In Control

With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. John 18:38-40

Prior to Pilate bringing Jesus out to the masses, Pilate’s wife had this to say that further strengthens the case: While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him” (Matthew 27:19)

So, rather than doing the right thing, he did that which he thought would strengthen (1) his bond with the Jewish leaders and (2) ultimately his power. But as we know this power is temporal, and today Pontius Pilate is known as a weak and indecisive ruler who ultimately put an innocent man to death. Some legends have it that Pilate washed his hands repeatedly from that point forward in hopes of removing the figurative blood from his hands.

I think deep down Pilate wanted to do the right thing. Yes, he was arrogant enough to think that he had power over Jesus’ life and death. It’s difficult to say exactly how things could have been different because he didn’t have power over his life and death. But God used the temperaments of the people in the story to do his will.

Pilate thought he was in complete control of the situation and spent part of his life trying to atone for the actions he took that night.

We need to be reminded of this often: God is in control. Or to put it another way, there’s nothing God is not in control of.

  • World politics
  • Ruthless dictators
  • Arrogant leaders
  • Economic chaos
  • Your teachers
  • Your boss
  • Your family
  • Your relationships

It’s easy to fret and worry over the events in our lives. But, – and we know this – it’s fruitless. We do need to pray for the events in our lives and in our lives, but at the end of the day, God is in control of it all.

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Truth Be Told

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:38a

I’d like to come back to this statement because it’s so relevant today. As the United States (primarily) preparing for some sort of attack or intervention into Syria, the truth comes into play. Why? Because right after the horrific attacks of September 11, many intelligence communities stated that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. When nothing turned up immediately the West looked terrible for invading a sovereign nation (there is a point to this ramble). Fast forward more than ten years and similar intelligence agencies are saying similar things about Syria. In Syria, however, chemical weapons were used, and it is still unsure whether Assad’s regime or the Syrian Rebels used the chemicals to make Assad out to be a ruthless tyrant.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that any conflict in that region could easily trigger a third world war, especially if it’s discovered that an invasion was made under false information.

Again, what is the truth? Pray for the truth to be revealed and that the powers that be would have wisdom in handling that truth.

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“What Is Truth” Revisited

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:38a

You can believe that Pontius Pilate was wrestling with this very question even before Jesus came along to remind him of the truth. In a way we all wrestle with it each day. We struggled with it before we came to Christ (because we certainly wouldn’t want to believe falsehoods), and we struggle with it daily in the situations we find ourselves in.

  • The ads we see
  • The sales people we encounter
  • The homeless man begging for money
  • The business man proposing something across the table from us
  • The preacher we hear in the pulpit
  • The stories we hear from friends
  • The excuses our loved ones give us

The list goes on and on as to whether we should believe what we see and hear. We make these kind of “what is truth” calls dozens of times each day. Sometimes those judgements are made in a matter of milliseconds. Often, though, most of us have to process and filter the input.

Fortunately for us, the Ultimate Truth visited the earth for 33 years, and he’s the subject of these devotionals. The truth of God’s salvation has been settled in our hearts even though we’re trying to work it all out in our minds and lives. Continue learning about the Truth each day. Ask God to refresh this truth in your heart.

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Pilate’s Hot Button Issue

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:36-37

Before jumping into Pilate’s “what is truth” statement, it’s important to establish the context. As a Governor, Pilate had the “power of a supreme judge, which meant that he had the sole authority to order a criminal’s execution.” The highest ranking government official in the area was questioning Jesus Christ. He turns Pilate’s questioning on its side by talking about truth. He acknowledges his kingdom, but doesn’t dwell on it.

Instead Jesus hammers home a thought provoking concept idea that would have people talking for ages: everyone on the side of truth listens to me. He knew what Pilat’s “hot button” issues would be and the truth seemed to be it.

Continue praying for your loved ones who don’t know the truth, and pray for ways to present the truth in a fresh new way.

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Different

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” John 18:33-35

Pilate is puzzled. He already knows that Jesus did nothing worthy of death but feels the pressure to do something to appease the Jewish leaders. He doesn’t quite know what to think of this man. Perhaps he’s even amused at what’s going on. But whatever the emotion, he knows Jesus is different on a number of levels.

It’s actually the way our lives should be. If people can’t tell we’re “different” from our speech or our actions or mannerisms, we might need to rethink how we do things. These things have nothing to do with salvation, per se. Rather they are about how we live out our faith.

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