The Trial of the Cross pt 7

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					October 1, 2008           The Trial of the Cross, Part 7           Kathleen Maples

Isa 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry
ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that
we should desire him.

Jesus had been up all night suffering abuse at the hands of the chief priests, the
elders and those gathered to testify falsely against Him. He had so yielded to the
Father's will that He did not get angry when one of His own came in the garden
and planted a kiss of betrayal on His face. When they arrested Him, He allowed
Himself to be taken, without trying to defend Himself. When Peter denied Him
three times, He turned and looked with compassion to His disciple, not wanting
Him to despair. He knew the attack Peter was under. He knew exactly what Peter
was battling in his mind, how he was being sifted by the evil one. He had been
struck and insulted, and falsely accused, yet He did not lift one finger to defend
Himself or His reputation. Physically, He must have been exhausted. Mentally His
mind had been under attack just like the disciples. Satan knew he could not sift the
Lord, but that did not mean he did not attack His mind. I can almost hear the evil
one throwing it up at the Lord how His disciples had all forsaken Him. They left
You high and dry. They ran. They don't care about You. They aren't worth dying
for. I am so glad the Lord did not respond to any of this.

Spiritually, a war was raging all around Him, as darkness tried its best to
overtake Light. Never have I seen such a perfect display of meekness as what I've
witnessed in these Scriptures as the Lord yielded Himself to this awful time for our
sake. I keep telling myself He did this for me. He suffered this for me. Amazing.
Breathtaking. Humbling. Let us watch the love of God for us on display, with great
reverence and pray for understanding. We must understand how this applies to
us. If we can grasp the significance, and understand what we know, as we endure
our cross, as we endure our trials by fire, this Word will be able to hold us up. It
will build up our faith and strengthen our hearts. With all our knowledge, let us
get understanding as well.

Mat 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took
   counsel against Jesus to put him to death:

Mark tells us in his gospel (chapter 15) that the chief priests, the elders, the scribes,
and the whole council bound Jesus, had a little meeting and decided they had
enough to convince Pilate He was worthy of death. Judas, the betrayer, had been
there, watching and listening to all of these things with growing horror. The devil
who had entered him and manipulated him by now had left him, I believe. The
enemy had retreated so that Judas could realize what he had done. You know, I
believe this is what happens when someone murders a loved one and then kills
themselves. The devil that drove them to such lengths by inflaming their passions
and rage retreats enough for them to see rationally what they have done and in
horror, they condemn themselves, just as he knew they would, and take their own
life.

Judas stands there, hearing them find Him guilty and sentencing Him to death. He
hears how they have tried to get false witnesses to lie and accuse Him of
blasphemy, but Judas knew the truth for he had been with Jesus long enough to
know better. This situation was quickly getting out of hand from what Judas
expected. When Judas understood that Jesus was going to die, he regretted and
cared after the fact that this should happen and the part he had played in this
awful thing. He felt remorse and regret. There was a repentance and regret that
this was how it had happened, and wished he'd handled it differently. This is a
change of purpose, not of heart. He returns with the 30 pieces of silver to the elders
and chief priests and confessed that he had missed the mark, he had made a
serious error, because he had betrayed someone who was guilty of nothing wrong.
The Scripture doesn't say, but I wonder if he stepped out of this crowd in front of
Jesus and everybody and tried to give the money back? Or did he get their
attention and ease off to the side for a minute and try to change this by giving it
back? Scripture isn't clear on this. But, either way, it was too little, too late. They
would not listen. He went out and hung himself, ending his life.

One thing that troubles me here about this and will require prayer. Jesus did not
warn Judas. He warned His own, what was to come. He told them all about the
need for the Comforter, how the devil had asked to sift Peter like wheat. He
revealed He had prayed for him that his faith not fail. He warned His own they
would be scattered when He was smitten, and that He would not fail them or
forsake them. He wanted them to have peace. These things were not said until after
Judas left to betray Him. Jesus handed Judas the bread at the passover dinner,
dipped it in sauce and handed, offered it to him. This represented the Bread of Life-
the Body of the Lord, and Paul warns in 1Co_11:27 that anyone who eat this Bread
and drink this cup of the Lord irreverently, unworthily, (and these both imply the
condition of the heart at the time) shall be guilty of the Body and blood of the Lord.

One translation adds "dishonoring the body and blood of the Lord". Another says
"he will be responsible for the (breaking) of the body and (shedding) the blood of
the Lord." He's guilty of sinning against the Body and Blood of the Lord.
Interestingly enough, the Complete Jewish Bible puts it this way: "he will be guilty
of desecrating the body and blood of the Lord!" He's making criminal use of the
body and blood of the Lord. Profaning it. Held responsible for it. If this is taken
carelessly, this eating of the bread and drinking of the cup of the Lord, that person
will have to answer for sin against the body and blood of the Lord. This also has a
very personal application, as well. We sit down with this Holy Bible, which is the
Bread of Life, the Word that was once flesh and dwelt among us, remember the
flesh of Jesus Christ was always secondary to the Word. He made no provision for
the flesh, other than what was necessary to keep the body functioning until the
ministry God gave Him was complete. What an indictment against myself. Oh,
Lord help us. Deliver us from SELF! Please! We sit down with this Bread of Life,
and It is anointed (dipped-the word in the Greek is baptiso-immersed, baptized) in
water, representing the Spirit of God who has been sent to teach us, and we dare to
handle this Word irreverently, carelessly, we will be held responsible, we will be
guilty of profaning the Body and blood of the Lord.
Paul warns again in 1Co_11:29 "He that eats and drinks unworthily (irreverently or
carelessly, casually) will eat and drink damnation (judgment, condemnation) to
himself, not making the distinction or understanding the danger he places himself
in. Simply put, he's eating and drinking God's judgment upon himself or herself.
The Word will either justify or condemn us. Depends on what we do with It.

Now, I want to consider Pilate. Have you ever wondered about this man they
brought the Lord before, who had Him scourged and crucified at the demands of
the people?

We know he was the 5th or 6th Roman Procurator-the sources I researched said
both on the date and he was someone sent by Caesar to manage the affairs, taxes,
and finances in the Judean provinces under the control of Rome. Pilate was
appointed in AD 25-26. He nearly drove the Jews to insurrection at least twice.
One of the first things he did was move the army's headquarters from Caesarea to
Jerusalem. He had the soldiers enter Jerusalem carrying with them their
standards, which bore the image of the emporer on them, by night, because Pilate
was aware of their religious law that forbade images of this sort and knew this
would anger the Jews. It didn't take long for them to discover the presence of the
images. The Jews were outraged and poured into the streets where Pilate was
living and demanded that he remove the images. For five days this went on. He
had some soldiers concealed around the Jews and told them to put the Jews to
death if they did not shut up troubling him and go home. The Jews stood firm,
vowing to die than allow these images to be on display of a man Rome considered
to be a god in Jerusalem. When Pilate saw they would rather die than have their
laws transgressed, he was impressed and relented, and had the shields with the
images and their standards carried back to Caesarea.

On another occasion, Pilate took money from the sacred treasury of the temple to
build an aqueduct that was considered an extraordinary engineering work, 30
miles long. The aqueduct would deliver water for the Roman style baths Pilate
wanted. built. When the people found out that he had taken money from the temple
treasury to do this, they rioted. Pilate had placed soldiers dressed in plain clothes
among the rioters, armed with daggers and they were commanded to attack those
who were causing the sedition. However, in the violence, with emotions running
high, the soldiers went over and above what they were commanded and slew
spectator and rioter, alike. Many were killed, and the riot ended. After the death of
Jesus, Pilate responded to a revolt of the Samaritans, who had revolted under a
leader who promised to show the treasures which Moses was thought to have
hidden in Mount Gerizim, and Pilate's calvary attacked them and slew many. The
Samaritans complained to the Syrian governor, Vitellius, and he called for Pilate
to come to Rome and answer these charges before Tiberius, who died before Pilate
got there, and Caligula-a merciless tyrant, was now on the throne. This was AD
36, three years after the death of Christ. Pilate was stripped of power, and
according to Josephus, a Jewish historian, (AD37-100 ? ) and Eusebius, (4th
century AD) Pilate committed suicide, after enduring much turmoil, and personal
loss.

Some have tried to say that Pilate became a Christian as his wife, Claudia truly
did, but there is no convincing evidence this is true. He was a man who sought to
protect his own position, trying to please many masters, both self, Rome, and the
people he was sent to rule over. He loved pleasure, and was at times a cruel man.
His life ended at his own hand, in despair. There are many accounts of his death
that conflict, but all sources agree that he committed suicide.

So this is the man before whom the King of Kings is brought, bound. They would
not themselves enter into the judgment hall of Pilate, because they would feel
defiled, and unable to eat the Passover. They had not yet eaten the Passover meal
when they should have, as Jesus and His disciples did, for they were too busy
plotting His arrest and murder at the time. They still intended eating the Passover,
though, they would eat it unworthily, and would not enter Pilate's judgment hall.
Pilate comes out, probably irritated at the early hour with this blood thirsty mob
of people demanding he hold court during what is supposed to be a holiday. He
looks at this Man, sees evidence of abuse in the bruises that had begun to show on
His face from being buffeted and struck during the night before when He was on
trial before Caiaphas. According to what I read in Josephus, Pilate was not happy
with his assignment being in Judea.

There was a great crowd. I believe Pilate was familiar with who Jesus was. His
wife, Claudia, sure was. She had heard of this Man and had great respect for Him
and His teachings, so he had heard something of this Man. I believe that is why he
asked what accusation (Joh_18:29) they had against HIM? The chief priests were
those who were answering Pilate's questions. There is no love lost here at all
between these priests and Pilate. They detest each other.

Exasperated with these people, probably bemoaning his fate for being sent here,
Pilate turns to the crowd. "What is your complaint against this Man?"

"Well, if He weren't an evil doer, we wouldn't have brought Him before you!" one
says, with sarcasm, I'm sure. Another chimes in, eager to convince this Roman
governor to do what they want. "Oh, we found out he has been corrupting our
people, forbidding them to pay taxes to Caesar, because He says He is Christ, a
king."
Oh, the smug satisfaction I sense here. Throw in that lie about forbidding the
people to pay taxes to Caesar, that will get Pilate's attention!

"Well, take Him and judge Him according to your own law." Pilate says.
"It's not lawful for us to put anyone to death. According to Roman law that can
only be done by you," they reply.

False accusations are flying and Pilate is troubled by this situation. He retreats
back into the judgment hall and approaches Jesus. He is standing still, probably
between guards, and had said nothing. There was no anger on His beloved face.
No resentment. No hatred. Not the normal countenance of a man being vilified by
His own people. He had made no effort to defend Himself or deny their charges.
Curious, very curious behavior. He looked tired, but not defeated. Pilate marveled
at the lack of response and demeanor of this Man.

"Are you a king? Are you the King of the Jews?" he asks the One who came to serve
and save humanity.
"Do you ask because you want to know or do you ask because they say this about
Me? Jesus answers his question with one of His own.
"What? Am I Jew? It doesn't matter to me if You are or not. Your own people
handed you over to me. What have You done?"
Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this
world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is
my kingdom not from hence.
Joh 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest
that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I
should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Nobody had mentioned that one of His own had tried to fight and wounded the
servant of the high priest. This would have lent credence to the charges if Jesus
had not healed the man's ear. That would only show Him to be much more than
just human before Pilate. Nothing was said about this. He came to be a Testimony
of the Truth of God that the Jews had so misrepresented to their own people and
the whole world. Pilate wonders 'what is truth?' He was a very cynical man. He
wasn't sure what to believe anymore, but he was convinced this man was not
guilty of the charges being brought against Him. He spoke unlike any other man
Pilate had ever heard speak. There was something so different about Him. He went
back outside the judgment hall, and said to the Jews he found no fault in Jesus. He
had examined Him and found Him innocent of doing anything worthy of death.

Luk_23:5 says the people grew fierce-they vehemently responded, furious with
Pilate's statement that he found no fault in Jesus.

"He's stirring up people all over this nation, from Galilee to here!" they shouted.
Galilee-Pilate's mind seized on that, and saw another possible solution. That is
Herod's jurisdiction. Well, there was no love lost between those two. He had never
liked Herod. So, Pilate thought maybe I can put this off on Herod and not have to
do this. So, he sent Jesus to Herod, who was glad to finally meet Jesus. Herod
wanted to see a miracle. This was the one who had John the Baptist killed to please
a woman. Now, he desires to see some miracle of Jesus but He will not respond to
any of Herod's questions. The chief priests and scribes stood there viciously
accusing Jesus to Herod. Herod and his soldiers stationed in the palace found
Jesus contemptible and esteemed Him not at all. They jeered at Him, mocking,
casting around Him a magnificent robe, and sent Him back to Pilate, whom Herod
decided wasn't such a bad guy after all.

Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
   and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Now Pilate, trying to appease the people, yet not kill Jesus, sends Him to be
scourged. There is an hour or so break in this trial. He has Jesus scourged.

Scourging under the Romans meant the person was stripped of their outer
garments, stretched out and tied down with cords or thongs on a frame and beaten
with rods. Also, the scourge was a handle with three lashes or thongs of leather or
cord, sometimes with pieces of metal or bone fastened into the ends of the leather.
This would greatly tear and plow long, deep furrows into the back of the victim.
(Psa_129:3) The skin would be basically shredded by 39 strikes with this scourge. It
would inflict tremendous pain and injury.
The soldiers took thorns and twisted them together to form a crown. Thorns are a
symbol of the curse upon the earth. They put this cruel crown on His head and put
on Him a purple robe. They put a reed in His hand and bowed before Him, mocking
and jeering at Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spit on Him, took the reed and
pummeled Him with it on His head with repeated blows. I can't help but think
there is a spiritual application here, as well. If you are seeking a closer walk with
the Lord, and digging in His Word, your mind will be pummeled like this with a
barrage of the lies of the enemy. Here, He suffers physical abuse and their verbal
taunts against His mind, His person. Jesus is finally taken back to Pilate after 39
stripes to His back which left it looking like sliced and diced meat. He had to be in
so much pain.

Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the
   chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and
   the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Pilate comes back out and sits down in the judgment seat before the people again,
and to address them about Jesus. Someone brings him a note from his wife,
Claudia. "Don't have anything to do with that Just Man! I have suffered many
things last night in a dream because of Him!" That warning brought unease to
Pilate's heart. He chooses his words carefully before he speaks to the people.
"You have brought this Man unto me and I have examined Him carefully. I have
looked into the things you accuse Him of and I find no fault in Him concerning
these things. No, neither did Herod. I find nothing in Him worthy of death."

The people were furious. Crucify Him, they cried. You crucify Him, Pilate said, I
find no fault in Him. But the Jews answered, with a point of the law. We have a
law that says He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God!

Fresh fear surged through Pilate's heart. His wife's warning was ringing in his
mind. The people's screams for Jesus' blood were in his face. He stands, and goes
back into the judgment hall and looks at Jesus. "Where are You from?" he asks
Him. But Jesus didn't answer.

Pilate stands there in front of Jesus Christ, frustrated, wanting nothing to do with
this whole hateful situation. "You refuse to speak to me? Do you not know I have
the power to crucify you or release you?"
"You could have no power over me at all unless it were given you from above. For
this reason, he that has delivered me to you has the greater sin." Jesus says
quietly. He stands there, in great pain, I'm sure, from the scourging and abuse of
the soldiers. He has not had any sleep, or been fed, and I'm sure He was tired,
hungry, thirsty, and hurting in more ways than one and ready for this to be over.
Yet there is no bitterness, no hatefulness, no arrogance in His voice. Just calm
acceptance that this was how it was to be. He was not trying to find a way out of
this situation. He did not ask Pilate for help or mercy. His words trouble Pilate
greatly. He knows this man is innocent of the charges against Him yet He does not
resist any of this mockery of a hearing.
None of this was lost on Pilate and now he desperately wanted to release Jesus, but
the Jews nailed his weakness. They accused him of not being Caesar's friend if he
let Jesus go. If it got back to Caesar he had released someone who claimed to be a
king, and these crazy people were able to get word to him and convince him of
their charges against this Man, it would go bad for Pilate.

The chief priests had persuaded the multitude to ask for Barabbas' release, not
Jesus. (Mat_27:20) They cried out for Jesus' death and Barabbas' release. The Jews
had a custom that one prisoner should be released at the Passover, in honor of the
Jews' own release from the bondage of Egypt. How Pilate hoped he could use this
custom to persuade them to release Jesus. But no, they cried for Barabbas.
Ironically, his name means 'son of the father'. What a contrast. The Son of God, the
Father was on trial, and they didn't want Him released. They wanted the son who
served the other one, the imitation father, the devil himself. Barabbas had killed
someone during an uprising of the Jews. He was also a thief and robber. One
implies theft by trickery, the other theft by violence.

On one side of Pilate stands Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the hope of redemption
for all humanity. On the other side, one Barabbas who represents the nature of the
evil one who is bent on the destruction of humanity. Salvation and death. They
choose death. Pilate knew enough about this situation that he realized they had
delivered Jesus up because they wished him ill will and were motivated by
dangerous jealousy. Remember the passage of Scripture in Deuteronomy 28 where
the children of Israel are asked to choose this day which they would serve? He had
set before them life and death. This time they would choose death. Pilate sought to
release Jesus but the people would not hear of it.

Let Him be crucified! they cried out.
Why? What evil has He done? Pilate said.
Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

 Pilate pours water in a basin and washes his hands and tells them they are guilty
of Jesus' blood for he finds no fault in Him. They scream "let His blood be upon us
and our children". What a horrible thing to wish upon your own children.
(Mat_27:24-25)

				
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