The Convergence of Religious Spirits & Offense With Jesus

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark—a traveling companion of the apostle Paul, as well as Barnabas. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament book. “And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? HE will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture, The stone which the builders rejected is become head of the corner; This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way” (Mark 12:1-12).

            “And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him” (Mark 12:13-17).

            “Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? For the seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them. Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err” (Mark 12:18-27).

            “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other be he: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question” (Mark 12:28-34).

            “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:35-37).

            “And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation” (Mark 12:38-40).

            “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disci0ples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:41-44).

            AND THE SCRIBES AND CHIEF PRIESTS HEARD IT, AND SOUGHT HOW THEY MIGHT DESTROY HIM! THEY FEARED HIM, BECAUSE ALL THE PEOPLE WAS ASTONISHED AT HIS DOCTRINE! THERE COME TO HIM THE CHIEF PRIESTS, AND THE SCRIBES, AND THE ELDERS, AND SAY UNTO HIM! BY WHAT AUTHORITY DOEST THOU THESE THINGS? WHO GAVE THEE THIS AUTHORITY TO DO THESE THINGS? AND THEY SOUGHT TO LAY HOLD ON HIM, BUT FEARED THE PEOPLE! THEY KNEW THAT HE HAD SPOKEN THE PARABLE AGAINST THEM! THEY LEFT HIM, AND WENT THEIR WAY! AND THEY SEND UNTO HIM CERTAIN OF THE PHARISEES AND OF THE HERODIANS TO CATCH HIM IN HIS WORDS! THEN COME UNTO HIM THE SADDUCEES, WHICH SAY THERE IS NO RESURRECTION! ONE OF THE SCRIBES CAME, AND HAVING HEARD THEM REASONING TOGETHER, AND PERCEIVING THAT HE HAD ANSWERED THEM WELL, ASKED HIM, WHICH IS THE FIRST COMMANDMENT OF ALL? AND NO MAN AFTER THAT DURST ASK HIM ANY QUESTION! ENCOUNTERS WITH THE RELIGIOUS!

            When you come to the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by John Mark you will find and encounter an entire chapter that is filled with encounters between Jesus and the religious system and religious leaders during that day. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding this chapter and how during this final week prior to the beginning of the suffering of Jesus which would ultimately lead to His death the religious system would make multiple attempts to entrap and ensnare Him. The more you read the words which are found within the gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ the more you will find the religious system which was present during those days seeking to entrap and ensnare Jesus—and not only entrap and ensnare Him, but also rise up against Him in persecution and opposition. In fact, the more you read the words found within and throughout the four gospel narratives the more you will find that the religious leaders and system which was present during the days of the Lord Jesus Christ essentially played two different roles. The first role the religious system and leaders played during those days was to rise up against both Jesus and His disciples in judgment, in accusation, in condemnation and criticism concerning their words and actions. The second role the religious system and leaders played during the days of the Lord Jesus Christ was seeking to entrap and ensnare Jesus in His words. You cannot read the four gospel narratives written concerning the life of Jesus and not come face to face with and encounter these awesome and powerful truths, for they are littered and found throughout each of the four gospels.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words found within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written concerning the Lord Jesus by John Mark and I find myself encountering the tremendous truth that the religious leaders played an incredibly crucial and vital role during the das of the public ministry and life of Jesus the Christ. In all reality, I would dare say you could not have the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ without and apart from the religious system and without the religious establishment which was present at that time. I am trying to picture the four gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and I honestly cannot picture His life and ministry without and apart from the opposition and persecution of the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people, the teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Each of the four gospel narratives which are found within the New Testament gospels concerning the life of Jesus contain powerful examples of the tremendous opposition and persecution the religious system and leaders presented against both Jesus and His disciples. What’s more, is that as you read the four gospels you will encounter and be brought face to face with the tremendous truth that the religious system and leaders had absolutely no qualm or quarrel with rising up in opposition against Jesus and His disciples. In fact, I would even dare say the religious system and leaders which were present during those days might not very well have enjoyed rising up in persecution and opposition against the Lord Jesus because of the tremendous fear, anger, hatred, animosity and hostility that was present within their hearts and souls. You cannot read the gospel narratives and not come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the scribes and the Pharisees were essentially the two biggest groups which perpetrated this venom and poison which was directed toward and against Jesus, and yet it’s actually quite unique to think about those who were connected with the Law and those who were connected with the Temple and sacrifice were those who found themselves in direct opposition with Jesus the most.

            The more I read the words which are found within these four gospels the more I am brought face to face with the fact that if you read each of the gospels you will find that nowhere within any of them did Jesus ever experience opposition from Rome, nor any of the Roman centurions, nor even Pontius Pilate. In fact, the only encounter Jesus would have with a Roman prior to His being brought unto Pontius Pilate that the sentence to condemn Him to death might be passed was when the Roman centurion came unto Him on behalf of his servant who lie at home sick. In the gospel narratives you will find that the only interaction Jesus had with Rome or with any of its citizens or soldiers was indeed and was in fact when that Roman centurion came before and unto Jesus on behalf of his servant who lie at home sick and on the verge of death. What’s more, is that when this centurion spoke of his being a man in authority and a man under authority, as well as the power of the spoken word and command Jesus marveled at his faith. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus marvel at the faith of this centurion, but He would also emphatically declare that He had not found so great faith in all of Israel. This Roman centurion understood being a man in authority and commanding others to do and they obey, as well as himself being commanded and his needing to obey. With this understanding the Roman centurion would declare unto Jesus that He need not come unto his home, nor even come under his roof, for all Jesus needed to do was speak the word and his servant would be healed. Oh pause for a moment and think about how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for within and throughout the entire public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ He never found Himself at odds with, nor did He ever experience Rome ever rising up against Him in opposition. You can search the four gospels all you want and outside of Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate and ultimately being sentenced to being scourged before being crucified there would not be a single individual from Rome who would find or take any fault within the Lord Jesus Christ.

            This concept of Rome not finding any fault, nor taking any offense with the Lord Jesus Christ is actually all the more astonishing and incredible when you read and consider the words found in this passage, for the words which are found in this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the scribes and the Pharisees who sought to entrap and ensnare Jesus in His words. What’s more, is that not only did they seek to entrap and ensnare Jesus in His words, but they would actually use the concept of taxes and praying tribute unto Caesar. What makes this truly interesting is when you think about the fact the prior to this—most of the entrapment and seeking to ensnare Jesus in His words dealt with the Law of Moses, and that which the LORD had commanded through Him. Throughout most of the gospels you will find that when the religious leaders sought to entrap and ensnare Jesus in His words they would do so as it pertained to the Law of Moses. This was true when they came unto Him speaking of and citing how Moses suffered them to present a writing of divorcement and whether or not Jesus agreed with the concept and reality of divorce. This would also be true when you think about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, and how the Pharisees and the scribes brought this woman who was caught in the very act and immediately proceeded to explain unto Jesus how the Law demanded and commanded that such a woman be stoned. Oh the more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will think about and consider the incredibly powerful truth surrounding the religious entrapment and the attempt of the religious leaders and system to somehow ensnare Jesus in His words the more you will find and encounter the truth and reality that their seeking to entrap Him was primarily according to the Law of Moses—and not even the Law of Moses, but even according to the traditions of the elders which had been taught as doctrine and commandments of God. Oh that which the scribes and the Pharisees sought to do with Jesus is essentially the same thing those men did during the days of Daniel when they attempted to find fault within him and reason to accuse him before the king, and yet realized that the only way they would be able to find any fault with him is in matters pertaining to the God whom he worshipped and prayed to. Eventually and ultimately those rulers and leaders within the Medo-Persian Empire would coerce and manipulate the king Darius to pass a law and decree that no one could pray to anyone but him for the next thirty days, and whoever prayed to anyone or any god but him would be cast alive into the den of lions. Consider if you will the following narrative which is found in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel beginning with the first verse:

            “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellers, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. NOW WHEN DANIEL KNEW THAT THE WRITING WAS SIGNED, HE WENT INTO HIS HOUSE; AND HIS WINDOWS BEING OPEN IN HIS CHAMBER TOWARD JERSUALEM, HE KNEELED UPON HIS KNEES THREE TIMES A DAY, AND PRAYED, AND GAVE THANKS BEFORE HIS GOD, AS HE DID AFORETIME. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or any man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. And a stone was brought ,and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the sginet of his lords; that the purpose might not be charged concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den” (Daniel 6:1-24).

            I fully realize and recognize that we are speaking about the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and that you might wonder how or why I would at all include the words found in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel. The truth of the matter is that in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel is a powerful example of how the princes and presidents sought to find fault and occasion of wrongdoing within Daniel that they might be able to accuse him before the king. Despite how diligently they looked and attempted to find fault with Daniel they ultimately realized that they could find no fault within him. Determined to not be deterred nor moved away from their purpose, however, they purposed and reasoned among themselves how the only way to truly find Daniel guilty whereby they might accuse him before the king was according to the laws concerning his God. These princes and presidents went before the king to coerce and manipulate him to sign into law and pass a decree which could not be altered that anyone who made any petition of many or man or any God except the king ought to be cast alive into the den of lions. What I absolutely love about this particular portion of Scripture is that not only did Daniel hear about the decree which the king had signed into law and passed during the days, but when he had indeed heard about the decree and its being signed into writing he continued to go into his chamber with the windows open toward Jerusalem and would kneel down before his God in prayer three times a day. OH it’s one thing to kneel before his God in secret where no one would be able to see and observe him praying, however, it is an entirely different thing to kneel down before the living God before the windows were opened unto the city of Jerusalem. What’s more, is that it would be something to pray once a day before and unto the living God, however, it would be an entirely different thing to pray three times a day before the living God. Oh I absolutely love the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here in this passage bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that not only was Daniel willing to kneel down in prayer with the windows opened before and unto Jerusalem, but he was also willing to pray three times a day. Not only was Daniel willing to pray three times a day when others might even be willing to pray once, but he was also willing to kneel before his windows which were opened facing toward the city of Jerusalem.

            I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found within the prophetic book of Daniel and how they directly apply to that which we find within the gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more you read the words which are found within the New Testament gospel narratives the more you will think about, consider and see how the scribes, the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, the chief priests, and the like sought to find occasion and fault with Jesus according to the Law of Moses. Time and time again within and throughout the gospel narratives you will find the religious system and leaders during those days—those who were responsible for teaching and upholding the Law of Moses, and those who ministered within the Temple which stood in Jerusalem—would seek to use the Law of Moses as a tool and instrument whereby they might entrap and ensnare Jesus. Pause for a moment and consider the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth surrounding this, for the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, and the Pharisees would essentially weaponize the Law of Moses and the commands which the LORD had spoken and given through Moses to accuse and find fault with Jesus. I have previously written about this particular truth so I won’t spend time doing it again here, however, suffice it to say we must needs realize and understand how the religious system sought to take and lay hold of the Law of Moses and weaponize it that they might use it as a tool and instrument against Jesus that they might find reason to accuse Him and find further fault with Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that the religious leaders and the religious system of that day deliberately and intentionally sought to take the Law of Moses, the commands and decrees which the LORD had spoken and commanded through Moses, and turn it into a weapon, a tool and instrument whereby they might find reason to accuse Jesus during those days.

            It is truly something interesting and worth thinking about and considering when you read the words which are found in the four gospel narratives, for the religious leaders and the religious system which was present during those days would indeed and would in fact seek to take and use the Law of Moses as means to find fault with Jesus—and not only to find fault with Jesus, but also to accuse, entrap and ensnare Him. WE dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it is an incredibly powerful thing to think about it when and as you read the gospels—the fact that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel would actually take that which was given by the living God unto Moses atop Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai and seek to use it against His only begotten Son. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely poisonous and toxic this truly is when you truly consider it, for the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel would indeed and would in fact seek to find fault with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is something worth thinking about when you consider that it was those who were responsible for teaching and upholding the Law, and it was those who ministered within the Temple of the Lord which stood in the city of Jerusalem who found fault with Jesus. It was the religious leaders and it was the religious leaders which were present during those days who were the ones who took and found the greatest fault, offense and wrongdoing with Jesus—not only in matters pertaining to the sabbath, not only in matters pertaining to His eating and drinking with publicans and sinners, not only in matters of the traditions of the elders of Israel, but also in direct connection with and to the Law which was given unto Moses by the living God and which he wrote upon tablets of stone. Not only this, but you will find the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel taking what might very well have been two of the most hotly contested and divisive matters written and found within the law—namely, divorce and adultery—and would use it to try and find fault and offense with the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Oh the more I think about and consider this the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that as you read the four gospel narratives you will find that the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the teachers of the Law and the like were those who seemed to find fault with Jesus the most. While it was indeed true that there were specific instances when the Jews would find fault with Jesus—namely, as you read the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by John—it would primarily and predominantly be the religious leaders and the religious system that would take and find fault with Jesus the most. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that nowhere in all of Scripture will you find anyone in Rome taking offense nor finding any fault within the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no place in any of the gospels where you will find the Roman centurions rising up against Jesus in opposition and commanding Him to cease preaching, and to cease working miracles, and to cease eating with publicans and sinners. This is truly unique when you consider and think about the fact that it was religion which found Jesus to be a threat and not sinners. It was the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees and the like which took and found fault with Jesus and not the Roman centurions. I continue to be amazed that the only interaction Jesus every had with Pontius Pilate would come after He had already been betrayed by one of His own, after He had already stood trial and been falsely accused before the religious leaders and system, and before He had experienced certain suffering at the hands of the religious leaders during those days. Prior to the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees and the like turning Jesus over unto Pontius Pilate that he might condemn and sentence Him to death Jesus would not have a single interaction or encounter with Pilate. Part of me can’t help but wonder if Pilate ever even heard of Jesus prior to His being brought unto Him on the morning after He had been betrayed by Judas and stood trial before religion.

            I continue to think about and consider this truly astonishing and remarkable truth and I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that nowhere within, nor throughout the four gospels will you find anywhere were anyone in Rome took offense to and had offense with Jesus. There is not a single place within the Scriptures where anyone from Rome found fault with Jesus, and even when Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate he would declare and profess that he found no fault within Him. Stop and consider the fact that even when Jesus was hand delivered and brought unto Pontius Pilate and he heard the charges which were brought against Him, and even after he had questioned Him he found no fault, nor any wrong, nor any offense with Him. What’s more, is that the gospel narratives even present the powerful picture that Pontius Pilate sought on more than one occasion to release Jesus back into the population, and sought to release Jesus back among the people. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth, for during those three and a half years of the public life and ministry of Jesus He would never stand before Pontius Pilate, and when He finally did stand before him Pontius Pilate found absolutely no fault with Him. Stop and consider the fact that when you read the four gospel narratives you will see how it was religion itself which found and took fault with Jesus and not sinners. Jesus was accused and even hated because He ate and drank with publicans and sinners, and even when He would stand trial before the Gentile Roman prefect known as Pontinus Pilate He would be pronounced and professed to be entirely and altogether innocent. Oh how absolutely remarkable this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for there is something powerful when you consider how it was religion that found fault and took offense with Jesus, and yet it was not only sinners, but also the representative of Rome that would not only find no fault within Him, but would also seek to release and set Him free. Pontius Pilate found absolutely no wrongdoing nor any offense in the Lord Jesus Christ, and would have indeed and would have surely set Him free were it not for the unrelenting power of the mob and his possible fear of them rioting and creating an insurrection during those days.

            The more I think about and the more I consider this particular reality the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and tremendous truth that nowhere in any of the four gospels will you find the Roman centurions, nor any of the emissaries of Rome, nor even Pilate himself taking and finding any fault with the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel would indeed and would in fact make an attempt to entrap and ensnare Jesus in matters pertaining to Rome. That which you find in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark will present you with the powerful truth that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel sought to entrap Jesus concerning tribute, custom and taxes which ought to be paid before and unto Caesar. If they were able to ensnare and entrap Him in matters pertaining to Rome they might have the smoking gun they had been waiting for to finally have means and reason to accuse Him. Not only this, but I can’t help but think about the fact that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel sought to find fault and offense with Jesus in matters pertaining to the sabbath, in matters pertaining to the tradition of the elders, in matters pertaining to the Law of Moses, in matters pertaining to adultery and divorce, and now here in matters pertaining to custom and tribute which was to paid unto Rome. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely critical this is, for time and time the religious system would seek to find fault with Jesus and accuse Him—not only in matters pertaining to the Law of Moses, but in a variety of different matters. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will find and encounter the absolutely incredible truth that the religious leaders and the religious system during the days and time of Jesus would do more than simply seek to accuse Him in matters pertaining to the Law, but in virtually every matter that was present during those days.

            It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words in this portion of Scripture how the entire chapter centers upon the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the religious system seeking to ensnare and entrap Jesus. You cannot read the words found in this chapter and not come face to face with the tremendous truth that the religious leaders and the religious system did indeed and did in fact seek to ensnare and entrap Jesus on more than one occasion. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not be brought face to face with the absolutely undeniable fact that the religious leaders and system of that day sought to ensnare and entrap Jesus in a number of different issues, and during this final week before His suffering would begin it would seem and appear that the opposition and persecution would increase and ramp up in an exponential form and number. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that during this final week of the passion of Jesus the Christ the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel sought to increase their attempts and their measures to find fault and once and for all accuse and find fault with Jesus. Up until this point they had found fault with Jesus and they had vehemently persecuted and opposed Him, however, what we find within these chapters is an incredibly powerful picture of that opposition and that persecution increasing exponentially toward and against the person of Jesus of Nazareth. WE know from reading the four gospel narratives that Jesus knew that the time and hour was coming for Him to be delivered into the hands of the scribes, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, and that He must suffer many things at their hands. Jesus knew He had already experienced a tremendous amount of persecution and opposition at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, and the entire religious system, however, He knew that the time and hour was coming where HE would indeed and would in fact face and experience actual suffering at their hands and among them.

            There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read within these portions of Scripture are an incredibly powerful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and the direct opposition against and offense with Him by and from the religious system and establishment of that day. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter an entire chapter that was filled and saturated with a tremendous amount of vehement opposition which was lobbied and raised up against the person of Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no denying, nor is there any mistaking that which is found in this portion of Scripture, for there are multiple examples of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people and the Pharisees seeking to find reason to accuse and find fault with the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Oh I continue to be absolutely amazed and astonished with and by the fact that the religious system and leaders of that day would indeed and would in fact take the Law of Moses and weaponize it in such a way that they might use it as means to accuse, condemn, judge, criticize and even find fault with Jesus. Oh it wasn’t enough for them to simply find fault with Jesus based on the tradition of the elders, for there was something all the more intriguing and something all the more astonishing and captivating when you read the words found in this passage how they would seek to use the Law as a tool, an instrument and weapon against the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ would indeed and would in fact face and experience an increase and rise in persecution and opposition from the chief priests and scribes as they would deliberately and intentionally seek to take that which was commanded within the Law of Moses and use it as a means to trap Jesus in His words. How absolutely astonishing it is to read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture and how at this particular time there was without a doubt an absolutely incredible increase of persecution and opposition which would be raised up against Jesus in an all out attempt to once and for all destroy Him from among their midst.

            I am sitting here this morning thinking about and considering the tremendous words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but see how exponentially the opposition and persecution against Jesus increased during this particular week. There is not a doubt in my mind that just as surely and just as much as Jesus Himself knew that His hour and His time was coming and quickly approaching, the religious spirits which were present during those days and at that time also knew and understood that this time and hour was coming. I am absolutely convinced that when we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth that Jesus wasn’t the only one who knew that His time and hour was coming and was almost upon Him. We know that there were at least three—if not four—distinct times and occurrences when the Lord Jesus would teach and speak unto His disciples how He must needs suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people. I firmly believe that with each time Jesus made such a declaration the religious spirits—and not only the religious spirits, but perhaps all of hell itself—were very much aware of the time and hour which was quickly presenting itself. It would be there in the midst of the garden of Eden when despite—and perhaps even because of the prayer Jesus prayed the Father lifted and removed the hedge of protection which was round about Him. We know from the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John that there were countless times when the Jews sought to lay hold of and destroy Jesus, as well as countless times when the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel sought to lay hands on and destroy Him. We know from the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John that despite their desire to lay hold of and destroy Jesus they would and could not do so because His time and His hour had not yet come. Oh despite their vehement hatred, animosity and offense toward Jesus they would and could not lift up a single hand or finger against Him until the appointed time which had been ordained by the Father. Even when you read the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke you will find how those who heard and listened to the words Jesus spoke were outraged with and by them, and how they not only thrust Him out of the city, but also brought Him to the brow of the city seeking to cast Him down headlong. The Gentile physician Luke, however, records that despite their attempt to thrust Him out of the city and cast Him down headlong He was able to make His way through them and go His way.

            I have long and often believed that the three hours of darkness which saturated and surrounded Golgotha from the sixth hour until the ninth hour was more than just a physical darkness because of the clouds blotting out the sun, or even because of a solar eclipse. We know from reading the Old Testament book of Exodus that the LORD God thrust the land of Egypt into a darkness that was so thick you could actually touch and feel it. It would be during the days and times of the children of Israel living as slaves in the land of Egypt when as a result of Pharaoh’s obstinate and hardened heart and his refusing to let the children of Israel go the LORD would send as one of His plagues a tremendous and powerful darkness which would cover the whole land of Egypt with the exception of Goshen where the children of Israel were. We also know that in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ that during the days of the empire and kingdom of the beast and false prophet the living God would thrust his kingdom and his realm into complete and utter darkness. We know from Scripture that there was at least one instance when the living and eternal God plunged a nation into a darkness that was so thick it could be felt and perhaps even touched, as well as a time coming when the kingdom and empire of the beast and the false prophet would also be thrust into darkness. With this being said we also know from the gospel narratives that from the sixth hour until the ninth hour Calvary and Golgotha would be plunged into deep and tremendous darkness—undoubtedly a darkness which itself might have been able to be touched and even felt.

            I firmly believe that the darkness which was present at Calvary from the sixth hour until the ninth hour was more than simply a physical darkness, but was indeed and was in fact a spiritual darkness that was created by the convergence of all the unclean spirits, all the demons, all the principalities, all the rulers of darkness, all the spiritual wickedness in high places, and perhaps even Satan himself who converged themselves together in that place. We know that in the physical and natural realm there were those who were present on that day who would surround Jesus and the two thieves which were present on that day, and that they would wag their heads at Him and would hurl insults and slanders toward and against Him. With this being said I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find within those three hours is an intense period of darkness that was indeed and was in fact created as a result of the convergence of all the foul and unclean spirits in hell surrounding Jesus as He hung there upon the cross. We know that it would be at the ninth hour Jesus would cry out with a loud voice, saying, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” and I am absolutely and completely convinced that the cry which Jesus made concerning the Father forsaking Him was not so much because the Father turned His back on His Son, or turned away for a brief moment, or for any of the other reasons we might think about and consider. I am convinced that it would be during those three hours when Jesus would be entirely and completely surrounded by every demon and unclean spirit in hell itself, and at the ninth hour He would cry out before and unto the living God asking why He had forsaken Him. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we see and what we find within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by John Mark is an incredibly powerful picture of not just one religious spirit, but multiple religious spirits converging themselves together and inciting the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people and the Pharisees against Jesus.

            If what the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus was indeed true, and if we do in fact believe that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, then I would wholeheartedly and emphatically declare that what we find and what we experience within this particular portion of Scripture is a powerful picture of the convergence—not necessarily of flesh and blood, but rather a convergence of religious spirits which would gather themselves together unto and against the person of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that what the apostle Paul wrote was indeed and was in fact true, and that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, and that with that being said what we find here in this passage of Scripture is not necessarily Jesus contending with the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, and even the Pharisees, but rather with religious spirits. What we must needs recognize and understand is that it wasn’t man who was the very heart and center of the vehement hatred and offense which was directed toward and against the person of Jesus the Christ, but rather it was the religious spirits during those days and at that time which were adamantly and vehemently against Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we see and what we find here in this passage of Scripture is an incredibly powerful picture of the convergence of religious spirits against the person of Jesus the Christ and the manifestation of that convergence against Him. Undoubtedly the religious spirits—and quite possibly even all hell itself—knew that the time and hour was approaching for Jesus begin suffering, and to ultimately die, and they sought every opportunity to find fault with Jesus that they might have grounds to accuse Him and ultimately put Him to death.

            OFFENSE, ENTRAPTMENT, ACCUSATION, CONDEMNATION, SENTENCING! These few words aptly and adequately describe the means and method whereby the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, and the entire religious system and establishment of that day sought to accomplish toward and against the person of Jesus of Nazareth. What would begin with an offense with Jesus—either because of the words He spoke, or because of the works He would perform—would eventually lead the religious system and leaders to seek to find and discover means and ways to entrap and ensnare Him. This would not only include matters related to the tradition of the elders, and would not only include matters pertaining to the Law, but as we will clearly and aptly see in this passage of Scripture will also transition into matters of Rome itself. The religious spirits weren’t content enough to seek to find fault, offense and wrongdoing within the person of Jesus Christ solely based on matters pertaining to the Law of Moses, and solely based on their own traditions which were passed down by the elders of the people, for they would even seek to find Jesus guilty in matters of Rome itself. If the religious spirits could indeed and could in fact find Jesus at fault in matters pertaining to Rome itself they would and perhaps could have what they ultimately sought after and desired—namely, grounds and means to accuse Him and call for and demand His death. As you read the words found within the gospels you will find that the religious system and the religious leaders of those days would seek to accuse both Jesus and His disciples of words and actions which would be performed during those days, as well as seeking to entrap and ensnare Jesus in His words. The chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees, and the whole religious system which was present during those days would seek to entrap Jesus in and with His words that they might finally and actually have grounds to accuse Him—and not only accuse Him, but ultimately sentence Him to death. Eventually and ultimately there would come a point when Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own into their hands, and as a direct result of His being betrayed into their hands He would stand trial before the full religious council and religious assembly. In the secrecy and stealth of the night Jesus would ultimately and inevitably stand trial as they would no longer seek to ensnare and entrap Him with His words but would now move to full blown accusation—even if those accusations would and could not agree with each other, and even if those accusations were false.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find and what we see here within this passage of Scripture is the religious spirits mounting one final and full scale assault and attack against the person of Jesus of Nazareth that they might accuse, ensnare and entrap Him in His words. You cannot read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and not see a powerful convergence of the religious system and the religious establishment of this day mounting an all out and full scale assault against Him that they might once and for all destroy and remove Him. In fact, if you begin reading with and from the words found in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses of the eleventh chapter you will find this increased animosity and hostility toward Jesus—a hostility which would begin with and because Jesus would enter into the Temple and overturn the tables of money, cast out those who bought and sold in the Temple, and would not permit that they buy or sell in the midst thereof. It is in the eighteenth verse of this passage we find the scribes and the chief priests hearing what Jesus had done in the Temple, and sought how they might destroy Him. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it brings us to the place where we find this animosity and this hatred toward and of Jesus being directly linked and connected to His actions in the Temple. Just the day before Jesus would enter into the city of Jerusalem riding on a colt upon which never a man had ridden, and how those who would go before and those who would go behind Him would proclaim “Hosanna” and would emphatically declare “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” What a tremendous change and transition this truly was when you think about and consider the fact that at the beginning of the week Jesus would enter into Jerusalem meek, humble and lowly riding on a donkey, and yet the very next day we find Him entering into the Temple like a refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap as He would bring about a complete and thorough cleansing of the Temple.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it’s incredibly important that we note and recognize the tremendous opposition that would be raised up against the person of Jesus of Nazareth—and not only how this opposition would be raised up toward and against Him, but also how there would be multiple facets and many different elements to it. In the eleventh chapter we find the chief priests and the scribes seeking to lay hold on Jesus that they might destroy Him when they heard how He had entered into the Temple and overturned the tables of money and cast out all those who bought and sold. When you come to the twenty-seventh verse of this same chapter you will find the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people coming unto Jesus—not necessarily with any words of accusation or opposition, but rather with a very pointed and powerful question. It was indeed true they sought to destroy the person of Jesus Christ, however, on this particular occurrence you will find them questioning Jesus—not only questioning the authority which He had within Himself, but also who it was who gave Him such authority. We know that the people marveled at the teaching and doctrine of Jesus because HE taught them as one with authority, and yet the question that is being presented here has absolutely nothing to do with the authority that was perceived and recognized as a result of His teaching, but because of His actions. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel weren’t asking about what authority He was given based on the words He spoke, for at this point in time their sole focus was Jesus’ actions within the Temple in overturning the tables of money, driving out the money changers, and casting out those which bought and sold. What’s more, is that in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel asking Jesus what sign He would give them to prove and demonstrate the fact that He was able to engage in such actions and such behavior. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to read the words which Jesus spoke in response to their inquiry and question, for he would respond by asking them concerning the baptism of John and whether it was of heaven, or of men. This question would in and of itself place the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people in a position where they would be entirely and altogether conflicted, for how they would respond to this question could potentially place them at odds with their constituents, their parishioners, and the like. So as not to place themselves at odds with the people they chose to hold their peace and not respond to Jesus’ question, thus demonstrating that Jesus would indeed hold them accountable for their own words and actions.

It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the words which are found within this portion and passage of Scripture, for what we find here in this passage is an incredibly powerful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ finding Himself in a place where the religious leaders and the religious system would indeed and would in fact seek to destroy and lay hold on Him. It would be during these days and during this time the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people would indeed and would in fact unleash the full measure and full fury of their animosity and their persecution toward and against Jesus, and would proceed to ask Him concerning which was the greatest commandment of all, as well as whether it was lawful to pay taxes and tribute to Caesar. Oh that we would pay close and careful attention to this, for it brings us face to face with just how powerful the religious spirit truly is in its operation among us within our houses of worship, and how the religious spirit can and will not only seek to weaponize the Word of God, but will actually seek to weaponize the commands, the decrees and the statutes of God and use them as stones which they can hurl against us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how truly incredible this is, for one of the things we have great need of being aware of—and even guarding ourselves against—is taking the Word of God and weaponizing it that we might use it to inflict pain, damage, hurt and harm against others. There is an incredible danger in taking the bread of life and transforming it into stones that we might hurl those stones as weapons of accusation, judgment and condemnation against others. There is a tremendous danger in taking the sword of the Spirit and seeking to use it as a carnal and natural weapon against flesh and blood knowing full well that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against spiritual wickedness in high places, against rulers of darkness, and against all manner of darkness and evil. There is a great temptation in seeking to take the Word of God and that which He has commanded and that which He has spoken and either adding to it what He has not spoken or weaponizing it in such a way that we actually use it as a tool against others—specifically in the church, within our houses of worship, within our congregations, within our communities, and even within our homes, our streets and our neighborhoods. Oh that we would read the words found in this passage of Scripture and encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that we have indeed and have in fact been called to guard ourselves against both weaponizing the Word of God and using it as means to inflict damage, harm, hurt and pain within the lives of others, and/or even adding to the word of God that which the living God has not spoken, and using that as a means of judging, criticizing, condemning and accusing others.

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