Sapphire Sky

February 7, 2016

The Stranger on the Shore

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 5:46 pm

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He had still not recovered.

 

But how could anyone recover from what he went through?

 

Peter’s world had turned upside-down over the last three weeks.

 

Three weeks ago, Peter was at the top of the world. He had traveled to Jerusalem with his teacher and close friend, the greatest man he knew. He had seen his teacher heal blind men and silence his enemies. When they entered Jerusalem three weeks ago [12], the entire city burst with excitement! Peter had known that his teacher was the rightful king and surely he would set up his kingdom now (see here and here).

 

Peter was with his teacher on that fateful Thursday night when, over dinner, his teacher announced that there was a traitor in their midst. This was not a time for celebration nor excitement. Their teacher was going to leave them (see here).

 

Peter knew that he would do anything for his teacher. He would fight for him and he would die for him. His teacher had told Peter that he would run away, but Peter protested. His teacher may be smart, but he did not understand Peter’s loyalty. Peter would never leave him!

 

Peter remembered that night, when they left the room and walked outside the city. He could still see the large crowd that met them on that dark night, two weeks ago. The priests, their servants, and 600 soldiers were all being guided by one of Peter’s own friends (see here). 

 

Peter had taken up a sword to defend his teacher. He would fight to the death for him! But Peter was a fisherman, not a soldier. He only succeeded in injuring a servant and was humiliated. He watched the soldiers drag his teacher away as he skulked away in fright.

 

Most of his other friends had run away, but Peter and John had gathered enough courage to follow the soldiers at a distance. He followed them to the High Priest’s palace and watched his teacher’s trial from the courtyard (see here).

 

Peter huddled in the crowd of servants where he could see the proceedings from a distance. He would never forget being questioned by the servants, how they were certain that Peter must be a friend of that prisoner. The servants confronted Peter three times, and three times Peter denied any knowledge or association with this teacher.

 

Peter saw his loyalty disappear in the face of fear. He saw his teacher beaten by the Jewish authorities. He saw the Roman soldiers bind him and subject him to inhuman torture. He saw his teacher hang on Roman cross for six hours until he died alone (see here and here).

 

He remembered early Sunday morning, when Mary came running in with news. She had gone to the teacher’s tomb and someone had taken the body! Peter and John had raced to the tomb, observing the scene. They saw the empty grave clothes and realized why the tomb was empty – the teacher was alive! He had come back to life! (see here)

 

Jesus told the disciples, on several occasions, that He would die and rise again. But they had been slow to understand Him. They did not believe Him until they saw Him in person.

 

Peter had seen Jesus, his teacher, three times since he had come back to life. Jesus had met with him personally that Sunday (see here). That Sunday night, Peter was with many of the the other disciples when Jesus appeared in the middle of the group gathering (see here). Finally, Jesus appeared to the disciples again on the following Monday (see here).

 

Jesus had instructed the disciples to go to Galilee where He would meet with them (see here). Peter and the other disciples traveled back to the northern region, Peter’s home territory.

 

We can only guess the thoughts that were going through Peter’s mind as he made the long journey back up north. Although he was glad to see his risen Lord, it could not erase the guilt and humiliation that Peter had felt when he denied him. Jesus had told Peter that he would run away, but Peter was sure that He was wrong. The other disciples may run away, but he would never leave Him! The others did not love Him like Peter did!

 

But now, this was a different Peter. He was now a broken man, who could only look back at how wrong he was. He had tried and failed. Now what could he do? Now that he was back home, Peter leaned on what he knew best. He went back to fishing.

 

Six other disciples joined him, and together they spent the night on the lake. Their night was been a failure. After fishing all night, they did not catch a single fish.

 

But there, in the morning mist, they saw a stranger on the shore. He called out to them, “Have you caught any fish?” They had been fishing all night with nothing to show for it. “Put your nets on the other side of the boat”, replies the stranger. The men obeyed, if for no other reason than that they had nothing else to lose.

 

On the other side of the boat, they found so many fish that they could not pull the nets back in! John was the first to realize what was happening. The same thing had happened once before, and John shouted out excitedly, “It is the Lord!”

 

Upon this realization, Peter stopped his fishing, put on his coat, and leaped into the water! Peter swam to the shore while the others followed in the boat.

 

Peter found Jesus waiting for him, with a fish grilling on a charcoal fire at the shore. There were no lectures or warnings. The other disciples joined them from the boat, as Jesus gave only an invitation, “Come and have breakfast.”

 

Jesus looked of the other disciples, then he looked at Peter. “Do you love me more than these?” Peter had claimed earlier that that he was more devoted to Jesus than the other disciples. Now Jesus asked him if he really believed that he has a greater love that the others.

 

Peter’s response showed that, possibly for the first time, he was humbled. He knew that he did not have a greater love than the others. He could not promise to love Jesus fully as he should. But he did love his Lord, and he knew that Jesus knows it.

 

Jesus repeated the question three times. “Do you love me?” Three times, Peter replied that Jesus knew that that he loved Him. All three times, Jesus told Peter, “Since you love me, take care of my sheep.”

 

Jesus had one more instruction for Peter. Peter had said earlier that he was ready to die for Him. Jesus told Peter that when he is old, he will die as a martyr for God. But with this promise also came the instruction: when everything gets crazy, just keep on following me.

 

Keep on following me!

 

Don’t worry about being in control of your own life. Don’t worry about what is going to happen to the others. Just keep on following me!

 

Remember!

 

  • Be encouraged! This story is about Peter’s restoration. As Jesus restored Peter from his failures, so he can restore us when we fail.

 

  • Do we love Jesus? Before we can give anything else to Jesus, we need to give Him our love!

 

  • Follow Him! When life is out of our control, we keep following Him. Don’t worry about others, but only focus on Him!

 

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

 

Previous post: He is Risen!

 


 

John 21

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

 

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

 

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

 

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

 


 

John 21:1-3
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 

We know that Jesus had left the disciples in Jerusalem with the instructions to meet him in Galilee. Jesus had met with most of the disciples, excluding Thomas, on the evening of his resurrection (John 20:19-25) . He then met with them again, including Thomas, eight days later (John 20:26-29). Afterward, the disciples journeyed to Galilee where the scene in John 21 took place.

 

Peter announced that he was going fishing (on the sea of Galilee) and six other disciples joined him. Many commentators believe that the two unnamed disciples here are Philip and Andrew. Therefore, the disciples that morning consisted of: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, Philip, Andrew.

 

Many Bible scholars have debated over the details of Peter’s actions. Why did he go fishing? Was Peter disobedient in doing this? Why did the other disciples follow him?

 

Jesus instructed the women after the resurrection, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10). Using this reference, some Bible scholars believe that Peter was disobedient in going fishing. However, the problem with this argument is that we have very little detail about Jesus’ command. Peter was in Galilee waiting for Jesus, and there was nothing in Jesus’ command which prohibited them from other activity while they waited for Him. Also, Jesus never rebuked their actions. The entire theme of John 21 is of consolation and restoration. Therefore, it is best to understand that Peter and the other disciples were not being disobedient when they went out at the lake.

 

Why did Peter go fishing? We can only guess what Peter’s intentions were at this time. Peter may have been looking for a way to pass the time and pay the bills. Peter also may have wanted to go back to familiar territory after everything that happened, and so he returned to the profession that he knew best.

 

Either way, the disciples found only frustration that night on the water. They spent all night fishing in familiar territory and yet caught nothing.

 

“The point of the story is not disobedience. It is rather to teach us what happens when we try to accomplish spiritual things by our own strength and at our own direction.” – James Montgomery Boice [1]

 

The “Sea of Tiberias” is another name for the Sea of Galilee (see also John 6:1).

 

The reference to “the boat” is a definite article. It suggests that the boat may have been Peter’s own fishing vessel. [3]

 

John 21:4-6
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

 

In the early morning light, a stranger called out to them from the shore, “Children, do you have any fish?” The stranger then instructed the fishermen to throw the net on the other side of the boat. The men did not recognize the stranger yet they obeyed, and caught so many fish that they could not haul the nets back into the boat.

 

“The difference between success and failure was the width of the ship!” – Warren Wiersbe [4]

 

John 21:7-8
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

 

It is the disciple John who recognized the stranger at this moment – it is the Lord!

 

Peter then did a most unusual thing: he rose from the fishing, put on his coat, and jumped into the water! Why does Peter get dressed before jumping into the water? We can only guess, but some Bible students have proposed that Peter may have hoped, in the excitement of seeing Jesus again, to walk on water one more time.

 

While Peter swam the hundred yards to shore, the rest of the disciples followed in the boat, dragging the fish.

 

It is unusual that the disciples did not recognize Jesus until after the catch of fish. They had already seen him after the resurrection so he could not have been physically different. The disciples were waiting for Jesus in Galilee, so they were not taken by surprise by his appearance. This is one more instance where the we see that Jesus prevented people from recognizing Him until He wanted to be recognized (see here). Note also that He was a distant figure in the early morning mist, so it would have been easy for Him to go unrecognized.

 

John 21:9-14
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 

Jesus already had a fire for them with fish cooking on it. Note that Jesus had breakfast for them before they brought the fish ashore. Therefore, Jesus had personally provided a fish for breakfast, that was not caught by the fishermen.

 

John was very specific about the details of that morning, including the number of fish that they caught (153). This is one example in this gospel account to show that it was written by an eyewitness of the things that had happened.

 

The disciples were unable to physically recognize Jesus, yet they knew that it was Him. He did not let them recognize Him physically, but they knew Him by his actions and his caring for them.

 

This had to have been a very difficult time for Peter. Peter still had his three denials of Jesus Christ ringing in his ears and he saw his Lord and Master suffer and die on the Roman cross. Jesus had risen again, but Peter had only been able to see him briefly for three times.

 

Peter had tried to defend Jesus, to fight for Jesus, and he vowed that he would never leave him. Even now, after the resurrection, Peter could not even be a good fisherman. He had led the other disciples on a fishing expedition which yielded nothing.

 

Yet Jesus came to them all with care and consolation. He had a meal prepared for them and his words to Peter were, “Come and have breakfast.”

 

“Let’s end this separation and share a meal together.”

 

In the Middle Eastern culture, to eat a meal with someone that has wronged you is to express your forgiveness to that person. [5]

 

John 21:15-17
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

 

Jesus had a question for Peter. “Simon, do you love me?” This short exchange straits directly at Peter’s heart, laying open his broken present, the rashness and boasting of his past, and the man he was when he first met Jesus.

 

Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus was asking Peter for total commitment (agapaō, ἀγαπάω).

Peter replied with, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Peter replies with deep affection (phileō, φιλέω).

Jesus answered Peter, “Feed my lambs.”

 

Jesus asked a second time, “Do you love me?” Once again, Jesus asked for total commitment.

Peter replied again, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Peter replied again with deep affection.

Jesus answered Peter, “Tend my sheep.”

 

Jesus asked a third time, “Do you love me?” This time, Jesus did not ask for total commitment but asked about Peter’s deep affection.

Peter was grieved at the third time and replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Peter replied with the deep affection.

Jesus answered Peter the third time, “Feed my sheep.”

 

Jesus’s words used the highest form of love. He asked Peter if he can really commit to him with all that he has. Peter’s response was with deep affection but not total commitment [9]. After all his boasting, Peter knew that he cannot commit to Jesus with the love that is Lord requires.

 

Most Bible scholars agree that Jesus was addressing Peter in the context of his failures. Peter has not been the “rock” that Jesus called him to be (John 1:42, see here). That may very well have been why Jesus addressed him with his original name, “Simon”.

 

Jesus’ first question to Peter is of comparison. “Do you love me more than these?” Peter had boasted about his commitment to Jesus, and claimed that he would never leave Him, even when the others fell away (Matthew 26:33, Mark 14:29). Peter had corrected Jesus, as if he knew more than his Lord. [6]

 

But now, Peter no longer presumes to know more than Him. Note Peter’s response to Jesus each time, “You know I love (phileō) you.” Peter knew he did not have the ability to love Jesus with a total commitment, so he fell on Jesus’ knowledge of him. “You know that I care about you.”

 

Peter has changed. Previously, he would have tried to convince Jesus what was in his heart. Now, he acknowledges that Jesus knows what is in his own heart. [7]

 

Jesus never scolded nor rebuked Peter for his inability to confess total commitment. Instead, he redirected him. Show your love for me by taking care of my sheep.

 

There is a close parallel between Jesus’ questions and Peter’s denials. Peter had denied Jesus three times at His arrest, and now Jesus asked Peter to affirm his love for him three times. Peter’s threefold denial might have been the reason for Jesus repeating the question to Peter three times. However, the best explanation for this repetition is to be that Jesus was emphasizing His point. What matters most is that we love him!

 

Jesus’ commands are to “Feed (pasture) my lambs”, “Take care of (shepherd) my sheep”, and “Feed (pasture) my sheep”. The first and third imply only taking the sheep to pasture where they are fed; the second implies the total guardianship a shepherd exercises. See also 1 Peter 5:1-2, where Peter instructs all teachers to be shepherds. [3]

 

“Never say, ‘ I can do it, Lord. I know I can. I know my heart.’  Say rather, ‘Lord, you know what is there. You put it there. You know what love I have for you. Take it and make it into something that will abound to your glory.’” – James Montgomery Boice [1]

 

“The most important thing the pastor can do is to love Jesus Christ.” – Warren Wiersbe [4]

 

John 21:18-19
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

Peter had previously boasted that he would die for his Lord. Jesus now promised that Peter will have that chance. Peter is to live a life of loving his Lord and feeding His sheep. When Peter is old, he will die a martyr’s death for Him.

 

But what must Peter do with this knowledge? He must follow Him. Not one time, but always — keep on following Him!

 

Note that Peter had already been killed by the time that John’s gospel account was written. [10]

 

John 21:20-23
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

 

Peter noticed John following them and in a moment of distraction, he asked Jesus, “What about him?”

 

Jesus’ response to Peter was, “That is none of your business. You just keep on following me!”

 

“We all have different distinctives, but each type has its problems too. The solution is to follow Jesus. If we follow Jesus, then our eyes will be in Jesus and he, not our own weaknesses, will be the standard of Christian service. We will also see that we are at best unprofitable servings. There is no room for boasting.” – James Montgomery Boice [1]

 

“To be distracted by ourselves, our circumstances, or by other Christians is to disobey the Lord and possibly get detoured out of the will of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)” – Warren Wiersbe [4]

 

John 21:24-25
This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.  Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

 

This is as close as John gets to signing his own name to this gospel account. John is the one who has written these things, and his testimony (John’s) is verified to be true.

 

John concludes with the reminder that this is far from a comprehensive biography. There are not enough books in the world to write a complete account of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

“John didn’t include everything we would like to know. He included everything we needed to know.” – Stephen Davey [11]

 


 

[1] James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 5, John 21, pages 1623-1664

 

[2] The post resurrection words of Christ [1]:

 

[3] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, John 21, pages 197-203

 

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 21, pages 316-319

 

[5] Stephen Davey, A Refresher Course . . . Fishing 101, John 21:1-14

 

[6] There are three common interpretations of Jesus’ question, “Do you love me more than these?”

  • “Do you love me more than you love these fishing nets?” In this case, Jesus would be asking Peter if he is ready to leave his fishing profession.
  • “Do you love me more than you love the other disciples?” In this case, Jesus would be asking Peter if his love for Jesus is supreme over his love for other men.
  • “Do you love me more than these disciples love me?” In this case, Jesus would be asking Peter if he still thinks he has a greater love than the other disciples. My preference is for this interpretation, since this fits in the best with the rest of the passage. The rest of the passage is about Peter’s level of love for Jesus, and it is in contrast with Peter’s previous boasting and denying Him.

 

[7] Stephen Davey, Broken Things, John 21:15-17

 

[8] Stephen Davey, Broken Vessels, John 21:15-19

 

[9] Expositors disagree on the significance for John’s use of two different words for love. But John tends to be precise in his language and he deliberately used two different words to record this conversation, therefore it must be significant. [8]

 

[10] Stephen Davey, Snooping, Comparing & Other Natural Diseases, John 21:18-23

 

[11] Stephen Davey, John’s Final Words, John 21:24-25

 

[12] We do not know the actual time frame of the events in John 21. We know that Jesus was in Jerusalem for the final week before the crucifixion (John 12-18), and that the disciples stayed at least eight days after the resurrection before journeying to Galilee (John 20:24-29). Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus was on earth for 40 days after the resurrection.

The disciples traveled to Galilee after His second appearance to them, and it was in Galilee that they met Jesus, as told in John 21. The disciples would have needed time to prepare for the journey back to Galilee, at least two days of travel (depending on the route taken), and time to settle after their arrival. Therefore, I am assuming for simplicity that it had been about three weeks since Jesus entered Jerusalem, or two weeks since the resurrection.

 

January 2, 2016

He is Risen!

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , , — Steve Knaus @ 1:00 am

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1 Corinthians 15:3-7
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

 

1 Corinthians 15:14-15
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

 

“Had the body of the Lord Jesus Christ never come forth from the tomb, it would have been silent evidence that He was either a deceiver or deceived when He declared that He was to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). He would have been simply another martyr to what He believed to be the truth, or else to His own ambitions.” – H.A. Ironside [14]

 

Jesus Christ came to earth and lived among mankind for about 33 years. He taught people, healed the sick, and led a small group of disciples. He was arrested by His countrymen and crucified by the Romans. His friends took His lifeless body and laid Him in a new tomb.

 

If that was the entire story, it would make for a compelling biography. It would be the story about a good man who met a tragic ending.

 

But the story of Jesus Christ is so much more. He did not die as a tragic martyr on the Roman cross. He willingly, intentionally gave up His own life so that He could free mankind from the penalty of sin. When He cried, “It is finished!”, he permanently removed the barrier that separated us from God (see here and here).

 

But the story of Jesus Christ is even more than that! Close friends laid His lifeless body in the tomb on Friday evening, expecting never to see Him again. The Sabbath was quickly approaching, so they could not properly prepare the body for burial. They wrapped His body and covered Him with spices as was the custom, but they had to wait until after the Sabbath to complete the burial rites.

 

Jesus had led eleven faithful disciples, but they were now gone. Jesus had sent John to take care of His mother (see here), and the others had run away in fear. Only the faithful women stayed with Jesus through His death and burial.

 

As soon as the Sabbath was over (Saturday evening), these women bought and prepared the burial spices. They brought the spices to the tomb early on Sunday morning so that they could open the tomb and finish preparing the body.

 

Little did the women know what was happening at the very time. Jesus Himself came back to life with a new body that was no longer damaged! He slipped through his wrapped grave clothes and left the sealed tomb.

 

No one saw Jesus rise from the dead, but the soldiers on guard witnessed the dramatic events that followed! With a great earthquake, an angel descended from heaven and threw back the great stone.

 

The women would not know of these events until afterward. When they came to the tomb, the great stone was thrown back, the soldiers had run away, and the body was gone!

 

One of the women, Mary Magdalene, quickly left to tell the disciples. The other women stayed long enough to notice two angels sitting inside the tomb. The message of the angels was “Jesus is not here — He has risen!”

 

The account of the women

 

The women who had come early on Sunday morning to prepare the body were met with a surprise when they came to the tomb. The stone had been thrown aside and the body was gone! Mary Magdalene abruptly left the group to go report to the disciples while the other women lingered at the tomb.

 

The women encountered two angels at the tomb. The angels instructed them that Jesus had risen and to go tell the disciples. The women then returned to the disciples who did not believe them.

 

Jesus appeared to the women and greeted them after they left the disciples. They fell at His feet in worship and Jesus repeated the instructions that were given by the angels. They were to tell the brethren to go to Galilee where Jesus will meet with them.

 

The account of Mary Magdalene

 

Mary left the tomb, and ran to tell Peter and John that the body was gone. Unlike the other women, Mary never saw the angels, nor did she hear the news that He had risen. She believed that the body had been taken, possibly by the gardener.

 

Mary followed Peter and John to the tomb and waited outside while they investigated the scene. The men left while she stayed behind to grieve. She had followed the Lord Jesus since he had saved her from a life of demon possession. She followed him through His ministry in Galilee and when He went up to Jerusalem. She had stayed with Him through His six hours of agony on the cross, and she was standing near Him as He bowed His head in death.

 

She had followed Joseph and Nicodemus as they hastily removed His body from the cross and prepared Him for burial. She watched as they wrapped Him in linen cloths and covered His body with burial spices. She saw them lay Him in the tomb on Friday evening and she saw Joseph roll the great stone over the doorway.

 

Mary was one of the first women to the tomb on Sunday morning, and she may have led the other women. This was the last chance that she had to show her love to her departed Lord. She had personally seen that the body was missing and had run to tell Peter and John.

 

But now she was back at the tomb. Alone! There is no way to know how she handled the ordeal over the past three days, but now she gives full vent to her grief and despair. She sobs uncontrollably.

 

In the midst of her tears, Mary looks down into the tomb. To her surprise, there are two men (angels) in white, sitting where the body should have been. The angels ask why she was sobbing, and she tells them that they have taken the body and she does not know where.

 

Turning around, Mary notices that a man is standing behind her. The man asks the same question, “Why are you sobbing?” She does not recognize the man and expects that he must be the gardener. Perhaps he has removed the body? Through her tears, she blurts out, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

 

The man calls her by name, “Mary”. In the instant of recognition, she knows it is Him! He is alive! She yells out “My teacher!” as she runs to Him and desperately throws her arms around Him.

 

But Jesus has a message for her. “Stop clutching me like I am going to disappear. I am not ready to return yet. But go, and tell the good news to the others.”

 

The account of Peter (and John)

 

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest companions during His life, yet he was missing during Jesus’ death. Peter had followed John into the High Priest’s courtyard, yet it was there that Peter denied ever knowing Jesus. The narrative last shows Peter as a broken man, leaving the courtyard in tears as he realized his guilt (see here).

 

John was with Jesus at His crucifixion, and Jesus sent John away to take care of His mother (see here).

 

Mary Magdalene knew exactly where to find both Peter and John on Sunday morning. She brought the news that the tomb was empty. People must have taken the body and they do not know where He is. Peter and John ran immediately to the tomb.

 

John ran ahead of Peter and reaching the tomb first, he looked in to see the empty grave clothes. Peter followed and went into the tomb, observing that the grave clothes were folded but empty. The head cloth was neatly folded up in a place by itself.

 

Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead but they had not understood. But now, looking at the empty grave clothes, they saw and believed. They knew that He had risen!

 

Jesus is beginning to restore Peter. He is bringing Peter from the broken, impetuous man to become the leader of His church. First, Jesus offered forgiveness. The angel specifically told the women to announce to Peter that He had risen. We also know that Jesus personally appeared to Peter (see here and here). Peter no longer needs to carry the guilt of denying His Lord.

 

The account of the disciples

 

Jesus had personally met with Mary, the other women, and to Peter. The disciples continued to gather together, yet they were not convinced of His resurrection.

 

As the disciples were gathered, Jesus himself suddenly appeared among them, saying “Peace to you!” They were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. But Jesus showed them that He was very much alive and real. He showed them His scars from the cross. They could touch Him and He breathed on them. Finally, Jesus ate before them, showing that He was really there.

 

The account of Thomas

 

Thomas was absent on the Sunday evening when Jesus met with the disciples. Thomas was skeptical when he heard that Jesus was alive. He insisted that he could not believe that Jesus had risen until he saw and touched Jesus himself.

 

Eight days later, Thomas had his chance to see Jesus in person. Thomas was with disciples as they were gathered together again. Jesus personally joined them and invited Thomas to touch the scars in his hands and side. Thomas no longer doubted, but cried out, “My Lord and My God!”

 

“Doubt says, ‘I cannot believe’. Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe’”. – Warren Wiersbe [5]

 

John’s Conclusion

 

These experiences are only a few of the many people who were impacted by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do not have many details about the resurrection itself, but we have a lot of detail about those who were affected by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

John concludes with a summary, not only of the resurrection itself but of His entire book:

 

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

“What a difference it made when the full realization of His resurrection took hold of them! For Mary Magdalene it meant moving from tears to joy (John 20:1-18), for the ten disciples it meant going from fear to courage (John 20:19-23), and for Thomas it meant moving from doubt to assurance (John 20:24-31). With Mary, the emphasis is on love; with the ten, the emphasis is on hope; and with Thomas, the emphasis is on faith.” – Warren Wiersbe [5]

 

Previous post: It is Finished!

 


 

‭‭John‬ ‭20

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

 

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

 

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

 

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

 

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 


 

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:1-10‬

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

 


 

‭‭Mark‬ ‭16:1-8‬
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


 

Luke‬ ‭24:1-12, 36-43

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

 


 

John 20:1a
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark,

Matthew 28:1
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Mark 16:1-2
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

Luke 24:1
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.

 

The four different gospel accounts give four different perspectives on the resurrection account. This section of scripture is often criticized for having contradictions. However, a closer look at the four gospel accounts show that they all harmonize to form a much more complete view of the events on that day.

 

Jesus was hastily buried before the beginning of the Sabbath on Friday evening. Joseph and Nicodemus had bought spices in order to prepare the body for burial but the preparation was not complete (John 19:38-42; Luke 23:53-56). As soon as the Passover had ended, the faithful women went to the tomb in order to complete the burial rites.

 

None of the gospel accounts give a complete list of the women who went to the tomb that morning. Luke’s account shows that this was the same group of women who stayed with Jesus on the cross and who were present at His burial (John 19:25; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:10; see here and here). The group included the following:

  • Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2)
  • Mary the mother of James (the less) and the wife of Clopas
  • Salome, the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee)
  • Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (Luke 8:3)

 

Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts indicate that the women went to the tomb at the first break of dawn. Mark’s and John’s accounts seem somewhat at odds, since Mark’s account says that “the sun had risen” and John’s account says that “it was still dark”. The best understanding is that the women arrived in separate groups. Mary Magdalene arrived first, immediately before the sun had risen, and the rest of the women arrived shortly afterward [2].

 

Note also that this was the third day after Jesus was buried in the tomb. Jewish tradition allowed loved ones to attend the body for up to three days after death. After the third day, the tomb was permanently sealed (see also here).

 

“Do you know why [the women] were the first to know about the resurrection? Because they were the first to show up.” – John MacArthur [3]

 

 

Mark 16:3
And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

 

Joseph had closed the tomb with a great stone on Friday (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46). The women did not have the strength to move the stone. They had come to show their love for their departed teacher, but they were unable to plan for all possibilities.

 

The challenge for the women to open the tomb was more difficult than they knew. The women apparently did not know that the Jewish leaders had procured soldiers and had set a seal on the stone (Matthew 27:62-66). No one, under penalty of death, would be allowed to open the tomb.

 

Matthew 28:2-4
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

 

The women were being faithful to their Lord, even though they did not know how. God sent an angel to take care of the stone and the soldiers.

 

The angel descended from heaven, tossed aside the stone, and sat on it.

 

The appearance of the angel terrified the trained Roman soldiers so that they fell down in terror. Presumably, the soldiers ran away when they regained their consciousness since they were absent from the scene when the women arrived.

 

We do not have the exact time of the earthquake and the arrival of the angel. Most commentators believe that earthquake happened in the early morning hours as the women were on the way to the tomb. There is no record of the women acknowledging the great earthquake. Either the earthquake was very localized or it was otherwise unnoticed by the women as they traveled to the tomb.

 

There is a record of the angel, the earthquake, and the soldiers reacting in fear. Nowhere is it recorded that Jesus came out of the tomb. He was already gone. [3]

 

“But there is a sublime irony in the contrast between man’s elaborate precautions and the ease with which the Divine Hand can sweep them aside, and which, as throughout the history of Christ and of His Church, recalls the prophetic declaration: ‘He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them.’” – Alfred Edersheim [4]

 

John 20:1b
and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Mark 16:4
And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.

Luke 24:2-3
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

 

What about Jesus? His body was not there!

 

Mark’s account emphasizes that the stone was very large. It could not have been moved by the women.

 

John’s account emphasizes that the stone was not only rolled back, it was taken away from the tomb entrance! It was not simply rolled back but it was tossed aside.

 

The women saw that the stone was moved and they went into the tomb and personally saw that the body of Jesus was no longer there.

 

Matthew 28:5-7
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Mark 16:5-7
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Luke 24:4-7
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

 

The women did not find the body of Jesus but they did see the two angels. The angel who had thrown aside the stone was now joined by another angel and they sat inside the tomb.

 

The message of the angels was, “Jesus is not here — He has risen!”

 

The women were given specific instructions. The were to come and see where Jesus lay. Then they were to go quickly to tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead. They will see him in Galilee.

 

The angels also reminded the women what Jesus had said. He predicted that he would be crucified and that he would rise again on the third day (Matthew 20:17-19; Matthew 26:31-32).

 

Mark’s account gives an additional instruction, “Go tell Peter!” Peter had spent the last three days in despair over how he had failed his Lord. He tried to fight when he should have been quiet (see here), and he had denied Him three times (see here)!

 

But the angel is specific. Go tell Peter that Jesus has risen from the dead. It is as if God wants to specifically remind Peter that there is hope!

 

Mary Magdalene was apparently absent from this scene. The angels announced that Jesus was risen, yet Mary did not understand when she returned to the tomb (see below). The most likely explanation is that Mary abruptly left to tell Peter and John while the angels spoke to the other women.

 

John 20:2
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Matthew 28:8
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Mark 16:8
And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Luke 24:8-11
And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

 

The women quickly left the tomb. They were flooded with the emotions of fear, astonishment, and great joy.

 

The women were silent at first, but they soon reunited with the disciples. But as they recounted what had happened, the men did not believe them.

 

Jewish men of that day did not respect the testimony of women. The rabbis taught that, “It is better that the words of the law be burned than be delivered to a woman.” [5] This attitude apparently had influenced even the believing disciples to the point that they did not believe the women when they returned from the tomb.

 

Note especially that the disciples — even the eleven apostles — did not believe that Jesus would rise from the dead!

 

John’s account highlights specific individuals. Mary Magdalene was the most visible of the group of women, and she specifically sought out Peter and John (referenced here as the other disciple whom Jesus loved, see here).

 

John’s account focuses only on Mary Magdalene, yet she tells Peter and John that, “we do not know where they have laid him”. The plural shows that she is including the other woman.

 

“It is absolutely absurd to contend that the followers of Christ expected Him to rise again; that it was easy for them to think they saw Him; that He had told them He would rise again, and so they were expecting Him. They expected nothing of the kind. All they knew was that He had died, and with Him died also their hopes of deliverance, for they had trusted He was the One who would free them from the Roman yoke.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

John 20:3-10
So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Luke 24:12
But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

 

Peter and John believed Mary enough to go and investigate the tomb themselves. They both ran to the tomb but John outran Peter.

 

John got to the tomb first and stopped at the outside. He looked in and saw the clothes lying there. John saw, or observed the scene (blepo, βλέπω).

 

Peter got to the tomb after John and went directly into the tomb. Peter saw the linen cloths and face cloth lying there, folded up to the side. The grave clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body on Friday evening were still there where they were laid, only the body was no longer there!

 

Peter observed, or theorized about the scene (theóreó, θεωρέω).

 

John then joined Peter inside the tomb. John saw and believed (horaó, ὁράω). He began to understand the scripture that Jesus would rise from the dead.

 

The body could not have been stolen by tomb robbers without the grave clothes being disturbed. Jesus could not have simply resuscitated from his ordeal and removed his grave clothes without disturbing them. There could be no natural explanation.

 

It is interesting to note that Peter and John did not see the angels. The angels showed themselves to the women but not to Peter and John.

 

“There was no sign of haste, but all was orderly, leaving the impression of One Who had leisurely divested Himself of what no longer befitted Him.” – Alfred Edersheim [4]

 

Lazarus was raised in his natural body and still in his grave clothes. Jesus was raised with a glorified body and was able to pass directly through the grave clothes. [7]

 

John 20:11-13
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

 

Mary went back to the tomb after announcing the news to Peter and John. She was driven by grief, knowing only that the tomb was empty. [4]

 

She stood outside the tomb, loudly sobbing. This is the same word used for Jesus’ anguish over Jerusalem  (klaiō, κλαίω, see Luke 19:41-44 and here) and for Mary and Martha’s  anguish over Lazarus’ death (John 11:31-33 and here).

 

Mary looked into the tomb and saw the angels, but showed no recognition of them. She simply answered their question and continued with her grief.

 

John 20:14-17
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

 

In one of the most intense scenes of all scripture, Mary turns away from the tomb and sees Jesus standing there. She does not recognize Him and assumes that He is the gardener. He asks her, “Why are you sobbing?” and “Whom are you seeking?”

 

Mary is so overcome with emotion that she cannot think about anything else but the body of her Lord. She had come early in the morning to pay her last respects and to prepare His body for burial. But now He is gone and she is sure that someone has taken away the body.

 

She is not affected by the angels sitting in the tomb. She ignores social norms and talks directly with the unknown man who comes up behind her. She ignores logic. If the gardener has removed His body from the tomb, she will take Him away.

 

Jesus simply calls her by name, “Mary!”

 

In instant recognition, she runs to Him, clutching on to Him. She says one word, “Rabboni”, meaning “My teacher!”, the greatest one.

 

Jesus responds to Mary with words that sound insensitive at first. “Stop clinging to me.” She was grasping on to Him so that she would not lose Him again, but He could not stay. Jesus was about to ascend to the Father so that He could send the Holy Spirit (see here).  

 

“Stop holding on to Me as if I were about to disappear permanently, for I am not yet ready to ascend to My Father. This is a time for joy and sharing the good news, not for clutching Me as if I were some private dream-come-true. Stop clinging to Me, but go and tell My brothers that I am in the process of ascending to My Father and your Father . . . I want them to know the good news too. “ – D.A. Carson [8]

 

Mary also needed to go and tell the disciples what she had seen. Jesus also announced a new relationship to the disciples. They were not only friends of Jesus Christ (see here), but they were now brothers.

 

This is Jesus’ first appearance after His resurrection [1].

 

Mary recognized Jesus after He called her by name [9]. This is a reminder of John 10:27 (“my sheep hear my voice”).

 

Matthew 28:9-10
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

 

Jesus next appeared to the other women after they returned from the tomb. He repeated the instructions given by the angels, that they should go to Galilee where they would see Him.

 

This was Jesus’ second appearance after His resurrection [1].

 

Luke 24:22-24 seems to indicate that Jesus appeared to the women after they had told the disciples of the empty tomb, since the travelers to Emmaus do not mention that the women had seen Jesus.

 

John 20:18
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

 

Meanwhile, Mary went and announced to the disciples that she had seen the risen Lord.

 

John 20:19-23
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Luke 24:36-43
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

 

The disciples had gathered behind locked doors on Sunday evening. They were apparently skeptical of the women’s report that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:22-24). Luke 24:33-35 recounts that the two travellers to Emmaus had returned to Jerusalem, announcing that Jesus had appeared to them. They found the apostles and faithful disciples gathered together.

 

As the disciples were gathered, Jesus himself suddenly appeared among them, saying “Peace to you!”. Luke’s account says that they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. But Jesus showed them that He was very much alive and real. He showed them His scars from the cross. They could touch Him and He breathed on them. Finally, Jesus ate before them, showing that He was really there.

 

“So is Christ often near to us when our eyes are holden, and we know Him not; and so do ignorance and unbelief often fill our hearts with sadness, even when truest joy would most become us.” – Alfred Edersheim [4]

 

Note again that there were more disciples in this room than just the eleven (actually ten) apostles (Luke 24:33-35).

 

John’s account shows two promises that Jesus made to the disciples: they would receive the Holy Spirit, and they would be able to declare the forgiveness of sins. Commentators have debated the meaning of these two statements.

 

We know that the Holy Spirit would come to the believers at Pentecost, about 40 days in the future (Acts 2:1-13). Therefore, the declaration of the Holy Spirit at this time was most likely a promise of what would come. Jesus may have also given the disciples enough of a presence of the Holy Spirit to enable them to serve Him until He fully came at Pentecost.

 

Jesus also announced that the disciples could grant and withhold God’s forgiveness. We know from other scripture (Mark 2:7) that only God can forgive sins. Therefore, this promise is better understood to indicate that the disciples were empowered to declare God’s forgiveness. They would declare that people had been forgiven by God when they received Him and that they were not forgiven when they rejected Him. Note also that this promise is granted to all of the disciples in the room, not just the apostles.

 

“Believe on Jesus and you will get remission. That is the commission that every servant of Christ has. We go out to the world and say, “We are commanded by Jesus Christ to offer you remission of sin if you will believe on Jesus. And when they do, we dare to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven or remitted.'” And if they will not believe, what then? We say to them, “Your sins are retained.” How do we know it? Because He said so.” – H.A. Ironside [10]

 

Most commentators believe that this passage also shows that Jesus, in His glorified body, was able to pass through a locked door. This also also explains how Jesus was able to pass through the folded grave clothes at the resurrection, and that He was able to leave the tomb before the stone was removed. Some commentators also believe that Jesus was secretly among the disciples, but he did not reveal Himself until that moment. However, this explanation does not account for the shock and fear that the disciples showed when Jesus revealed Himself.

 

John 20:24-25
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

 

Thomas was absent from the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Thomas expressed his skepticism, that he would not believe until he is able to see and touch Jesus himself. Thomas did not doubt that Jesus was Messiah and Lord, but he doubted that Jesus was physically alive again.

 

John 20:26-29
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

The disciples had gathered again eight days later, this time with Thomas present. Jesus again appeared to them and invited Thomas to touch his scars. Jesus also admonished Thomas, “Do not disbelieve, but believe”.

 

That was enough for Thomas. We have no record that Thomas actually touched Jesus, but Thomas declared his belief in his Lord, “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas fully believed Jesus and that He was there with them.

 

Jesus answered for those who have not seen Him in person, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. It is wonderful to believe when you can see, but it is even better when you believe without seeing!

 

John 20:30-31
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

John never intended to write a comprehensive biography of Jesus Christ. John wrote this gospel account so that we would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. More than simply believing, we can then have life in His name.

 

The four gospel accounts record 35 different miracles. John selected 7 (see here) in order that people might come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the Son of God. [11]

 

“A dead Christ might have been a Teacher and Wonder-worker, and remembered and loved as such. But only a Risen and Living Christ could be the Saviour, the Life, and the Life-Giver, and as such preached to all men. And of this most blessed truth we have the fullest and most unquestionable evidence.” – Alfred Edersheim [12]

 


 

[1] Scripture records 10 appearances by Jesus after his resurrection:

  1. To Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).
  2. To the other women who came to attend to His body in the tomb (Mary, the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna, among others) (Matthew 28:8-10).
  3. To Peter (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5).
  4. To two men on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32).
  5. To the disciples in the Upper Room, including the 10 apostles without Thomas, on Sunday evening (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).
  6. To the 11 apostles, including Thomas, eight days later (John 20:26-28).
  7. To 7 disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14).
  8. To more than 500 (including the 11 apostles) at a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6).
  9. To James, Jesus’ half-brother (1 Corinthians 15:7).
  10. To His Disciples in Jerusalem at His ascension (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8).

Sources:

 

[2] Another possible understanding may be that the women started off while it was dark, yet the sun had risen before they reached the tomb.

 

[3] John MacArthur, Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection, Matthew 28:1-10

 

[4] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XVII. ‘ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD; HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN’.

 

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 20:1-18, pages 309-312

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 77, The Empty Tomb, Luke 24:1-12

 

[7] John MacArthur, One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus, Part X, 197. On Sunday Morning, the Tomb is Empty – 204. The Upper Room with Thomas Present, pages 470-482

 

[8] Stephen Davey, Surprise!, John 20:1-18

 

[9] Why did Mary not recognize Jesus when she first saw Him? Some commentators have proposed that Mary’s eyes were blinded by tears, or that she was surprised that Jesus was no longer the beaten, bloody corpse that they had removed from the cross on Friday. But Jesus, in His glorified body, appears to have been able to conceal his identity until He was ready to reveal Himself (see Luke 24:13-32). He may have used a supernatural ability to keep them from recognizing HIm, or it may have simply been that His new body looked different. Some disciples seemed to recognize Him immediately (see Matthew 28:9-10) while others did not recognize Jesus until He revealed Himself:

  • Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus when He called her by name (John 20:16)
  • The travelers to Emmaus recognized Jesus when He blessed the bread (Luke 24:30-31)
  • The disciples recognized Jesus when He appeared among them and showed them His scars (Luke 24:36-40)

 

[10] H.A. Ironside, Address 67, JESUS IN THE MIDST, John 20:19-31

 

[11] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 20, pages 341-344

 

[12] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XVI. ON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST FROM THE DEAD

 

[13] Common objections to the resurrection [12]:

  • The conspiracy theory: the belief that the disciples stole the body and only pretended that He was risen.
    • This is incompatible with the change to the disciples, who went from fear to being willing to die for their faith.
    • This puts Jesus as a fraud.
  • The swoon theory: the belief that Jesus did not really die on the cross but revived in the tomb.
    • This is not possible given a Roman crucifixion and the spear in the side
    • Jesus would have been unable to move the stone
    • The grave clothes were folded neatly
    • This puts Jesus as a fraud
  • The vision theory: the disciples only imagined seeing the resurrected Christ
    • This is counter to what they expected. They did not believe that He would rise again and would not believe the report from the women.
    • This is inconsistent with the details: appearing to many, touching Him, He eating before them
    • This does not explain the empty tomb

 

[14] H.A. Ironside, Chapter 28, The Risen King and the Royal Commission, Matthew 28

 

December 13, 2015

It is Finished!

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 1:07 pm

paid-in-full

(Photo from preceptaustin)

 

In his book, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan tells of a man who was attached to a heavy burden. The man could not remove this burden and it grew heavier as his life wore on. Every time he disobeyed God, whether it be a wrong deed or a bad thought, made his burden heavier.

 

Then the man was brought to the cross. As he came to the cross, his burden fell off and rolled away, never to be seen again.

 

The story in an analogy of our lives. Every bad thought, every wrong action, builds for us a burden that we cannot bear. Our sins will consume us. Yet Jesus himself took all of our burdens at the cross. He took the guilt of all of our sins during three hours of darkness.

 

Jesus was arrested by his own countrymen and given to the Romans to be killed. The man who had no sin was subjected to unbearable shame, torture, and disgrace. He was then sentenced to die like a criminal between two robbers.

 

During the first three hours of his execution, Jesus forgave the soldiers who were dividing up his belongings. He forgave the robber next to him and promised him that he will be with Him in Paradise. He cared for His earthly family and left his mother in the care of his faithful disciple.

 

At noon, the sky became dark for three hours. No words were recorded during this time and Jesus was left in silence. But this was the bitterness of the cross. God the Father, who could not look on sin, turned away from his own son. There on the cross, Jesus took the penalty for all of our sins. All the sins of the past, all the sins of the present, and all the sins of the future.

 

The burden of sin was taken away.

 

Then, in the darkness, a cry broke the silence. It is the voice of Jesus crying out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” This was a direct quote, in the original Hebrew, from the ancient Psalm of the Messiah (Psalm 22:1). Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

The people only paid attention to the first words, “Eli, Eli”, thinking that Jesus was calling out for Elijah. They believed the legend that Elijah would come down and rescue a righteous man. Therefore they believed that Jesus must be crying out for Elijah to come and help Him.

 

But His voice called out again, softer this time. His parched voice called out to the soldiers, “I am thirsty!” Jesus had one more thing to say and he needed all His voice to say it.

 

The soldiers took a sponge and dipped it into the sour wine that they had nearby. Putting the sponge at the end of a branch, they raised it to His lips so that he could drink it.

 

Summoning up all of His strength for his last words, Jesus shouted out, “It is finished!” It is done. The task is completed. The debt has been paid in full!

 

Then, with his last breath, Jesus said, “Father, if your hands I commit my spirit”. The scripture only says that he breathed his last.

 

Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived, now was dead.

 

But with his death, the burden was removed. Everything that we did against God has been paid for. We are no longer guilty.

 

The temple curtain was torn in half at the death of Jesus Christ. No longer are we separated from God. No longer do we need a priest to speak to God in our behalf. The curtain that separated the people from God has now been removed with the death of his son.

 

There was an earthquake at the death of Jesus and people came alive out of their tombs.  The same soldiers that put Jesus on the cross and divided up His clothes were terrified by the sight. Their centurion spoke for them all, echoing the sign over Jesus’ head, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

 

All that Jesus said and did on earth was concluded with the final statement, “It is finished!“

 

“In this word, ‘It is finished!’, will I comfort myself.  I am forced to confess that all my finishing of the will of God is imperfect, piecemeal work, while yet the law urges on me that no so much as one tittle of it must remain unaccomplished.  Christ is the end of the law.  What it requires, Christ has performed.” – Martin Luther

 

Colossians 2:13-15
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

 

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

 

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

 

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev’ry bitter thought,
Ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.  

 

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the vict’ry cry.

 

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

 

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

– Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

 

Previous post: The First Three Hours

 


John 19:28-30

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Matthew 27:45-56
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.


Mark 15:33-41
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.


Luke 23:44-49

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.


 

Matthew 27:45
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.

Mark 15:33
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

Luke 23:44-45a
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed.

 

All three Gospel accounts tell that there were three hours of darkness, from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. Matthew, Mark, and Luke used Jewish time reckoning, so this indicates that it was dark from noon until 3:00 p.m.

 

Many scholars have heavily debated over what the darkness was like. We know that the darkness lasted for three hours, it was over the whole land, and the sun’s light failed. All other attempts to explain this darkness with more detail are only conjecture.

 

We do not know the extent of the darkness. The term, “the whole land”, could be used for the local region, the country, or the entire known world. There are some ancient accounts of a great darkness occurring across the entire earth. But there were also many mythical stories propagated during the Middle Ages, and we do not have enough of a confirmed account to know if these stories were really true.

 

We do not know the depth of the darkness. Some scholars have proposed that this was a deep, thick darkness, much like the darkness that covered Egypt during the plagues. Other scholars proposed that this was simply a dimming of the sun during this time. Whatever the conclusions, we know that people interacted and moved about during this darkness, so it did not inhibit people, yet it was also significant enough to be recorded in all three Gospel accounts.

 

There is no naturalistic explanation that could account for this darkness. It could not be a solar eclipse because the sun and the moon are the farthest apart during Passover (Passover is a full moon, see here). Luke’s account says specifically that the sun’s light failed, thereby eliminating the possibility that this was a giant dust storm.

 

Throughout Jewish history, God has used darkness to indicate his judgment on mankind (Isaiah 5:30, Jeremiah 13:16). God judged the Egyptians with darkness near the climax of the plagues, when He commanded them to release the Israelites (Exodus 10). The judgment of God at the end of the age will be marked by thick darkness (Joel 2:28-32; Amos 5:20).

 

But this was the complete judgment of God at this time. Jesus Christ, the only innocent man to ever live on the earth, took the judgement for all of humanity. He, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

The darkness covered the land for three hours as Jesus Christ was being judged for our sin.

 

“In those first three hours of darkness He was suffering at the hands of man: He endured without a murmur all the shame and ignominy that man could heap upon Him. But during the last three hours of darkness He was suffering at the hand of God – the God who made His soul an offering for sin.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

 

Matthew 27:46-47
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”

Mark 15:34-35
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.”

 

Jesus said nothing during the three hours of darkness. At the end of this time, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

This is a cry of anguish. God the Son has been separated from the Father. For the only time in his recorded life, Jesus does not refer to God as “Father”. God, who cannot look on sin, turned His back on His only Son (Habakkuk 1:13).

 

But it is also a cry of comfort. Jesus has taken solace in a familiar Psalm, which was known to be about the Messiah. He has already seen them gamble for his clothes. They have already pierced his hands and his feet, fulfilling many of the words spoken in Psalm 22. Jesus now identifies with the opening lines of the Psalm, and he recites it in his native Hebrew, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”  

 

There is a slight difference in the words between Matthew and Mark’s account. Matthew left the words written in Hebrew while Mark translated them to Aramaic.

 

Many of the bystanders did not understand what He was saying. Hearing the words, “Eli, Eli” in Hebrew, they expected that he was calling out for Elijah.  

 

Why did the people not understand him? The bystanders who ridiculed Jesus here were most likely the Romans and the common people. Even the Romans may have heard legends of Elijah. It was also a common superstition that Elijah would personally come and rescue a righteous man if he were being persecuted [6]. Therefore, they were challenging Jesus, saying that if he were really righteous, Elijah would indeed come and rescue him.

 

“When Jesus took our sins upon Himself and paid the price of death on our behalf, God, who is holy, could not sustain fellowship with His Son. The full, crushing weight of sin, He bore alone.” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

The intimate communion with God the Father is broken as Jesus takes on the sin of the world:

– from Stephen Davey [5]

 

 

John 19:28-29
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.

Matthew 27:48-49
And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

Mark 15:36
And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”

 

Only John’s Gospel account gives Jesus’ next statement. This is the only statement that Jesus made where he mentioned his own needs. He had one more thing to say, one more public pronouncement. The cross had left him severely dehydrated and Jesus gathered strength for one last statement. [10]

 

The soldiers replied by giving Jesus a sponge full of sour wine. Some of the soldiers were still waiting to see if Elijah would come.

 

This statement may be considered “less spiritual” than the others, but it shows the true humanity and the suffering of Jesus Christ. He was not immune to the physical pain and deprivation on the cross. [9]

 

“There were physical reasons for His thirst (Psalm 22:15), but there were also spiritual reasons (Psalm 42:1-2).” – Warren Wiersbe [7]

 

The sour wine fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 69:21. The branch of hyssop also had special significance to the Jews, since this was the same branch that was used to spread the blood of the lamb at the first Passover (Exodus 12:21-22).

 

“It seems as if St. John, having perhaps just returned to the scene, and standing with the women ‘afar off,’ beholding these things, had hastened forward on the cry from Psalm 22, and heard Him express the feeling of thirst, which immediately followed.” – Alfred Edersheim [8]

 

 

John 19:30a
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,”

 

One of the greatest statement of all time is given it is the gospel. It is finished!

 

There is one Greek word to represent the statement, tetelestai (τετέλεσται). This is the statement that a servant would make to his master after he completed his duties, “it is finished”. This is the statement that a merchant would make after a debt was paid in full, “it is finished!” [7]

 

The job was completed. The debt has been paid in full.

 

The other Gospel accounts say that Jesus cried this with a loud voice. He was not succumbing to his own death, but he shouted this out in victory!

 

“The gospel was being delivered in a word. Jesus did not cry out, ‘I am finished,’ but ‘It is finished!’ The perfect tense of this verb that He shouted means ‘It is finished and it always will be finished.’” – Stephen Davey [5]

 

 

John 19:30b
and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Matthew 27:50
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Mark 15:37
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.

Luke 23:46
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

 

Jesus, restored to fellowship with God the Father, now surrendered his life. Jesus already said that he would lay his own life down (John 10:17, see here).

 

“He then addressed His Father in the final statement from the cross, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Psalm 31:5). This was actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children, and it tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly, and vic­toriously.” – Warren Wiersbe [11]

 

 

Matthew 27:51-53
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Mark 15:38
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Luke 23:45b
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

 

The temple veil is torn in two, from top to bottom. This is God’s statement to the religion of the Jews. The function of the earthly priest is ended and we have full access to God (Hebrews 9-10).

 

The earth shook in the rocks were split. God used earthquakes throughout Jewish history to announce his presence [5]. God also used an earthquake when he gave the law (Exodus 19). This is one more evidence of the power of God in the death of his son.

 

Finally, graves were opened. Bodies came to life, left the tombs, and entered the city. The text seems to indicate that the dead were immediately raised, but they did not enter the city until after the resurrection.

 

The torn veil indicates that He conquered sin; the earthquake sug­gests that He conquered the law and fulfilled it; and the resurrections prove that He defeated death. [12]

 

“The Veils before the Most Holy Place were 40 cubits (60 feet) long and 20 cubits (30 feet) wide, of the thickness of the palm of the hand, and wrought in 72 squares, which were joined together; and these Veils were so heavy, that, in the exaggerated language of the time, it needed 300 priests to manipulate each.  If the Veil was at all such as is described in the Talmud, it could not have been rent in twain by a mere earthquake of the fall of the lintel, although its composition in squares fastened together might explain, how the rent might be as described in the Gospel.” – Alfred Edersheim [8]

 

 

Matthew 27:54
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Mark 15:39
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Luke 23:47-48
Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.

 

The pagan Romans were the most affected by the death of Jesus Christ. The ESV translation for “filled with awe” does not sufficiently describe their fear. These men were very familiar with crucifixion, and yet they were terrified by what they had seen with Jesus.

 

The centurion speaks for his men, saying, “Truly this man was the son of God”. The onlookers were affected, but only the Romans believed. [1]

 

Note that the crowds returned home, beating their breasts. They were emotionally affected but unchanged.

 

 

Matthew 27:55-56
There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Mark 15:40-41
There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

Luke 23:49
And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

 

There were many women who followed Jesus all the way to the cross. Note that the men were absent! Except for John, all of the other disciples were hiding.

 

It appears that this group were led by three women. We have seen earlier that Mary the mother of Jesus was also with them, but John had taken her away after Jesus had directed her into John’s care (see here).

 

Comparing Matthew and Mark’s accounts, we see that Salome was the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John). Salome was apparently very active in her sons’ lives, as she earlier came with them to ask a special blessing from Jesus (Matthew 20:20-28).

 

One commentator pointed out that of the three women mentioned here, one was identified by her husband, another by her children, and another by her hometown [2].

 


 

[1] Some commentators look at the words of the centurion and say that he is only speaking from his pagan reference, saying “This must be the son of a god”. The Greek language lacks a definite article. However, the exact same wording used by the centurion is also used by the disciples (Matthew 14:33), the angel at Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:35), and Jesus himself (Matthew 27:43), saying that he is the Son of God. The centurion saw the sign over Jesus’ head, and he would have been present earlier in the morning when the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God.  He knew what was at stake. Therefore, the best understanding of these words is that this pagan Roman was indeed confessing faith in Jesus Christ. [2]

 

[2] John MacArthur, Responses to the Death of Christ, Matthew 27:54-56

 

[3] H.A. Ironside, Address 77, Christ Crucified and the Veil Rent, Luke 23:44-56

 

[4] Stephen Davey, The Lamb’s Last Words, John 19:25-30

 

[5] Stephen Davey, The Centurion

 

[6] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Mark 15:33-41, pages 189-191

 

[7] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 19:17-27, pages 305-306

 

[8] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XV. ‘CRUCIFIED, DEAD, AND BURIED’.

 

[9] Doug Bookman, Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[10] Doug Bookman, Jesus on the Cross

 

[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Luke 23:44-49, pages 221-222

 

[12] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Matthew 27:45-56, pages 83-84

 

November 29, 2015

The First Three Hours

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 8:58 pm

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In the first century A.D., The Roman empire stretched across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. This was a time of peace, called the Pax Romana, where the Roman government was able to manage all of the various languages and cultures under its single rule.

 

However, the thought of revolution terrified the Roman government. Rome needed to control a massive empire with a much smaller force. Any revolts in the Roman provinces could cause a disaster. The Roman governors in various provinces must keep the peace at all costs!

 

Rome’s most effective way to keep peace in the provinces was through fear and intimidation. Any man who was caught trying to revolt against Rome would be made an example. He would be subjected to one of the most cruel, lingering, and public executions ever devised by mankind: the crucifixion [5].

 

Crucifixion was invented by the Assyrians and the Persians as a way to execute a condemned criminal away from their “mother earth” [6]. However, the Romans had taken and perfected the crucifixion into a hideous instrument of torture and death.

 

According to Josephus, more than a thousand people were crucified by Rome on 33 A.D. [9]. By that year, the Romans had also crucified more than 3,000 men in Palestine alone [10].

 

The crucifixion was intended to be cruel [5]. The shame and the horror that were dealt on the victim were more than we can even imagine. The victim was first scourged, being beaten so severely that his back was cut open, exposing raw flesh (see here). The victim himself would carry the wooden crossbeam through the city to the place of execution. At the place of execution, the soldiers would remove the victim’s clothes, then drive large nails through the victim’s wrists, nailing him to the crossbeam [7]. Soldiers would then lift the crossbeam onto a permanent post (about 6 feet tall). Finally, another large spike would be driven through the victim’s feet and into the post.

 

The crucifixion was so painful that the word “excruciating” came from this experience. The crucifixion was so shameful that proper folk would not use this word in public [6].

 

“There is one difference between a guillotine and a cross: the guillotine was designed to be merciful; the cross was designed to be hideously cruel.” – Doug Bookman [5]

 

The crucifixion was intended to be lingering. A person cannot properly breathe when suspended by his arms, but the Romans placed a wooden seat, or “sedulum” on the cross. This allowed the victim to push himself up to breathe, but it also prolonged the agony for up to a week [6]. The victims would finally die from shock, blood loss, exposure, predators, or suffocation. The soldiers could hasten the victim’s death by breaking his legs, thereby forcing the victim to quickly suffocate to death.

 

The crucifixion was also public. The Romans would place the crucified victims on a low hill outside the city gates, where people would commonly pass. Everyone who passed by and looked at the dying victims on the crosses would be afraid to go against the power of Rome.

 

Finally, the crucifixion was a guaranteed death. The attending Roman soldiers needed to personally guarantee that the victim was dead before he was removed from the cross. If there was any life left in the victim after he was removed from the cross, every one of the attending soldiers would be put on crosses.

 

When Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth, he chose this death, the death by crucifixion, in order to pay for the sin of all mankind!

 

Philippians 2:5-8
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

“Christ was on the point of making atonement for sin, therefore sin must be revealed in all its enormity.” – A. W. Pink [8]

 

It was customary for four Roman soldiers to be assigned to a prisoner that was sentenced to crucifixion. We have no reason to believe that it was any different for Jesus’ crucifixion. The four soldiers would tie the prisoner’s arms to the crossbeam and lead him through the city streets to the place of execution. They would carry a sign containing the list of the prisoner’s crimes for all to see.

 

The sign for Jesus had only one statement, written in three languages, “The King of the Jews”. This so infuriated the Jewish leaders that the immediately petitioned Pontius Pilate to have this sign changed. Pilate refused.

 

Pilate surely intended for his sign to show that “This is the best of the Jews, and he is no match for Rome!”, or “This is the best of the Jews, and they want to kill him!”. Little did Pilate know that this sign would be the first written notice of who Jesus truly was.

 

At some point along the way, Jesus was unable to carry the crossbeam at the pace for the Romans. The soldiers pressed a passing traveler, Simon of Cyrene, into carrying the crossbeam for Jesus.

 

They led Jesus from Herod’s palace to the north of the city, the “place of the skull”, or Golgotha. Once they reached Golgotha, they stripped Him of His clothes and nailed His wrists to the crossbeam. They then placed the crossbeam on the post and completed the crucifixion by nailing his feet to the cross.

 

It was 9:00 a.m.

 

The four soldiers divided up Jesus’ personal belongings among themselves. One took His turban, another His outer cloak, another His belt, and the last one took His shoes. Jesus had a seamless inner tunic which could not be divided so they gambled for it. Little did these pagan Roman soldiers know that they helped to fulfil a thousand-year-old prophecy about the Messiah:

 

Psalm 22:18:
They divide my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

Jesus was silent during this time but now He spoke. Looking at the Roman soldiers dividing up His clothing, he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. He did not just say it once, but repeatedly. For every roll of the “dice”, as they fought over His clothes, Jesus repeated, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

 

Jesus was now the public spectacle. He was soon taunted by all of the people who passed by. The travelers taunted Him, believing that He was going to destroy the temple. The Jewish leaders made a special trip from the temple to counter Pilate’s sign, and now followed the travelers in their own taunts of Jesus on the cross. The Roman soldiers, on duty for the crucifixion, also joined in the same taunts at Him.

 

But Jesus was not alone. He was crucified between two robbers, who also joined in the chorus of taunts against Him. Even the men condemned to die threw the same abuse at Him!

 

One of the robbers stopped his taunting and looked at the sign above Jesus. He knew that Jesus was innocent and he read the sign saying that He is the king of the Jews. He looked at the sign and believed.

 

He then stopped the other robber from his taunting, “Do you not fear God? We deserve our punishment but this man has done nothing wrong!” Then, turning to Jesus, he said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

 

Jesus replied to the robber with His second statement from the cross, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” The robber who repented would be with Jesus that day!

 

There was one final scene during the first three hours on the cross. A small group of faithful women were standing near the cross, including Mary, Jesus’ mother. Jesus’ third statement from the cross was to give his mother to the care of the disciple John.

 

It was three hours since Jesus was nailed to the cross at Golgotha. In the eyes of the world around Him, He was simply a Roman prisoner who was executed that day. He showed no power, nor did He defend Himself against the crowds of people who abused Him.

 

But in the midst of the agony and the shame, He made three very personal statements:

  • Forgiveness for the ignorant men who caused His pain
  • A way to heaven for the wicked man who believed in Him
  • Care for the faithful ones who stood with Him

 

May we learn to love and appreciate the sacrifice that our Lord Jesus Christ made on our behalf. He gave Himself so that we may live.

 

May we thank Him as we identify with the different groups of people around the cross, that we would ask for forgiveness and be faithful to Him.

 

May we let Him be our example as we endure suffering in our world. He committed Himself to the all-knowing God (1 Peter 2:23-25).

On a gray April morning as a chilling wind blew
A thousand dark promises were about to come true
As Satan stood trembling, knowing now he had lost
As the Lamb took his first step on the way to the cross

 

They mocked his true calling and laughed at His fate
So glad to see the Gentle One consumed by their hate
Unaware of the wind and the darkening sky
So blind to the fact that it was God limping by

 

The poor women weeping at what seemed a great loss
Trembling in fear there at the foot of the cross
Tormented by memories that came like a flood
Unaware that their pardon
Must be bought with His blood

 

This must be the Lamb
The fulfillment of all God had spoken
This must be the Lamb
Not a single bone will be broken
Like a sheep to the slaughter
So silently still
This must be the Lamb

– Michael Card

 

Previous Post: Before the Governor

 


 

John 19:16b-27
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

 


 

Matthew 27:32-44
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

 


 

Mark 15:21-32
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him.
And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

 


 

Luke 23:26-43
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 


 

John 19:16b-17
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

Matthew 27:32
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.

Mark 15:21
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Luke 23:26
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

 

Pilate had failed to release Jesus and so He was sentenced by the Romans to be crucified.

 

Four soldiers were typically assigned to the condemned criminal as he was led through the streets of the city. The prisoner was made to carry his own crossbeam to the place of execution. The procession was led by a soldier with a sign listing the criminal’s charges.

 

This crucifixion procession was especially significant for Jesus. We do not know the exact route through Jerusalem, but the Romans would typically parade the condemned criminals through the longest route possible [1]. This route, traditionally known as the “Via Dolorosa” [2], led from Herod’s palace to the crucifixion site outside the city.

 

All that Scripture tells about the crucifixion site is that it is called “The Place of the Skull”, or Golgotha in Aramaic. This site has also been traditionally known as Calvary (from the Latin word for skull or cranium, “calvaria”) [6]. We also know that it was outside the city based on scripture (Hebrews 13:11-13) and typical Roman procedure.

 

There is a small, skull-shaped hill to the north of the city that many believe to be the location of Golgotha.

 

John’s account tells that Jesus went out bearing his own cross, and the gospel accounts tell only that they compelled Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross. We are never told why, but Christian tradition tells that Jesus stumbled and fell. Whether or not He really fell on the way to the cross, the most likely explanation is that was so severely weakened by the torture and beatings that He was unable to carry the 100-pound crossbeam. We know that the Jews and the Romans wanted to hurry so it is very likely that they used Simon so that they could quickly get the procession to the crucifixion site.

 

All that we know about Simon of Cyrene is what is mentioned in this scene. However, Mark’s account specifically mentions that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Mark was writing to a Roman audience so Simon’s sons must have been well known to the Roman church. The Apostle Paul sends his greeting to a Rufus in the Roman church (Romans 16:13), who may have been the son of Simon.

 

“We do not know why Jesus was relieved of this burden; the Scriptures are silent. … One thing is sure: the bearing of the cross was a mark of guilt, and Jesus was not guilty” – Warren Wiersbe [11]

 

“All throughout He had borne Himself with a Divine Majesty, which had awakened alike the deeper feelings of Pilate and the infuriated hatred of the Jews.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

Luke 23:27-31
And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

 

Jesus’ words seem almost harsh to the grieving women. On the way to the cross, in the midst of the jeering mob, Jesus is followed by a large group of women who were weeping for Him. We do not know anything else about these women. Did they know Jesus? Were they part of the crowd that had welcomed Him as king on Sunday? Were they simply giving sympathy to a condemned man?

 

But Jesus’ grief was not for His own pain. He grieved for the city that refused to believe (Luke 19:41-44). He had already seen the future destruction of Jerusalem and knew that their horror was a much greater grief than His own death (see here).

 

Fire burns slowly and with great difficulty when the wood is green. The fire will burn much faster and hotter when the wood is dry. If the Romans so treated an innocent man, what will they do to the guilty Jews?

 

The Romans would destroy Jerusalem in AD 70, slaughtering the inhabitants and crucifying thousands!

 

“Mere sympathy with Christ almost involves guilt, since it implies a view of Him which is essentially the opposite of that which His claims demand.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

“If men and women refuse the salvation that God offers in Jesus Christ, then they must endure His wrath. And so our Lord warned these people of judgment soon to come upon Jerusalem.” – H.A. Ironside [12]

 

Matthew 27:33-34
And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

Mark 15:22-23
And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

 

A group of wealthy Jewish women had found a way to show compassion to the condemned men who were to be executed (possibly following Proverbs 31:6). They would give them a wine with a narcotic to help deaden the pain and the agony on the cross. But Jesus refused the drink. He was fully lucid until the end.

 

“He refused the cup of sympathy so that He might better drink the cup of iniquity” – Warren Wiersbe [13]

 

“He would face death without an anesthetic so that every word could be trusted; so that every final act could be recorded and freighted with divine meaning.” – Stephen Davey [14]

 

John 19:18
There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

Matthew 27:38
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.

Mark 15:27
And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.

Luke 23:32-33
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

 

The gospel accounts do not go into the details about the crucifixion itself. They say simply, “they crucified him”. Crucifixion was not only terrifying and painful, it was also the most lowly and humiliating way to die. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was executed like one of the lowest of criminals.

 

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. These men were not common thieves, but robbers or plunderers. The word used is for a robber who would steal by force, killing if necessary.

 

These men were similar to Barabbas, who had been set free in Jesus’ place. They may have part of the same gang of robbers as Barabbas.

 

This also fulfilled Isaiah 53:12, “He was numbered with transgressors”.

 

John 19:19-22
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Matthew 27:37
And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Mark 15:26
And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”

Luke 23:38
There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

 

As is mentioned above, the Roman prisoners were led to their crucifixion by a sign, listing the prisoner’s crimes. When Pilate listed Jesus’ crimes, he put only, “The King of the Jews”.

 

Pilate presented this inscription as an insult to the Jews, who had forced him to crucify this blameless man. This inscription was saying that this was the best of the Jews, and yet he was no match for Rome. This inscription was also saying that this was the best of the Jews, and His own people would rather kill him than acknowledge Him.

 

This inscription was written in the three common languages of that culture: the common tongue of the people was Aramaic, the trade and international language was Greek, and the language of the Romans was Latin.

 

This inscription so enraged the chief priests that they immediately sought an audience with Pontius Pilate, requesting that he change it. Pilate refused.

 

It appears that the chief priests feared the influence of this inscription, since they personally went to the crucifixion site and tried to minimize its effects on the passers by. It was not customary for Jewish priests to attend a crucifixion, especially during the Passover. [3]

 

Pilate’s sign was the first declaration put into print about who Jesus was [6].

 

John 19:23-24
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things,

Matthew 27:35-36
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.

Mark 15:24
And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

Luke 23:34
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

 

The soldiers who attended to the crucifixion would keep the prisoner’s belongings as pay. The only thing of earthly value that Jesus possessed was his clothes. There were likely four soldiers attending Jesus and His four outer garments were relatively equal in value: His turban, His sandals, His outer cloak, and His belt (girdle). The soldiers divided Jesus’ outer clothes among themselves by lot.

 

Jesus had been given a seamless inner tunic which was similar to the high priest’s attire. The soldiers drew lots for this inner tunic since it could not be divided. Little did these pagan Roman soldiers know that they were filling the words which had been prophesied nearly 1,000 years earlier in Psalm 22:18:

They divide my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

The first words from Jesus on the cross were directed on behalf of the Roman soldiers, “Father, forgive them, for they know now what they do”. The language indicates that He said this repeatedly. For every cruel act, Jesus was praying for them: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

 

Note that Jesus’ prayer was for the Roman soldiers, not the Jewish leaders. The Jewish leaders could be forgiven, but the Jews knew what they were doing. [14]

 

After Pentecost Peter declared that “You acted in ignorance” (Acts 3:17). Paul says of the rulers of this age that, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

 

“Some say the prayer of our Lord was not answered. Yes, it was answered, in this way: God did not treat them as murderers, but He opened up the way of salvation for them.” – H.A. Ironside [12]

 

Mark 15:25
And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

 

Jesus was on the cross starting at 9:00 am. He would be there for six hours until 3:00 pm.

 

Matthew 27:39-44
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Mark 15:29-32
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

Luke 23:35-37
And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

 

As Jesus hung helpless on the cross, He was ridiculed by all of the groups of people around Him:

 

The people passing by taunted Him with the charge that He was going to destroy the temple (see here for more details about this false charge). They challenged His claims, both false (that He would destroy the temple) and true (that He was the Son of God).

 

The leaders of the people had come down to watch him (the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders) and followed the lead of the people passing by. They added deeper taunts, that Jesus had saved others yet he cannot save Himself. Furthermore, they challenged Him to come down, claiming that they would then believe in Him.

 

The other two robbers also threw the same taunts at Jesus. Their plight was hopeless, yet they spent their last energy attacking their fellow prisoner.

 

Even the Roman soldiers threw their taunts at Him. They did not know Jewish beliefs, but they could read Pilate’s inscription. If He was the King of the Jews, then He should save Himself!

 

Little did these people know — even the Jewish priests — that they were again fulfilling the words of Psalm 22:

 

Psalm 22:7-8
All who see me mock me;
   they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
   let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

 

“The words, describing the Sufferer as ‘the King of the Jews,’ might, when taken in connection with what was known of Jesus, have raised most dangerous questions. And this the presence of the Sanhedrists was intended to prevent, by turning the popular mind in a totally different direction.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

“And, if any had been ignorant, the ‘title’ over the Cross and the bitter enmity of the Sanhedrists, which followed Him with jeers and jibes, where even ordinary humanity, and still more Jewish feeling, would have enjoined silence, if not pity, must have shown what had been the motives of ‘the condemnation’ of Jesus.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

Something happened to one of the criminals who was being crucified with Jesus. They were both taunting Jesus, but one of them stopped. It may have been Pilate’s inscription that provoked his thought, or he may have drawn on a past memory. But clearly this man realized that Jesus had done nothing wrong.

 

Not only did this man stop taunting Jesus, but he rebuked the other criminal. “We were punished justly but this man has done nothing wrong.” He read the inscription and believed that Jesus was a king, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

 

This criminal believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that he would have a future kingdom. At some time, this king would return to set up His kingdom. All this criminal can ask is for Jesus to remember him after his death.

 

Jesus replied to this man with His second words from the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”. Jesus was not just going to remember the man in the future, he was also going to bring him to Paradise that very day!

 

The word “Paradise” means a “garden,” typically referring to a walled garden which is protected and beautiful. [9]

 

“This dying man was not saved at his last opportunity but at his first opportunity” – Stephen Davey [15]

 

John 19:25-27
but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

 

There were some faithful believers who stayed with Jesus during this time. The apostle John (who called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, see here), and four women: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary’ sister (Salome, Mark 15:40), Mary the wife of Clopas [4], and Mary Magdalene.

 

Seeing His mother and John, Jesus’ third statement is to resolve family responsibilities, “Woman behold your son. Behold your mother!” None of Jesus’ brothers were believers at the time of Jesus’ death (see also here), nor were they present with Jesus or Mary at the time of His death. It was the responsibility of the oldest son to care for his mother, so he gives her into the care of his disciple John.

 

Note that this scene also shows that Jesus had limited knowledge when he was on earth. He laid aside the independent use of his divine attributes during His incarnation, including his divine omniscience (see Philippians 2:5-8). Why would Jesus have turned Mary over to John’s care if he knew that his brothers would later on become believers? [5]

 


 

[1] The Romans would take the longest route in the crucifixion procession so that legally it would give the public one last chance to present evidence on behalf of the accused. But more importantly, it was a chance for Rome to assert its power by displaying its victims as they were being taken to the cross. [10]

 

[2] Literally, the Via Dolorosa means, “Way of Suffering” (Latin). Note that the existing roads in Jerusalem have changed since the first century, so we cannot know the actual route.

 

[3] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XV. CRUCIFIED, DEAD, AND BURIED.

 

[4] Tradition has indicated that Clopas, also known as Alphaeus, was the brother of Joseph. Edersheim elaborates further and deduces that three of the apostles were sons of Alphaeus and also cousins of Jesus: Simon the Zealot, James the son of Alphaeus, and Judas the faithful (Thaddaeus) (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19). [3]

 

[5] Doug Bookman, Behold The Lamb, Audio Series, Part 7 http://www.bookmanministries.com/

Doug Bookman, Jesus on the Cross

 

[6] Stephen Davey, Death By Crucifixion, John 19

 

[7] The ancient Jews considered the hands to include the wrists.

 

[8] Exposition of the Gospel of John, by A. W. Pink, CHAPTER 64, Christ Before Pilate (Concluded), John 19:1-11

 

[9] Stephen Davey, The Criminal, Luke 23:33-43

 

[10] John MacArthur, The Wickedness of the Crucifixion, Part 1, Matthew 27:27-37

 

[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 19:17-27, pages 305-306

 

[12] H.A. Ironside, Address 76, “With Me in Paradise”, Luke 23:26-43

 

[13] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Mark 15:21-41, pages 132-134

 

[14] Stephen Davey, The Centurion

 

[15] Stephen Davey, The Lamb’s Last Words, John 19:25-30

 

November 15, 2015

Before the Governor

Filed under: theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 2:14 pm

thorn-of-crown.jpg~original

During the Roman time of peace in the first century (the Pax Romana), Rome would allow the provinces a level of self-government. This self-government allowed vassal kings to rule over their own provinces as long as they swore allegiance to Rome.

 

Herod (also known as Herod the Great) ruled all of Palestine until his death in 4 BC. After Herod’s death, his kingdom was divided among his three sons: Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip. Philip ruled the regions to the East, Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea, while Archelaus ruled Judea and Samaria.

 

Archelaus proved to be the worst of the three sons. He was corrupt and inefficient and by 6 AD, the Jews had begged Rome to replace him. The Romans removed Archelaus and replaced him with a series of governors (also known as procurators). These governors were Roman commanders who were responsible for governing the regions and reporting to Rome.

 

The Roman governor over Judea from 26-36 A.D. was a man by the name of Pontius Pilate. Pilate had problems with the Jews from the start. On three separate occasions, Pilate had caused such a riot among the Jews that Rome had to directly intervene [6].

 

On the first occasion, it was customary for the Roman governor to enter the city with his banners and the Roman standard, consisting of an eagle and the bust of Tiberius Caesar. The Jews would not allow the bust of Caesar, believing that the image of the emperor was an idol. Previous governors had obliged the Jews by removing the bust of Caesar, but Pilate refused.

 

The Jews followed Pilate through the streets of Jerusalem, begging him to remove the image of Caesar. They then followed him back to his home in Caesarea and pursued him for five days, protesting the image. Finally, Pilate brought all of the Jews into the amphitheater, surrounded them with soldiers and demanded that they stop their protest. The Jews all bared their necks and told Pilate to go ahead and kill them. Pilate was defeated. He knew that he could not massacre these Jews without getting in trouble with Rome so he had to back down and remove the image of Caesar.

 

On another occasion, Pilate needed funds to build a new aqueduct into Jerusalem, so he raided the temple treasury. The furious Jews rioted and Pilate sent his soldiers among them, dressed in common clothes. Upon his signal, the soldiers pulled out their swords and began to kill the Jews around them. The massacre of the Jews reported in Luke 13:1 may have been from this occasion.

 

On a third occasion, Pilate had shields hung in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. The shields had the picture of the emperor, which the Jews believed to be an idol. The Jews protested the images to Caesar and Pilate was ordered to take them down.

 

The Roman governor had two jobs: collect taxes and keep the peace [1]. Tiberius Caesar cared little about what happened in the provinces as long as the money and stability remained consistent. But the governor was in trouble if the revenue stopped or if Rome needed to send in troops to crush a revolt.

 

Pilate was already in trouble with Rome because of the Jewish revolts under his leadership. His position in Rome was even more tenuous since his sponsor in Rome had been executed shortly before the trial of Jesus Christ. Pilate knew well that one more problem would cause him to lose his position and likely his own life.

 

This was the context when the Jewish leaders brought their prisoner to Pontius Pilate. Pilate’s home was in Caesarea, but he came to Jerusalem to oversee the city during the Passover celebration. It was there, at Pilate’s temporary abode in Herod’s palace [7], in the early morning hours that the priests came to him with their case.

 

The Jewish leaders had tried their prisoner but they needed the Romans to execute him (see here). They wanted Pilate to order this man’s crucifixion.

 

This trial was no surprise to Pilate. Pilate was holding court in the early morning hours (probably about 4:30 a.m.) out on the pavement in front of his residence. The Jewish leaders must have prepared him that they would be bringing Jesus to him.

 

“What are the charges?”, asked the governor.

 

The Jewish leaders responded that they would not have brought the man if he was not guilty. When pressed further, they brought a list of charges including misleading the nation and claiming that He was a king.

 

The charge of being a king got the governor’s attention. The Romans feared any types of insurrection in the provinces and there was no room for a new king. But Pilate was also suspicious of the Jews. He took Jesus away for a private conversation, asking him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

 

Jesus’ response unnerved Pilate. “Are you asking this for yourself or you only interested in the charges?” Pilate seemed to dismiss the question as an issue for the Jews. But Jesus continued, “My kingdom is not of this world”. In other words, “My kingdom does not come by force”. He is not going to start a war with Rome. His kingdom is a kingdom of truth.

 

Pilate emerged from the private conversation announcing that Jesus was not guilty. He would declare Jesus’ innocence five times during this trial. Furthermore, two additional witnesses testified to Jesus’ innocence: Herod Antipas and Pilate’s wife.

 

Pilate realized that he was in a difficult position. He knew that the Jewish leaders demanded that he execute an innocent man. If he gave in to them, he would have violated Roman justice and empowered his enemies. He was interested in hearing about this man, but he could not afford a riot from the Jews by setting Him free.

 

Pilate then began a series of attempts to free Jesus without starting a riot from the Jews. Any riot would bring swift retribution back to him from Rome.

 

First Attempt: Send Jesus to Herod

 

Pilate learned that Jesus was from Galilee. Gallilee was Herod’s (Herod Antipas’) jurisdiction and Herod was also in Jerusalem at that time. Pilate sent him to Herod. Perhaps this could become Herod’s problem. Not only would this absolve Pilate of any blame, but the Jews had less power over Herod. Herod would be free to render judgement with much less pressure from the Jews.

 

Herod looked forward to meeting Jesus but was soon disappointed. Jesus did not perform any miracles, nor did he reply to any of Herod’s questions. Herod and his soldiers mocked Him, put him in a fancy robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

 

Second Attempt: Compromise with the Jewish Leaders

 

Pilate called together the leaders of the people and announced that neither he nor Herod had found Jesus guilty. Pilate offered a compromise. He found the man innocent, yet he offered to punish Him and release Him.

 

Luke’s gospel account says that the Jewish priests and elders would not change their mind. Jesus must be killed.

 

Third Attempt: Trade Jesus for a Criminal

 

The Jews had a tradition of freeing one prisoner at Passover. Pilate attempted a shrewd political move by offering to release a criminal for this Passover. He appealed to the Jewish people, who were enamored with Jesus, and gave them two choices for a prisoner to release.

 

He could either release Jesus or Barabbas. Barabbas was a known robber, insurrectionist, and a murderer. Surely the people would want to release Jesus over this man!

 

But the priests and the elders had influenced the people. When Pilate presented them with the question, they all shouted to release Barabbas and have Jesus crucified!

 

Fourth Attempt: Appease the mob with torture and humiliation

 

Pilate had Jesus scourged. This horrible beating was the first step of the Roman execution. The goal of the scourging was to cut open the prisoner’s back in order to maximize the pain and agony when hung on a wooden cross.

 

After Jesus was scourged, the Roman soldiers twisted together thorn branches in order to form a mock crown. They pushed the thorns on to his head and placed a purple robe on his bleeding back. The soldiers then mocked Him, pretending that he was a king, and hitting Him with their hands.

 

Pilate then presented the bleeding and bruised Jesus to the people, still in His crown of thorns and purple robe. Pilate said, “Behold the man!”. Surely this man is no threat!

 

Pilate even tried to reason with the crowd but they only became more agitated. They shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!”

 

Response by Jesus

 

The Jews told Pilate that Jesus must die because according to their law, He was guilty of blasphemy. He made Himself out to be the Son of God.

 

Pilate brought Jesus into the headquarters for another private conversation. Pilate was looking for an answer from Jesus that would help release Him, but Jesus was silent.

 

Jesus replied to Pilate that the only authority over Him had been granted by God Himself. The most wicked one is not Pilate but the high priest (Caiaphas) who had brought Him to Pilate and demanded His death.

 

Threats by the Jews

 

Pilate tried to release Jesus after talking with Him, but the Jews made a final threat. They would report Pilate to Caesar if he released Jesus. Pilate knew that he was already in trouble with Rome, and so he gave in.

 

Pilate took water and washed his hands before the crowd. He used the same ritual from the Old Testament for an unsolved murder to say that he was free from the guilt of this man. The Jews quickly jumped in to accept any guilt for Jesus’ death.

 

Jesus was handed over to the Roman soldiers for further torture and abuse while they prepared for the crucifixion.

 

Remember!

 

Jesus was our example for how to answer for our faith:

 

1 Timothy 6:13-16

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

 

“Either the blood of Jesus is on our hands, or the blood of Jesus covers our hearts” – Stephen Davey [8]

 

Previous Post: Before the High Priest

 


John 18:28 – 19:16a

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”


After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

 


 

Matthew 27:2, 11-31

And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

 


 

Mark 15:1b-20

And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

 


 

Luke 23:1-25

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas” — a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 


 

First Roman trial before Pilate

 

John 18:28
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.

Matthew 27:2
And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Mark 15:1b-20
And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.

Luke 23:1
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.

 

The Jewish leaders had concluded their proceedings and determined that Jesus deserved death. However, the Jewish courts were unable to take a life (see here). They needed to bring their charges to the Roman governor in order to carry out their sentence.

 

The Jews would not enter the house of a Gentile lest they be unclean for the Passover celebration. This was the the worst of hypocrisy! They had assembled a mock trial in order to murder an innocent man, yet they are afraid that a gentile’s house will make them unclean in God’s sight!

 

“The problem with religion – you can be holy on the outside but a killer on the inside.” – Stephen Davey [8]

 

John 18:29-32
So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

Luke 23:2
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”

 

The Jews did not want the Roman governor to question charges. They were essentially saying not to question their charges but to put him to death as they asked.

 

Luke’s account gives a list of false charges that they claimed against Jesus. The only one of these charges that had any truth was that He was the Christ, who was a king.

 

Jesus had said that he would be ”lifted up” in John 3:14, John 8:28, John 12:32-33

 

John 18:33-38a
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Matthew 27:11
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.”

Mark 15:2-5
And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”

Luke 23:3
And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”

 

The only one of the charges that apparently got Pilate’s attention was Jesus’ claim to be king. Pilate called Jesus into his headquarters for a private conversation, where he directly asked if He was a king.

 

Pilate asked an official question but Jesus response was personal. He asked Pilate if he wanted to know because of the charges against Him or if Pilate wanted to know for himself. His kingdom is a kingdom of truth and not one will be fought by violence. Pilate had nothing to fear from Him.

 

John 18:38b
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Luke 23:4
Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”

 

During the trial, Pilate stateed five times (on three occasions) that Jesus was innocent:

  • After the first meeting with Jesus here (Luke 23:4, John 18:38)
  • His conclusion after sending Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:14)
  • After having Jesus beaten and mocked by the soldiers (John 19:4, Luke 23:22; John 19:6)

 

Matthew 27:12-14
But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Mark 15:3-5
And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Luke 23:5
But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

 

The chief priests were constantly accusing Jesus to Pilate, but like in the Jewish trial (see here), Jesus kept silent. We see that Pilate reacted with amazement to Jesus’ silence.

 

Second Roman trial before Herod Antipas

 

Luke 23:6-12
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

 

Pilate’s first attempt to get out of his difficult situation is to send Jesus to Herod. Once he heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent Him over to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem. Not only would this absolve Pilate of any blame, but the Jews had less power over Herod. Herod would be free render judgement with much less pressure from the Jews.

 

It is likely that both Pilate and Herod were staying at Herod’s palace in in Jerusalem, so it would not have been far to bring Him to Herod.

 

Herod was glad to see Jesus, hoping to see a miracle. He may also have been hoping to absolve his own conscience from executing John the Baptist (see Matthew 14:1-2; Mark 6:14-17; Luke 9:7-9). But Jesus did not perform any miracle for Herod, nor did He answer any of Herod’s questions. Herod’s amazement turned to ridicule and they ended up mocking him. Herod even put a splendid robe on Him before sending Him back to Pilate.

 

“Herod seems to have been relieved that John the Baptist was not come back to trouble him, and when he is unable to extract anything at all from Jesus, he simply falls in with the mood of the mob, subjects Jesus to mockery and derision, and returns Him to Pilate.” – Doug Bookman [1]

 

“It was a mark of reconciliation (or might be viewed as such) between himself and the Roman, and in a manner flattering to himself, since the first step had been taken by the Governor, and that, by an almost ostentatious acknowledgement of the rights of the Tetrarch, on which possibly their former feud may have turned.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

Third Roman trial before Pilate

 

Matthew 27:15-16
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

Mark 15:6-8
Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them.

 

Barabbas was a notorious prisoner. He was imprisoned for robbery, insurrection, and murder. He may have led a band of robbers which included the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus.

 

Barabbas was an insurrectionist — the very thing that the Jews had charged against Jesus to Pilate!

 

Barabbas’ name means literally, “Son of the Father”. The term “Abba” (i.e. “Father”) was the title for a famous rabbi. Therefore, Barabbas was probably the son of a famous rabbi. Some of the older texts give his full name as Jesus Barabbas. He was literally a “preacher’s kid”. [3]

 

“Barabbas belonged to that class, not uncommon at the time, which, under the colourable pretence of political aspirations, committed robbery and other crimes. But these movements had deeply struck root in popular sympathy.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

The Jews had a tradition of releasing one prisoner as part of the Passover celebration. Pilate had apparently kept this tradition for the Jews and allowed them to request a prisoner to be released.

 

“The Mishnah, a Jewish commentary on customs, informs us that this practice was to illustrate their deliverance from bondage in Egypt by the blood of the Passover lambs that died in order to protect their homes from the death angel …. The Jews were effectively saying, ‘As we celebrate the death of the lambs and our former deliverance, we will allow one prisoner to be released, illustrating that the ransom for his release has been paid in the blood of the lamb.’” – Stephen Davey [3]

 

Luke 23:13-16
Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

 

Pilate called together the leaders of the people and announced that neither he nor Herod had found Jesus guilty. Pilate’s second attempt to get out of his situation was to offer a compromise. He found the man innocent, yet he offered to punish Him and release Him.

 

Luke’s account also shows the first witness to Jesus’ innocence. Even through his mockery, Herod did not find Jesus guilty of any charges.

 

John 18:39-40
But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

Matthew 27:17-21
So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

Mark 15:9-11
And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.

Luke 23:18-19
But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas” — a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.

 

Pilate attempted a shrewd political move with the people for his third attempt to get out of his difficult situation. He knew that the Jewish leaders hated Jesus but He has been popular with the people. Pilate relied on the Passover custom where he would release a prisoner. He gave the people two choices: he would either release Jesus or he would release Barabbas, the notorious prisoner.

 

Matthew’s account shows the second witness to Jesus’ innocence. Pilate’s wife sent him a message to have nothing to do with this “righteous man”.

 

To Pilate’s surprise, the people cry out to release Barabbas! The chief priests and the elders had persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to destroy Jesus.

 

“The nation of Israel curses Jesus Christ while Pilate’s pagan wife is convinced that he is righteous” – John MacArthur [9]

 

John 19:1-3
Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

 

Pilate was not able to appease either the Jewish leaders or the Jewish people. He sent to have Jesus scourged and mocked.

 

The Roman scourging was the first step of the execution. The weapon, or flagellum, would tear open the prisoner’s back, allowing the wood from the cross to dig deep into the open wounds.

 

“Their weapon was a flagellum, which was a whip-like tool with a short wooden handle and long leather straps. The straps were braided in varying lengths and pieces of metal and bone were sewn, at intervals, into the braided leather.” [4]

 

There is a lot written about the torture and the horror of the Roman scourging. Prisoners have been brutally tortured and killed by the scourging experience. However, it is important to note that the Romans wanted the prisoners to linger for days on the cross. The cross was a painful and public spectacle for any who dared to oppose the power of Rome! The Romans would not want to beat the prisoners severely enough to shorten their life on the cross. Therefore, the scourging that Jesus received would not have been as horrible as we are often led to believe. It would not have brought Him close to death. [1]

 

Roman citizens (except for deserting soldiers) were exempt from scourging (see also Acts 22:25-29).

 

Pilate then allowed the soldiers to mock Jesus with a crown of thorns and a purple robe.

 

“He caused thorns and thistles to be brought forth (Gen. 3:18). The thorn is the fruit of the Curse, and Jesus was about to be made a curse for those who so basely treated Him and for all men, that all who would trust in Him might be redeemed from the curse of the law.” – H.A. Ironside [10]

 

John 19:4-6
Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

Matthew 27:22-23
Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Mark 15:12-14
And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”

Luke 23:20-23
Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.

 

Pilate’s fourth attempt to get out of this situation was to use Jesus’ pain and humiliation as a way to satiate the bloodthirsty mob. Jesus was now bruised and bleeding, and was dressed like a mock king with his purple robe and crown of thorns.

 

Pilate says, “Behold the man!”. It is as if he was saying in mockery, “Surely this man is no threat!”

 

“As the Roman procurator presented the brutalized Jesus to the crowds, he said, ‘Behold, here is the man you charge with being a dangerous insurrectionist, the man whom you insist I execute in order to protect and safeguard the Roman empire. Look at him – can you maintain this charge against such a beaten and bloody man?’” – Doug Bookman [1]

 

But the crowd cannot be appeased. Pilate tries to question why they want HIm dead, but they only shout louder — “Crucify Him!”

 

John 19:7-11
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

 

Pilate was still trying to free Jesus when the Jews took the offensive. They told Pilate that Jesus must die according to Jewish law because he made himself the Son of God. This scared Pilate even more so he summoned Jesus for a second private conversation.

 

Why did the term, “Son of God” scare Pilate? Some commentators have proposed that the superstitious Pilate interpreted this to mean that Jesus was a demigod, just like the demigods in Roman mythology. However, a better explanation is that Pilate realized that this was not a legal issue but a religious issue. Pilate was in trouble with Rome because he had so poorly handled the Jews’ religious scruples in the past and he could not afford another problem with the Roman emperor.

 

Once again, Jesus is silent before Pilate’s questions. Pilate says that he has the authority to release Jesus or to crucify Him. Why then does He not answer? Jesus replied to Pilate that the only authority over Him has been granted by God Himself. It is part of God’s plan that Jesus be here at Pilate’s court that day.

 

Pilate is not the wicked one here. He is acting out of ignorance (Acts 3:17), but the wicked one is the high priest (Caiaphas) who has brought Him to Pilate and demanded His death.

 

John 19:12-15
From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

 

Pilate tried even harder to release Jesus after his private conversation, but the Jews were insistent. They then forced Pilate to do their bidding with his main weakness. They knew that Pilate was in trouble with Rome. If he allowed Jesus to go free, then they will report him to Caesar!

 

Pilate knew that another report to Caesar would mean the end of his position and likely the end of his life. He brought Jesus out one more time as a last appeal, “Can this be your king?” [1]. But the Jews shout even louder, “Crucify Him!”

 

Ironically, the priests swore allegiance to Caesar. They disavowed any Messiah who may come from God and said that they will have no king but Caesar.

 

The time was about the sixth hour. By Roman time reckoning, it was therefore about 6:00 a.m (see here). The Day of Preparation was Friday, the day before the Sabbath, on the Passover week.

 

John 19:16a
So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

Matthew 27:24-26
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Mark 15:15
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Luke 23:24-25
So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 

The crowds were insistent. A riot was forming and they had threatened to tell Caesar if Pilate did not comply. Pilate gave in, but not before performing an Old Testament Jewish ritual to absolve himself of guilt.

 

The Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 21:1-9) prescribed what to do for an unsolved murder. The elders of the town would offer a sacrifice and ceremonially wash their hands, testifying that they were innocent of the man’s blood. In the same way, Pilate washed his hands and said that he was innocent of Jesus’ blood.

 

The Jewish people answered to Pilate that Jesus’ blood will be on them and on their children. No man can hold his children responsible for his own wicked deeds, yet the Jews attempted to pronounce such a curse on themselves. This was literally fulfilled nearly 40 years later, when the Roman legions destroyed the city of Jerusalem in AD 70.

 

Acts 5:28 is an ironic comment by the Jews. The same Sanhedrin that had brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate was then persecuting the apostles for teaching about Jesus. They say, “you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us”!

 

Pilate then released Barabbas and sent Jesus to be crucified. The scourging mentioned in Matthew and Mark’s account is probably the same beating that Jesus had already received (see above for John 19:1).

 

“Pilate took three steps in an attempt to exonerate himself. First, he washed his hands and declared that he was innocent of any guilt. Second, he stated clearly that Jesus was a just person, that is, not worthy of death. Third, he offered to punish Jesus and then release Him, but the rulers would accept no compromise.” – Warren Wiersbe [5]

 

Matthew 27:27-31
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Mark 15:16-20
And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

 

While they were preparing the crucifixion, the entire Roman cohort gathered around Jesus, mocking Him and abusing Him.

 

Matthew’s account says that they put a scarlet robe on him, Mark’s account says that the robe was purple. It was likely an old faded garment that was reddish-purple [5].

 

John’s gospel account puts the purple robe and the crown of thorns earlier in the narrative (John 19:1-3). Therefore, the purple robe and crown of thorns either happened twice or Matthew and Mark are reporting summaries of all of the Roman tortures here.

 

“The soldiers spat in His face, as the Jews had done in the house of Caiaphas. Jew and Gentile were one in their rejection of Him.” – H.A. Ironside [10]

 


 

[1] Doug Bookman, Life of Christ, Audio Series, Lecture 14. http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XIV. THE MORNING OF GOOD FRIDAY.

 

[3] Stephen Davey, A Foretaste of Freedom, Matthew 27

 

[4] Stephen Davey, Death By Crucifixion, John 19

 

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Matthew 27:1-31, pages 79-82

 

[6] John MacArthur, Jesus Before Pilate, John 18:28-38

 

[7] We do not know the exact location of Pilate’s residence in Jerusalem. Some believe that he may have been in the Fortress Antonia next to the temple, but the majority of scholars believe that Pilate stayed in Herod’s palace on the Western Hill of Jerusalem.

 

Herod’s palace is also closer to both the High Priest’s Palace (where Jesus had been tried by the Sanhedrin) and to the residence of Herod Antipas. Since all of the Roman trials completed by 6 a.m., the closer location (at Herod’s palace) seems more likely.

 

[8] Stephen Davey, The Verdict of Rome, John 18:29-19:15

 

[9] John MacArthur, What Shall I Do with Jesus? Part 2, Matthew 27:19-26

 

[10] H.A. Ironside, Chapter 27, The Condemnation and Death of the King, Matthew 27

 

 

November 7, 2015

Before the High Priest

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 9:56 pm

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It was Thursday night before the Passover. At some time after midnight, Judas had led the temple guards and the Roman soldiers up the slopes of the Mount of Olives to where they found Jesus. There it was that the entire crowd fell down when this Rabbi called upon the name of God. There it was that one of His disciples charged into the crowd with a sword, severing a servant’s ear. There it was that Jesus healed the man’s ear and made His disciples leave (see here).

 

The soldiers bound Jesus and took Him back to the high priest’s palace in the city of Jerusalem. There, at the palace, were two of the most powerful men in Judea. Annas was the former high priest who had been deposed by the Romans. But Annas still directed the religious leadership in Jerusalem and he had placed in his own son-in-law, Caiaphas, in the position of high priest (see here).

 

Annas and Caiaphas had been trying for several months to capture Jesus and now they had him! They had successfully hired one of Jesus’ own disciples to turn Him in. They desperately wanted to kill him, and now all they needed to do was convene a trial so that He could be executed.

 

As Jesus was being brought into the palace, they hurriedly gathered the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) so that they could get a guilty verdict. It was imperative that they finish this trial and execution before morning. The crowds had shouted His praises when He entered Jerusalem (see here) and they may not like to see their prophet on trial. No one wanted a riot.

 

Everything about this trial was illegal. It was done hastily, without proper witnesses, without a defense, at night, and the only evidence they could find was a forced confession (see here).

 

Jesus’ eleven disciples had all scattered at his arrest. Two of these disciples, Peter and John, had apparently gathered enough courage to follow Jesus to the high priest’s palace. John knew the high priest, so he was able to gain entrance to the courtyard for both himself and Peter. There, from this courtyard, Peter could watch the events of Jesus’s trial unfold.

 

Jesus was first brought to Annas while Caiaphas gathered the Sanhedrin. Annas began to question Jesus, looking for an admission of guilt. Jesus simply answered that he had done nothing in secret. He was telling Annas that if he had charges against him, he needed to bring forth witnesses. The priest’s attendant struck Jesus (literally, punched him in the face) for his response, but even that did not cause Jesus to react in anger. Annas could find nothing incriminating against Jesus, so he sent Him to Caiaphas.

 

Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard, looking for a place to warm himself in the cold night air. The guards and servants huddled around a small fire. Peter may have been reflecting on the night’s events. He had single-handedly attacked a Roman cohort of 600 men, failing miserably! Now his master was being arrested and tried by wicked men, and all he could do was watch!

 

Just then, the voice of a servant girl broke through to Peter’s thoughts. “You’re not one of them, are you?”, she asked. This was not the place to make a scene; it would accomplish nothing. Why couldn’t she just leave him alone?

 

We can only guess at what Peter was thinking, but we know his reaction. He quickly snapped to the servant girl, “I am not!”

 

Meanwhile, the trial of Jesus moved to the next stage. Annas could not find any charges against Him, and he was brought before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin had hastily gathered in the night so that they could form an indictment against this man. They needed two reliable witnesses to charge Him with a crime, but they could not even hire witnesses who would agree! The closest that they could come was when two witnesses claimed that Jesus had said that He would destroy their great temple. But even these witnesses were inconsistent and unreliable.

 

Jesus kept silent throughout this entire trial. There was no value to speaking in this mock trial, but Jesus also knew the prophecy:

Isaiah 53:7

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
   yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
   and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
   so he opened not his mouth.

 

Finally, Caiaphas spoke out in frustration. The morning was coming soon and they still did not have any charges against this man. Caiaphas demanded with an oath that Jesus answer them. “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”

 

Jesus replied, “I am, and I will come back and judge you with the authority of God himself!” Jesus had answered them very directly. He was the Messiah, the king of the Jews. But he also was God. He made it absolutely clear that the only charge against Him was blasphemy. They wanted to kill Him because He said that He was God!

 

The high priest tore his robes in the feigned horror. “What further witnesses do we need! You have heard it yourselves!” The council replied, “He deserves death!”

 

Then the members of the high council themselves descended on Jesus, beating Him, spitting on Him, and ridiculing Him. The ones who accused Him of blasphemy now blasphemed His holy name!

 

The Sanhedrin could not execute a man. They needed to bring Him to the Romans with their charges. But they had conducted this trial in the middle of the night, and they knew that the Romans would never agree to such a mockery of justice. They needed to wait until the morning light in order to give some legitimacy to their affairs before they could bring Him to the Romans.

 

Therefore, they put Jesus in holding (probably a dungeon or a cellar) until the first light of morning.

 

Meanwhile, Peter escaped the crowd from the courtyard and had moved to the entranceway of the high priest’s palace. He took little notice of the rooster crowing as he approached the entrance. Peter’s solitude was not to last long. Another servant girl identified him, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”. Peter answered the crowd with an oath, “ I swear I do not know the man!”

 

Peter made his way back to the courtyard. An hour passed before Peter was identified for a third time. This time, it was one of the relatives of the servant of the high priest, the very man whom Peter had removed from his ear earlier that night.

 

The accusations were much stronger and much more specific this time. The servant’s relative remembered him on the Mount of Olives. They all noticed his speech, that he spoke with a Galilean accent. Surely he must be one of Jesus’ disciples!

 

Peter responded in terror. The account says that he pronounced a curse on himself lest he lie, and swore (affirm with an oath) that he did not know the man!

 

At the same time that this is happening, dawn is just beginning to break. The Sanhedrin have sent to bring Jesus back from the dungeon so they can finish the trial. As they led Jesus through the courtyard, Peter was in the middle of his oaths, shouting that he did not know the man! Just then the rooster crows, announcing the dawn.

 

Jesus simply looked at Peter. Peter was crushed! Possibly for the first time that night, Peter realized how far he has fallen. The account simply says that Peter went out and wept bitterly.

 

Now that dawn is coming, the Sanhedrin brought Jesus back to ask Him again if He wa the Messiah. He did not answer them until they ask if He is the Messiah and the Son of God. It is not enough for them to accuse Jesus of simply being the Messiah. He is not going to trial as a usurper, but it must be clear that they are charging Him as a blasphemer. He said that He was God, and that is why they want to kill Him! [1]

 

 

Remember!

 

  • The lesson from Peter – we often prepare for the big battles yet fall for the small things. We are ready to fight Roman soldiers but fall when questioned by a servant girl!

 

  • Peter recognized his failure and repented. What makes a disciple is how we we repent when we fail!

 

  • Jesus left us an example of how to respond when we suffer unjustly. Peter himself said later in his life:

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:19-24

 

Previous post: The Trial of Jesus Christ

 


 

John 18:12-27
So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

 

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

 

The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 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?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

 

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

 


Matthew 26:57-27:1
Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

 

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.


Mark 14:53-15:1a
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

 

And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.


Luke 22:54-71
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

 

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

 

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”


 

 

First Jewish trial before Annas

John 18:12-14
So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Luke 22:54a
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house,

 

The priests, the temple guard, and the soldiers all took Jesus, bound Him, and led Him away. They took Him back into the city of Jerusalem, back to the Western Hill, to the house of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the high priest, but his father-in-law, Annas, was the one in control (see here).

Jesus Christ was bound, almost as a fulfillment of Psalm 118:27:
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
   up to the horns of the altar!

 

The Sadducean Annas was an eminently safe Churchman, not troubled with any special convictions nor with Jewish fanaticism, a pleasant and a useful man also who was able to furnish his friends in the Prætorium with large sums of money.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

“Annas, a shrewd politician, was something of a ‘godfather’ in the temple establishment.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

 

John 18:19-23
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 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?”

 

The Jews had a problem. They knew what they wanted to do, but they had to find a legal reason to murder Jesus. They already had the sentence, but they did not have the crime.

 

Their first attempt was to see if Annas, the former High Priest, could get a confession out of Jesus. While Caiaphas was gathering the Sanhedrin, Annas took Jesus aside to question Him.

 

Annas broke the Jewish laws by questioning Jesus and trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself [1]. Jewish law required that you do not accuse a person without witnesses, and you do not interrogate a witness in secret (see here). Jesus told Annas to live up to his own rules. He refused to answer Annas’ questions and simply said that he did nothing in secret. If they have a case against Him, then they needs to bring forth witnesses.

 

Annas had broken the Jewish laws by holding a secret trial at night. Jesus essential told Annas, “You’re out of line!” [4]

 

To further their depravity, the attendant strikes Jesus when he refuses to answer (also illegal). Literally, the guard punched Him in the face!

 

The Apostle Paul responded in fury when he received a similar treatment (Acts 23:1-5). Jesus did not retaliate, but simply called them out on their own weakness.

 

1 Peter 2:23
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten,but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

 

Annas had probably hoped to get an indictment against Jesus. Instead, he could find no charges against Jesus and he sends Him to Caiaphas.

 

“ Jewish law demanded that witnesses be called before a prisoner was questioned. Annas defied this law, and eventually the council hired false witnesses.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

 

Peter’s First Denial

John 18:15-16,18
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

Matthew 26:58
And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.

Mark 14:54
And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.

Luke 22:54b-55
and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.  

 

Meanwhile, two of the disciples had recovered from their fright. Peter and another disciple (commonly believed to be John) followed Jesus to the house of the high priest. John knew the high priest and was allowed into the courtyard. He then spoke to the servant girl who was attending the gate and let Peter in as well.

 

It was a cold clear night and Peter huddled with the guards and their servants around the fire.

 

The two disciples could not witness the actual trial, but at least they were near enough to see the outcome. [3]

 

Peter followed afar off, thinking of nothing else but his imprisoned Master, and that he would see the end, whatever it might be.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

“Backsliding always begins with neglect of prayer. If you want to be kept from backsliding, then you want to be sure you spend much time in secret with God.” – H.A. Ironside [5]

 

 

John 18:17
The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

Matthew 26:69-70
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”

Mark 14:66-68a
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.”

Luke 22:56-57
Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

 

Peter must have looked familiar to the servant girl who was watching the gate. It says that she came over to Peter saying, “you’re not with that Galilean, are you?” The term “Galilean” would have been a slur to these prideful Judean people, and the context of Jesus’s trial made Peter deny it.

 

The text indicates that she expected a negative answer, “You’re not one of them, are you?”

 

She spoke to Peter in front of the crowd. Peter denied it before all of them.

 

Peter appears to be prepared to follow Jesus to whatever big events will befall Him. He was ready to fight for him on the Mount of Olives and he may have been prepared to stand in trial right next to Him. But he was never prepared to be identified by a servant girl, in the common crowd. The man who protested that he would never turn from Jesus now denies him.

 

1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

 

Like Peter, we are often prepared for the major battles but fall for the small ones.

 

“If you get those formal challenges where you can choose your weapons and plan your strategy, you’re fortunate. But watch out for the sudden blows when you’re not ready, when you’re trusting in the flesh. They’re the ones that will flatten you.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

Your character isn’t manifest by what you prepare to do, it’s manifest by what you’re not prepared for, and how you react to that, that involuntary reaction.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

 

Second Jewish Trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin

John 18:24
Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Matthew 26:57
Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.

Mark 14:53
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.

 

Meanwhile, Annas has sent Jesus to the next room, we’re Caiaphas in the Sanhedrin had gathered. Annas was unable to find any charges against Jesus, so He is sent to the Sanhedrin.

 

The leading men of Jerusalem, the priests, the elders, and the scribes, all formed the governing body over all the Jewish religious matters. They were not allowed to execute criminals, but they could try the criminals and then present them to the Roman rulers for execution as needed (see here).

 

Caiaphas, who hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him, has now gathered a quorum of the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night. They are all ready to give Jesus a guilty verdict.

 

The Sanhedrin has one major problem though. What is the crime? They needed to bring Jesus to the Romans with charges that the Romans would believe to be worthy of his death.

 

This was a well-organized conspiracy to have gathered the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night. However, this was also illegal on two counts: criminal trials were not to be held at night and capital cases were not to be tried outside of the public meeting place of the Sanhedrin.

 

 

Matthew 26:59-63a

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.

Mark 14:55-61a
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer.

 

Jewish law required that matters be settled at the testimony of two witnesses. However, they could not find two witnesses who would even lie correctly! Even the false witnesses that they hired couldn’t get their story straight!

 

Finally, they found two men who claimed that Jesus said he would destroy the temple (John 2:19-21). Specifically, Jesus had said, “[you] destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. But this had been three years earlier and no one understood what he meant. Now they had distorted the story to believe that he was out to destroy their great temple. But even with that story, they couldn’t find enough of a credible witness to bring it to Rome.

 

“On that night of terror, when all the enmity of man and the power of hell were unchained, even the falsehood of malevolence could not lay any crime to His charge, nor yet any accusation be brought against him other than the misrepresentation of His symbolic Words.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

We know that this was not all of the Sanhedrin. We know from John 12:42-43 that Jesus had secret followers, even among the rulers of the people. Luke 23:50-51 tells of Joseph, a Sanhedrin member who was not consenting to His arrest. Nicodemus also appears to be a secret follower of Jesus (John 7:50-52; John 3:1-15). However, the priests only needed enough of the Sanhedrin to form a quorum.

 

Through all of these ridiculous proceedings, Jesus kept silent. They were condemning themselves by the extent that they went just to get a guilty verdict for Him. Jesus also knew the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, and He kept his silence.

 

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
   yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
   and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
   so he opened not his mouth.

 

 

Matthew 26:63b-66
And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

Mark 14:61b-64
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

 

Finally, the high priest himself ordered Jesus to speak. He demanded that Jesus testify under oath, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the living God?”

 

For the first time, they had clearly mentioned the two things that Jesus had spent His entire ministry proclaiming about Himself. He was the Messiah, He was the long promised one who would lead God’s people and save them from their sin. But He was more than that, Jesus was also God himself, come to earth.

 

The fact that Jesus would dare mention that he was God scandalized the Jews! By their law, he was a blasphemer and deserve death! The high priest tore his robes in feigned horror at this supposed blasphemy.

 

But the Romans did not care about this blasphemy. The Romans would not kill a man over his claim to be God. However, Jesus also said that he was the Messiah. The Messiah was the king of the Jews, and this was something that the Romans cared about! The Romans had no room for sedition and would quickly crush anyone who might start a revolt [1].

 

They had him!

 

As mentioned before, this is the grossest violation of their Jewish law. During a secret trial at night, in a private residence, after He was beaten during the trial, after they could not even bribe false witnesses to get their lies straight, they order Jesus Christ to testify against Himself!

 

To their surprise, Jesus answers them. He IS the Messiah, and He IS God. He makes it absolutely clear why they are killing Him. It is not for sedition, but because He is the Son of God! [1]

 

But Jesus does not stop there. He applies the well-known prophecy about the Messiah to Himself: Psalm 110:1, Daniel 7:13.

 

“He says, ‘I am the One who has the right hand of divine authority – I will speak and when I do, you will be hearing the authoritative voice of God Himself.’” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

Psalm 110:1
The Lord says to my Lord:
   “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Daniel 7:13-14
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
   there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
   and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
   and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
   should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
   which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
   that shall not be destroyed.

 

 

Matthew 26:67-68
Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

Mark 14:65
And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

Luke 22:63-65
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

 

What follows is one of the most vile and reprehensible acts at this time. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court, the elders of the people, step down from their seats of judgment and begin to abuse Jesus. They spit on him, punched him repeatedly, and covered his face in mockery.

 

Luke’s account of the most telling. The very men who accused Jesus Christ of blasphemy by now blaspheming the Holy Son of God!

 

This trial has convened illegally in the middle of the night. To give their trial some legitimacy, they put Jesus in holding and waited until morning light for the final verdict.

 

“I look at this scene and I’m overwhelmed at the grace of Christ. My deserved trial is enacted in His undeserved trial. My deserved sentence is enacted in His undeserved sentence. My deserved execution is carried out in His undeserved execution. My deserved condemnation is carried out in His undeserved condemnation.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

 

Peter’s Second and Third Denials

John 18:25
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”

Matthew 26:71-72
And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”

Mark 14:68b-70a
And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it.

Luke 22:58
And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

 

Meanwhile, Peter has been watching these proceedings from a distance. Peter left the courtyard after his encounter with the servant girl and went to the entryway. There, in the entryway, Peter hears a rooster crow. It is not morning light yet, but morning is coming. [7]

 

There are other people also gathered in the entryway and another servant girl identifies Peter. “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” From the combining of the accounts, it appears that there is a small crowd of people asking these questions. Peter again denies it to the crowd.

 

Peter’s response is stronger this time. Not only does he deny that he knows the man, but he adds an oath — a pledge of truthfulness of before God.

 

While Jesus is being beaten by the heads of state, Peter is in the courtyard yelling to a servant girl, “I do not know the man!”

 

“In the flock, the safest people are closest to the shepherd.” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

 

John 18:26-27
One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Matthew 26:73-75
After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Mark 14:70b-72
And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Luke 22:59-62
And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

 

Peter has now denied Jesus Christ twice. Still frightened of the crowd, Peter apparently makes his way back to the courtyard around the fire. An hour has passed since the previous incident. Peter may be feeling more comfortable and more confident. But then his past catches up to him. Peter had tried to kill the high priest’s servant back on the Mount of Olives, and now that servant’s relative identifies him.

 

The accusations appear to be much stronger now, and much more specific. The servant’s relative remembers him on the Mount of Olives. They all notice his speech, that he speaks with the Galilean accent. Surely he must be one of Jesus’ disciples!

 

Peter responds in terror. The account says that he began to pronounce a curse on himself if he may be lying, and swear (affirm with an oath) that he does not know the man!

 

At the same time that this is happening, dawn is just beginning to break. The Sanhedrin have gone to bring Jesus back from the dungeon so that they can finish the trial. As they lead Jesus through the courtyard, Peter is in the middle of his oaths, shouting that he does not know the man! Just then the rooster crows, announcing the dawn.

 

Jesus simply looks at Peter. Peter is crushed. Possibly for the first time that night, Peter realizes how far he has fallen. The account simply says that Peter went out and wept bitterly.

 

“Spiritual self-confidence, thinking you’re invulnerable, insubordination, prayerlessness, independence leads to compromise.  If you think you can handle every situation, you’re going to get into some situations, believe me, you can’t handle.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

“The crowing of the cock was assurance to Peter that Jesus was totally in control of the situation, even though He was bound and being harassed by the authorities. By controlling one bird, Jesus affirmed His sovereignty.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

“It is to Peter’s credit that all the Lord had to do was look at him to bring him to the place of repentance.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

“In Luke 22:32, Jesus said, ‘Peter, Satan desires to have you, but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.’ You know why Peter’s faith didn’t totally fail?  Because the Lord had what?  Prayed for him. … Listen, the reason that we stay saved is not because of something we’ve done, but because the Lord holds us.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

 

Third Jewish Trial before the Sanhedrin

Matthew 27:1
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.

Mark 15:1a
And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.

Luke 22:66-71
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

 

The Sanhedrin convenes again at the very first hint of dawn (probably between 5-6 a.m.). Now they can pronounce a verdict that may look legitimate.

 

They bring Jesus back and ask him, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus does not answer them.

 

Then they add, “Are you the son of God?” Jesus says, “I am”. It is not enough for them to accuse Jesus of simply being the Messiah. He is not going to trial as a usurper, but he wants to make it perfectly clear that they are charging Him as a blasphemer. He said that he was God, and that is why they want to kill him! [1]

 


 

[1] Doug Bookman, The Illegal Trial before the Sanhedrin
Life of Christ, Audio Series, Lecture 14. http://www.bookmanministries.com/
Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/
Behold The Lamb, Audio Series, Part 6 http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XIII. THURSDAY NIGHT – BEFORE ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS – PETER AND JESUS

 

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Matthew 26:57-75, pages 79-82
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Mark 14:53-72, pages 131-132
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 18:12-27, pages 299-304

 

[4] Stephen Davey, A Tribute to the Lamb: Guilty!, John 18:1-24
Stephen Davey, And the Rooster Crowed, John 18:15-27
Stephen Davey, The Illegal Trial of Jesus Christ, John 18; Matthew 26

 

[5] H.A. Ironside, Address 61, PETER’S DENIAL, John 18:15-27

 

[6] John MacArthur, Jesus’ Trial, Peter’s Denial, John 18:12-27
John MacArthur, The Restoration of a Sinning Saint, Matthew 26:58, 69-75
John MacArthur, The Illegal, Unjust Trials of Jesus, Part 2, Matthew 26:62-68

 

[7] Some commentators believe that the “rooster crow” in these passages are a reference to a time of the night, and not an actual rooster. In Roman time, the time between Midnight and 3 a.m. was called “Cockcrow watch”. The reference in Mark 13:35 is to this “cockcrow watch”. Therefore, they say that the Peter did not hear a rooster, but the trumpet blast ending “cockcrow watch” (i.e. 3 a.m.).

The biggest problem with this belief (that this was not a real rooster but simply the “cockcrow watch signal”) is that Mark’s account identifies two rooster crows. The first crowing occurs before Peter’s second denial and the second crowing is after the third denial (Mark 14:66-72). But Luke’s account says that an hour had elapsed between the second and third denials (Luke 22:59). Therefore, if the rooster crow was really a trumpet blast, the two signals would have been over an hour apart.

 

October 24, 2015

The Trial of Jesus Christ

Filed under: culture, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 11:23 pm

The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell that Jesus Christ endured a three-part Jewish trial before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin:

 

These four accounts describe the trial before the Sanhedrin, but they also raise a lot of questions related to the history and the culture:

 

What is the Sanhedrin? Weren’t the Romans in charge?

 

Why are there two High Priests mentioned? Who was in charge?

 

Doesn’t a trial require proof? Were there any laws to protect the accused?

 

The notes below are an attempt to address these questions.

 

The Great Sanhedrin

The ancient Jews had a very elaborate legal system. Every town, depending on its size, was ruled by one of three possible tribunals [2]:

  • Towns with less than 120 male inhabitants had the lowest tribunal, consisting of three judges. These judges had very limited power, and could not try capital offenses.
  • Larger towns would be ruled by a greater tribunal, consisting of 23 men. These tribunals had greater power and could try capital offenses on very limited occasions.
  • The highest tribunal was in Jerusalem. This group was also called the Senate, the Council of Elders, or the Great Sanhedrin. This tribunal had the highest authority and the power to oversee all of the other tribunals.

 

The Romans stripped the Sanhedrin of most of its civil authority during the Roman occupation. The Sanhedrin had jurisdiction over all religious matters, but they were no longer allowed to punish major civil cases. The Sanhedrin could try capital cases, but they needed to bring their conclusions to the Romans for punishment. The Romans were free to follow the recommendation of the Sanhedrin, or to retry the case themselves. The trial of Jesus Christ is an example of such a case where the Sanhedrin tried the prisoner and brought him to the Romans, but the Roman procurator (Pontius Pilate) chose to retry the prisoner himself.

 

The Great Sanhedrin was made up of equal parts priests, elders, and scribes. The High Priest would oversee the proceedings.

 

The High Priest

Throughout most of the first century, the Sanhedrin was dominated by one man, Annas. Annas was the high priest from AD 6-15. The Old Testament law stated that a high priest would hold his office for life, but Annas was deposed by the Romans and AD 15. The Romans saw the political importance of the High Priest’s position and wanted to ensure that the high priest would follow their lead.

 

Annas had a reputation of being powerful, ruthless, corrupt, and very wealthy. Annas was required to step down from the high priesthood, but he ensured that the succession of high priests who came after him included five of his sons, his son-in-law, and a grandson. The High Priest during the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry was Caiaphas, the son-in-law to Annas.

 

Annas was no longer the official High Priest, but he still retained the title (“High Priest”) and maintained the power to rule over the Jewish religious system.

 

Jesus had directly challenged the power of Annas and Caiaphas on many occasions. His most direct challenges were on the two times when He stopped Annas’ profitable business of selling animals and exchanging money in the temple (see here for the first occasion and here for the second). These challenges made Jesus tremendously popular with the Jewish people, but He was hated by Annas and his fellow priests.

 

It was Annas and Caiaphas who had orchestrated in AD 33 to have Jesus arrested, tried, and executed by the Romans.

 

The Laws of Justice

The Jews had greatly prided themselves in their legal organization and their laws of justice. These laws insured fairness to every individual who was tried, and would ensure that justice was served.

 

Deuteronomy 16:18-20

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

 

However, Annas and Caiaphas used their power and influence to bypass many of the Jewish laws in order to pronounce a guilty verdict on Jesus Christ. The following is a list of Jewish laws of justice, and how they were broken in the High Priest’s attempt to ensure that they kept their power:

 

Trials were not to be held secretly at night, but publicly during the day [4]

The Sanhedrin began the trial of Jesus Christ in the middle of the night and concluded at daybreak (Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1).

 

The accused was never to be required to speak [4]

The High Priest (Caiaphas) demanded that Jesus speak (Matthew 26:62-63; Mark 14:60).

 

Two witnesses were to come forward and agree on the charges [4]

Deuteronomy 17:6

On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

 

This also means that the Sanhedrin could not originate charges. The charges must be originated by the witnesses.

 

The witness were supposed to be the prosecution and the Sanhedrin was to be the defense. Yet the priests and the Sanhedrin were trying to find any false witness who could incriminate Jesus! (Matthew 26:59-60; Mark 14:55-56).

 

The accused was to be set free if the witnesses contradicted each other [1].

 

A false witness was such a serious crime, that the false witness would be given the same penalty as was intended for the accused person (Deuteronomy 19:16-19).

 

The accused was never to be required to have to incriminate himself in any way [4]

This is similar the American Fifth Amendment. The accused was never required to testify against himself.

 

The Jewish medieval scholar Maimonides said, “The law does not permit the death penalty as a sentence for a sinner by his own confession.” [3]

 

Yet, the High Priest demands that Jesus, under oath, testify against himself (Matthew 26:63).

 

The death penalty was to be determined only after a day of fasting [4]

All 71 members of the Sanhedrin were required to fast for a day before condemning a man to death. Yet, they respond immediately to Jesus, saying that “He deserves death!” (Matthew 26:66; Mark 14:64).

 

This also means that they could not try a capital case during a feast day since they would be prevented from participating in the feast  (John 18:28).

 

A unanimous vote by the court would allow the accused to go free [4]

The belief was that only a biased and unmerciful court would vote unanimously to kill a man. Yet, Mark’s account shows that the Sanhedrin was unanimous in condemning Jesus to death (Mark 14:64).

 

Capital cases could only be tried at the regular meeting places of the Sanhedrin [2]

The regular meeting place of the Sanhedrin was in the Hall of Judgment in the Temple complex [3]. The Sanhedrin tried Jesus Christ at the High Priest’s palace (Matthew 26:57-58; Mark 14:53-54; Luke 22:54) and concluded that he was guilty of blasphemy, a capital offense (Matthew 26:65-66; Mark 14:64).

 

The judges must consider the defense of the accused

Following the principle stated in Deuteronomy 13:14, the High Priest should make a diligent search in order to find out if the statements against the accused were true. Yet Jesus was never provided a defense, nor did the Sanhedrin take the time to consider Jesus’ statements. Instead, they rushed to judgment (Matthew 26:66; Mark 14:64).

 

The accused could not be physically punished before he was convicted [3]

Jesus was struck by the attendant in front of Annas (John 18:22), and the Sanhedrin members themselves stepped down to abuse Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:66-68; Mark 14:65).

 

Previous Post: The Kiss

 


[1] Doug Bookman, The Illegal Trial before the Sanhedrin
Life of Christ, Audio Series, Lecture 14. http://www.bookmanministries.com/
Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/
Behold The Lamb, Audio Series, Part 6 http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XIII. THURSDAY NIGHT – BEFORE ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS – PETER AND JESUS

 

[3] John MacArthur, The Illegal, Unjust Trials of Jesus, Part 1, Matthew 26:57, 59-61
John MacArthur, The Illegal, Unjust Trials of Jesus, Part 2, Matthew 26:62-68
John MacArthur, Jesus’ Trial, Peter’s Denial, John 18:12-27

 

[4] Stephen Davey, The Illegal Trial of Jesus Christ, John 18; Matthew 26

 

October 15, 2015

The Kiss

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 10:57 pm

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It is the night before Passover.

 

Jesus had spent the last few hours in agonizing prayer (see here). He was consumed with horror and despair as he considered what he was about to face.

 

Slowly and painfully, He came to terms with the Father’s will. “Not my will, but yours be done”.

 

Meanwhile, the disciples slept.

 

As Jesus woke the sleepy disciples, the lanterns and torches were visible through the trees. Nearly a thousand men were converging on their small garden!

 

The Chief Priests and their servants were there. They had wanted to kill Jesus Christ ever since he had raised Lazarus from the dead (see here).

 

The Temple Guard was there. This group of men was responsible for maintaining order in the temple. They were especially busy during Passover time. These guards were not allowed to use lethal force, but were nevertheless armed with clubs.

 

There were six hundred highly trained Roman soldiers. These men were fully armed and stood ready to put down any kind of revolt.

 

Finally, they were led by one man. Jesus’ close friend, who had followed him for over three years, now led the enemy to this very spot!

 

Judas!

 

Judas walks up to Jesus, throws his arms around Him, and kisses Him. Repeatedly.

 

But this is no kiss of love or affection. Judas holds on to Jesus until the soldiers come to arrest him. Jesus responds to Judas, “Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss? Do what you came to do.”

 

The time in the garden was terror for Jesus, but now he is calm. He confronts the crowd, asking, “Whom do you seek?” They answer Him, “Jesus of Nazareth”, to which he replies, “I AM”.

 

He calls upon the name of God and the entire crowd falls to the ground!

 

But Jesus does not fight nor does he run away. They pick themselves up and Jesus repeats the question. They reply again that they are looking for Him, and he commands them to let his disciples go.

 

Peter is far from calm. In a rush of bravado, he charges into the crowd swinging a sword. He tries to act like a Roman soldier, crashing his sword down on the head of the High Priest, but misses terribly. Instead, he cuts off the ear of the priest’s servant.

 

Instead of being the hero, Peter gets yelled at by Jesus, “Stop it!”. Peter would be the guilty one if he killed someone that night.

 

Peter’s action was also futile. Jesus could call on an army of angels if he wanted, but this arrest is necessary. The Old Testament scriptures predicted this event must happen.

 

“Why did Peter fail so miserably? For one thing, he had argued with the Lord when Jesus warned him that he would deny his Master that very night. Peter had slept when he should have been praying, and he talked when he should have been listening.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

Even during His arrest, Jesus shows compassion to his enemies. He touches the injured servant and heals his ear.

 

Jesus had commanded the officers to let his disciples go, and now they all run away. Jesus is left alone, but the Father is with Him (John 16:32).

 

The soldiers seize Him and take Him away.

 

 

Remember!

 

Prayer is critical! Jesus struggled through prayer, yet was able to meet his attackers with calmness and compassion. Peter slept through prayer, responded with foolish bravado, and then ran away in terror.

 

God is not hidden, even through the worst of times! The disciples were overwhelmed, but God was still in total control. Trust in God’s sovereignty.

 

Don’t fight for God! Don’t be like Peter, and run off on foolish bravado when we should be still.

 

Friends may fail, but God is always with you! Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter failed Him. All of the other disciples deserted Him. But the Father was with Him!

 

 

Previous post: The Garden

 


 

John 18:2-11
Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”


Matthew 26:47-56
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.


Mark 14:43-52
And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled.

 

And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.


Luke 22:47-53
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”


 

John 18:2-3
Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Matthew 26:47
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

Mark 14:43
And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

Luke 22:47
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them.

 

Judas had left Jesus in the upper room, on the western hill of Jerusalem (John 13). From there, he would have gone to meet with the chief priests and to gather the soldiers for Jesus’ arrest. Judas would have then led the crowd back to the upper room for Jesus.

 

Jesus had left the upper room, but Judas knew where to take the soldiers. Jesus had a familiar retreat across the city, on the Mount of Olives.

 

Jesus had never intended to escape Judas by leaving the upper room. But He did buy some valuable hours to prepare his disciples and his own heart for what was to come.

 

Jesus had just finished waking his disciples when the crowd arrived in the garden.

 

Judas had procured a “band of soldiers”. This band of soldiers was literally a Roman cohort, equivalent to about 600 soldiers. Why so many soldiers? The priests expected a revolt. Jesus was wildly popular with the Jewish people, and they feared that the people may rise up in his defense.

 

The priests also brought the “officers”, or the temple guard. Unlike the soldiers, the temple guard could not use deadly force. They were armed with clubs in order to maintain order.

 

They also brought lanterns and torches. Historians tell us that it would have been a full moon that night (Passover also begins a new lunar month). But the priests were worried that Jesus would try to hide. They were prepared for either an armed revolt, or for a manhunt.

 

It is interesting to note that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all point out that Judas was “one of the twelve”. The Gospel writers do not use vile epithets for the betrayer, but simply point out that he was one of Jesus is closest disciples. It is as if to say that his treachery speaks for itself.

 

“Judas was not an unusual monster but a common man caught in a common sin (greed) which Satan used to accomplish his purpose.” [1]

 

 

Matthew 26:48-50a
Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”

Mark 14:44-45
Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him.

Luke 22:48
He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

 

Judas had given them a signal for how to identify Jesus: Judas would give Him a kiss. Note that the gospel writers do not even give him the dignity of mentioning him by name. He is simply described as “the betrayer”.

 

Why did Judas need to identify Jesus with a kiss? The priests were very familiar with Jesus. He had been the main topic on everyone’s lips and the chief adversary of the priests. They had been trying to kill Him since he raised his friend Lazarus (see here). Just this past Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem at the head of a screaming crowd (see here). Surely the priests could recognize Jesus.

 

But there were 600 Roman soldiers with Judas and the priests. These Romans would be making the arrest, and they knew nothing about the Jewish Messiah. Judas needed to identify Jesus for the soldiers.

 

But Judas didn’t just give a quick kiss. The language indicates that Judas held on to him, repeatedly kissing him.

 

Jesus’ response was direct. “Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” He then says, “Friend, what you came to do.”

 

Jesus uses a different word for “friend”. It is not the usual word to indicate closeness and intimacy. This word could also be translated as “fellow” or “comrade”. Judas is lavishing Him with kisses, but he is no friend.

 

“Plus, the kind of kiss we’re talking about here is an embrace. It will make it crystal-clear who Jesus is because he’s going to hold on to Him until the Romans can get Him tied up. Inferiors kissed the back of the hand. Or if you’re above a slave, you kiss the palm of a hand in the ancient world. Slaves kissed the foot. Kissing the hem of the garment expresses great reverence. But a kiss on the face, a kiss on the cheek, a full embrace is a sign of close, intimacy and warm affection between equals. It is the mark, not of gratitude, it is the mark not of homage, it is the mark of selfless love and affection. And so the kiss is the most ugly act of treachery and that’s what Judas says I will do.” – John MacArthur [2]

 

“He used the kiss as a weapon, not as a sign of affection.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).

 

 

John 18:4-9
Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”

 

John’s gospel account tells about the scene where Jesus confronted the crowd. The Holy Spirit has shown to Jesus all that would happen to Him, and so He steps boldly toward the crowd. “Whom do you seek?” They reply, “Jesus of Nazareth”.

 

The scene that follows is difficult to understand or to explain. Jesus replied with “I Am”, and they drew back and fell to the ground. What exactly happened? Most Bible scholars have arrived at one of these conclusions:

 

  • Some believe that this indicates that the Roman soldiers expected a fight and dropped to a defensive posture. This would explain the part where “they drew back”, but it does not explain why they fell to the ground.

 

  • Some have said that the soldiers, in awe of Jesus’ Majesty and confidence, fell backwards. This may be possible, but it is difficult to believe that a group of trained soldiers would be so taken by surprise.

 

  • The simplest and most plausible explanation is that Jesus showed them a brief glimpse of the power of God. He answered them with the Hebrew name of God, “I AM”. The very act of Jesus Christ calling on the name of God flattened the entire crowd, the religious Jews, and the pagan Romans.

 

Jesus was not taken by surprise, nor was he a victim. John’s account makes it very clear that Jesus was in total control and he was allowing this arrest.

 

“Perhaps it was a manifestation of divine power, or an exhibition of the majesty of Jesus Christ.”  [3]

 

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. (Psalm 27:2).

 

Jesus repeated the question, making them say it twice. They were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, therefore they need to let the other men go.

 

“He had said to His Father ‘Those that thou gavest me I have kept, none of them is lost’ (John 17:12). And if He can keep their souls for eternity, He can keep their lives in this world. And so He says  ‘Let these go their way.'” – H. A. Ironside [4]

 

 

Matthew 26:50b
Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

Mark 14:46
And they laid hands on him and seized him.

 

The soldiers picked themselves up and now they grabbed onto Jesus Christ to arrest him.

 

 

John 18:10-11
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Matthew 26:51-54
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Mark 14:47
But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.

Luke 22:49-51
And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

 

Jesus had spoken about swords earlier that evening (Luke 22:35-38). He told them to expect opposition and danger because they were followers of Christ [3].  However, the disciples apparently interpreted His words as a charge to fight back against the Romans when Jesus was arrested. They asked Jesus if they should fight back, and before He could answer, Peter rushed into the crowd.

 

Roman soldiers practiced the battle move of bringing their swords down on top of the heads of their enemies. The helmet was weakest at the joint on the top, and they could thus kill their opponent in close quarters. Peter had no skills in military combat, but he tries to act like a Roman soldier that day. He took out his sword and brought it crashing down towards the head of the high priest. Peter totally missed the priest and cuts off the ear of Malchus, the priest’s servant.

 

Jesus quickly responded to Peter, “Stop it!”  “All Who take the sword will perish for the sword”. If Peter killed that man, the soldiers would have the right to kill him.

 

“Had Jesus not healed Malchus, Peter would have been arrested as well, and there might have been four crosses on Calvary.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

Jesus also showed the futility of Peter’s efforts. If Jesus asked, he could have over twelve legions of angels at his defense (over 72,000)! But Jesus was prepared to take the cup of judgment. He knew that the Scriptures say that it must be so, and He is ready.

 

But Jesus did not stop there. He gently reached over to Malchus, the servant, and healed his ear. Luke’s account says that Jesus touched where his ear had been. Jesus created a brand-new ear! [5]

 

“Peter made every mistake possible! He fought the wrong enemy, used the wrong weapon, had the wrong motive, and accomplished the wrong result!” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

“Don’t cut people’s ears off and then expect them to hear your message.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

 

Matthew 26:55-56a
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Mark 14:48-49
And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”

Luke 22:52-53
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

 

Jesus challenged their hypocrisy. They did not dare to touch him in the temple when people were following him. But now they came against him in the dark of night with swords and clubs. But this fulfilled the scripture and this was the time of darkness. It was time for Satan to act.

 

“This is your hour in association with the power of darkness, Satan. You’re doing it though hell is energizing you, you’re doing it because God has designed it.” – John MacArthur [2]

 

 

Matthew 26:56b
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Mark 14:50-52
And they all left him and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

 

The disciples had promised Jesus that they would be with him to the end, but they all left him and fled. Jesus is alone.

 

Mark added an epilogue to the scene. The soldiers grabbed a young man who was following them. The young man left his clothes in the hands of the soldiers and ran away naked.

 

Many commentators believe that this young man is Mark, the author of this gospel account.

 

Acts 12:12 tells about the believers meeting in the upper room, which belonged to Mark’s mother. Many scholars therefore believe that this is the same room where Jesus spent his last meal with the disciples (see here).

 

If Jesus had celebrated the Passover in Mark’s home, it is not unusual to expect that Mark was awakened by Judas and the soldiers coming to his house, and he followed them to Gethsemane. He would have been wearing very little since he was sleeping and it was the middle of the night.

 

This would also explain why Mark would add such an unflattering view of the young man. Here is one who attempts to see Jesus, and ends up running away naked (some commentators allow the young man to be wearing underwear).

 


 

[1] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Matthew 26:47-56, pages 84-85

 

[2] John MacArthur, A Traitorous Kiss for the Triumphant Savior, Luke 22:47-53

 

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Matthew 26:31-56, pages 78-79;

The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 18:2-11, pages 298-299

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 60, IN THE GARDEN, John 18:1-14

 

[5] Stephen Davey, A Tribute to the Lamb: Betrayed!, John 18:1-11

 

October 10, 2015

The Garden

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 10:12 pm

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The garden.

 

Gethsemane.

 

There were moments in the life of Jesus Christ when he suffered greatly, but this was total agony!

 

Here, in the garden, is the greatest struggle that Jesus will face. He will endure hardship, torture, and death at the hands of men on the way to the cross. But there was no struggle as he went to his death. The great struggle for Jesus Christ was here in the garden, in Gethsemane.

 

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “my food is to do my Father’s will” (see here). But now the horror of the cross draws near and it terrifies Him! It is not the physical pain that Jesus Christ fears, but the separation from His Father. He, the one who knew no sin, will take upon himself the guilt of all the sins of the world!

 

Jesus contemplated his upcoming death on Tuesday. The thought about what he was going to suffer horrified him, but Jesus refused on Tuesday to ask the Father to save him (see here).

 

But now it is Thursday night. The horror is so intense that Jesus struggles in anguish. He drops to his knees. He falls to the ground. He picks himself up, only to fall again. His blood vessels burst, and the blood mixes with sweat. God the Father sends an angel to comfort Him and keep Him alive.

 

Jesus refused to pray for deliverance on Tuesday, but now He asks for it three times! “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!” He cries out to the father was a plea of a child, “Abba, father!” That is to say, “Daddy help me!”

 

You may have seen the popular pictures of Jesus in the garden. In the pictures, Jesus is gently kneeling next to a large boulder with a serene look on his face. A ray of light illuminates Jesus and the ground around Him. Jesus looks sorrowfully and wistfully at the sleeping disciples in the background. In some pictures, he even has a halo on his head.

 

The true picture of Jesus Christ in the garden is anything but placid and serene. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is subjected to more suffering and conflict in that garden than we will ever understand. His struggle is filled with stumbling and falling, with loud wailing and tears, and sweat that was mixed with blood!

 

Hebrews 5:7
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

 

Gone is the eloquent prayer that he prayed as he left Jerusalem (see here). Matthew and Mark show that Jesus was filled with dread as he approached the garden. He left eight of his disciples and continued deeper into the garden with Peter, James, and John. He leaves those three and continues on alone.

 

He commanded his disciples to “watch and pray”. If there was a time when He needed companions, it was now. But as He goes on alone, the weariness and the sorrow of the day have taken their toll on the disciples. They fall asleep. Jesus is alone.

 

After struggling in prayer for an hour, Jesus returns to his sleeping disciples. He wakes them up and rebukes Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me for one hour?” He then warns the disciples to be alert and pray so that they do not enter into temptation. He knows that they want to follow him, but they do not know their own weakness. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

 

Jesus returns to His struggle in prayer, only to come back to find the disciples sleeping again. Leaving again, He returns for a third time into the garden to pray. His prayer is now complete and the struggle has ended. He returns to the sleeping disciples.

 

The time for sleep has come to an end. The time for prayer has ended. The enemy is at hand.

 

“But in that night the fierce wind of hell was allowed to sweep unbroken over the Saviour, and even to expend its fury upon those that stood behind in His Shelter.” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

 

“He disarmed Death by burying his shaft in His own Heart.” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

 

“The whole of the tremendous debt was put upon his shoulders;
the whole weight of the sins of all his people was placed upon him.
Once he seemed to stagger under it: ‘Father, if it be possible.’
But again he stood upright: ‘Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.’
The whole of the punishment of his people was distilled into one cup;
no mortal lip might give it so much as a solitary sip.
When he put it to his own lips, it was so bitter,
he well nigh spurned it—’Let this cup pass from me.’
But his love for his people was so strong, that he took the cup in both his hands, and
At one tremendous draught of love He drank damnation dry, for all his people.
He drank it all, he endured all, he suffered all;
so that now for ever there are no flames of hell for them, no racks of torment;
they have no eternal woes;
Christ hath suffered all they ought to have suffered, and they must, they shall go free.”
– C. H. Spurgeon [9]

 

 

Previous post: The Lord’s Prayer

 


John 18:1
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.


Matthew 26:36-46
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


Mark 14:32-42
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


Luke 22:39-46
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.


 

John 18:1
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

Luke 22:39
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.

 

In just a short phrase, John says, “he went…across the brook Kidron”. This short phrase is loaded with meaning.

 

The Kidron valley is the steep valley that borders Jerusalem on the east. Jesus had celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples in the “upper room” on the Western Hill of Jerusalem (see here). He then walked with them across the entire city of Jerusalem, passing the temple (see here), and exiting the city on the eastern side.

 

Their destination, on the opposite side of the Kidron valley, was the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem citizens were not allowed to have gardens within the city limits, but very wealthy would have gardens in the outlying areas, such as the Mount of Olives [1].

 

There was apparently a wealthy landowner in Jerusalem who had given Jesus access to his private garden. Jesus would often stay there with his disciples (John 18:2; see also John 8:1-2).

 

But John stops the narrative to point out that Jesus crosses the brook Kidron. There are some very significant points about this crossing:

 

Jesus has left the city of Jerusalem behind him. The Jewish leaders have been unable to kill Him because of the large crowds (see Matthew 26:5; Mark 14:2), but he is now away from these crowds. Jesus is now in danger.

 

Also, this same brook Kidron was the scene of another famous crossing in Israel’s history. King David had also crossed this valley when he fled from his son Absalom’s conspiracy. David also had been rejected by his own family and betrayed by a close friend (2 Samuel 15).

 

“Both David and Jesus were throneless kings, accompanied by their closest friends and rejected by their own people.” – Warren Wiersbe [2]

 

Finally, this was the Passover season. The temple mount was directly above them, where tens of thousands of lambs had been sacrificed that day. The blood from these lambs was drained from the temple, into the valley, and away from the city. The brook Kidron would have been flowing red from the blood of the lambs who were slain, when the Lamb of God made this crossing. He went to prepare himself for His own sacrifice. [3]

 

 

Matthew 26:36
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

Mark 14:32
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

Luke 22:40
And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

 

Gethsemane means, “oil press”. This was the garden of the oil press, no doubt in relation to present olive trees.

 

Jesus then placed eight of his disciples and instructed them to wait and to pray. Luke’s account tells us that they were to pray that they do not enter temptation. This would be a night of terrible struggle for them, for their leaders, and for their Lord.

 

“It was there that our blessed Lord, the Son of God, was to go through the oil press, as it were, the awful pressure that was to be put upon His heart and mind in view of the coming sacrifice He was about to offer on Calvary.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

 

Matthew 26:37-38
And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Mark 14:33-34
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

 

Jesus took his three closest disciples deeper into the garden. Peter, James, and John were to be with Him during His time of anguish.

 

Jesus sought out his closest companions to be with him during his most difficult time.

 

Jesus was very sorrowful and troubled. As the prospect of the cross grew near, Jesus was very alarmed. The very thought horrified him! He was “in the grip of horror” [1].

 

The horror was so intense that it nearly killed him!

 

“And now of a sudden the cold flood broke over Him. Within these few moments He had passed from the calm of assured victory into the anguish of the contest. Increasingly, with every step forward, He became ‘sorrowful,’ full of sorrow, ‘sore amazed,’ and ‘desolate.’” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

 

“Many godly people have been arrested, beaten, and slain because of their faith. But only Jesus experienced being made sin and a curse for mankind.” (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13) – Warren Wiersbe [2]

 

 

Matthew 26:39
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Mark 14:35-36
And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Luke 22:41-42
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

 

The “cup” is the symbol of God’s wrath throughout scripture. We are told that the wicked will drink the cup of God’s judgement (Psalm 11:6; Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17,22; Jeremiah 25:15-28; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19).

 

“And that cup involved His being made sin upon the cross. It involved God dealing with Him as though He were guilty of all the sin, all the wickedness, all the corruption that men and women have been guilty of all down through the millenniums. All our sins were to be laid upon Him, and He was to bear, in His own body and His own spirit there upon the cross all that those sins deserved. This was the cup from which He shrank.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

This is not the eloquent prayer of John 17. Jesus is facing the prospect of taking the guilt for all of the sins of the world. He will take every filthy, vile, perverse thing that we have ever done. God the Father will turn his back on him, severing the eternal bond that had never been broken.

 

Jesus faces this event and is horrified! It was customary for a man to stand in prayer, but Jesus is brought to his knees. We are told that he fell on the ground repeatedly. He drops to his knees, then falls down. He picks himself up only to fall down again.

 

Hebrews 5:7 tells us that Jesus prayed with loud wailing. He calls out to the Father in the most personal terms, “Daddy! Take this from me!”

 

Yet He always comes back to the Father’s will. Even in his darkest hour, He is able to conclude with “not my will but yours be done.”

 

 

Luke 22:43-44
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

 

Luke’s account tells more about the stress, the horror, and the crushing weight on Jesus Christ in the garden.

 

God the Father sent an angel to strengthen him. There is only one other recorded time that Jesus needed angels to keep Him alive — that was after he had fasted in the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13). The stress of the cross nearly killed Him!

 

His sweat became like great drops of blood. There is a rare phenomenon, called hematidrosis, where extreme stress can cause the blood vessels under the skin to burst, thereby mixing blood with sweat.

 

“He is cripplingly horrified by the prospect of the cross.” – Doug Bookman [3]

 

 

Matthew 26:40-41
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:37-38
And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Luke 22:45-46
And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.

 

Jesus may have still had blood on his face from the intensity of the struggle. He returns to Peter, James, and John after about an hour and finds them sleeping.

 

All of the disciples were sleeping, but Jesus directed the primary reprimand to Peter. This may have been because Peter was the most outspoken of the disciples, and had vowed twice that he would never leave Him.

 

Luke’s account says that they were “sleeping from sorrow”. The emotions and the tragedies of the day had taken their toll, and they could no longer stay focused. They fell asleep from their sorrow.

 

Jesus warned them with a command, “watch and pray”. They need to be vigilant because the enemy is near. He also knows that their own strength is no match for the enemy who is against them.

 

“Because willing spirits are still attached to unredeemed flesh, believers are not always able to practice the righteousness they desire to do.” (see Romans 7:15-23) [7]

 

 

Matthew 26:42-43
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

Mark 14:39-40
And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.

 

Jesus returned to his conflict in prayer for a second time. But this time, we see in his prayer, “your will be done”. These words show that he accepted that this is the Father’s will and was preparing to finish it.

 

He returned to the disciples a second time and found them sleeping again. This time, there is no record that Jesus woke them up.

 

“The conflict had been virtually, though not finally, decided, when the Saviour went back to the three sleeping disciples. He now returned to complete it, though both the attitude in which He prayed (no longer prostrate) and the wording of His Prayer -only slightly altered as it was -indicate how near it was to perfect victory.” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

 

“When there was no other way, He accepted the cup with perfect submission.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

 

Matthew 26:44
So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.

 

Jesus went back and prayed a third time. There are many parallels between Jesus’ struggle in the garden and His temptation at the beginning of his ministry. Both occasions brought him so near to death that he needed help from angels. Both occasions have a threefold conflict, and on both occasions, Jesus Christ emerges victorious.

 

 

Matthew 26:45-46
Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Mark 14:41-42
And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

 

The ESV translation of Matthew’s account here is misleading. The NASB translation of Matthew 26:45 is closer to Mark’s account and says:

Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

 

The time of prayer was over. It was time to wake up the disciples and be going. Jesus knew that Judas was coming with the soldiers.

 

“The agony was over. He was now perfectly composed as He went forth voluntarily, like a lamb to the slaughter, to meet those who were seeking Him in order to destroy Him.” – H.A. Ironside [8]

 


[1] Stephen Davey, A Tribute to the Lamb: Gethsemane!, John 18:1

 

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Luke 22:39-46, pages 215-216

 

[3] Doug Bookman, Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 60, IN THE GARDEN, John 18:1-14

 

[5] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XII. GETHSEMANE

 

[6] John MacArthur, Man of Sorrows, Part 1, Matthew 26:36-46

 

[7] John MacArthur, One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus, Part IX, 180. Jesus Prays in Gethsemane, pages 430-432

 

[8] H.A. Ironside, Chapter 26, The King faces the Cross, Matthew 26

 

[9] C. H. Spurgeon, Justification by Grace

 

October 1, 2015

The Lord’s Prayer

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 11:18 pm

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We know that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer to the Father.

 

He spent all night in prayer before choosing the 12 apostles (see here).

 

As his popularity grew, he would withdraw to desolate places to pray (see here).

 

He spent at least nine hours in prayer before coming down to rescue the struggling disciples on the Sea of Galilee (see here and here).

 

We know that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, but we have only brief excerpts of his words. John 17 has the longest recorded prayer from Jesus Christ, and it shows His heart as he comes to the Father on behalf of his disciples.

 

What does Jesus Christ pray for?

 

 

He prays for his glory

 

First, he prays for his glory. As the cross is rapidly approaching, Jesus is comforted by the fact that the cross will bring glory to Him and to God the Father (see here). He also looks past the cross to when He will return to the Father. Jesus Christ has been the focus of total glory and honor since before the world began. He now looks ahead to his return to glory with the Father.

 

It is all about God’s glory. Jesus is about to endure the agony and the separation of the cross, yet he looks forward to the glory that will come through it. With this in view, Jesus says, “It is time. Let it come.”

 

1 Peter 3:18,22
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, … who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

 

Colossians 3:1
​If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

 

 

He shows a new relationship with God

 

Jesus showed the world a different relationship with God. Faithful Jews throughout the Old Testament knew of God as someone to be revered and worshipped, but Jesus introduced something new. Never before in history had anyone addressed God as “Father”.

 

We need to revere and worship God, yet we can also know Him closely. We can have a close relationship with Him so that we ourselves can call him Father.

 

There is a special significance to the name of God. In the Jewish culture, the name of a person meant much more than simply a way to identify him. A person’s name expressed the nature and character of that person. A man’s name was his essence. [5]

 

Romans 8:14-15
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

 

He prays for His own – “Father, keep them”

 

Jesus prays for His own. These are the eleven disciples who are standing with him. Jesus recalls the following about them:

  • The Father gave them to him out of the world
  • They believed the words of God
  • They obeyed God
  • They know that Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father
  • They know that Jesus Christ was empowered by God the Father
  • Jesus taught them the Father’s character (his name)

 

God the Father had given these eleven disciples to Jesus Christ. But His own are much more than these eleven. This prayer and these promises are for all who have believed in Him. We became part of His own when we believed in Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus asks the Father to preserve us. He does not ask on behalf of the world that is rebelling against God, but he asks to preserve the believers who live in this world.

 

Remember again who is preserving us. We are being preserved based on the character and nature of the Holy God. Jesus kept every one of his disciples when he was on earth, and now he has committed us to the Father.

 

None of Jesus’ disciples were lost except for Judas, who never had believed in Him (see also here).

 

He left us this promise that the Father will keep us. We will not be lost. Through this promise we can have complete joy, even in severe trouble (see also here).

 

“But He says…I’m leaving. I’m leaving and the glory display of My presence and their surrounding that presence will change and they will remain. O Father, keep them.” – John MacArthur [5]

 

John 10:27-29
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

 

Romans 8:38-39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

He prays for His own – “Father, set them apart”

 

Believers in Jesus Christ are left in a world that is hostile to God and hates any who represent Him. Jesus does not pray for us to be taken out of this world, but that God would protect us through this world. His prayer is to protect us from the devil.

 

Jesus prays that God would sanctify us in this world. Literally, the word “sanctify” means to “set apart”. The truth of God’s word sets us apart from this world. We are in this world, but we are set apart to be used for God’s special purpose.

 

Ephesians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

He prays for His own – “that they be one”

 

Jesus prays for all believers, that we be one. We have different cultures and different gifts, but we have a common Father. We are kept and set apart by the same God. We have the same hope, that we will be reunited with Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus prays three times that “they be one even as we are one”. Our unity is patterned after the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are united because we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

 

We are given close fellowship with the Holy God. As we have this close fellowship with God, we will be united with the other believers in Jesus Christ who share this same fellowship with God.

 

One of the results of our unity is that we show Jesus to the world. We show the world that Jesus is from God and that we have the love of God.

 

In the second century, Tertullian wrote that even the heathen exclaimed with admiration, “Behold how these Christians love one another.” [9]

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

 

Ephesians 4:4-6
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

 

He prays for His own – “that they be with me”

 

Jesus prays that we would be with Him. When we are with Jesus, we will see his glory. As Jesus promised earlier (see here), He will come back for us. We will be with him for eternity.

 

2 Corinthians 5:6-8
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

 

 

Remember!

 

Jesus brought these requests to the Father before he finished his time on earth. These are not goals for us to achieve, but requests to God on our behalf. We know that all prayers by Jesus Christ are answered (John 11:42), so we can be sure that these have been done!

 

We know that the Lord Jesus Christ has returned to Heaven and is seated on the right hand of God the Father.

 

We know that we have a new relationship with God – he is now our father!

 

We know that the Father will keep us — nothing will separate us from him!

 

We know that the Father has set us apart — we are separate from this world and holy to Him!

 

We know that we are one in Jesus Christ — we all are one body!

 

We know that when we leave this mortal body, we will be with Jesus Christ!

 

Jesus did not pray for our action. All action in this prayer is by God the Father.

 

This prayer is not for what we will do. This prayer is for who we are!

 

 

Previous Post: Just a little while longer

 


John 17

 

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

 

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


 

John 17:1-5

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

 

Jesus had taught a new name of God, “Father”. God was never called “father” before Jesus came to earth. The Jews had always learned great reverence for God, but they never knew God as a father. There was no scripture or other document that ever referred to God as father before the time of Jesus Christ. [3]

 

There is only one time recorded that Jesus did not call God his father. When he was separated from God, on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

 

Jesus prays for glory twice in this beginning section. He first prays for the glory of himself so that he can reflect this glory on the Father. Jesus’ entire motivation when he was on earth was to glorify the Father. This first glory is related to His authority over all mankind and his ability to give eternal life to his own.

 

His second prayer for glory is looking forward to his reunion with God the Father. Jesus Christ will return to the full glory of deity that he had before the world existed.

 

His own — his disciples, both present and future, are a gift from the Father. Jesus refers to them seven times in this prayer as a gift from the Father.

 

What is the eternal life that he has given? The eternal life is more than a future hope of life forever. It is the living and active relationship with God himself! This “know” (ginōskō, γινώσκω) indicates a close and intimate relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ.

 

“It is the pure sunlight on the soul, resulting in, or reflecting the knowledge of Jehovah; the Personal, Living, True God, and of Him Whom He did send, Jesus Christ.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

“Life is not having the biggest and the best and the prettiest – life is knowing the father!” – Stephen Davey [3]

 

“He … never stumbled once on all the rocky pathway from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross of Calvary.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

 

John 17:6-8

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

 

The name of God was so sacred to the Old Testament Jews that they would never speak it. Jewish scribes were required to use a new quill every time they wrote the name of God. God was distant and fearsome to the Old Testament Jews and they never knew the concept of a close relationship with him.

 

Jesus Christ now turns his attention to his disciples. They are his own, a gift from the Father. The Father has chosen them out of the world to be a gift for the Son. Jesus says of his disciples:

  • They were the Father’s and they are given to the Son.
  • They have kept His word. None of these disciples were sinless (as evidenced by Peter), but they stayed in His word.
  • They know that the Father is the source of everything good (see also James 1:17).
  • They received the words from the Father through Jesus Christ.
  • They know in truth that Jesus came from the Father and that the Father sent Him.

 

“As possessors of the divine nature, there is in every Christian a desire to do the will of God and to keep His Word. One who lacks this has never been regenerated.” – H. A. Ironside [6]

 

 

John 17:9-11a

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.

 

Jesus is praying for the believers in this world. He asks the Father to keep those who are in Him. He is not praying for the world. It is not that Jesus has never prayed for unbelievers (see Luke 23:34), but this prayer and these promises here are only for the believers who are in Jesus Christ and belong to God the Father.

 

Jesus is glorified in us. We reflect His glory!

 

 

John 17:11b-12

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

 

Jesus is leaving the world, but what about His children who are left behind? It is in this backdrop that Jesus says, “Holy Father, keep them in your name”. Keep them, Father, according to all that you are. According to your character and nature.

 

In the context of the unbelieving world, Jesus addresses the Father as, “Holy Father”. Through all of the filth and wickedness and hatred of this world, God is still Holy. To be Holy means to be pure; revered; set apart. God is set apart from this wicked world. He is still pure and is still worthy of our praise.

 

Jesus prays for our preservation. Not one of them has been lost except for Judas. It is not that Jesus lost Judas, Judas never belonged to him. Even Judas’ rebellion was part of God’s plan (see here).

 

Jesus prays that we would be one, as God is one. As we belong to Jesus Christ and are kept by a Holy God, we are to be one. Note that being one means unity, not uniformity. We have many cultures and differences, but we are still one in Jesus Christ. We see from other scripture that this unity means the following:

 

 

John 17:13-19

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 

Jesus kept and guarded them while he was on earth. Now that he is leaving, his prayer is for the ones he is leaving behind. This prayer is specifically for his immediate disciples, but it is also for all of us who have believed in Jesus Christ.

 

He prays for our joy. He prays that we would filled with the same joy that He knew, even on the way to the cross. This is the same joy that Jesus promised to us when we keep his commandments (John 15:11).

 

He prays for our sanctification. The word sanctify (hagiazō, ἁγιάζω) literally means to “set apart as dedicated for a specific use”. In terms of believers in Jesus Christ, this word means for us to be set apart as dedicated to God. This word is also translated as “consecrated”, or “holy”.

 

We are in this world that hates us (see here). The world hates us because we are different and because we represent Jesus Christ. Jesus never prays that we are to be taken out of the world, but that God would protect us from the devil in this world.

 

But as we are in the world, He asks God the Father to set us apart from the world. The work of the Holy Spirit is to set us apart, to make us holy, and to bring us into conformity with God himself (see here). God uses His word, the truth, to set us apart.

 

For our sakes, the first person to be set apart was Jesus Christ himself. Our own sanctification is simply a step in following Him.

 

It is often very difficult for us to remain in contact with the world, yet to be also separated from the world. See below for seven principles of how we can wisely choose actions which allow us to be in the world without being contaminated by the world [8].

 

God’s word also talks about being justified. We are justified when we are cleared from every charge of guilt. By the blood of Jesus Christ, we are no longer guilty sinners but we are cleansed in God’s sight (Romans 5:1).

 

“But to sanctify is to set apart for a holy purpose. Because we were guilty sinners we needed to be justified. Because we were unclean and defiled by sin, we needed to be sanctified.” – H. A. Ironside [9]

 

1 Corinthians 6:11
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

 

John 17:20-23

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

 

Jesus spoke these words as he was walking to the Mount of Olives with his eleven faithful disciples. However, this prayer and these promises are extended to all of those who believe in Him. These promises are for all believers — both past, present, and future!

 

He prays again for our unity. Specifically, this is for the unity of believers in fellowship with God the Father and God the Son.

 

What does this mean?

 

First, it means that the we are in perfect fellowship with God. The Father and the Son exist in total unity: the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. As believers, we are given a part of this unity (“that they may be in us”).

 

Second, it means that we share in the glory of Jesus Christ. This is the glory of eternal life and the close, intimate relationship with God that was Jesus had prayed for (John 17:1-3). Because we have this close fellowship with God, we will know Him for all eternity, and will share in his glory.

 

As we have this close fellowship with God, we will be united with the other believers in Jesus Christ who share this same fellowship with God.

 

As we are united in Jesus Christ, we show the world that Jesus was sent by the Father and that we share in the Father’s love.

 

 

John 17:24-26

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

 

He prays for our future with Him. There is a glory of the Lord Jesus Christ which is incomprehensible here on earth. When we are with Him, we will be able to see the glory that he has once again taken up when he returned to the Father.

 

This is the glory that was given to Jesus Christ because of his coming to earth and because of his work on the cross. This is the glory that was given to him by God the Father, which Jesus prayed for at the beginning of His prayer (John 17:1-2), and which was given to him because of the great love of the Father.

 

The world does not know God the Father, but we know Him through Jesus Christ (John 14:8-11).

 

Finally, he prays that we may know Him. He has let us know the nature of God, and he will continue to show the Father to us. As we know the Father, we know his love. As we know the Father, we also know Jesus Christ.

 


 

[1] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 17, pages 330-334

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XI. THE LAST DISCOURSES OF CHRIST – THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION.

 

[3] Stephen Davey, The REAL Lord’s Prayer, John 17

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 55, OUR LORD’S HIGH-PRIESTLY PRAYER: PART 1, John 17:1-5

 

[5] John MacArthur, The Most Thrilling Prayer Ever Prayed, Part 2, John 17:6-19

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 56, OUR LORD’S HIGH-PRIESTLY PRAYER: PART 2, John 17:6-10

 

[7] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 17, pages 330-334

 

[8] Seven principles for how to be in the world without being contaminated by the world, by Douglas McLachlan [3]:

  1. Expediency. Never let the permissible become the enemy of the essential. (Philippians 1:10)
  2. Enslavement. Never be mastered by a habit or an activity (1 Corinthians 6:12).
  3. Enrichment. Does the activity build up your walk with God? (1 Corinthians 10:23)
  4. Exaltation. We should live to build up God’s reputation (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  5. Endangerment. Don’t do anything to cause other Christians to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13).
  6. Entanglement. Don’t become so busy with your pursuits that there is no time for Christ (2 Timothy 2:4-5).
  7. Equivocation. If you hesitate because you are unsure, then don’t do it (Romans 14:22-23).

Source: http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/cbtj/09-1_029.pdf

 

[9] H.A. Ironside, Address 58, OUR LORD’S HIGH-PRIESTLY PRAYER: PART 4, John 17:17-21

 

September 16, 2015

Just a little while longer

Filed under: encouragement, theology, Uncategorized — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 9:59 pm

Koksan gun barrel
This will not be easy.

 

We can easily get caught up in our current events. Hatred is an all-time high. Biblical morals are at an all-time low.

 

Americans are vocally showing their hatred for Christians and anything different from them.

 

Religious zealots around the world are looking to kill and destroy Christians and anything associated with them.

 

Our government often acts like it is paralyzed. At best, it is doing nothing. At worst, is the cause of the problems.

 

These thoughts were written almost 70 years ago. This was from a pastor in the 1940’s. [3]

 

Two other teachers also shared the exact same thoughts. One taught this same message in the 1970’s [6] and the other in the 1990’s [1].

 

Jesus promises that the world will hate us. The world’s system of belief has been set up by the devil and will always be opposed to Jesus Christ.

 

During his final time of teaching, Jesus has used the most personal and comforting words to encourage his terrified disciples.

 

He gave encouragement:

  • He will be glorified (magnified) and God the Father will be glorified in him (John 13:31-32, see here).
  • He will come back for us like a bridegroom returning for his bride (John 14:1-4, see here).
  • He is the only way to God (John 14:5-7).
  • He will send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will teach us, guide us, and will never leave us (see here).
  • He will answer our prayer (John 14:13-14; John 15:16; John 16:23-24).
  • He gives us a peace that is beyond anything the world can offer (John 14:27).

 

He left instructions:

 

He also warned Peter that he did not know his own weakness (John 13:36-38). But there is a greater warning for all of us.

 

We are to abide in Him and to love each other because the world will be our enemy.

 

Jesus never promises an easy life. The world will hate those who claim Jesus Christ as Lord. They hated Him and they will hate us when we represent Him.

 

The world will hate us because we are not part of this world.

 

The world will hate us because we show them that they are guilty. Jesus came to earth almost 2,000 years ago and they rejected Him. Even today, people still refuse to believe in Jesus Christ.

 

The Holy Spirit within us will show Jesus Christ to the world. He will show people their sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. He will either convince them or judge them (see here).

 

Followers of Jesus will be thrown out social, political, and religious circles. Just like Saul in the New Testament (see here), they will kill Christian men and women, thinking that they are serving God by killing them.

 

Jesus says, “Remember that I told you, it will get rough”.

 

So how can we respond to this?

 

It is popular to curse the darkness. Should we fight back?

 

Should we live in fear?

 

Jesus takes the last part of his final sermon to tell his disciples how to respond. These words for them are just as appropriate today. The threats may have changed since Jesus’ day, but the same devil controls the people of the world today as he did 2,000 years ago.

 

Jesus tells us the following:

 

Leave them to the Holy Spirit

 

The Holy Spirit will convict the people who do not believe in Jesus Christ. As discussed here, the Holy Spirit will show each man and woman the truth about Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who will convince those who believe, and it is the Holy Spirit who will pass judgment on those who refuse to believe.

 

It is not for us to personally convince people of Jesus Christ. We need to stay close to Jesus Christ and let the Holy Spirit work through us.

 

The sorrow is temporary

 

Jesus was arrested, tortured, and executed while his enemies celebrated. Yet the Roman cross — the instrument of His execution — is our cause for joy. We can look back and see how God used the anguish and sorrow of the cross to defeat death and crush Satan. It is because of this cross that we have hope of life in Jesus Christ.

 

In the same way, the horrors and the sorrow that we experience today will someday cause us to rejoice. Like the pains of childbirth, Jesus promises that there will be a time when our pain will end and it will be replaced by joy.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

Jesus promises that when he comes back, he will give us joy that no one can take away!

 

“Sorrow can crush us if we don’t view it as temporary, allowed, and designed for our spiritual growth.” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

We have direct access to God the Father

 

We are the friends of God (John 15:15-16). There is no longer any need for parables or figures of speech. We can learn directly about God. We can pray directly to God!

 

We will fail

 

It is comforting to know that Jesus predicted that his followers would all run away. They thought they had it all figured out, but they did not know the enemy who is against them.

 

Jesus knew that they would fail when he gave all of these promises. Not one of these promises were broken by their failure. There is nothing that we can do to break the promises of God!

 

“I have overcome the world”

 

We will have tribulation. Literally, this word means to “be pressed together”. We will have distress, affliction, anguish, pressure in this world, but Jesus is greater!

 

John 16:33

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

 

Previous post: The Vine and the Branches

 


 

John 15:18 – 16:33

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: They hated me without a cause.’

 

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.


“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.


“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”


His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 


 

John 15:18-21

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

 

You will be hated if you stand for Christ.

 

When John describes “The World”, he is talking about the system of mankind that has set itself against God. This is the world’s systems, the world’s values, the world’s philosophies, and the world’s morals. [1]

 

The “If” here implies that it will happen. The world will hate you because you are different. You are not of this world because Jesus Christ has chosen you from this world.

 

Jesus reminds them of an earlier statement that he made, “No servant is greater than his master” (John 13:16). His previous statement was that they needed to share in his humility, now it is that they will share in his persecution.

 

See also 1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

 

“The Christians are the conscience of the world. We will be an irritant for those people who refuse to follow Christ.” – Stephen Davey [1]

 

John 15:22-25

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: They hated me without a cause.’

 

They are guilty of the specific sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. His coming incited the severest and most deadly sin, that of rejecting and rebelling against God and his truth. [2]

 

But they are also condemned for hating the Father. They have willfully rejected both the words and the works of Jesus Christ, and they have no excuse.

 

Jesus quoted Psalm 69, where we are given a prophetic picture of his dying on the cross for our sins.

 

“That is, the Lord Jesus Christ not only ministered by word of mouth but He authenticated His teaching by His acts of power, and every miracle wrought by Christ proved that He was what He professed to be, the holy, spotless Son of God. The people went in crowds to see His miracles, but they rejected the One who wrought these works and therefore, added to their own condemnation.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

John 15:26-27

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

See here for a longer discussion about the helper, the Holy Spirit. The context here is that the Holy Spirit will bear witness of Jesus Christ in the face of a world that hates him.

 

John 16:1-4a

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

 

Jesus did not want them to be caught unaware, literally, “caught in a trap”. The world will no longer be able to directly attack Jesus, so they will go after his followers. Jesus is preparing them for the conflict.

 

They will throw them out of the synagogues, thus excluding them from any social and religious life (see here). They will kill them, all the while believing that they are doing great things for God. The Apostle Paul was an example of such a person before he came to know Christ (Philippians 3:1-10).

 

But don’t be surprised. Know that Jesus said it would happen.

John 16:4b-15

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

See here for a longer discussion about the Helper, the Holy Spirit.

 

John 16:16-22

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

 

In a little while, and they would no longer see him. A little while longer, and they would see him again.

 

There will be a time of sorrow and separation as Jesus will be taken and killed. They will be filled with sorrow while the world rejoiced.

 

But he promises that their sorrow will be turned to joy. The cross — the very thing that caused their sorrow — will be their cause for rejoicing when Jesus Christ rises from the dead. Jesus uses the illustration of childbirth. There is a time of pain and anguish. But in the end, the same thing that caused such pain is now the greatest joy.

 

What time is Jesus talking about when he says that they will see him again in a little while? The immediate time when they will see him again will occur three days later, when he rises from the dead. However, two other events will also occur before their relationship with Him is complete:

 

  • The Helper, the Holy Spirit will come at Pentecost. He will indwell all those who believe in Him and He provides the permanent presence of God with those on earth. See here for more discussion about the Holy Spirit.

 

  • Jesus Christ himself will come again for his own. This final return of Jesus Christ has not happened yet. This is the promise which was given in John 14:1-3. See here for more details.

 

John 16:16 uses two different words for “see”. The first word, θεωρέω (theōreo), describes visual recognition. But the second word, ὁράω (horao), indicates both seeing and understanding. They will no longer be able to see him with their eyes, but when he returns, they will both see and understand. This understanding was not possible until the coming of the Holy Spirit.

 

John 16:23-24

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 

See here for a further discussion about prayer in Jesus’ name. Note that the emphasis here is to pray that your joy may be full.

 

See also the 10 reasons why we should pray, by R. A. Torrey [7]

 

“He says ‘You cannot come to Me personally, but you can go to the Father and bring your request to Him, and He will give you what you ask for in My name. He will do it for Me.'” – H.A. Ironside [5]

 

John 16:25-28

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

 

Jesus often spoke in parables. Although each parable may have a simple and obvious explanation, there is also a much deeper truth that could only be understood by the Holy Spirit.  The epistles of the New Testament are designed to unfold Jesus’ teaching to the hearers. [6]

 

After the coming of the Holy Spirit, there is no longer any need for parables.

 

“Jesus will not ask the father on our behalf because we now have direct access to the father ourselves!” – John MacArthur [6]

 

Jesus summarized his ministry: he came from the Father, he came into the world, he is leaving the world and returning to the Father.

 

John 16:29-33

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

Jesus predicts their spiritual failure in his closing words. They think they understand but they have no concept of the enemy who is against them.

 

But this should also be a comfort to us. Not one of our failures will invalidate God’s promises! He has given us these promises knowing fully that we will fail. We will have trouble in this world.

 

But take heart! Jesus is greater!

 

“I have overcome the world!”

 


 

[1] Stephen Davey, When the Tables Are Turned Part III, John 15:18-27

 

[2] John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible Notes, John 15:18-16:4

 

[3] H.A. Ironside, Address 51, NOT OF THE WORLD, John 15:18-27

 

[4] Stephen Davey, In Case You Lose Heart, John 16:1-33

 

[5] H.A. Ironside, Address 54, PRAYER IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, John 16:23-33

 

[6] John MacArthur, Peace: A By-Product of Faith, Hope, and Love, Part 1, John 16:25-27

 

[7] 10 reasons why we should pray, by R. A. Torrey

  • “Because there is a devil and prayer is the God-appointed means of resisting him”
  • “Because prayer is God’s way for us to obtain what we need from Him”
  • “Because the apostles, whom God set forth to be a pattern for us, considered prayer to be the most important business of their lives”
  • “Because prayer occupied a prominent place and played a very important part in the earthly life of our Lord”
  • “Because prayer is the most important part of the present ministry of our Lord, since He is now interceding for us”
  • “Because prayer is the means God has appointed for our receiving mercy from Him and of obtaining grace to help in time of need”
  • “Because prayer is the means of obtaining the fullness of God’s joy”
  • “Because prayer with thanksgiving is the means of obtaining freedom from anxiety and, in anxiety’s place, that peace which passes understanding”
  • “Because prayer is the means by which we are to keep watchful and be alert at Christ’s return”
  • “Because prayer is used by God to promote our spiritual growth, bring power into our work, lead others to faith in Christ, and bring all other blessings to Christ’s church”

Source, “How to Pray”, by R.A. Torrey [4]

 

September 8, 2015

The Vine and the Branches

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 12:06 am

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This passage contains one of the simplest and one of the most well-known allegories of the Christian life: the vine and the branches.

 

The popular belief is that you need to behave well in order to be a good Christian. You get closer to God by acting better, doing good deeds, and being kind to other people. You then make God happy by how nice you have become.

 

Jesus teaches the complete opposite!

 

It was late Thursday night, on Jesus’ final night on earth. As he walked through the streets of Jerusalem with his disciples, the great temple would be in full view in front of them. A massive golden vine covered the top of the wall, with the grapes “as tall as a man’s height” (according to Josephus) [3].

 

In front of this backdrop, Jesus says, “I am the true vine.”

 

The great vine was the national symbol of Israel. God himself had used the vine to illustrate Israel, but they had turned away from God. Instead of showing God’s glory to earth, they had become a wild vine bearing useless fruit (see Isaiah 5:1-7 and Jeremiah 2:21).

 

Israel was supposed to be the means to bring people to God, but they failed. Israel was to showcase God’s glory, but they thought only of themselves. Unlike faithless Israel, Jesus is the true vine. Jesus is the way to God (John 14:6) and he brings glory to God (John 15:8).

 

All of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ have a part in Jesus’ mission. He is the vine, the true vine, and we are the branches.

 

Our job – our essential job – is to abide in Him. As a branch stays in the vine, so we are to stay close to Jesus Christ. Jesus supports and gives life to his people in the same way that the vine supports and gives life to the branches.

 

Jesus never teaches that you should do good things to get close to God. He says the opposite – stay close to him and he will do the good things through us. This is beyond anything that we can do, and so God gets all of the credit!

 

Jesus makes several wonderful promises of what will happen when we abide in him.

 

We produce fruit when we abide in him. Jesus gives us permanent, tangible results when we stay close with him. This fruit in our lives may vary, but it includes repentance, good works, godly attitudes, wisdom, praise, and impact on others (see below for a more detailed list).

 

We are totally helpless to generate this fruit apart from Jesus Christ. We often think that our problem is that we are not trying hard enough. Jesus says to stop trying altogether. “Just abide in me!”

 

“We are not handicapped, we are paralyzed!” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

We will be pruned when we abide in him. He cuts out the empty parts of us so that we can produce more fruit. This pruning process can be painful, but God wants us to grow into a more fruitful branch for Him.

 

“And so when we have to pass through great trials, deep waters and many sorrows, it is not an evidence that He does not love us, that He does not care for us.” – H.A. Ironside [2]

 

He answers our prayers when we abide in Him. God never promises to answer our prayers when we are avoiding Him (Psalm 66:18). But when we abide in Him, we are able to pray from the very heart of Jesus Christ, asking what he himself would ask (see here).

 

We radiate the love of Jesus Christ when we abide in Him. We are anchored in the love of Christ and we show it by our love for others. We are no longer slaves, but friends of the Lord Jesus Christ! He demonstrated his love for us, as his friends, by giving his own life for us (see also Romans 5:8).

 

We keep Jesus’ commandments when we are anchored in His love by abiding in Him. It is no longer a duty to obey him but an act of love. We show our love to Him by loving His children.

 

We experience full joy when we abide in him. Jesus was only hours from dying on a Roman cross, yet he promised joy to his disciples! This joy is beyond happiness, and can survive through the worst of pain. How do we experience this joy? We experience this full joy when we abide in Him.

 

We experience this full joy when do what we were created to do – to glorify God!

 

Jesus gives one more promise in this section. Your time is limited if you do not know Jesus Christ. If you have never believed in Him, then you are as useless to Him as a branch that never produces grapes. You can pretend to be close to Jesus Christ, but take a warning from the useless branch. The destiny of the useless branch is to be thrown away, to wither, to be gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

 

If you have not believed in Jesus Christ, do not hesitate any longer! This may be your last chance to believe in Him (see here). Be warned, but come to him before you are thrown out like the useless branch.

 

If you have believed in Jesus Christ, abide in him. Abide in Him! Stay close to Jesus Christ and obey him out of your love for Him. All of the good deeds that you can do are useless if you do them apart from Jesus Christ.

 

 

Previous Post: The Holy Spirit

 


John 15:1-17

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.



John 15:1-3

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

 

The vine was the national symbol of Israel. God had used the illustration of a vine to describe Israel throughout the Old Testament (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21, 6:9; Ezekiel 15:1-8, 17:1-10, 19:10-14; Hosea 10:1, 14). However, the illustrations in the Old Testament all pointed to Israel’s failures.

 

In contrast to the failing nation of Israel, Jesus is the true vine. He is the source of life. He holds the branches in place and provides strength and energy for the branches to bear fruit.

 

Note also that this is the seventh time in John’s gospel account where he uses the name of God, “I AM” to describe himself. I AM the true vine! See here for the complete list.

 

God the Father is the caretaker of the vine (i.e. “vinedresser”, “husbandman”) in this analogy. He is the one who removes fruitless branches and he prunes the fruitful branches so that they might bear more fruit.

 

What are the fruitless branches? The best understanding is that the fruitless branches are those who are associated with Jesus Christ but do not know him personally. They are the weeds (i.e. “tares”) in Matthew 13 and the false teachers in Matthew 7:15-23. See below for further discussion about the fruitless branches [1].

 

“We are to bear spiritual fruit. And if we don’t bear spiritual fruit we are as useless to the cause of Christ as a branch that bears no grapes.” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

But the lesson here is directed to the fruitful branches. The fruitful branches will be pruned in order to bear more fruit. They are kept clean of any tendency to diseased or fruitless growth. This pruning involves cutting away the bad and diseased growth and stimulating proper growth and fruit bearing.

 

Many commentators point out that the cutting process can be painful. God will often use suffering in our lives in order to make us more fruitful.

 

These pruning steps have already begun through the words of Jesus Christ.

 

 

John 15:4-8

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

 

The imperative here is to “abide in me”. We cannot bear fruit on our own. We can do nothing without Him.

 

This same word, “abide”, can also be translated as “continue” or “remain”. It is the same word in John 8 to show the evidence of true disciples:

John 8:31-32

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

See here for a discussion about this section in John 8.

 

We will bear fruit when we abide in Him. We draw close to Jesus Christ and demonstrate that we are his disciples. Spiritual fruit bearing is the direct result of a relationship. [4]

 

What is our motivation for doing this? The Father is glorified by this. We glorify God when we abide in Jesus Christ and bear fruit. God gets all the glory because we cannot do it on our own. we can only bear fruit through Jesus Christ.

 

Note the progression of the fruitless branch. He is thrown away. Then he withers. Then he is gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. It is a slow progression downward. You may fool many people for a while, but the end is a slow death if you do not believe in Jesus Christ.

 

What is the fruit that Jesus promises here? “Fruit” is a broad term and describes any of the external acts of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The New Testament describes fruit in the following ways:

 

“Part of our spiritual poverty comes from the fact that we are convinced that we can produce fruit. We cannot.” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

“Whatever abilities you and I think we have, they are worthless in trying to bear fruit apart from Jesus Christ.” – John MacArthur [5]

 

 

John 15:9-11

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

When you are totally connected to Jesus Christ, you are abiding in Him, and abide in his love. You will keep his commandments as an outpouring of your love for Him. In the same way, Jesus has kept the Father’s commandments as an outpouring of his love for the Father.

 

“He says, in effect, ‘If you abide in fellowship with Me and make it the object of your life to glorify Me, you shall share My joy. The very joy that is Mine will be yours, that your joy may be full.'” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

 

John 15:12-25

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

 

In that culture, The king had a select group of people who were called “the friends of the king”. They were his counselors, protectors, and closest companions. They always had immediate access to the King. [7]

 

This is our new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not slaves who are blindly given orders, but friends who are also given the details. Our friendship with Jesus Christ is marked by our love for each other.

 

Jesus gave the ultimate demonstration of love when he gave up his life for us.

 

 

John 15:16-27

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

 

“Jesus chose them for a mission, and his Father would answer their requests in order to accomplish that mission.” [8]

 


 

[1] Most Bible scholars interpret the “fruitless branches” in John 15:2 and 15:6 as one of the following possibilities:

  • They are believers who are removed from the body of Christ because they failed to abide in Him. In other words, this theory proposes that believers lose their relationship to Jesus Christ when they fail. But this is contrary to scripture, especially Jesus’ teaching in John 10, where he clearly teaches that we cannot be taken from Him (see here).
  • They are believers who are under judgment. Therefore, their works are burned up because of their disobedience, but they have not lost their salvation nor their relationship with Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). This is consistent with scripture and is endorsed by many respected Bible scholars, but it hard to find much support for this in John 15. The analogy in John 15 describes dead branches that are removed and burned up.
  • They are unbelievers who are like Judas and have never personally believed in Jesus Christ. They continue with believers for a while, but are ultimately removed and destroyed. This is consistent with the rest of scripture and is supported in this analogy. See also Matthew 25:46 and Revelation 20:10–15.

 

[2] H.A. Ironside, Address 49, THE TRUE VINE, John 15:1-8

 

[3] Flavius Josephus, War of the Jews, Book 5 Chapter 5

 

[4] Stephen Davey, When the Tables Are Turned Part I, John 15:1-11

 

[5] John MacArthur, Abiding in the Vine, Part 2, John 15:5-8, 11

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 50, ABIDING IN LOVE, John 15:9-17

 

[7] John MacArthur, The Friends of Jesus, John 15:12-16

 

[8] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 15:1-17, pages 325-326

 

August 24, 2015

The Holy Spirit

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , , , — Steve Knaus @ 9:22 pm

john-14-16


The New Testament says a lot about the Holy Spirit. In the book of Ephesians, we are told to be filled with (literally, “dominated by”) the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21). The book of Galatians contains the famous passage about living in the Spirit and the fruit (effects) of The Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

But what did Jesus say about the Holy Spirit? Up to this point, Jesus has taught extensively about God the Father and God the Son. As seen in John 5, the Father and the Son are totally equal and abide together in total intimacy.

 

But Jesus has not taught directly about God the Holy Spirit until now. He alluded to the Holy Spirit in John 3 and John 7, but he did not directly teach about the Holy Spirit until he was ready to leave.

 

Jesus’ entire ministry was a living demonstration of the Holy Spirit. Jesus surrendered the use of his divine attributes when he came to earth. This included his omnipotence (being all-powerful) and omniscience (being all-knowing) (see here). He lived on earth with the same limitations of humanity, except that he had no sin (see here). He totally relied on the Holy Spirit for direction, knowledge, and power to perform miracles.

 

The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus Christ when he was baptized by John (see here). The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan (see here). He gave him supernatural knowledge about the Samaritan woman (see here). Most notably, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of doing miracles by the power of the devil, Jesus condemned them for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (see here and here). The miracles of Jesus were done through the Holy Spirit.

 

But now Jesus is leaving. He promises to send the Holy Spirit, the same person who enabled him through his ministry on earth. The Holy Spirit will come as a helper, one who will come alongside believers in this world.

 

Who is the Holy Spirit?

 

Who is the Holy Spirit? Jesus also refers to Him as the Helper (also translated “comforter”) and  the “Spirit of Truth”.

 

The Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force. The world does not know him, he dwells with you. He will teach you. …

 

The Holy Spirit is God. Jesus promises to send another helper, literally, “one who is exactly like me”. He will come from the Father.

 

The Holy Spirit will be with us forever. Old Testament saints knew that the Spirit of God would come upon people for a short time, but now he promises to stay with us forever!

 

The Holy Spirit will lead us to the truth. He is the Spirit of Truth. He is our divine teacher who will bring God’s Word to our mind, and will illuminate His Word so that we can understand it.

 

The Holy Spirit is unknowable to the unbelieving world. Those without Christ cannot see or know the Holy Spirit. By contrast, he will show himself to those who believe.

 

The Holy Spirit is in complete unity with God the Father and God the Son. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in the name of the Son.

 

The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit reveals Him to those who believe. His ministry always points back to Jesus Christ.

 

“And he is the comforter. We often believe that the comforter is like a warm fuzzy blanket, but he is the strength that will give us the ability to stand against evil. He fortifies us with supernatural strength.” – Stephen Davey [2]

 

The role of the Holy Spirit with the unbelieving world

 

The Holy Spirit shows Jesus Christ, even to those who do not believe. He is the voice behind the persecuted Christians who tell of Jesus, even when it leads them to torture or death. The Spirit of Truth will bear witness of Jesus Christ.

 

The Holy Spirit will either convince or convict those who do not know Jesus. If He does not convince you to believe in Jesus, He will be the one to convict you. If he cannot persuade you, he will pronounce the sentence of eternal punishment.

 

He shows you your sin. If you do not believe in him, your unbelief will be the one sin that condemns you (John 3:18).

 

“… the outstanding sin which will separate you from God forever will be that you rejected the Savior whom He has provided.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

He shows you the standard of what it means to be “righteous”. There was only one perfect person — Jesus Christ! Jesus defeated death and is now with God the Father. He sits with the Father in complete perfection.

 

He shows you your ultimate destiny if you do not believe. Satan, the ruler of the world, is already judged. Those who refuse Jesus Christ will face judgement with him.

 

“If Jesus Christ swung the death blow at Satan and hit dead center, you don’t think that someone less than Satan is going to get away. When Satan was judged, every man and every angel that ever attached himself to Satan was damned with him.” – John MacArthur [5]

 

The role of the Holy Spirit with believers

 

Jesus tells his 11 terrified companions that this is to their advantage that he leave them. Why?

 

What could be better than living with God himself? They had spent over three years with him!

 

How can this be an advantage?

 

Jesus was limited by his human body. While Jesus was in one place on earth, the Holy Spirit can be everywhere. While Jesus was with some believers on earth, the Holy Spirit will be in all believers.

 

The Holy Spirit teaches wherever God’s Word is present. When Jesus taught in one city, the next city was not able to hear the Word of God. Without the Holy Spirit, the Gospel could never spread across the entire world.

 

The Holy Spirit gives understanding. The disciples could not understand what Jesus did and what He taught. They needed the Holy Spirit to give them understanding (John 12:16).

 

Below is just a sampling of the many ways that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers [4]:

 

“He opens up the riches of grace and love, and gives us to know the wealth of the realm over which Christ is set and which we are to share with Him.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

Previous Post: I Am Returning to the Father

 


 

John 14:15-17
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

 

John 14:25-26
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

 

John 15:26
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

 

John 16:7-11
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

John 16:12-15
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 


 

John 14:15-17
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

 

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, the same person who enabled him through his ministry on earth. He will come as a helper (paraklētos, παράκλητος), or literally, one who will come along side to help believers.

 

In this passage, Jesus teaches the following about the Holy Spirit:

 

  • The Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force. Just like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is described with the masculine pronouns, “him” and “he”. Ephesians 4:30  shows the Holy Spirit possessing emotions and being grieved.

 

  • The Holy Spirit is God. John 14:16 says that He will give another helper. The word for “another” here is allos (ἄλλος), which means “another of the exact same kind” [1]. Jesus is not a different helper, but one who exactly like him. The Holy Spirit possesses the exact same attributes as God the Father and God the Son. Other scripture also shows that the Holy Spirit is God: Acts 5:3-4 (equates the Holy Spirit with God); 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 (he knows the mind of God); Matthew 28:19 (equated with the Father and the Son).

 

  • The Holy Spirit will be with us forever. He was with believers in the Old Testament, but His presence was only temporary (see Psalm 51:11). Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will never leave us.

 

  • The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He will lead us into truth (see John 16:13 below).

 

  • The Holy Spirit is not visible to the world. The world is not capable of understanding the Holy Spirit.

 

The disciples knew the Holy Spirit because He already was living with them in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived WITH them, but he would be IN them.

 

 

John 14:25-26
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

 

The Holy Spirit will be our amazing, illuminating teacher.  [2]

 

Note the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in the name of the Son.

 

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have sent to you”.

 

Jesus was leaving and the disciples still had a lot to learn (John 16:12-13). His promise to them was that they would continue to be taught the Holy Spirit. How could Jesus leave the Gospel in the hands of 11 terrified followers? The Holy Spirit would teach them all they needed to know. Likewise, the Holy Spirit will teach us all that we need to know.

 

There are two parts to this promise. The first part of the promise is to the eleven disciples. They will be writing the words of Jesus as they write pages of the New Testament. How did they remember the exact words of Jesus when they wrote them down many years later? The Holy Spirit brought his words back to their memory.

 

But this promise is also for all who believe. The Holy Spirit will also teach us the truth from God and bring what he said to our memory.

 

 

John 15:26
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

 

The context of John 15 is that the world will hate Jesus and all who follow him. But in the face of those who hate Him, the Holy Spirit will bear witness about Jesus through us.

 

In contrast to the hatred and lies, He will be the Spirit of Truth.

 

 

John 16:7-11
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

One ministry of the Holy Spirit is that he will convict the world. The word for “convict” is elegchō (ἐλέγχω), which has two meanings. The first meaning is to pass sentence (i.e. convict), and the second meaning is to convince. Both meanings apply here. If the Holy Spirit does not convince you, then he will convict you. [5]

 

How does the Holy Spirit convict the world?

 

He shows us our sin. Singular. There are many sins, but only one sin leaves you eternally separated from God — the sin of not believing in Him (John 3:18).

 

“Oh, hear me, my friend, if you stand, at last, condemned before the Almighty God and hear Christ say, ‘I never knew you: depart from me’ (Matt. 7:23), it will not be simply because of the sins of your daily life, many of which you declare you are overtaken in and are powerless to resist, but the outstanding sin which will separate you from God forever will be that you rejected the Savior whom He has provided.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

He shows us our standard. Jesus is completely perfect. He has proved his righteousness by defeating death. He is now seated with God the Father. Jesus is the standard, and this is what he offers us if we believe in Him.

 

He shows us our destiny if we do not believe. Satan is the ruler of this world and he is already judged.

 

 

John 16:12-15
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

Jesus was leaving and they were not ready. The promise of Jesus was that the Holy Spirit would teach them.

 

This promise is primarily for the eleven disciples in the room. They will be led by the Holy Spirit to write the scriptures of the New Testament. But he is also the teacher of every believer. He will reveal God’s truth to us.

 

Note that the ministry of the Holy Spirit always points back to Jesus Christ. He will glorify the Son.

 


 

[1] John MacArthur, The Promise of the Holy Spirit, Part 1, John 14:15-19

 

[2] Stephen Davey, Introducing the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-31, John 16:5-7

 

[3] H.A. Ironside, Address 47, THE PROMISED COMFORTER, John 14:15-26

 

[4] The role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Sources:

John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible Notes, (c) 1997, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The New Open Bible, Study Edition, (c) 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 

[5] John MacArthur, The Holy Spirit Convicts the World, Part 2, John 16:8-11

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 52, THE MISSION OF THE COMFORTER, John 16:1-16

 

August 6, 2015

I Am Returning to the Father

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 11:06 pm

john-14-2

It is late Thursday night, and Jesus has just finished the Passover dinner with his disciples. He showed them humility by washing their feet. He told them that there was a traitor among them. During their time of astonishment, the traitor, Judas, left.

 

The events are now in motion. By the next morning, Jesus will be taken away to die on a Roman cross.

 

But Jesus needs to prepare his struggling disciples. He is going to leave and they cannot come. Jesus was their entire life for the last three years, and now he will be gone! They are still struggling with the thought that one of the disciples would betray him, and this new news must have been too much to bear!

 

What follows is one of the most touching and heartfelt conversations between Jesus and his disciples:

 

 

“I am leaving and you cannot come”

 

These events will lead to God’s glory. Before anything else, God’s glory is most important!

 

He will crush the power of sin and death.

 

God will show his justice, faithfulness, mercy and love by letting his own son die for the entire world!

 

Jesus will have the ultimate glory when he rises from the dead and returns to Heaven.

 

But what about the ones left behind?

 

What about his followers here on earth?

 

They are not left alone. We are not left alone. We have each other.

 

Jesus’ final command is to love each other. Regardless of background. He will repeat this command throughout this final conversation (see here).

 

 

Peter: “Why can’t I follow you? I would die for you!”

 

Peter is ready to follow his Lord Jesus to death! But Peter does not know his own weakness. When the time comes to be brave, Peter will be hiding like a coward, denying that he ever knew him!

 

He will do this three times.

 

It is easy to fall upon our own bravado. We belittle others’ failures and vow that we would have never done that if it were us!

 

But notice that this follows closely on Jesus’ command. We are to be known by our love — even when we fail!

 

 

“You will be with me for all eternity!”

 

Jesus gives some of the deepest words of encouragement in all of Scripture. He will no longer be physically present. But they needed to put their trust in an invisible God, and believe in him in the same way.

 

“Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” [7]

 

“Stop agonizing in your hearts. I am completely trustworthy.” [5]

 

Like a husband who is preparing a place for his bride, so Jesus is returning to the Father’s house to prepare a place for us. He will bring us back to himself and we will be with him for eternity!

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

 

 

Thomas: “How can we know the way?”

 

Thomas speaks for the rest of the group when he says, “I don’t get it”. How can we know the way?

 

Jesus’ reply is direct.

 

“I am the way”. He is the way, the only way to God. He is not just giving directions, he will take us there himself.

 

“I am the truth”. He is the truth, the only truth. They know the Father because they know the Son. With him is truth. Apart from him, there is no truth.

 

“I am the life”. He is the life, the only life. There cannot be death in his presence (see here). There cannot be life apart from him.

 

He is exclusive. No one else can get to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

 

“Religion is worthless because it provides no way to get to heaven.” – John MacArthur [9]

 

“While many religions will try to take bad people and make them better, only one is qualified to take dead people and make them alive.” – Stephen Davey [8]

 

 

Philip: “Just show us the Father.”

 

Philip’s request is, “Please just give us something tangible.”

 

But we already know the Father when we know Jesus Christ. He is given us not one, but two tangible things: his words that he said, and his works that he did.

 

How often do we look something more from God when we should be relying on what he has already given us!

 

 

“You will do greater things. Ask in my name and I will do it.”

 

Jesus showed the Father when he was on earth. Now that he is returning to the Father, he will enable us to do even greater things.

 

We reflect God the Father to our broken world.

 

We pray from the heart of Jesus Christ himself, asking to fill what he wants. We pray for God’s glory. We pray to love one another. We pray that our joy may be full. He promises to give us what we ask.

 

 

Previous post: It Was Night.

 


 

John 13:31 – 14:14
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”


Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.


“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

 


 

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

The word “glorify” is used five times here! This word means to give glory or praise to God. [1]

 

Judas had just left Jesus and the other disciples. Jesus knew that it the events, which would lead to his leaving the world, had begun. They would culminate in his crucifixion, in the Son of God dying for the sins of the world. But this was his glory and his motivation. Jesus will be glorified by suffering on a cross and dying like a criminal.

 

Jesus will be glorified when he crushes the power of sin and death. Satan’s hold on the world will be broken.

 

The cross also gives God glory because it puts his attributes on display. The cross shows God’s justice, in that one must die in order to pay the penalty for sin (Romans 3:23-25). The cross shows God’s faithfulness, in that He will keep every one of his promises about His son, and about his death (e.g. Psalm 22). The cross also shows God’s love, in that he will let his only son die so that we might have life (John 3:16). [2]

 

But God will glorify Him immediately. Jesus will not stay dead, but will be resurrected. He will then return to the Father in the glory of Heaven.

 

“He had said that He was to be buried and then raised again, and it was in this, His death and His resurrection, that God was to be glorified. For in His sacrificial death upon the cross, He was to settle the sin question in a way that would meet every claim of the holiness of God’s nature and the righteousness of His throne.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

 

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Jesus spoke words of tenderness and comfort to his shattered disciples. For the only time in recorded scripture, he called them, “little children” as he shares the horrifying news. He is about to leave them and they cannot follow.

 

He had already told the unbelieving Jews that they could not come where he was going (John 7:33-34; John 8:21-22). But his enemies could never follow him. Now, Jesus was telling his own disciples that they will be separated from him. Unlike the unbelieving Jews, Jesus will reunite his disciples with him (see John 14:3).

 

But Jesus was not leaving them alone. They have each other! [1] He had set the example of how to love, now they are to love each other in the same way. This is a new commandment, and Jesus’ final commandment to his disciples.

 

The command to love was not new. The Jews were already commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). But Jesus was setting a new standard. They were to love each other with the same sacrificial care as Jesus had loved them. This same new commandment to love one another is repeated in 1 John 2:7-10.

 

“If you and I have the mind of Christ, this divine love will be manifested in us. If it is not, then all our talk about being fundamentalists, all our talk about standing for the truth goes for very little indeed. … And if [behind] our contention for the faith there is no sincere love for our brethren, yes, love for all men, then we dishonor the One who Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

 

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

As the most vocal of the disciples, Peter declared his unending loyalty for Jesus. He would follow him anywhere, even to death!

 

Peter honestly believed that he would do anything for his Lord. But he also did not know his own weakness, and how quickly his own heart would fail him.

 

Jesus showed Peter just how weak his declarations were. Before morning, Peter would deny him three times! [4]

 

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Jesus speaks with tenderness to his devastated followers, including Peter, “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.” Jesus was their world for the last three years and now things were going to change.

 

He would no longer be physically present. But they needed to put their trust in an invisible God, and believe in him in the same way.

 

“Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” [7]

 

“Stop agonizing in your hearts. I am completely trustworthy.” [5]

 

There will be a place for them in his Father’s house and he is going to prepare a place for them. The imagery is of a bridegroom who is preparing a place for his bride. He will add on a room to the family dwelling and when the time is right, he will come for her. [6]

 

It is a misconception that this means that Heaven is under construction. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father. The work was finished. Also, John saw a completed heaven in Revelation 21. [5]

He promised to come again and take them to himself. This is not the time of judgement on the wicked (Matthew 13:36-50) but a time when he will come back for his own. This event is described in more detail in 1 Corinthians 15:51–57 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18.

 

 

“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

 

Thomas asks, “How do we get there to the Father’s house?” There is only one way! The word “the” is exclusive: I am the only way, I am the only truth, I am the only life! [8]

 

Instead of giving us directions to the Father’s house, Jesus promised to take us there. He is the way.

 

And how do they know the Father? They know him because they knew Jesus. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3). They will now begin to know him.

 

“Religion is worthless because it provides no way to get to heaven.” – John MacArthur [9]

 

“While many religions will try to take bad people and make them better, only one is qualified to take dead people and make them alive.” – Stephen Davey [8]

 

This is the sixth statement in John’s gospel account where Jesus declares himself with the name of God, “I AM”. In this case, he was reminding his own disciples who he is. See here for the complete list of times where Jesus declares himself with the name of God.

 

 

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Philip asks, “Show us the Father”. Just give us something tangible! Jesus responds that they see the Father whenever they see him. The union is an indissoluble one.

 

But Jesus gives two tangible things to Philip. The first tangible thing is His words and the second tangible thing is His works. [10]

 

Philip understood the words of Christ as if He held out the possibility of an actual sight of the Father; and this, as they imagined, would for ever have put an end to all their doubts and fears. We also, too often, would fain have such solution of our doubts, if not by actual vision, yet by direct communication from on high.” -Alfred Edersheim [11]

 

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

This promise is given to “whoever believes in me”, therefore, this promise is given to all believers. All believers will do the works that Jesus did. Furthermore, each believer is promised to do greater works than Jesus did, because he has returned to the father.

 

“His chief work was not performing miracles but revealing the Father, bringing knowledge of the Father. It is that of which He was speaking.” [12]

 

The greatest work that Jesus did when he was on earth was to show the Father. As believers in Jesus Christ, we show the Father to this fallen world. Furthermore, we show the Father to a much greater extent than Jesus was able to do on earth, because he has returned to the Father and has sent the Holy Spirit. [13]

 

 

John 14:13-14

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

 

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.



John 16:23-24
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

All three of these verses promise that “whatever you ask in my name, I will do it”. The audience is primarily to his disciples, but John 17:20 extends the promises here to all believers. What is the context of these three passages?

  • The context of John 14 is that Jesus was teaching them of the benefits of him going back to the Father. Because he is going back to the Father, they will glorify the father by asking in his name.
  • The context of John 15 is that Jesus has reiterated his command to love one another. In loving one another, it is not an option (but a command) for us to bear fruit. We need to ask the father so that we can bear fruit so that we can love one another as he commanded because he chose us and ordained us.
  • The context of John 16 is similar to John 14. In this case it is specifically about the joy that will come when we are reunited with Jesus Christ, who is in the Father. We will ask the Father because Christ is in the father and we ask in Christ’s name.

 

The one and only qualifier in all of this is that we are asking in Jesus’ name. When we ask in Jesus’ name we are asking for his authority, and asking what he himself would ask. We are praying from the very heart of Jesus Christ. These verse show three of the things that Jesus would ask of the Father:

  • In John 14, the request was that God would be glorified.
  • In John 15, the request was that we would bear fruit in loving one another.
  • In John 16, the request was that our joy might be full.

 


 

[1] Stephen Davey, Living on the Fourth Level, John 13:31-35

 

[2] John MacArthur, Traits of a True Believer, Part 1, John 13:31-38

 

[3] H.A. Ironside, Address 44, THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT, John 13:31-38

 

[4] Luke and John both predict Peter’s denial during the upper room (Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38), while Matthew and Mark both record Jesus’ prediction on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30-35, Mark 14:26-31). The best understanding is that Jesus made two predictions of Peter’s denial.

Source: Robert L. Thomas & Stanley N Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels, Sections 216-218, pages 211-214

 

[5] Stephen Davey, Heaven Guaranteed, John 13:36-14:4

 

[6] The KJV translated John 14:2 as, “In my father’s house are many mansions“. This has given rise to the speculation that believers will each have our own mansion estate in Heaven. However, this translation is incorrect. The better translation is “room”, or “dwelling place”. In the Jewish culture, the extended family would all live within the same house, each with their own dwelling. The joy of this promise is not that we would each get a palatial estate, but rather that we will be close to God the Father! [5]

 

[7] H.A. Ironside, Address 45, THE FATHER’S HOUSE AND THE LORD’S RETURN, John 14:1-6

 

[8] Stephen Davey, Is Christianity the Only Way to Heaven?, John 14:4-6

 

[9] John MacArthur, Heavenly Promises, John 14:1-6

 

[10] Stephen Davey, Troublesome Questions . . . Timeless Answers, John 14:3-15, John 16:23-28

 

[11] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XI. THE LAST DISCOURSES OF CHRIST – THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

 

[12] H.A. Ironside, Address 46, THE FATHER MANIFESTED IN THE SON, John 14:7-14

 

[13] There have been several different understandings of John 14:12:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  (John 14:12).

The problem with most of these understandings is that they do not take into account that this promise is given for all believers. The most common interpretations of this passage include:

  • One view is that this is talking about Jesus’ miracles. Believers would be able to work even greater miracles than Jesus performed while on earth. The problem with this interpretation is that not every believer has performed miracles.Even for any believers who have been able to work miracles, none have been as great as what Jesus did. No one else has risen from the dead, nor created bread for almost 20,000 people out of almost nothing.
  • Another view is that this is talking about the ability of the believers to preach the gospel in a much greater scope than Jesus did on earth. This is a wonderful goal to be saving souls and we want to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. But the problem with this interpretation is that this is not about collective achievements, it is about each individual. Not every believer has done all of these things.
  • The most consistent view is showing that Jesus works here were not his miracles, but that he revealed the Father. This entire passage is about Jesus’ return to the Father, and he will now enable his disciples, and all believers, to reveal the Father to this world. [12]

 

July 30, 2015

It Was Night

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 10:22 pm

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It is an awesome responsibility to teach or to lead another person. Whether you are in the role of a parent, a teacher, or a mentor, it is a great privilege to teach another.

 

But what do we do when things go wrong? What do we do when a student turns away from what they have learned? When they reject the teacher? We can blame ourselves, but we cannot change another person’s decisions.

 

You could be a perfect teacher, and yet some would still turn away. The best teacher who ever walked on the earth had a student walk away from him.

 

That student did more than turn away from him. He turned him in to the authorities to be arrested, tortured, and then executed.

 

Jesus had intensely taught his disciples for three and a half years. They all saw him teach, work miracles, and raise the dead. Each of them were able to teach and do miracles themselves. Eleven of them would follow Jesus to their own death, yet one refused to believe.

 

Jesus was at the final Passover dinner with his disciples when he became greatly disturbed. To the shock and amazement of everyone in the room, Jesus announced, “One of you will betray me!”

 

The traitor had hidden himself so well that no one suspected him. Instead, they were all asking, “It’s not me, is it?” They suspected themselves more than they suspected the betrayer.

 

No one suspected Judas. He was the cultured and educated one. They trusted him with all of their money. He cared for the poor.

 

But the devil had already put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus (see here). Judas was already convinced that he no longer wanted any part of Jesus. Unknown to any of the other disciples, Judas had already secretly made plans with the chief priests to arrest him (see here).

 

You may already be familiar with Judas, but the surprising part of this section is how Jesus treats him. Jesus knew that Judas has rejected him and that he was about to betray him, yet how does Jesus act?

 

He washes his feet. He gives him the place of honor at the table. He passes the food to him, giving him the best piece of food (a gesture of friendship).

 

This was intensely upsetting for Jesus. He felt the agony of being betrayed by a close friend (see here). Yet even at the last minute, he showed nothing but love and friendship to Judas. He took every opportunity to try and rescue Judas.

 

But it is too late for Judas. After the last gesture of friendship, Satan took full control of Judas. Jesus told him to go and do it quickly. Judas knew that his game is up and he quickly leaves.

 

John’s final summary is as much poetic as it is factual: “It was night”.

 

It was night for Jesus. He would face the agony of separation from the Father as he takes the guilt of the whole world.

 

It was night for the disciples. They are on the darkest night of their lives. Before daylight, their master would be arrested, tortured, and headed for a Roman cross. They will all be scattered in terror.

 

But most of all, it was night for Judas. Jesus would rise again. The disciples would be brought back together. But for Judas, there would never again be light.

 

Jesus is very clear. He will be arrested and killed according to God’s plan, but Judas was no machine. Judas rejected and betrayed Jesus out of his own free will. Both Matthew and Mark quote Jesus’ statements about Judas, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

 

 

Remember!

  • Jesus knew about Judas, but never stopped trying to rescue him. Don’t stop trying to rescue those who do not believe.

 

  • Jesus never pulled back his friendship from Judas, even when he knew that Judas would betray him! Don’t pull back from friendships because of how they might fail you — they will! Only God will not fail you.

 

  • You are in God’s care, even the darkest times! Rely on God when it is night.

 

Previous post: Dirty Feet

 


John 13:21-30

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.


Matthew 26:21-25
And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”


Mark 14:18-21
And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”


Luke 22:21-23
But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.


 

John 13:21-22: After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.

Matthew 26:21-22: And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”

Mark 14:18-19: And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?”

Luke 22:21,23: But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

 

This scene closely follows the previous section. During the course of the Passover supper, Jesus had stopped and washed the feet of each of his disciples. He then explained that they should also serve in this way (see here). He also concluded his lesson with the statements, “not every one of you are clean” (John 13:10-11) and, “But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me’” (John 13:18). As he was serving them, he knew that one of them would betray him.

 

Jesus knew this, yet he was still greatly troubled by this thought. He then clearly announced to the men, “One of you will betray me”.

 

The twelve disciples were taken aback with sorrow and grief, asking, “Is it I?” Their reaction can be better translated as, “It is not I, is it?” (expecting a negative answer).

 

Not one of the disciples suspected the betrayer. The betrayer had hidden so well that each disciple would rather suspect himself than another one of their group.

 

Note that Jesus had known for at least a year Judas would betray him (John 6:70-71).

 

“We can now better understand their heavy sleep in Gethsemane, their forsaking Him and fleeing, even Peter’s denial. Everything must have seemed to these men to give way; all to be enveloped in outer darkness, when each man could ask whether he was to be the Betrayer.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

 

Matthew 26:23-24: He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Mark 14:20-21: He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Luke 22:22: For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

 

“He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me” – This does not identify the traitor, but only shows the closeness of the betrayal. They would have all eaten from the same common dish. [3]

 

This betrayal and arrest were part of God’s plan, but that does not absolve the betrayer. He followed his own will into sin and will be judged for his own actions.

 

 

John 13:23-26: One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

Matthew 26:25: Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

 

Matthew and John’s accounts clearly identify the betrayer. Judas was one of the most trusted men of the company. The other disciples respected Judas to the point that they chose him as treasurer (John 12:6). The other eleven were from Galilee, while Judas was the only Judean in the group [1]. Therefore, while the other eleven were considered uneducated and rural, Judas would be the educated and cultured one.

 

“So the impression that Judas made on the disciples in those early days, at least, was that of a man of absolute reliability. We may almost say, in fact, Judas was the real gentleman of all the Twelve. Most of them were hard-working men. They came from the region about the Sea of Galilee where the poorer class of people dwelt. But Judas came from Judea from a town called Kerioth, and he was perhaps the most distinguished man of the entire apostolic company.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

Whatever had caused Judas to reject the Lord Jesus was hardened by this time. He had already worked out the arrangement with the Jewish leaders to betray him, and was waiting for the opportune time to get the Roman soldiers so that they could arrest Jesus.

 

But Jesus knew all of Judas’ plans. He plainly told Judas that he knew, yet he still extended every possible courtesy to Judas. He had already washed Judas’ feet with the other disciples. When the disciples fought for the best positions at the table, Jesus gave the top position, at the master’s left hand, to Judas. Jesus shared the choicest morsel with Judas, as a gesture of honor and friendship.

 

This was the final attempt to rescue Judas. Jesus was giving Judas every chance to repent and come to him but it was too late. Judas had already steeled himself.

 

The Apostle John never gives his own name in his gospel account. He preferred to give himself the title of what he valued the most, that Jesus loved him. Therefore, he called himself, “The disciple whom Jesus loved” (see John 21:20-25).

 

In John’s effort to be close to the Lord Jesus, he was reclining at the table on Jesus’ right [5]. Peter, on the other side of the table, asked John to find out the identify of the betrayer. John leaned back on Jesus and whispers his question.

 

Jesus responded by telling John that the betrayer is the one to whom he would give the “morsel”. The men all ate from a common dinner bowl, prepared like a meat stew, from which they would dip bread. It was a common gesture of friendship to give an especially good piece to the one sitting next to you. It was so common that John himself did not recognize the signal when Jesus gave the piece of the bread to Judas. [6] [7]

 

“The very sop which He would so soon hand to him, although a sign of recognition to John, was a last appeal to all that was human in Judas.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

Judas kept up the act with the other disciples, asking, “It is I?”. But unlike the other disciples, Jesus directly (and privately) answered Judas, “Yes”.  The game is up, and Judas now knew that Jesus is on to him. As we see below, Judas quickly excuse himself and left.

 

It is important to note that none of the other disciples heard Jesus’ conversations with Judas and with John. Not one of them suspected Judas when he abruptly left the room (John 13:28-29).

 

 

John 13:27-30a: Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out.

 

Satan had already given Judas the idea to betray him (John 13:2), but now he took full control of him. There was no turning back for Judas. From this hour Satan was in full control.

 

No one knew why Judas left, but Jesus told him to go quickly, and Judas abruptly left.

 

“So the Lord Jesus turned to him and said solemnly, ‘[What] thou doest, do quickly’ (v. 27b). As much as to say, ‘Judas, you have sold yourself to the Devil. You have despised every opportunity of mercy. You have trampled on My love and grace. You have hardened your heart against the goodness of God. Now, Judas, make an end of it. What thou doest, do quickly.’” – H. A. Ironside [4]

 

 

John 13:30b: And it was night.

 

It was night — both literally and figuratively. The hour was late, but the time of darkness had come.

 

Judas had left. There was no preparing for tomorrow’s feast. There was no giving to the poor. There was only darkness and death. For Judas, there would never again be light.

 


 

[1] Judas is often mentioned in the gospels with his title or surname, “Judas Iscariot”. This distinguished him from the other apostle who was also named Judas (see John 14:22; the other Judas was called “Thaddeus” in Matthew and Mark). Most Bible commentators and language scholars agree that the name “Iscariot” is from Hebrew, meaning “From Kerioth”. Kerioth was a town in Judea, most likely the Kerioth-Hezron mentioned in Joshua 15:25.

Judas and his father had the same surname, which further indicates that it must refer to his hometown. Both John 6:71 and John 13:26 refer to Judas as the “son of Simon Iscariot”.

Some have argued that the name “Iscariot” was a derivation of “Sicarii”. The Sicarii were a violent group of Jewish Zealots that sought to expel Rome by murdering Romans or Roman sympathizers. These are the same people that are translated as “assassins” in Acts 21:38. However, it is difficult to connect Judas with the Sicarii because of the following reasons:

  • The Sicarii were prominent during the Jewish Wars (c. 50 A.D.), but that was 20 years later. This would be consistent with the timeline of Paul’s ministry in Acts, but not with the life of Jesus Christ. Josephus identified the Sicarii as a group that started during the times of Felix and Festus (52-62 A.D.).
  • Judas was the son of Simon Iscariot, so they both had the same title (see above). Therefore, if Judas was a Sicarii, then his father also needed to be a Sicarii. While this is possible, it would force the definition to be a “family business” of violence, and would also require that they had been part of the Sicarii for a generation.
  • It is much more difficult to connect the word for “Iscariot” to “Sicarii” than to “Kerioth”. The words in Hebrew are much more different and you would need to assume that Judas had a Latin title in order to make it sound like “Sicarii”.

Sources: “Zealots and Sicarii”; Iscariot Meaning; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER X. THE PASCHAL SUPPER – THE INSTITUTION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.

 

[3] Pfeiffer & Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Matthew 26:21-25, page 978

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 43, THE TRAITOR EXPOSED, John 13:18-30

 

[5] Chairs were not used for dining in this culture. Instead, the people would recline on cushions around a long, low table. They would lean on their left arm and eat with their right hand. John would have been on Jesus’ right side so that he could lean back on him to ask a private question. Judas would have been directly on Jesus’ left (the most coveted seat), where Jesus could give him the morsel and could quietly answer Judas’ question without the others hearing.

“But the chief place next to the Master would be that to His left, or above Him. In the strife of the disciples, which should be accounted the greatest, this had been claimed, and we believe it to have been actually occupied, by Judas. This explains how, Christ whispered to John by what sign to recognise the traitor, none of the other disciples heard it. It also explains, how Christ would first hand to Judas the sop, which formed part of the Paschal ritual, beginning with him as the chief guest at the table, without thereby exciting special notice. Lastly, it accounts for the circumstance that, when Judas, desirous of ascertaining whether his treachery was known, dared to ask whether it was he, and received the affirmative answer, no one at table knew what had passed.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

[6] Doug Bookman, Behold The Lamb, Audio Series, Part 5. http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[7] There are several explanations for what exactly is the “morsel” in John 13:26. The ESV translates this word as “morsel of bread”; the NASB translates it as “morsel”; and the KJV translates it as “sop”. It appears to be as simple as bread which was dipped into a meat stew, but other commentators have much more elaborate explanations for what actually constituted the “morsel”. Regardless of the actual composition of the morsel, the point of John 13:26 is that it was passed to an honored friend at the table, which Jesus did for Judas.

 

July 16, 2015

Dirty Feet

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 12:32 pm

Basin and the Towel

 

It was a Thursday evening when the men sat down for the Passover dinner. Their teacher had gathered them — just the twelve of them — for a special dinner that night. They could hardly contain their excitement!

 

They had followed their teacher for over three years, yet this week was one that they would never forget. They had come to realize that their teacher was more than someone special, he was the long-awaited Messiah! He had come to bring them back to God, and he would set up a new kingdom on earth. He was more than just a teacher, he was their lord and master.

 

How could anyone doubt him after this week! This must be the time that their master would take his kingdom! He had started out the week by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Jerusalem — that great city, that holy city, that city of kings! The people of the city had rushed to him, waving Palm branches and chanting praises!

 

Surely he would set up his kingdom now!

 

He returned to the temple on Monday and threw out the crooked merchants and money changers. He then took charge of the entire temple for two days! He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple (see here). The priests and the synagogue leaders all tried to challenge him but he bested every one of their arguments. No one dared to challenge him any more!

 

He had taught them that he would be arrested and executed, and that he would come back to life on the third day. But this made no sense to them — maybe he was telling some strange parable? Maybe this was the distant future? For now, the whole nation was following him!

 

Surely he would set up his kingdom now!

 

The past two days had been much more quiet as they stayed in the small town of Bethany nearby. But it was now Thursday evening and they were getting ready for the Passover dinner. None of the men even knew where they would be having dinner until they were shown at the last minute. They were directed to a house in Jerusalem with a large upstairs room, on the Western Hill. The room was already furnished and prepared for the thirteen of them to come and celebrate (see here).

 

The men were so sure that it was time for him to set up his kingdom! The master had promised that they would rule with him and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (see here). Now that they were gathered together on this special occasion, this must be the time to hand out the assignments for his new kingdom! [7]

 

As they sat down to dinner, the twelve men struggled for the best places at the table. They argued about who was the greatest. All twelve of them wanted to look the best for the master and show them that they were ready to rule the new kingdom with him.

 

They were so intent on their struggle that they did not worry about social norms. All twelve of them reclined at the table with dirty feet. There was no servant available to clean them up before dinner, and they could not risk being seen doing servant’s work. It was time to rule!

 

Then, during dinner, the master shocks the entire group! He himself gets up from the table, removes his outer clothes, fills a basin with water, and washes each of their feet. Every single dirty, muddy foot is washed clean by the master.

 

Peter refused when the master reached him. “Never will you wash my feet!” But the master replies, “you have no fellowship with me unless you let me wash your feet”.

 

Peter’s quick reply is, “Then give me a bath!” But the master stops him. You are already bathed, and now you only need to wash your feet.

 

He then brings his lesson to a point. The bathing and the washing illustrate the relationship with him. Most of the men in this room, including Peter, have been bathed into a new life with him (Titus 3:5). One of them does not have a new life and will soon betray him.

 

But they also need daily cleansing. Even when you have the new life, you still need to be cleaned regularly from the filth of this world. You still have the new life, but you cannot have any fellowship with God without this daily cleansing.

 

The final point is that if the Lord Jesus Christ is able to wash his disciples’ feet, then we need to do the same. We need to serve each other in humility and apply the cleansing of God’s word.

 

Remember!

 

  • We need the one-time bath of a new life (John 3:14-16; Titus 3:5). It is only when we believe that we will have the eternal life that he has promised.

 

  • We need to allow The Lord to daily cleanse us (1 John 1:6-9). We need to remove the filth and sin in our own lives in order to restore fellowship with God.

 

  • We need to wash others’ feet. We need to serve in humility yet always applying God’s word. We need to wash both the good and the bad people in our lives. Jesus washed the feet of Peter, John, and Judas.

 

In an upstairs room, a parable

is just about to come alive.

And while they bicker about who’s best,

with a painful glance, He’ll silently rise.

Their Savior Servant must show them how

through the will of the water

and the tenderness of the towel.

And the call is to community,

The impoverished power that sets the soul free.

In humility, to take the vow,

that day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

In any ordinary place,

on any ordinary day,

the parable can live again

when one will kneel and one will yield.

Our Saviour Servant must show us how

through the will of the water

and the tenderness of the towel.

And the space between ourselves sometimes

is more than the distance between the stars.

By the fragile bridge of the Servant’s bow

we take up the basin and the towel.

And the call is to community,

The impoverished power that sets the soul free.

In humility, to take the vow,

that day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

– Michael Card

 

Previous post: The Final Message

 


John 13:1-20
​Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”


When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”


 

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus celebrated the Passover dinner with his disciples on Thursday night [1]. Matthew, Mark, and Luke provide details about the dinner preparations (see Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-16), while John’s account starts with the Passover dinner already in progress.

 

Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave the world. But at this time Jesus taught and demonstrated his love for his own. “He loved them to the end”, meaning that he loved them fully, perfectly, and completely.

 

 

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus took action knowing the following:

  • It was time for him to return to the Father
  • He completely loved his own disciples
  • The Devil had already prompted Judas to betray him
  • The Father had given all things into his hands – he had complete authority
  • He had come from God and was going back to God – he was divine

 

The dirt roads would have been muddy from the spring rains and most wealthy houses would have had a servant available to wash the feet of guests as they entered the home. There was no servant in the room that night and none of the disciples stooped to do this menial task. It was a major faux pas to be at the table with dirty feet, yet none of the disciples would wash their own feet, let alone the feet of each other.

 

The disciples were preoccupied with asserting who was the greatest (Luke 22:24).  Who would have the greatest positions in the Messiah’s Kingdom (Matthew 19:28)? Who would have the best places at the table (directly to the right and the left of the master)?

 

“Sadly humiliating as it reads, and almost incredible as it seems, the Supper began with ‘a contention among them, which of them should be accounted to be greatest.’ We can have no doubt that its occasion was the order in which they should occupy places at the table.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

Jesus demonstrated his love for the disciples by stripping down, taking a towel, and proceeding to wash each of their feet.

 

Jesus, knowing that he was divine, knowing that he had total authority, washed their feet. He even washed Judas’ feet — the one who would betray him!

 

“Possessed with the knowledge of his authority, of his divine origin, and of his certain return to the Father, Jesus did not disdain to humble himself to perform a menial service.” [3]

 

 

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

Peter objected when Jesus came to him. He would not have his master stoop to serving him. “Never shall you wash my feet!” – This is the strongest possible negative that Peter could have used. [4]

 

Jesus replied to Peter that he must let him wash his feet if he wanted to have any fellowship with him. Note that Jesus did not say “you have no share in me”, but “you have no share with me”. Peter would always be a child of God (John 10:27-30), but he could not be with him unless he allowed the Lord to wash him.

 

“It is not humility to refuse what the Lord deigns to do for us, or to deny what He has done, but it is self-willed presumption” [5]

 

 

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Peter’s response to Jesus was, “If I need to be washed in order to be with you, then don’t just wash my feet — give me a bath!”

 

But Jesus is talking about two washings here:

 

The first washing is to bathe the entire person and does not need to be done every time. For example, you would not take a bath every time you got your hands dirty. The Greek word is λούω (loúō), and means “to bathe the whole person”. This is the washing of new life in Christ Jesus (see Titus 3:5). All who believe are clean (John 1:12, John 3:14-16).

 

The second washing is to routinely clean the parts that are needed. We wash our hands before we eat, and in the first century, you would wash your feet before attending a formal dinner. The Greek word is νίπτω (níptō), and means “to cleanse, especially the hands or the feet or the face”. We need this repeated washing in order to have fellowship with Jesus Christ (1 John 1:6-9). This is the cleansing that restores us when we go away from God.

 

“The Word of God is the water that is applied to our hearts and consciences and cleanses us from all defilement.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

The first washing was new life in Christ (John 3:3). Not all of the disciples were born into this new life, as Judas would soon leave to betray the Lord (John 6:70-71). The second washing was fellowship with Christ. All twelve of the disciples were washed by Jesus Christ that night, including Judas.

 

 

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus explained his object lesson on humility. The disciples were struggling for the best seats because they wanted the most leadership. But Jesus was showing them that the one who leads the most is the one who gives himself away the most.

 

Note that this was not a new ordinance to follow. Jesus was not instituting a foot-washing ceremony but was instead setting an example of how we should humble ourselves. If our Lord and Master humbled himself, we should also do likewise (see 1 Timothy 5:10 as a specific example).

 

“He, Who really was Lord and Master, had rendered this lowest service to them as an example that, as He had done, so should they do.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

 

 

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Jesus was teaching this lesson to eleven of his disciples. He knew clearly that the twelfth disciple, Judas, would betray him that night. Jesus directly applied the example of betrayal (Psalm 41:9) to Judas.

 

The faith of the disciples would be severely shaken. All but one of them would desert their Lord Jesus Christ in the face of his torment and death. So Jesus reassures them now. He knows what is about to happen. They need to understand that he knows it. At the hour of crisis, they can fall back on this and know that he is God. Literally, He says, “when it does take place you may believe that I AM”.

 

But there is also a second reminder. They have a commission from God the Father. As the Son has represented the Father, so they will represent the Son. “Your authority is Mine, as Mine is My Father’s”.

 


 

[1] Practically speaking, the Passover was a two-day event. The northern Jews (including Galilee) would celebrate the Passover on Thursday, while the southern Jews (including Judea) would celebrate the Passover on Friday. The Galileans considered the day from sunrise to sunrise, and would celebrate the Passover from Thursday sunrise to Friday sunrise. The lambs would be slaughtered on Thursday and the dinner eaten on Thursday evening. The Judeans considered the day from sunset to sunset and would celebrate the Passover from Thursday sunset to Friday sunset. The lambs would be slaughtered on Friday (while Jesus was on the cross) and the Passover dinner eaten on Friday evening.

Source: John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible Notes, John 13:1-20

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER X. THE PASCHAL SUPPER – THE INSTITUTION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

 

[3] Pfeiffer & Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, John 13:1-20, pages 1101-1103

 

[4] Stephen Davey, Happiness and a Pair of Dirty Feet, John 13:1-20

 

[5] Jaimeson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary on John 13:1-20

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 42, CLEANSING BY WATER, John 13:1-17

 

[7] Doug Bookman, Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/

July 13, 2015

The Final Message

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 1:52 pm

John-12-24

 

For public speakers, what would you say in your final speech?

For writers, what would you write in your final letter? In your final article?

For pastors, what would you preach in your final sermon?

It is now late Tuesday of Jesus’ final week on earth. He entered the city of Jerusalem on Sunday (see here), and He has been teaching in the temple through both Monday and Tuesday.

The Jews had been listening to Jesus when a group of Greeks came to the temple, requesting an audience with the Lord. With these Gentile followers looking to hear from him, Jesus declared some of his most startling words:

 

“You need to die”

A grain of wheat is alone and useless unless it is planted. But when it is put into the earth and it “dies”, it will grow and become fruitful.

This message is personally about Jesus. Jesus had said several times earlier that his time had not yet come (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20), but now the time had come. It is only a few days before he is going to die. Yet he will be glorified through his death as he saves mankind.

This message is also about his followers. When we set aside the value and control of our own lives, Jesus promises us life forever with him and honor from God the Father.

 

“Even the horror brings glory to God”

Jesus was horrified by the anticipation of his death on the cross (the English word, “troubled”, is not strong enough). The horror was not the physical pain, torture, and death of the crucifixion. The real terror for Jesus is that He would be torn apart from God the Father. The Father and the Son existed for all eternity in total union and intimacy (John 5:19-23). Now, the Son must stand alone to take the punishment for mankind.

But His encouragement through all of this was that God would be glorified. This was why he came. For only the third time in his ministry, God the Father gave an audible response — His death would bring glory to God.

 

“The enemy is defeated”

Satan is the ruler of this world, but his power is broken by Jesus’ death on the cross. He, and all in the world who follow him, will be judged on the last day. They are now on death row, awaiting their execution.

 

“Believe while you still can”

Jesus gave this invitation to his listeners, but it is the same for all people. You have only two choices: you can follow the Light or you can follow the ruler of this world into his judgement. Jesus is the light (John 1:4-5; John 8:12) and he is making one more call to believe in Him.

But beware! The invitation will not last forever. If you keep refusing to believe in him, the time will come when you will no longer be able to believe. The more you refuse him, the less chance you have to come to believe in him. You have only a “little while longer”!

 

Then Jesus left.

 

Sadly, many people refused to believe. They would rather have the blindness so God gave the blindness to them. They stayed in their unbelief for so long that they were no longer able to believe.

 

Previous post: The King has Come!

 


John 12:20-50

 

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

 

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

 

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”

 

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

 

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”


 

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

We are not given the exact time when this event occurred, but the context from John’s account shows that it must have been at the close of Jesus’ public teaching in the temple — probably Tuesday afternoon. Jesus had been teaching in the Temple on Monday and Tuesday, amidst challenges by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, when the disciples were approached by some Greeks.

The term “Greek” can directly refer to a native of Greece or it can also broadly refer to a foreigner. Either way, these Greeks were God-fearing Gentiles who had come to the Passover to worship with the Jews. The events of that week had interested them enough that they sought out an audience with Jesus.

There is a lot of conjecture regarding why the Greeks approached Philip. Philip was one of the two disciples with a Greek name (also Andrew) and it is of interest that John specifically mentions here that Philip was from Bethsaida. There may have been a local or a cultural connection that brought them to Philip, or Philip may have simply been on duty nearest to where the Greeks approached. Philip told Andrew and together they brought the news to Jesus.

 

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

The remaining part of John 12 is Jesus’ final public remarks. After these statements on Tuesday, he will leave the crowd and not appear again publicly until he is being arrested on Friday morning (John 12:36).

The first statements by Jesus are about his approaching death. Jesus had announced several times before that “my time has not yet come” (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20). But now his time has come. The time has come for Jesus the Messiah to die, to give his life as a sacrifice for the world.

By the context, these statements seem to be prompted by the Greeks wanting to see Jesus. What was significant about the arrival of the Greeks? Jesus used their presence to draw out a higher principle. Whatever they were going to ask Him (which was never recorded), Jesus tells them what is going to happen and what it will take to be His disciple. The fact that they are Gentiles is no longer an issue, as he will draw all men to himself (John 12:32).

Jesus used the paradox of a seed as an illustration. By itself, the seed is alone and unfruitful. It is not until it dies (is planted) that it is fruitful. This has two implications. First, He must die in order to cast out the ruler of this world and draw all men to himself (John 12:31-33). There cannot be the Kingdom of God unless He dies.

Secondly, his disciples must also give up their lives, “whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. We put aside our physical lives in order to gain eternal life. This is not a command for self-hatred, but rather that we should consider our own lives as worthless in comparison to the glory of eternal life, the fellowship with Jesus Christ, and the honor from God the Father.

“If you want to have a flourishing life, you need to be willing to die” – Stephen Davey [1]

 

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

Now is my soul troubled.” The English translation is not strong enough. Jesus was horrified as he anticipated the cross. The word for “troubled” here signifies horror, anxiety, and agitation [2]. This is the same word used for Jesus as he stood at the grave of his friend Lazarus (John 11:33). It was the same word to describe the terrified disciples when they saw Jesus walk on the water (Mark 6:49-50).

Jesus was terrified at the thought of his crucifixion. It was not the extreme torture and physical suffering that brought such horror, but the separation from God that the cross would require. Jesus would take on the punishment for the sins of the world.

But Jesus took comfort in what is most important. It was for God’s glory that he waited for his friend Lazarus to die before coming to heal him. This is the same thing that now that compels Him to go all the way to the cross, enduring the separation and the agony of his sacrifice. God’s glory was most important!

For the third time in Jesus’ life on earth, God the Father speaks directly from Heaven (see Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 17:1-6 for the other two occasions). God’s name has been glorified and it will be glorified. God will be glorified through Jesus’ death on the cross.

“To him it bore the assurance, which had all along been the ground of His claims, as it was the comfort in His Sufferings, that, as God had in the past glorified Himself in the Son, so would it be in the future in the perfecting of the work given Him to do.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

By going to the cross, Jesus would pronounce judgement on this world and cast out its ruler. Satan has been ruling the world since Adam’s rebellion (Genesis 3), but his power has been broken by the cross. The judgement has not been executed yet, but the world now sits under the sentence.

“The world is like one condemned to die, but still permitted to live on until that sentence will be executed. Soon the day of God’s red heavens will come; soon the vials of the wrath of God will be poured out upon this world, and then indeed will men know its judgment to the full.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

He will draw all people to himself. The world will be judged and all people will be compelled to bow to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 14:11). All will bow but not all people will be saved. Jesus immediately continued with the warning to believe in him while they still have a chance (John 12:35-36). As discussed in the post here, Jesus warns the people that “Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins” (John 8:21-24).

This is the also the third time that Jesus said that he would be “lifted up” (see also John 3:14-15; John 8:28-29). The earlier references were a foreshadowing of the cross, but this statement was very clear. The people of his day readily understood the term “lifted up” as being placed on a cross. Jesus would die by crucifixion [5].

But the people also knew that the Messiah would rule over an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14). Therefore, how could he be the Messiah if he was about to die?

 

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

This is Jesus’ final appeal to unbelievers. He will be among them for only a short time and then he will be gone. There is little time remaining to believe in the one who is the light.

If you reject the light, you have only one alternative — darkness! [6]

“We only have a little while longer in which to be faithful to the Lord who saved us. Let us yield ourselves wholly to Him to walk in the light while we have the light. ‘The night is coming, when no one can work’ (John 9:4).” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”

This passage teaches a much more sobering principle. God urges people to believe, but their time is limited. For those who keep refusing to believe, the time will come when they are no longer able to believe. You have limited chances to believe!

This message is confirmed by two references from Isaiah. The first reference (Isaiah 53:1) tells about the coming Messiah. He will suffer and be rejected, and they refuse to believe Him.

The second reference (Isaiah 6:9-10) shows that God punished their unbelief by allowing the people to have their delusion. They had spent too bunch time refusing to believe and now they could not believe.

This was Jesus’ last public appeal. After he said these things, he left and they could no longer find him.

“But we read though He had done so many miracles, yet they believed not on Him. Miracles alone will never convince if people refuse the Word. No signs, no wonders, no miracles, will ever reach their consciences if they are determined to go on in their sins and refuse to repent.”

“He had pleaded with them to give Him the first place in their hearts as the one true and living God. They turned away. He sent His prophets to call them back, but the testimony was spurned, and the time came when the message had no effect upon their consciences at all. So God gave them up to hardness of heart because they themselves preferred it. They chose to disobey God.” [4]

 

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

The glory that Isaiah saw (Isaiah 6) was Jesus Christ himself.

Even some of the ruling Jews believed in him. We know of two of them — Nicodemus and Joseph (John 19:38-39). Although they believed, they were too afraid of the Pharisees to publicly declare their belief.

“I believe that many people today, deep in their hearts, believe in Christ and in their homes tell Him they love and trust Him, but they are not honoring Him by making confession before men. They do not have the joy and victory in their lives that they might have if they came out openly and let others know.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Jesus had already left the crowd (John 12:36). Most commentators believe that these final statements at the end of the chapter are collected by John as a summary. The first 12 chapters of John’s gospel account give the presentation of Jesus Christ to the world. The rest of the book (starting at chapter 13) give the presentation of Him to his own disciples.

You cannot separate the Son from the Father. If you believe in Jesus then you are believing in the Father. When you see Jesus you see the Father.

 

If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Jesus came into the world with a message of mercy to save the world. But for those who do not believe him, these same words of Christ will be their condemnation at the last day. Those who refuse his message of mercy will get his message of judgement (John 3:18).

“If you reject His first message of salvation, his last message will be of judgement.” [6]

 


[1] Stephen Davey, Here Am I, Lord . . . Bury Me, John 12:22-33

 

[2] John MacArthur, The Perplexities of the Cross, John 12:27-34

 

[3] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER III. THE THIRD DAY IN PASSION-WEEK – THE EVENTS OF THAT DAY – THE QUESTION OF CHRIST’S AUTHORITY – THE QUESTION OF TRIBUTE TO CAESAR – THE WIDOW’S FARTHING – THE GREEKS WHO SOUGHT TO SEE JESUS – SUMMARY AND RETROSPECT OF THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF CHRIST

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 39, “WALK WHILE YE HAVE THE LIGHT”, John 12:29-36

 

[5] The Jews had attempted to stone him several times, but Jesus had determined that he would die by crucifixion. Crucifixion validated Jesus’ claims in ways that would not be possible by stoning:

  • Crucifixion demonstrated that the claims against him were totally false. The Roman crucifixion was used for seditionists, yet Jesus was cleared of all charges of sedition (John 19:6-7). He went to the cross because he claimed to be the Son of God.
  • Crucifixion was public and visible for everyone to see. Jesus was clearly visible to everyone while on the cross. Stoning was quick and could have been done privately. Jesus was able to publicly speak while on the cross.
  • Crucifixion validated Jesus’ death with absolute certainty. The Romans verified that the victim was absolutely dead. Therefore, there was no question that Jesus was dead when He rose on the third day.

Source: Doug Bookman, If I Be Lifted Up…, John 3:14

 

[6] Stephen Davey, Children of the Night, John 12:34-50

 

July 6, 2015

Time to Choose!

Filed under: culture — Tags: — Travis Biller @ 10:08 pm

There are a lot of competing voices in our culture concerning the gay marriage issue. Who you listen to will make all the difference on how you decide where you stand.

People in positions of influence will make statements like, “My moral code is a matter of faith,” or “I don’t have the right to impose my moral code on you,” or “You can’t legislate morality,” or “I am not always right, and neither are you.” Comments such as these appear to have a form of wisdom.

Let’s briefly consider the above ideas. First, morality is not a matter of personal preference. The source of all morality is God. True morality, the type that leads away from sin, is a reflection of God’s holy character. He, in fact, demands that we obey his moral code as revealed in His law. God’s law is not something that is given to us as a suggestion. It’s not a preference. He revealed it to the world and commands that all must obey it; and He reveals that it is this law under which all will be judged.

Second, when understood correctly, law is morality legislated. That’s the whole point. If you support something legally, you support it morally. Throughout the history of our country we have legislated morality. The foundation of law in the West has been the Bible. The Magna Carta was the first piece of legislation that recognized that all people, the king included, were under the authority of God’s law. The term “the rule of law” enshrines this idea. In making laws, people have attempted to make morality normative for the people of that society. So, yes, you can legislate morality; and in making specific laws that seek to encourage people to obey that moral code you are, in fact, imposing a moral code on others.

Third, it is true to say that “I am not always right, and neither are you.” And while people are fallible and will certainly get things wrong from time to time, the Bible is infallible and is not wrong. So, while I may not always be right, we can rest assured that the Bible is always right. In fact, communicating this very truth the Bible warns that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). As a result the Bible encourages us to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

When one applies these realities to the current issue of gay marriage, a seemingly complicated issue becomes very clear. The Bible warns that all sin is an offense against a Holy God. Concerning certain sins the Bible clearly teaches, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Notice the many different sins listed. Homosexuality is just one of many that God warns His people about. They are to flee such sins. And, we must notice that every item on this list is called sin.

The real dilemma with the gay marriage issue is that there are segments of our society that demand that we ignore the Bible’s clear teaching; and instead of calling sin for what it is, we are now told that we must affirm and celebrate what God clearly condemns. Therefore the SCOTUS has now made it legal with the intent of imposing a new, man-made moral code upon its citizenry.

This issue is difficult for many people because they are forced into the position of having to make a very clear choice: affirm God’s Word and His authority over all life as revealed in the Bible, or affirm man’s word and his authority over life as revealed in the new morality. At this point the two are mutually exclusive. And we need to understand what is at stake. The new morality seeks to replace the old.

We have come to the place where sitting on the fence is no longer an option. We have to decide. Are we going to enshrine the new morality that will be legislated and normative for all people? Or, are we going to stay with God’s law that He demands we obey?

However, it needs to be noted: God does not reveal sin to condemn. He reveals sin to save people from the condemnation that results when people fail to repent (turn) from sin. God loves all sinners, no matter the type of sin they are ensnared by. But, God refuses to affirm sin for the sake of any person. To do so would lead Him to deny Himself as a holy God for the sake of our sin.

June 26, 2015

Welcome to the New

Filed under: Uncategorized — Travis Biller @ 10:11 pm

I remember exactly where I was on September 11th 2001. I was leaving my biblical Hebrew class in seminary when another student approached the prof and told him what had taken place. As news of the events unfolded I remember this sinking feeling in my stomach. I felt sick. When I heard the news that the Supreme Court ruled to make gay-marriage legal, I had that same feeling. On September 11th the twin towers fell. Today, two great towers of American culture have fallen.

Where America once had great respect for moral truth, today that tower is lying in a heap of rubble. And where America once had respect for the things of God, and even had a semblance of the “Fear of the Lord” that tower also is lying in a heap of rubble. Admittedly, one has to go back at least an entire generation to find those towers standing strong. But, for the majority of American history those two towers had a profound effect on the fiber of the American Republic. America is America only with those towers standing strong.

The founders of our republic understood the necessity of religion for a functional democracy. They believed that America would only be as strong as the people had a healthy love for the virtues and principles of religious truth. Sure, they were not all evangelical Christians, as we understood the term today. But, even those who were Deists believed in a God that created laws which govern civilization. In fact, it was those very laws that framed the bases for our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They expected each person in the republic to self-govern themselves according to those “self-evident” truths of nature and nature’s God.

America has a history that is unparalleled in the history of the world. No other nation has enjoyed the peace and prosperity that America has experienced. One of the reasons 9/11 was so shocking was that it was the first time America suffered loss on her own soil. With the Supreme Court’s ruling today, America has suffered another loss – but this one is a self-inflicted wound.

The two great towers of moral truth and fear of God have fallen. Upon those twin towers America’s peace and prosperity were built. But, the tragedy is not just that those towers have fallen. The greater tragedy are the new towers that replace the old.

The reality is that those towers were in decay and disrepair for at least a generation. Where they were once the proud monuments of the American conscious, over the past generation, as they became neglected, they began to be seen as an unseemly eyesore in the new moral landscape that our generation was building.

Over the last three decades as the new morality was being built, people began to grumble about the old buildings that were ruining the new skyline. At first there was an uneasy toleration for the old towers. Some wanted to keep them as a monument to the past. Many were more than happy to turn them into museum.  But, they learned that those twin towers were functional; and as long as they stood they kept people from embracing the new towers. Since those towers refused to become a relic of the past, they were targeted for demolition. Today that demolition is complete.

With the dust settling from the towers collapse, the new landscape is clear to see. In the place of the old, the new twin towers dominate the landscape. The two towers that now define the American landscape are the towers of Defiance against God, and Depravity in the name of God. The word America will remain, but her heart has been given to another. In time the moral and spiritual fabric of the new America will look nothing like the Republic of old.

The first tower, Defiance, receives her name from the statue that decorates the rooftop. The statue is of a woman who represents justice. However, instead of the old statue where the woman wears a blindfold and has a pair of scales, the new one has a woman, holding the hand of another woman, and with her free hand she is shaking her fist at God. And instead of a blindfold, she has a pair of binoculars hung around her neck, so when needed, she is able to clearly see all around her who dare to stand against her. She is called “justice” because she will, at once, bring all non-conformists to the bar of gay-wrath where their sentence will be swift and without mercy.

The second tower, Depravity, derives its name from the many plaques that decorate the great halls of this tower. Whereas the old towers had many verses from the Bible reminding its visitors of those great truths that guided the nation to greatness, this new tower has many aphorisms and platitudes intimidating the citizenry to rejoice over iniquity and sin.

What was once seen as wrong is now celebrated as good; and what was once embraced as good is now vilified as evil. Further, where, in the past, divine love was celebrate as truth which reveals reality, the new “divine” love demands that all be given acceptance and affirmation as it seeks to create a new reality. The old love revealed sin so those entrapped by its devices may repent and turn back to God. The new love demands that all declarations of sin become sin itself. To declare a protected act sinful is to engage in the worst sin possible. And where the God of the old age allowed differences of opinion and was willing to allow dissenters their own place, the gods of new age will in no way tolerate opposing points of view, and instead will work diligently to uproot all opposition. Justice is ready to serve.

Today begins a new age for this country. We have crossed a line that will forever define the new from the old.

June 14, 2015

The King has Come!

Filed under: theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 12:59 am

GoldenGate

The East Gate of Jerusalem today

 

The first man and the first woman had a perfect life. They were free from any problems and would never die. They had a perfect relationship with God, and would personally walk with him in the garden.

 

Yet they destroyed all of that in their rebellion against God (Genesis 3). Now they faced hard labor, sickness, and death. Their relationship with God was permanently damaged, and they would be forever separated from God.

 

Their disobedience — their rebellion against God — was their sin. This sin would infect the entire human race through Adam’s descendants, leaving every person separated from God. Humans were no longer capable of having any relationship with God.

 

But God made a promise to this man and this woman. They would have a descendant who would save the human race from their sin. He would restore their relationship with God.

 

Over time, God gave more information about the one would save mankind. He was given a title, “The Anointed One”, or in Hebrew, “Messiah”, or in Greek, “Christ”. He would be the sacrifice for sin for the entire world. He would lead his people to freedom and victory. He would rule in peace.  See a more complete list here.

 

God also gave a specific time for the Messiah. The Messiah would come to Jerusalem on March 29, 33 A.D. [2].

 

God had given this message about the Messiah to the Jewish people. But as time went on, they were no longer concerned about being saved from their sin. They had devised an elaborate set of rules and laws which gave them confidence that they were were able to personally earn God’s favor. They no longer needed a Messiah to save them from sin.

 

However, the Jewish nation was often oppressed by other nations. Although they no longer needed (as they believed) a Messiah to save them from sin, they longed for the Messiah to come and free them from their oppressors. They looked forward to the conquering King who would set up a kingdom that would never end.

 

Then the Messiah came. He came to his own people and his own did not receive him (John 1:11-12). He did not follow the religious laws like he was supposed to, and the religious leaders were jealous of his fame.

 

Jesus Christ was wildly popular when he was on the earth. He taught like no one else did and he worked spectacular miracles, baffling his enemies and validating his claims to be the Messiah. As his final public act, he caused an explosion in the Jewish religious world by raising Lazarus from the dead (see here).

 

The hatred of the Jewish leaders was complete. They wanted to cover up the miracle of Lazarus so they determined to kill Jesus. They gave orders everywhere that anyone should report Jesus if they knew where he was (John 11:45-57). Jesus Christ was now a wanted criminal.

 

Yet as the Passover drew near, it was time for Jesus Christ to enter Jerusalem. It was also time for the city to welcome the Messiah as their king, in fulfillment of the prophecies about him (Daniel 9:24-27). Instead of coming in secret, Jesus came at the head of a massive crowd, cheering him as king.

 

Why did the crowd welcome Jesus as their King on that day? The miracle of Lazarus had already drawn the interest and the excitement of the people. Jesus had traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem with a large crowd of Passover pilgrims, so they all knew that he was coming. He had spent the Passover (Saturday) in the nearby town of Bethany, so the next opportunity for him to come would be Sunday morning.

 

Jesus left Bethany with a large crowd of followers on Sunday morning. As He approached the mountain separating him from Jerusalem (the Mount of Olives), he sent two disciples ahead to bring a donkey colt with its mother. The donkey showed his claim as king and fulfilled the prophecy (Zechariah 9:9) that the Messiah would enter on a donkey, the symbol of royalty.

 

The crowd that accompanied Jesus was met by a larger crowd coming out of Jerusalem. Together, they chanted the Psalm of the Messiah (Psalm 118:24-26), “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of The Lord!”

 

The religious leaders objected to this praise and personally asked Jesus to tell them to stop. But this was the day of Messiah’s coming. If the people did not shout out, the rocks would proclaim him as King!

 

Through all of this excitement, Luke tells the shocking response by Jesus as he approaches the city. Jesus starts sobbing as the city comes into view. Neither his disciples nor his enemies were able to see through the crowd’s excitement, yet only Jesus saw that these excited people would not receive him. He is given a vision of what will happen to Jerusalem and it brings him to tears. He see the Roman legions surrounding the city, cutting off the supplies and eventually killing the inhabitants. This all happened because they rejected the Messiah.

 

The people were excited to receive a Messiah of their own design. They wanted a leader to save them from Roman oppression, but they did not want to be saved from their sin. Yet that was His purpose, and that was why He had come. He would be the sacrifice to bring the people back to God.

 

In less than a week, the same people who were welcoming him as king would be shouting for his death.

 

Remember!

 

  • How much do we value a relationship with God? Are we willing to value the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ in order to bring us back to him?

 

  • As the Messiah, Jesus Christ’s main objective is to free us from sin and bring us back to God. It is as true now as it was in the first century — don’t look for a substitute!

 

  • The disciples did not understand what was going on until afterward. Don’t miss the important things in life because we are caught up in the moment.

 

Previous post: Dare to Waste


John 12:12-19
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

 


Matthew 21:1-11
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

 


Mark 11:1-11
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”


And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

 


Luke 19:29-44
When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

 

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

 


 

John 12:12-13: The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

This is only the second event which is recorded in all four gospel accounts.

 

The chief priests wanted to arrest Jesus after he had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:53, 57). Yet Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Sunday morning at the head of a massive crowd and they could do nothing.

 

Despite the price on his head, Jesus’ popularity was at an all-time high. All of Judea was abuzz with the news about Lazarus (John 12:9-11). The pilgrims from Galilee had entered Jerusalem with the news that Jesus himself had traveled with them, teaching and working miracles. Messianic hope was always very high among the Jews during Passover season, but this news about Jesus excited the entire city. At last, their King was coming!

 

The people took palm branches and came out of the city to welcome him as king [5]. On the way, they chanted Psalm 118, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25-26). The chant of “Hosanna”, meaning literally “save now”, had become the phrase to welcome the king, “Come and save us!”.

 

The population of Jerusalem would swell to about two million people during the Passover [4].

 

Jesus entered Jerusalem on March 29, 33 A.D. [2].

 

“By calling forth that man from the grave, who had been four days dead, Jesus demonstrated Himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. The people who had never considered His claims before began to wonder if He were the promised Messiah who was to come when He rode into Jerusalem on this occasion.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

Matthew 21:1-3: Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”

Mark 11:1-3: Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”

Luke 19:29-31: When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’”

 

Only Matthew’s and John’s accounts show that the colt was a young donkey. Only Matthew shows that the mother was also taken by the disciples. Only Mark’s account shows that the disciples promised to return the donkey and the colt immediately afterward.

 

Jesus had left Bethany that morning, and needed to cross through the tiny village of Bethphage on the way to Jerusalem. The donkey and her colt were most likely located in Bethphage as the “village in front of you”.

 

The name Bethphage means, “House of Figs”.

 

Jesus knew exactly where the donkey and her colt would be tied, and he knew that the owners would easily part with their animals when the disciples said, “The Lord has need of it.”. Some commentators see this as a miracle of omniscience (knowing about the donkey and her colt) and persuasion (the owner easily gives up the animals). However, this scene does not require a miracle as there are two much simpler explanations:

  • One possibility is that Jesus had prearranged this with the owner. Jesus had visited this area very frequently and had stayed in Bethany for the past two nights. There was ample time for Jesus to make arrangements with the owner to use his animals.
  • The other possibility is that Jesus knew about the animals from his frequent visits to the area. The owner did not know Jesus but he was carried away with the excitement of the day. He would have been glad to lend his animals to the coming Messiah!

 

Mark 11:4-6: And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.

Luke 19:32-34: So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”

 

The disciples did as Jesus instructed and untied the colt (and its mother). When the owners asked them what they were doing, they replied “The Lord has need of it”, and the owners let them go.

 

Matthew 21:6-7: The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.

Mark 11:7: And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.

Luke 19:35: And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.

John 12:14a: And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it,

 

Bethphage was on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where the disciples met Jesus with the colt and the excitedly gathering crowd. The disciples spread their cloaks on the colt and he thus roade the remaining distance into Jerusalem.

 

“The lower creatures act in subjection to the will of the Lord. Man alone of all God’s creatures – man, who is made a little lower than the angels, with his remarkable powers and his wonderful intellect – sets himself in opposition to the will of God.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

Matthew 21:8: Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

Mark 11:8: And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.

Luke 19:36: And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.

 

The crowd spread their cloaks on the road and laid down the palm branches in order for Jesus to ride on them. It was a custom to spread the coats in the presence of a king (See 2 Kings 9:13, when the soldiers spread their coats for Jehu).

 

Matthew 21:9: And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Mark 11:9-10: And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Luke 19:37-38: As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

 

The two crowds met on the road to Jerusalem: the crowd that had followed Jesus from Bethany and the crowd of people from Jerusalem. Together, they continued to shout from Psalm 118:24-25, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who come in the name of the Lord!”

 

Matthew and Mark tell of the excitement of the crowds as they welcome him into Jerusalem. Luke tells of extended praise from all of his disciples (not just the twelve). The disciples had joined with the crowds in welcoming the king, but they also also add, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

 

Jesus had previously avoided the title of Messiah, but now he encouraged it during the final week.

 

Matthew 21:4-5: This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
John 12:14b-15: just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

 

The manner of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 (see also Isaiah 62:11).

 

The king would come humbly — he would have no military presence.

 

The king would come in peace. The donkey was not a lowly animal but the royal symbol of peace in that culture. The king would only ride a horse in times of war.

 

“… this prophecy was intended to introduce, in contrast to earthly warfare and kingly triumph, another Kingdom, of which the just King would be the Prince of Peace, Who was meek and lowly in His Advent, Who would speak peace to the heathen, and Whose sway would yet extend to earth’s utmost bounds.” – Alfred Edersheim [8]

 

John 12:16-18: His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

 

The disciples did not understand the significance of this event until much later. It was not until Jesus returned to glory that they understood the prophecies which he had fulfilled.

 

John’s account shows that the crowds who assembled came from three sources [9]:

  • John 12:12 shows the distant pilgrims who had come for the Passover. Most of them were probably from Galilee.
  • John 12:17 shows the crowd that had been in Bethany when Lazarus was raised from the dead.
  • John 12:18 shows large crowd from Jerusalem had come out out of the city to see the one who had raised Lazarus.

 

“Lazarus remains … the chief miracle that undeniably reveals Christ’s authentic claim to be God.” – Stephen Davey [10]

 

Luke 19:39-40: And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

John 12:19: So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

 

The Pharisees, in their frustration, come to Jesus to ask him to quiet the crowd. But this was the day that The Lord had made for the Messiah’s return (Psalm 118:24). If the people would not proclaim him, even the inanimate objects would be called on to testify for him.

 

“As on so many other occasions, the chief priests and scribes, though familiar with the letter of the Word, proved themselves altogether out of touch with this momentous occasion.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

Luke 19:41-44: And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

 

On the surface, it looked like the Jewish nation was ready to receive Jesus as their Messiah. Even the Pharisees believed that they have lost. All is wonderful.

 

But only Jesus was able to see through the unstable crowd. The people had been longing for the Messiah to come and save them from Rome. The Passover season was the time to celebrate when God had used Moses to save them from an evil tyrant. Now, they saw a new evil tyrant in Rome as they longed for the Messiah to come and free them.

 

But the people had forgotten the primary purpose of the Messiah. Before he would set up his promised kingdom, he must first save them from sin, and reunite them with God (Genesis 3:15). See the link here for more details.

 

The people were looking for a military leader, not one who would save them from sin. Therefore, they missed the Messiah. They missed the “time of their visitation”. These same people who were praising him on Sunday would be shouting for his death on Friday.

 

As Jesus ascended the Mount of Olives, the entire City of Jerusalem came into view. Luke says, “as he saw the city, he wept over it”. Not with the quiet tears but with the loud and deep sobbing (klaiō, κλαίω) of grief.

 

“He foresaw the Roman armies under Titus surrounding the city and cutting off all sources of provision for its trapped populace. Graphically He portrayed what became actual history forty years afterward. It was all fulfilled literally when the Roman legions besieged the city, and at last entered it and destroyed its great buildings as Jesus had predicted.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

As the crowd of worshipers chanted his praise en route to the beautiful city, He alone could see their rejection. They had rejected their Messiah. Now the city and the people that he loved so dearly would be totally destroyed.

 

Matthew 21:10-11: And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Mark 11:11a: And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple.

 

As the procession entered Jerusalem, the people of the city were asking who this was. The answer was repeated, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee”.

 

They did well to tell of His name and his home town. They also knew that he was from God (“the prophet”), but they stopped short of calling him their king.

 

Mark 11:11b: And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

 

The procession from Bethany must have taken the entire day. By the time Jesus reached the temple, he looked around at the temple and returned to Bethany.

 


[1] Doug Bookman, Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 2-4, http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[2] Daniel 9:24-27 provides one of the most specific prophecies about the coming Messiah. Daniel predicts that there will be 69 weeks from “the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem” to “the coming of the anointed one” (Daniel 9:25). The “week” is a set of 7 years.

The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given on March 4, 444 B.C. (Nisan 1 of the 20th year of King Artaxerxes) according to Nehemiah 2:1-8. Therefore, 69 weeks (or 173,880 days [3]) later would be March 29, 33 A.D.

Source, Doug Bookman, based on Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, by Harold Hoehner [1].

 

[3] The exact number of days per year varies based on different calendar systems. Biblical prophecy uses 360-day years and is verified by the references below. The following references all describe the same three and a half year period:

Therefore, a month would be 30 days and a year would be 360 days.

 

[4] According to Josephus, There were over 200,000 lambs at Passover in the year 60 A.D. That means it is about 2 million people. [1]

 

[5] The Palm branches had become a symbol of welcoming a conquering king. 200 years earlier, the people had welcomed Judas Maccabeus into Jerusalem with palm branches, hailing him as the Messiah. [7]

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 38, THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY, John 12:12-28; Address 66, Welcoming the King, Luke 19:28-48; Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 21

 

[7] John MacArthur, Triumph and Tears, John 12:12–17

 

[8] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER I. THE FIRST DAY IN PASSION-WEEK – PALM-SUNDAY – THE ROYAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM

 

[9] Robert L. Thomas & Stanley N Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels, Section 187, pages 176-179

 

[10] Stephen Davey, Here Comes the King, John 12:12-21

 

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