And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” (Mark 15:2 ESV)
The Jewish council, called the Sanhedrin, had met secretly in the middle of the night on the heels of the Passover meal. They had sentenced Jesus secretly, and then rushed him out at dawn to Pilate, the Roman governor—seeking the death penalty.
Pilate had one question for Jesus. “Are you the king?” It was an important question that carried a lot of implications. The truth to that question had ramifications that stretched across governments, cultures, and creation itself.
Jesus never backed down from his identity. The Gospels paint a repeatedly pointed picture of Jesus the Son of God. He was the King of the Jews, and the King of Kings. So why the strange reply?
I believe that Jesus is often more concerned with who we say that he is. Now, make no mistake, he will declare himself King one day—and scripture says that when that happens every knee will bow. But Jesus wanted to know who Pilate said that he was. He often wanted to hear who people said he was. Why?
Because who you think Jesus is matters. If he is just a good moral teacher and man, well that kind of view has no far reaching eternal implications. If you believe he was the perfect Son of God, who died for your sins, then that is a different matter altogether. Jesus just wants to know who you have said he is, and what you’re going to do about it.
Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” (Luke 22:71 ESV)
Testimony is a powerful thing according to scripture. The apostle John wrote in Revelations that the Church would be made “overcomers by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony.” The truth of a story carries weight when told.
Jesus didn’t flinch when telling his story. Even when he was on trial and they were looking to kill him because of his words. He didn’t back down. And eventually they did sentence him to death based on his own testimony.
There are a number of belief systems that try to marginalize the deity of Jesus so as to make him compatible with their defunct religion. The truth is that Jesus is compatible with any person, but not every belief system. Jesus did believe that he is the Son of God.
We do things all the time based on the words of others. We make decisions, we make plans, and we react to situations, all based on the things people say. How should we react to what Jesus had to say about his own deity?
And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:62 ESV)
Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times and Peter refused to believe it. Jesus also told Judas that he was the betrayer and Judas knew it to be true. What was the incredible difference between these two followers of Christ? I believe that the most significant difference between Judas and Peter rests in their response to their sin against Jesus.
Judas hung himself before Jesus was even crucified. He knew his guilt. And he felt trapped by it. Peter wept at the realization that he had sinned so greatly by denying Christ. The difference in these two responses is incredible. It’s a point I have written about often but I believe we cannot look at it too closely. Judas regretted his actions and killed himself. Peter showed genuine remorse, and sought forgiveness.
Peter betrayed Jesus. He knew that he had done it. He felt horrible. But he also recognized that there was a way back. No, not immediately, but he did take his sin to Jesus. Jesus reminded him that he knew about it before it had even happened. He forgave him.
Peter and Jesus had a unique relationship in terms of teacher and disciple. But all Christians share a similar experience with the two. In the connection between redeemer and redeemed we are all Peter, and we all need Jesus.
Promise: Isa. 53:3
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:39-44
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3 ESV)
In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Isaiah declared that the Jewish Messiah would be hated and rejected. Jesus was hated and rejected. Numerous examples of his rejections pepper the Gospel accounts.
First he was rejected by the religious elite. Eventually even the common people turned on him as he was paraded in front of them as an apparently powerless failed liberator. He did not match their preconceived ideas for what the Messiah would and should be.
I am continually amazed by the uncanny accuracy of the Old Testament prophets concerning Jesus. Again and again they nailed it. This is a testimony to the power and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” (Matthew 26:72 ESV)
Sometimes I stop and think about what Jesus must have felt concerning Peter and his other disciples. He knew what was going to happen to him. He knew how hey would all turn their backs on him when trouble began. Yet, still he chose them.
Have you ever denied Christ? Maybe not by what you said, but what about by what you did? Do you think Jesus knew you what you would do or say when he first chose you? I believe that he did.
The beauty of the finished work of grace that Jesus completed lies in the serene undeservedness of Christ’s extended forgiveness. We do not deserve it. We could never deserve it. We will never deserve it. Our actions, attitudes, and ethics so often testify to our wretchedness. But Jesus loves us, chooses us, and saves us, even when he knows that at some point we have or will deny him.
Peter was perhaps his closest friend and denied him. Peter went on to do incredible things. We each have denied Jesus somehow sometime, but he chooses still to love us and use us to carry out his will in this life.
Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23 ESV)
Words carry weight. People get pretty messed up about them. The guys interrogating Jesus were really touchy when it came to words. But it is really no surprise. He had outdone them at every turn. All they had left to fall back on was their blind pride and violence.
Jesus never said anything wrong, but sometimes I do. My mouth has got me in a lot of trouble over the years. I’ve made stupid promises. Said hurtful things. And let it have a free reign far too often.
There have been plenty of times that I have deserved to get popped in the mouth for something ridiculous that I said, but I never have. Jesus was beaten by thugs for saying something true that hurt the religious tightwads’ feelings. Kind of makes you want to take a better look at what and how you say things.
For not even his brothers believed in him. (John 7:5 ESV)
Sometimes the people you love the most can be the harshest critics. Maybe family are your biggest critics, often it is family, perhaps it is close friends or peers. The simple truth is that the more we operate inside of Godly community, the more we love, and are loved; the more vulnerable we become to rejection at the hands of those same people.
Jesus was rejected by His hometown of Nazareth. He was rejected by His own brothers, at least until after his resurrection. He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by one of His chosen twelve Apostles. He was denied by His best friend. His own Father turned His back on Him in His final moments.
Sometimes, many times, the Christian existence will call, send, and guide us into territory where life’s many potential vulnerabilities become realities. Thankfully we follow someone that has already faced that kind of hardship and overcome it. We can carry our cross with the full faith that Christ leads us into His own glory. That is, He leads us into the glory of God, by the grace of God.