They Believed a Lie

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. Mark 15:27-32

There were a whole lot of insults flying around that day. He couldn’t escape them. Why did people turn so quickly? For a while he could do no wrong in the eyes of the people. It goes back to the old adage, “if you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth in some people’s minds.” The leaders had been filling the people with lie after lie about Jesus so now they were beginning to believe it themselves.

The truth is, even though the leaders said they’d believe if He came down from the cross, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They had no intention of believing Jesus because it would destroy the power structure they had set up for themselves. They weren’t after truth; they were consumed with keeping the power they had and gaining more.

Many people you talk to will tell you that they’ll wait until their death bed to put their trust in Christ. They have no idea when death will come knocking at their door, but they’re adamant that they’ll believe when the time comes. Like the religious leaders who mocked Jesus and said they’d believe when the conditions were right, these people hold false views of when death will befall them. And I doubt they’d believe, because if they really believed that, they’d begin their journey today. Or perhaps they don’t quite understand the journey at all and believe it to be something they’ve made up in their minds.

No, those who are waiting for an obscure time and date to put their trust in Christ are fooling themselves. Like the rich young ruler that Jesus talked with, they are not far from the kingdom.

Continue ReadingThey Believed a Lie

He Chose to Be Helpless

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. Mark 15:21-26

The Lord must have been beaten, bloodied, and weak that He was unable to carry His own cross. Under normal circumstances, the cross would have been burdensome. Because He had lost so much blood, it was impossible. Carrying the very device that would crucify prisoners was the ultimate insult short of actually dying on the wood that they carried.

The entire crucifixion story is encapsulated in that first paragraph. The cross, the soldiers, the nasty drink, the nails, and of course the humiliation.

The Word of God hung helpless on a Roman cross. We know He wasn’t helpless in the least, though He chose to be helpless and let the soldiers have their way.

It’s a remarkable thing, isn’t it?

He had to endure the pain and suffering. There was no other way. While painful to read and discuss, the crucifixion is an amazing story of love and sacrifice. Those six hours hanging there was for us.

What more can you say?

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Imagine Indeed

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:16-20

These soldiers no doubt mocked and mistreated other prisoners under their watch. This was not the first time nor would it be the last. It would, however, be their most memorable in the end. Of course they didn’t know who He was or what He had done to deserve death. To them it didn’t matter. It was just another day in the life of a Roman soldier.

We know that in the end they would get their comeuppance, not necessarily because of what they did to this one man, but as sinners in general. Imagine their surprise when they stand before the throne of God and look upon the one they had ridiculed.

Imagine indeed.

In a similar vein, consider all the crimes and sins committed against people down through the ages on into the present. Millions and millions of crimes against others, and often many of the crimes go unpunished.

It’s not fair!

And indeed it isn’t.

But the same man who was ridiculed so many years ago is also the man who will right all the wrongs, every single one.

No abuse, no rape, no murder, no sex trafficking, no theft, no slander, no ridicule, no torture, no hateful word, no lie, nothing has escaped the eyes of the Man who Was ridiculed and beaten by His captors. The act may not be punished now, but it’s been noted and will be settled later. And when His punishment comes, it will be just and swift.

God sees all but waits – Russian proverb

Continue ReadingImagine Indeed

If They Had Chosen Barabbas…

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

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

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

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. Mark 15:6-15

Pilate released a murderer into the crowd. He must have thought it was his lucky day. We have no idea what happened to Barabbas in the end. We do know what happened to the Man who took his place.

Thanks to the Jewish leaders, they helped rile up the crowd. They did that everywhere they want. These leaders were dividers and not uniters. They understood all too well mob mentality and used it effectively.

On the face of it, it wasn’t fair. A condemned murderer was now free but the one who literally did no wrong ever was condemned to die. That is about as unfair as it will ever be.

But it had to be this way.
If they had chosen Barabbas, we would not understand the sacrifice because there wouldn’t have been one!
If they had chosen Barabbas, we would go on our lives as wretched sinners in search of a savior.
If they had chosen Barabbas, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.
If they had chosen Barabbas, our future and our present would be depressing.

But they chose Barabbas, and it is our gain at His expense, the very definition of Grace.

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We Knew What Decision Pilate Would Make

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:1-5

Picture this scene in your mind: Jesus, bloodied from just being ridiculed, beaten, and humiliated is before a local ruler surrounded by His accusers off to the side. His head is hung low until Pilate speaks to Him. Even as the Jewish leads continue to hurl insults He says nothing. However, He lifts up His head and stares into Pilate’s eyes. His stare remains throughout His silence. He doesn’t need to say anything because His eyes have spoken volumes to this leader. Pilate knows He’s innocent. He wants to find a loophole. The Jewish leaders want Him dead for some reason but Pilate knows Jesus is innocent.

Pilate had the Son of God standing in front of Him and the pesky Jesus leaders all around him. He still needed to keep the peace with them so he was about ready to toss the decision back into their court. It was an easy decision because it’s the type he’s made his entire life. Pilate’s not a bold man and his decision will never be bold and against the status quo.

Most of us do not need to make these kinds of life or death choices. Our choices are common and mundane, and sometimes even important.

For the important decisions, do you pray and ask God to help with those decisions, do you ask God to bless the decision you make, or maybe a combination of both?

In the upcoming verses, we’ll see Pilate’s ultimate decision, the decision that none of his superiors would ever question: compromise.

Continue ReadingWe Knew What Decision Pilate Would Make