only this, but I would also dare say that within the spiritual and supernatural realm itself the demons and unclean spirits had absolutely no clue what was taking place at that time. I am sure that all hell rejoiced and reeled when Jesus was sentenced to death and as Barabbas was free, and yet none of them had any clue or understanding what was taking place. There is not a doubt in my mind that Satan and all the unseen forces of darkness only saw Barabbas being delivered and set free by Pilate in the place of judgment, and Jesus being condemned to death. Stop and consider how at that time and during those moments the only thing religion and sinners saw was Jesus being sentenced to death, and Barabbas being delivered and set free. The only thing religion and sinners saw was this Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God being sentenced to death, and the only thing religion cared about was watching Jesus be put to death. WHEN THE AGENDA OF RELIGION AND HELL ARE IN ALIGNMENT! There is not a doubt in my mind that in that moment the agenda and desire of religion was in direct alignment with the agenda and desire of hell itself, as both sought the destruction and death of Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that during those times—not only was the agenda and desire of religion put on display, but so also was the agenda and desire of hell itself put on display. What makes this so absolutely captivating is when you think about the fact that neither religion nor hell itself actually realized what was going on, for had either of them truly understood what would have happened they would not have killed and crucified the King of glory. Had hell realized and understood what was taking place they would not have killed and crucified the Lord of glory, and they would have sought to release Him from the clutches and grip of the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, and from Pilate and sinners alike.

            Oh it is truly worth thinking about and considering how at that time and during those moments—although the agendas and desires of religion and hell would be aligned—neither religion, nor sinners, nor even hell itself would recognize and understand what was going on and what was taking place. There is not a doubt in my mind that neither hell itself, nor even religion realized and recognized what was taking place there in the judgment hall, for in the sentencing unto death by Pilate and the release of Barabbas the eternal Father was demonstrating the entire purpose and function of the cross. It would be during those moments that the actions of Pilate would carry with them powerful prophetic implications that would not only directly impact and affect that time, but also would impact men and women throughout history. Oh I can’t help but think about and consider the truly awesome and powerful reality that there were indeed two individuals whose lives would be put on display to demonstrate the true power of the cross and the death of Jesus the Christ. It would be in the sentencing of Jesus the Christ that would result in the release and deliverance of Barabbas, and it would be in the hanging of Jesus on the cross that the thief who hung there next to Jesus would find eternal life. On the one hand we find this mystery playing out in the natural and physical realm, and on the other hand we find this mystery playing out in the eternal arena and in the eternal stage. There would be no declaration given unto Barabbas other than his chains loosed and the words that he could go free, and yet when we think about the thief on the cross there would actually be a powerful declaration and proclamation that would be made concerning him—namely, that today he would be with Jesus in paradise. Pause for a moment and consider this exchange upon the cross—and not only this exchange upon the cross, but also this exchange in the hall of judgment:

            “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 touching those 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 him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto 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 voices 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 23:13-25).

            “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:33-33).

            It is worth reading and considering the words which are found within these two passages, for the words which we find in them are a wonderful and powerful declaration concerning the thief on the cross and the murderer in the judgment hall. It was the thief on the cross whom Jesus would declare would be with him in paradise, and it was Barabbas whom Pilate would set free there in the judgment hall. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that neither religion, nor sinners, nor even hell itself realized, recognized and understood what was actually taking place during those moments in time, for within the life of Barabbas, as well as within the life of the thief on the cross we find the divine mystery of the cross, for within the mystery of the cross we find the innocent being condemned while the guilty we find released. Within the mystery of the cross we find the thief on the cross who simply asked Jesus to remember him when He entered into his kingdom hearing the Lord Jesus the Christ emphatically declare and proclaim unto him that today he would be with him in paradise. Pause and consider how absolutely phenomenal and remarkable these realities truly are, for when you think about and consider them you will find the divine mystery of the cross and the death of Jesus being put on display—and not only being put on display, but being put on display before religion, before sinners, and before hell itself. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of these truths and these realities, for they bring us face to face with the awesome truth that neither hell itself nor religion truly realized what was taking place during those moments. When Jesus was sentenced to death by Pilate and when Barabbas was delivered from his chains and set free it was a powerful prophetic act that would be put on display during those moments concerning the divine mystery concerning the cross, and concerning the death and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how although religion would condemn Jesus, and although sinners would find no fault in Him, nor would find any offense with Him—Jesus would still ultimately be sentenced to death. What’s more, is that in Jesus’ sentencing we find the release, the freedom and the deliverance of one who was a murderer and one who had committed sedition in the midst of the city during those days. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for in the sentencing of Jesus we find the guilty being set free, and in the death of Jesus we find the repentant sinner inheriting and finding eternal life. Please don’t miss that which is found within the lives of these two men, for both of these men would be divinely used by the LORD on the prophetic stage concerning the death and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, for both of these men would be used to illustrate and demonstrate the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth concerning Jesus the Christ and what His death would ultimately accomplish at that time and throughout history. It would be during those moments in the judgment hall that Jesus’ sentencing to death would result in the release and freedom of one who was actually guilty, and there on the cross it would be in Jesus’ death that this thief on the cross would find forgiveness—and not only forgiveness, but also eternal life. It would be in the sentencing of Jesus to death that the divine mystery of the cross and His death would be manifested and played out for the prophetic fulfillment of His death would be in the guilty going free and the guilty being released and essentially acquitted. Please note that Barabbas’ release was in no means a declaration that he was innocent, nor did it eradicate that which he had done during those days, and yet it would be during those days Barabbas would experience release and freedom—despite that which he had done in the midst of the land. A similar reality surrounds the thief on the cross, for although he would find forgiveness from and by Jesus the Christ and would inherit eternal life it did not change what he had done within his life. What the thief on the cross found was complete and total forgiveness for what he had done, and it would be in that place of forgiveness he would find eternal and everlasting life.

It is my prayer that when you read about the trial of Jesus—and not only the trial of Jesus, but also the crucifixion of Jesus—you will come face to face with the divine mystery surrounding the cross, as well as the death and sacrifice of Jesus. My prayer is that you would realize just how tremendous and significant Pilate’s declaration concerning Jesus the Christ was—not only because it demonstrated the reality of the innocent being sentenced to death, but also because it illustrated the awesome and powerful reality that because Jesus was innocent, without fault and sinless He was able to be offered up as a sacrifice and propitiation for our sins. It would be Jesus’ being sentenced to death that the guilty would find release and freedom—despite the fact that he had been found guilty of murder and sedition. It would be in and through Jesus’ death upon the cross that another murderer and thief would not only find forgiveness of sins, but would also find and experience eternal life. Pause and think about what those final moments would have been like for this thief who hung there upon the cross as he knew that not only would he die, but also that when he died he would be with Jesus together in paradise. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this truly powerful and awesome truth, for it is this truth that helps us realize and understand that the divine mystery of the death of Jesus the Christ was not only put on display before religion and sinners, but it was also put on display for all hell itself. What’s more, is that neither religion, nor hell itself truly understood and realized what was taking place during those moments. Had religion and had hell itself realized what was going on in the judgment hall—and not only in the judgment hall, but also on the cross at Calvary itself—neither would have demanded the crucifixion of Jesus. Oh how thankful we should be that in the sentencing of Jesus to death we who are guilty can be released and set free, and in the death of Jesus we can not only find forgiveness of sins, but we can also find and experience eternal life.

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