Doing the Right Thing

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Matthew 27:15-26

Once again, we see the religious leaders leading the way in stirring up trouble. They were in the midst of the bunch and persuading the crowds to have Barabbas released.

Even though Pilate knew it was in the Jew’s self interest to crucify Barabbas, it was clearly in Pilate’s self interest to crucify Barabbas because he was a insurrectionist. I’m not sure what or who he was trying to overthrow but if it was Pilate, he was in trouble.

All signs were pointing for Pilate to release Jesus, including Pilate’s wife. There was no logical reason to continue to hold him. This obviously was not a logical case in any sense of the word.

Though in a way, it’s a picture of what Jesus actually did: took the place of a hopeless sinner. Even though all the signs were point to release him, Pilate took the easy way out and tried to free himself from any of the guilt. Ultimately, though, he made the decision to crucify an innocent man. History has not treated Pilate kindly.

Gary Vaynerchuk, a well-known social media specialist and marketer, made an unusual statement that has stuck with me: doing the right thing is always the right thing.

Regardless of intense peer, familial, and societal pressure, do the right thing. Pilate faced them all and folded.

You can apply that principle across the board in your life in most circumstances. The thing is, we normally know what the right thing is, especially when faced with good choices and bad choices.

Today, as you consider these words, think about the choices you have coming up in your life. What’s preventing you from making a good choice? Is sin hindering you at all? Pray that God would make it obvious what the best thing is for you when making those choices.

Continue Reading Doing the Right Thing

We Stand Amazed

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single chargeā€”to the great amazement of the governor. Matthew 27:11-14

It amazed the governor that Jesus was silent and it still amazes me. Our natural instinct when people accuse is to lash back and defend ourselves.

Jesus didn’t need to. He knew He was innocent.

I guess what amazes me about this is His self-control. Despite the knowledge that He could get out of this predicament with a snap of His fingers, He chose to be ridiculed and mocked, interrogated and accused.

And He did it for us.

What a Savior!

Continue Reading We Stand Amazed

The Twisted Logic of the Religious Leaders

6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.” Matthew 27:6-10

It’s obvious that the irony of them not putting coins into the treasury because it was against the law must have eluded these people. To kill an innocent man, though, was justified. How twisted does your logic and morals have to be to live with yourself at night with those morals?

The fact that Zechariah prophesied this in Zechariah 11:12-13 (for interesting commentary on Jeremiah vs. Zechariah, see Got Questions) right down to the number of coins is amazing. The leaders themselves could have even “predicted” what Judas would do next if they knew their Scriptures well, which they probably did.

But they really weren’t interested in the truth. Their hatred of Jesus was demonic – and I don’t say that lightly. Anything they could do to further that cause was worthwhile for them. This is the kind of hatred that can only be explained as demonic because no “logical” explanation would suffice. Jesus did nothing wrong, and yet the demons of hell conspired to take him down.

We’ve seen this kind of demonic activity even in 2020. Two or three issues come to mind for me: love of abortion and opposition to Israel as a nation are both issues that rational people can lay out the facts but “the other side” has visceral hatred toward those who oppose them (pro-life and pro-Israel in this case).

Satan’s been around a long time. He has certain things or people that he loves to get riled up about. And he’ll do it with loving and flowery language, “Don’t you believe in a woman’s right to choose?” or “Why are the Israelis always bombing the harmless and unarmed Palestinians?” Sounds pleasant enough until you ask a few questions and peel back a few layers of the onion.

I read a quote somewhere that Satan’s greatest deceit is to make you think he doesn’t exist.

We live in interesting times, both good and bad. Satan is alive and well, but so is God.

They’re not co-equals where God comes out ahead. God created the former angel Satan. The created being can never ever come close to matching the Creator’s power.

Rejoice that your name’s written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Rejoice also that God is infinitely more powerful than Satan.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. – Horatio Spafford

Continue Reading The Twisted Logic of the Religious Leaders

The Consequences of Tiny Sins

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-5

All along, Judas knew what he was doing was wrong. Would Jesus have forgiven Judas? Absolutely.

Judas understood clearly that he betrayed Jesus. But Judas wasn’t paying attention when Jesus taught else he’d know that His death wasn’t the end; it was merely the beginning. The hard-hearted leaders didn’t care a wit about Judas, any more than they cared about Jesus. Judas was a just a pawn – a snitch – in their scheme.

Judas obviously was distraught over his actions. But, again, I say his betrayal wasn’t a one or two time action. This was the result of a life of small deceits, tiny cheats, anything to get ahead. You start down that road and after a dozen or more, it becomes next to impossible to admit who you’ve become and what you’re capable of.

Keeping short accounts with God is the only way to be sure that you’re on track with Christ. Thinking about your day, shoring up relationships, considering your language and actions, and giving it all over to God. I can’t count the number of times I haven’t taken that sound advice and regretted it.

Take the time today.

Continue Reading The Consequences of Tiny Sins

Seeking God Daily

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. Matthew 27:1-2

The religious leaders were actively plotting Jesus’ death. They were murdering Him and felt justified in doing so. They believed that handing Him over to Pilate would wash their hands of His blood.

No way.

Getting into the minds of those who think evil good and good evil is difficult for most of us. The evil, though, have unlimited ways of justifying their actions.

Yes, Judas was culpable for handing Jesus over to them.
The leaders, however, were fully responsible for His death. Spilling innocent blood was (and still is) condemned strongly in the Law: Proverbs 6:16-19, Exodus 23:7, Isaiah 59:7-8. The leaders knew the Law inside and out, and so they knew what they were doing.

They obviously didn’t have the Holy Spirit to show them they were wrong. Though with something like murder, that’s clearly not a Holy Spirit action but a legal and moral one.

How and why do people veer so far from the truth? Make no mistake, these leaders knew the truth but rejected it for their own gain.

For Believers, it’s not difficult to let one sin slide, and then another, and another, and so on. You can easily get weighted down if you’re not careful. That’s why we need to daily give our sins, burdens, hurts over to Christ.

It’s really the only way to live.

Continue Reading Seeking God Daily