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Theology

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The crowds call for Jesus' crucifixion
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, John records Jesus’ appearing before Pontius Pilate. The Jewish leaders urge Pilate to sentence Jesus to death. They tell the Roman ruler that he is no friend of Caesar if he doesn’t sentence Jesus to death.

But Pilate doesn’t think Jesus is guilty of anything, especially of Roman laws. He tells the Jewish leaders that if they want to crucify Jesus, they are free to do so. (John 19:6) True, the Jews could stone Jesus for breaking their laws, but they didn’t have authority to crucify Jesus. Death by crucifixion was a Roman death sentence. Both the Jewish leaders and Pilate tried to avoid the responsibility for Jesus’ death. But when it came down to it, Pilate simply did what the Jewish leaders wanted him to do. He wanted peace from the Jews and it appears he feared a revolt if he didn’t grant a simple request to crucify a lone Jew.

In most portrayals of this pivotal scene, the same people who lauded Jesus’ arrival on Palm Sunday cry out for His crucifixion on the early hours of Good Friday Morning. But that isn’t how John describes the scene. The only people involved in demanding Jesus’ crucifixion are the Jewish leaders and the Temple servants. (John 19:6) It seems there were only a few people calling for Jesus’ crucifixion. But these popular Jewish leaders had very loud voices. John and the other Gospel writers are quick to point out that Pilate didn’t think Jesus was guilty and deserving of the death penalty.

Application

While the Jewish leaders demanded Jesus’ execution, Pilate defended Jesus’ innocence, but eventually gave in. Both the Jews and Pilate were responsible for Jesus’ death.

So am I. And so are you.

No, we didn’t flog His innocent flesh. No, we didn’t hammer the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. But we are very much responsible for Jesus’ death. If we weren’t guilty of sin, His death wouldn’t have been necessary. But it was necessary because we are guilty.

Jesus’ payment for our sin was sufficient to fully absorb the wrath of God. No further accusation against us can stand because Jesus’ atonement bore all of our sin debt.

If you have turned from your sin and accepted Jesus’ payment for your sin debt, spend a few minutes today thanking Jesus for dying, that you might live. Thank Him for being the perfect example and the perfect sacrifice.

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Jesus appears before Pontius Pilate
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus points out that His Kingdom is not of this world. In fact, he demonstrates the point with, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36 CSB)

A short time earlier on the night He was betrayed, Jesus prophesied to His Disciples, “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ ” Matthew 26:31 (CSB)

The Jewish leaders who expected the Disciples to run away if Jesus were to be arrested were very happy that night. Everything worked according to their plans. But they didn’t consider what might happen if Jesus was actually Who He claimed to be.

Everyone else ran. But John the Beloved Disciple and Peter secretly hung around to see what would happen to Jesus. And when pressed if he knew Jesus, Peter lied and called down curses on himself.

But Jesus’ Kingdom wasn’t like any other kingdom anyone had ever seen. If you look at Jesus’ “Kingdom” parables, it’s clear that God’s Kingdom doesn’t look anything like what someone would expect it to look. Those who are first are last; those who are last are first. And the greatest of all is a servant. So when the King was taken, the Disciples ran. His Kingdom is not of this world.

Application

Jesus told His Disciples to seek His Kingdom and righteousness first. Not first as in before going to the next thing. But first as the only thing of importance. Rather than concerning themselves with the things of this world, Jesus tells His Disciples to concern themselves with the things of a different world. A world where He is King.

The Kingdom of God had already come. (Matthew 12:28) And yet, it hadn’t. Even today, we still live in a constant tension of God’s Kingdom as “already, but not yet.” And we await the Day of the Lord, when Jesus comes in all of His glory to make all things right.

Are you a citizen of God’s Kingdom? Have you submitted to His Kingship and to His rule? I urge you do that today!

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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Diagram of the relationships in the Trinity
Image source: The Gospel Coalition

Never let anyone tell you that the Trinity isn’t biblical. And never be unapologetic in your belief in the Trinity. Granted, the word “Trinity” isn’t used in the Bible, but the doctrine is clearly presented consistently throughout the Bible. In today’s Bible reading, John presents the Trinity in its beauty.

Believers believe in a triune God, that is, One God revealed simultaneously in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Don’t fall for the heresy that says the Father became the Son Who became the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that all three have co-existed simultaneously through eternity past and will continue to co-exist simutaneously through eternity future.

Look at John 16:5 and John 16:7. Look at Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1. Also, look at Jesus’ baptism in all of the Synoptic Gospels. (Matthew 3:16–17; Mark 1:10–11; Luke 3:21–22) All of these passages speak of the ever-present Trinity as separate persons. Neither is another, but all are fully God, as is illustrated in the diagram above. If you’d like to read more about the Trinity, check out this article from the Gospel Coalition.

Application

One of the beauties of the Trinity is that it models perfect submission. And if there is submission in the perfect Godhead, submission is a good thing! John 16:13–15 and John 16:26-28 show that the Spirit submits to and glorifies the Son and the Son submits to and glorifies the Father.

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Jesus prays

Jesus gives a wildcard promise in today’s Bible reading.

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified  in the Son. (John 14:13 CSB)

Jesus says he will give His followers anything they want. Right?

Not so fast!

Notice the condition: in my name. And notice the purpose: that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

If your prayer request is asked in Jesus’s Name, He will grant the request in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Jesus doesn’t grant the request in order for you to be glorified.He will never glorify you. Never.

But He will always glorify His Father. Always.

Application

How often do you pray for things that would glorify you instead of God? Oftentimes when I ask for something, God asks me if this is really “God-glorifying”. I’ll quickly reassess my request and acknowledge, “You’re right. Letting my team win this game isn’t one of those things that qualifies as ‘in My name’, but James does say that one of the reasons we don’t have is because we don’t ask, (James 4:2) so I’m asking anyway.”

It comes down to relationship. The longer I walk with Jesus, the more He reshapes my prayers into things that are more in line with His Name. Then He can give me  the “whatevers”.

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Reformation Day

Five hundred two years ago today, a young man aired his ninety-five grievances against the church. The resulting Reformation turned Christianity upside-down. Or, rather, it turned Christianity rightside-up.

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