I’ve been preaching through the end of the book of John now for several weeks. I do that not because I’m a preacher, like it’s my job to preach. I do that because I love the Word of God and respect its teachings. I do that because I love the Church Jesus died for and respect its wishes. And I do that because I love the Lord above all AND He is the One who first said “I want you to preach my word.” I preach because it is one of the best ways to shape and lead the Church into the future. I also believe it is still one of the best ways to get the message of the Gospel out there in the thick of things.
I could do other things with my life. I love my family and would relish the thought of owning my own business out in the country somewhere and working off the land with my family. I love old cars and would love to buy, repair and sell them for a living. I think I would avidly enjoy restoring old homes. But I can’t do these things. My heart has been shaped to preach the Word. My life would be a waste if I were doing anything else. God has called someone else to farm, restore and build. Their lives would be a waste if spent doing my job. Together we see a picture of the family of God working together to build the Kingdom and open the doors for as many as possible to come in.
Back to John… This last Sunday we buried up pretty deep in the story of Pilate. We talked about how all of the parties standing against Jesus around the crucifixion were power hungry. The Jews saw Jesus as a threat to their authority and standing in the community. They thought if they could annihilate Him all of their problems would be over. WRONG! Pilate saw the Jews as a threat to his authority. He thought if he could placate them his problems wouldn’t escalate. WRONG! While God is the divine architect of every single event surrounding Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, He used the wicked hearts of the men and women who refused His love to accomplish His purpose.
Power hungry people will never be satisfied. They took Jesus down and then they sought to take Rome down. Nothing can be blamed here but their own greed. The reason Rome was even a player in this story is because they would not submit to God in the first place. But they wanted a piece of the pie from other nations. They weren’t satisfied to worship only their God. They wanted more. They were never satisfied. But we must be careful to not swing too big of a stick at Pilate or the Jews. We, too, are insatiably hungry for the things that are just over the fence from us; the life that is just out of our reach. We try and try to manipulate the powers that be so we can enjoy a little more; a little better life; just a little bigger piece of the pie. But this cuts sharply against the grain of Jesus’ truth. He completely satisfies. This is why He can remain silent when the most powerful ruler in the land is staring Him down. This is why He can submit to flogging and beating when it was totally in His power to call down angels to stop them. This is why He doesn’t run or resist when the guards come to arrest Him. Jesus is totally satisfied with the plan God has established for Him. Are you?
As Jesus’ time with Pilate came to a close he offered Him to the crowd of accusers with the phrase “Here is your King!” Pilate means this is the best they can ever do for a king. The Jews quickly retort “We have no king but Caesar!” The Bible is filled with references to God being the one, true and only King of Israel. The theologian D.A. Carson says in saying this to Pilate, the Jews are rejecting not only Jesus but God as their Ruler and Sovereign. They had played fully and completely into the hands of the enemy. At this point the deed is done. Their hearts could get no harder. The blaspheming has taken place and it was not from the lips of Jesus but from the Jewish authorities; those who were designated to lead the people in the ways of the Lord. Instead they lead the people in the exact opposite direction.
Pilate offers Jesus into the hands of His accusers for death at precisely the same time those hands were supposed to be gathering and preparing their own Passover Lambs. And just like these lambs led to slaughter, Jesus was preparing to die for the sake of all those who were accusing Him; all those who would be killing Him. He didn’t just forgive the future perpetrators. Jesus looked out on the crowd of haters and murders staring Him down, wishing Him gone, and prayed “Father forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
Now this is love. Our Savior, the One who rescues us from death and a delusional life of fame, money and power, takes the heat we provide and then turns, with blood in His eyes and says “I forgive you.” What will look different in your life if you give up all attempts at padding your pockets and your personality and trust Him to pull you out? Pilate took one last look and walked away. What will you do?