Jesus Is In Control

“You have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11 HCSB

I have heard many illustrations concerning how Jesus needs to be in the driver’s seat of our lives, in total control, giving direction to every aspect. Too many times we want Jesus to remain in the passenger seat just in case we need Him, but we do not want to relinquish total control of our lives.

In today’s Scripture passage, Pilate thought he was in control of the situation and that he had the authority to crucify Jesus, but Jesus set the record straight and let him know that he did not have any authority or control unless God the Father gave it to him. God is sovereign and is in control of everything that happens in the world. God does not cause pain and suffering; rather, He allowed the suffering and pain and eventually the crucifixion of Jesus as a way to make it possible for all mankind to come to know Jesus as Lord and be saved. God can take the evil of the world and make something good.

Challenge: Read Roman 8:28. What can you do today to acknowledge that God is in control and allow Him to give direction in your life? God knows how to make lemonade from lemons and how to make something beautiful from the unlovely. Ask God to take the heartache in your life and make something beautiful.

Jesus Did It For You

Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. And they repeatedly came up to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and were slapping His face. John 19:1-3 HCSB

The flogging of Jesus was especially cruel. Jesus was tied to a whipping post that caused Him to be bent over so He could not stand up straight. There would have been two soldiers whipping Jesus, one on each side. The whips used would have had sharp pieces of rock or metal tied on the ends of the whips. These sharp pieces would dig into the skin and as the whip was pulled back, it would rip the skin, leaving a large bleeding gash in the person’s back. They probably gave Jesus 40 lashes of the whip, 20 from each side. By the time they finished, Jesus’ back would have been almost raw and blood would have been coming from almost every part of His back.

The crown of thorns would have been made out of the thorns from the date palm. Each thorn would have been long and pointed like a spike. Certainly, the soldiers pressed the thorns down into his head causing intense pain and bleeding.

As if all of this was not enough, the soldiers then mocked Jesus by placing a purple robe on Him. Purple was sign of royalty. They mockingly yelled at Him and repeatedly hit Him in the face.

Challenge: Jesus could have at any time called on a thousands angels to rescue Him from such pain, suffering, and abuse, but He did not. He did it all for you because of His love for you. He wants to have a relationship with you and for you to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Thank Him for all that He endured for your sake.

Give Us Barabbas!

You have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. So, do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews? They shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas! Now Barabbas was a revolutionary. John 18:39-40 HCSB

As a student pastor I counseled with many young people who were addicted to negative behavior. They willfully chose to participate in activities that were self – destructive and hurtful to those around them. Some were involved in drugs and alcohol while others were involved in sex and associating with the wrong crowd. Even when I pointed out how destructive their behaviors were, many selected to return to what would ultimately destroy them.

The people wanted a Messiah who would liberate them from the Roman rulers. That is what they had hoped and wanted Jesus to do. Just a few days earlier, these same people had worshipped Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. They sang praises to Him and placed palm branches in His path. When they realized that Jesus was not the political or military leader they were expecting, they wanted Him crucified and they wanted Barabbas to be released. Barabbas was known as a murderer who was willing to fight the Roman rulers. Even though the people knew Barabbas was an evil person, they elected to have him released instead of Jesus whom Pilate found no grounds for charging with any crime.

Challenge: Each of us are just like Barabbas and deserve death for our sins; but Jesus willingly took our place and paid the penalty for our sins so we could find forgiveness and be released from the chains of our hurtful actions. Thank Jesus for taking your place and setting you free from your sins.

What is Truth?

“I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” “What is truth?” said Pilate. John 18:37-38 HCSB

Barna Research did a survey among American adults in 2009 to determine how many had a “biblical worldview”. Barna reports that for the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the world who still rules the Universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.

Barna discovered that overall, the current research revealed that only 9% of American adults have a biblical worldview. One would suspect that the majority of those labeled as “born again Christians” would possess a biblical worldview but less than one out five (19%) had such an outlook on life. It seems that in today’s culture there are no absolute truths.

Even in Jesus’ time, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” We are all searching for truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” It is only through Jesus Christ that we can really know the truth. The truth of our sinfulness, God’s grace and mercy, His forgiveness, and that Jesus is the only way to salvation and the Father.

Challenge: Do you know the Truth? It is only through Christ that you can know the truth and the truth will set you free. Pray that God will help you know, understand, and possess a biblical worldview.

Who is King of Your Life?

Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” John 18:33 HCSB

I have had the opportunity to travel to London, England and actually see the royal palace where the Queen of England resides. The Queen does not actually rule England or the United Kingdom; rather, the Queen or King of England is more of a figurehead. The British government is actually run by the Parliament and the Prime Minister.

Jesus was accused of being the King of the Jews. This was an accurate title, however His kingdom is not of this world. An earthly kingdom is only temporary. Jesus’ kingdom is in heaven and will last for eternity. Those who believe in Jesus and make Him Lord of their lives will be a part of His eternal kingdom. Every person must make a decision regarding who Jesus is and if he will make Him the King of his life.

Challenge: Who is king of your life? Do you control the direction of your life or have you given Jesus control to enable you to live for Him? Make Jesus the King of your life and become a part of His eternal kingdom.

Speak What Is Right

“If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered him, “give evidence about the wrong; but if rightly, why do you hit Me?” John 18:23 HCSB

A person of integrity will always speak the truth, even if it is not the popular thing to say or if it means enduring some type of punishment. As parents we try to teach our children to always do what is right, regardless of the consequences.

Jesus consistently spoke the truth and did what was right. He did not deserve to be arrested, nor did He deserve to be slapped by the temple police. Jesus had been falsely charged and was questioned as a common criminal, yet He spoke the truth knowing that He would eventually die as a result. He did not deserve to die but was willing to endure pain, suffering, and death so that our sins might be forgiven and we might have a relationship with God, our Heavenly Father.

Challenge: Always speak what is right no matter what the consequences might be. Know that Jesus loves you and was willing to suffer and die for your sins, so that you might have eternal life. Pray for strength to make it a practice to do what is right in the eyes of God.

I Have A Secret

“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus answered him. “I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. John 18:20 HCSB

I know I am showing my age, but I used to enjoy watching the old television show called “I Have a Secret”. The premise of the game show was for a person with a secret to be a guest on the show and for a panel of stars to ask questions one at a time with the hope of determining what the secret was. If the person could stump the panel of stars, he would win a prize.

The high priest began to question Jesus with the intention of proving that He was guilty of sedition, the act of trying to gather enough followers to create a riot or rebellion among the Jewish people. Everything Jesus did and taught was in public, and there was no secret plan to cause an uprising. Jesus even endured the undeserved physical abuse of the temple police. He could have called on a thousand angels to come to His defense, but He was willing to humble Himself and endure pain, suffering, and even death for our sake.

Challenge: Do you sometimes play “I have a secret” because you do not want others to know that you are a Christian? Be willing to suffer for your beliefs and do what is right at all times, even if you will face persecution.

Are You a Disciple of Jesus?

Then the slave girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” “I am not!” he said. John 18:17 HCSB

Each week on the show “Undercover Boss,” the CEO of a company changes his appearance and identity so he can go undercover to see what is really happening in his company and how job productivity can be improved. Most of the time the boss discovers how difficult it is to do many of the jobs within his company. He comes away from his experience with a much greater appreciation for his employees and what they mean to the success of his company.

Peter did not change his appearance, but he was unwilling to identify with Jesus. He was afraid his life would be in danger. Previously Peter had declared that he was willing to die for Jesus, but just a few hours later he denied that he was a disciple of Christ. This is in direct contrast to Jesus, who willing proclaimed, “I am He” knowing that He was going to suffer at the hands of his captors.

Challenge: Are you willing to identify with Jesus? Would others identify you as a disciple of Jesus? When and why have you denied the Lord by your actions and words? Ask God to give you the strength to take a stand and be willing to endure any pain, suffering, or even death that may come as a result of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

Step Back and Recognize Jesus as the Messiah

Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to Him, went out and said to them, “Who is it you’re looking for?” “Jesus the Nazarene,” they answered. “I am He,” Jesus told them. Judas, who betrayed Him, was also standing with them. When He told them, “I am He,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. John 18:4-6 HCSB

I had the opportunity to be the co-chairman of the Follow Up Committee for the Billy Graham Crusade in Nashville. After the service each evening it was my committee’s responsibility to address and mail packets of information to everyone who made a decision for Christ and then send their contact information to a local pastor for follow up. It was a huge task, but I really enjoyed being of service for the Billy Graham Crusade. One evening Billy Graham and his son, Franklin, walked through our area just to thank us for our work. It was an honor to be in close proximity to such a godly man as Billy Graham. There seemed to be a sense of awe and respect from each volunteer as the Grahams addressed us.

John is the only Gospel writer who records that the soldiers, temple police, Pharisees, and even Judas stepped back and fell to the ground when Jesus proclaimed, “I am He”. His proclamation was more than just saying, “I am Jesus”. His words, “I am He” served as a proclamation that He was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. In the same situation, most of us would have been tempted to lie about our true identity to avoid being arrested, but Jesus was not afraid to boldly proclaim who He was. Evidently all of those present had a sense of awe and respect and they stepped back and fell to the ground in honor of the Messiah. I easily recognized the human greatness of Billy Graham, but how much more important it is to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the One who came to save the world from its sins!

Challenge: Step back and fall to the ground in honor and praise of Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross for your sins so you might be forgiven and receive eternal life. Jesus deserves your honor and respect in everything you do.

Jesus Understands When We Are Persecuted

So Judas took a company of soldiers and some temple police from the chief priests and the Pharisees and came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. John 18:3 HCSB

I have always appreciated our country’s military and the sacrifices they make for our country. While living in Clarksville, Tennessee I came to have a greater appreciation for military families who attended our church from Fort Campbell. Many brave men and women place themselves in harm’s way for our freedom every day. Throughout human history soldiers have been charged with keeping order, maintaining peace, and guarding freedom. In modern day Israel, young soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force are expertly trained to protect the country and its inhabitants.

John is the only one of the four Gospel writers who records that a company of soldiers came to arrest Jesus. A company of Roman soldiers would have been a group of 30-200 soldiers. Just imagine such a large group appearing with lanterns and torches in the middle of the night to arrest Jesus. The soldiers came to insure that there was no resistance from Jesus or His disciples. There was no real reason for such force to be used because Jesus had been in the temple almost daily teaching and healing and had never posed a threat.

Challenge: Are there those around you at work, school, or in your neighborhood who feel that Jesus and Christianity is a threat to them in some way? It seems we live in a culture that is constantly attacking Christians. Pray for strength as you make a stand and face persecution for your Christian beliefs and values. Jesus understands because He has already faced opposition and persecution.