Friday, May 18, 2018

God is more than a Crisis Manager

In some season of your life, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Supposedly the phrase dates back to early Greece where Hippocrates, one of the most famous worldly healers in history, used it to describe methods of healing when traditional routes had failed.

When I think of my faith journey, I think of the phrase having a different meaning. It seems to me that during my most stressful or disjointed periods, I tended to focus more on the extreme devotion to my faith. Instead of making my faith a continual high-point of my life, I would wait until I was at the end of my rope to seek God.

I don’t believe I’m unique in that regard. I believe that many of us seek God when the times are at their worst. We’re way more open to asking for help from God after we’ve exhausted all the normal avenues we know and understand. God for many of us is the last resort. He’s the desperate measure we’ve been avoiding rather than the first counselor we call on.

In the past two years, I’ve seen my relationship with God morph into something entirely different than it was in my mid-to-late-20s. With the help of my wife, and the encouragement of a new church family, I’ve begun to think about God as a first resort rather than a last resort. I’ve begun to thank God much more than ever before, because I’m asking more of God than ever before. And I’m finding out that God is faithful to the person that seeks him first, and he still performs miracles even today.

It’s funny how easy it is to minimize the importance of God in your daily routine. Often with a simple statement like, “Oh that’s not a big enough problem to pray about,” you’ve immediately taken the issue out of God’s hands and put it in your own. Sometimes that works out fine. You solve daily problems in your job, or your house, or your own life quite adeptly. In fact, many people trust themselves so much in the day-to-day management of their own lives that they rarely ask God for anything except, “The Big Stuff.”

The Big Stuff is all those problems we know for a fact are completely outside our own control. We leave those items for sick friends and family, natural disasters, or maybe your favorite sports team winning. But that’s not really all true. Many more things are outside of our control, even if we’re trying to control them. Many of us make multiple contingency plans because we believe we can control the outcome of any situation. We try to control our image on our social media accounts. We try to control our health, or our fitness. In many ways we live under the mistaken illusion that we’re in control of our lives.

Then something happens. A loss. A mistake. A tragedy. An unexpected event or series of events shakes the foundations of that illusion of control, and suddenly we’re looking for answers. Why did this happen? What can I do to fix it? What if I don’t even actually know what went wrong? Why me?

Those questions can send us running into the hands of an all-powerful and all-knowing God. Like the Prodigal Son, we return from our prideful lives with our heads bowed in supplication looking for God to fix whatever went wrong. It seems selfish doesn’t it? And in many cases the Devil would convince you that you’re not worthy of such return to God, which is one of his many lies. Make no mistake, God would rather you come running to him, than never come to him at all.

But you’ll notice something as you develop in your relationship with God beyond simply using him as a crisis manager. God becomes more than that. Through the Holy Spirit and your covenant with Jesus Christ, God becomes your trusted advisor, your constant companion, your encourager, and your loving friend.

The idea that the creator of the entire universe actually wants to be your friend is something that gets lost on many Christians including my earlier self. In John 15 we get explicit messages from Jesus about how to be a friend of God:

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] 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.

When we follow what God commands, we are his friends. When we listen to what the Master is saying, and know what he is doing, we are friends of God, not just servants. We are meant to love one another with the same love that God has for all of us, and that means not just those we’re close to but those that can drive us crazy at times.

I found peace in the crazy times by focusing on God as a friend who holds me in the palm of his hand. It’s not easy and there are times where I wander away and seem to get lost. But it’s much easier to return when you remember that God is in control of everything, and you’re not. When you can clear the mental hurdle that you must manage everything to make it better, and instead put all your issues in God’s hands, you can then truly see and witness the wonder of God’s ability to love, heal, and work miracles.

Then, once you witness that miracle, share your testimony. Don’t just accept the things God does for you and do nothing. Praise him and tell others! Proclaim his greatness! It’s easy to ask and then receive, but forget to give God the glory. Our true purpose on this earth is to glorify God. These things he does for you aren’t just for you, they are for God to show his power and glory throughout the earth.

Be sure to share every story, even if they seem small. As an example, yesterday my wife and I prayed for a friend whose son was running a 104 degree fever, and it looked like he was also going to owe $7000 to fix his AC right at the beginning of summer. We prayed that the fever would leave the child and that God would provide for him a much lower cost to fix his AC, or the money to come to him so that his debt wouldn’t be increased.

Today he came in and told me that his son’s fever left last night, and that another repairman came out to look at the AC and fixed it for $180 instead of $7000. That’s an amazing testimony and I thanked God on the spot. It’s just one case, but you begin to see them daily if you’re willing to ask God for help in all things. 

Try it yourself and watch your life and your faith completely change.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Matthew 14: Jesus Walks on Water

Jesus just got some terrible news. His friend John the Baptist was beheaded by the tyrannical Herod the Tetrarch, and Jesus needed a place to escape the masses to grieve. However, upon taking a boat across the lake away from all the people, they simply chased Jesus and surrounded him on the far side of the lake.

Max Lucado wrote an entire book on this one chapter of the Bible, so if you'd really like to dig into the details of these events, it's a perfect book to read called, "In the Eye of the Storm." When I read it I was going through some tough times in my life, after getting some really bad news about my job. It looked like the company might go out of business due to some bad moves made by prior executives. I was under immense pressure to solve those issues and work with the bankers to find common ground that would keep our business alive.

Going through great pains alone is almost impossible for most human beings. We can withdraw and hide, trying to get away from the pain and responsibility of our grief. We often forget that in our solitude, God is with us. In fact, solitude and communing with God is often the best solution to massive problems. In my issue it was only when I gave my burden to God in prayer and quiet time that I became fully at peace with the outcomes of my business. Whatever happened, God was going to use it for good, even if that meant the business had to close. Fortunately for me, God chose to keep the business open and running.

Even Jesus chose to withdraw several times in this very chapter, choosing to commune with God rather than trying to deal with the day to day issues of the people. But on this day, Jesus could not escape the mob. They were desperate for healing and followed him as he tried to find solitude. Many of us would have simply turned them away, told them to go home, and used the excuse of our massive problems not to deal with their issues. Jesus didn't do that. Instead he showed them mercy. He healed them for hours, and then had the disciples feed them with a miracle of turning five loaves of bread and two fish into a meal that fed 5,000 souls.

I want to focus on the one set of verses near the end which describes what Jesus did after they fed the 5,000 people.

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,  
24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

 Notice that the first verse says "Immediately" right to start. Jesus was totally exhausted and done with crowds for the day. He was done. I'm sure you know the feeling when you're completely exhausted at a major party or event, and all you can think of is getting in the car and getting out of there as fast as possible. That was Jesus on this day. He was a man like all of us, and subject to the same frustrations and needs as we are.

Secondly, Jesus leaves them all to go to the mountains and pray. This is an important lesson for all of us after we get extremely bad news or have had extremely tough days. Jesus did what God wants us to do, and that's to retreat to his side and pray to God. When we remove ourselves from the earthly concerns of work, phones, TV, computers, and other people, we can find a clarity of purpose and refreshing in the presence of the Lord.

Thirdly, the boat has left Jesus behind because there's a storm brewing and they couldn't stay close to shore. Because Jesus is the son of God, he wanted to make a point to the disciples. He wanted to show them how God is not only master of the storm, he's in the storm, he can walk through the storm, and the storm has no effect on him. It's a perfect example of how Jesus emerged from his grief and time with God in a powerful image of refreshed glory.

And lastly, of course the disciples don't fully understand what they see. We're very used to being a people that observe the same things over and over again. We're familiar with routine. When something really outstanding happens, often we're skeptical and question the source. Even Peter questions Jesus and then later doubts as the storm rages.

After all, we've likely been burned before and hate to look stupid or scared. The disciples were no different. They didn't expect Jesus to walk on water, so instead of believing their eyes, they fell back on silly superstitions about ghosts. And then after that Peter fell back on his fears of the raging water. How often today do we hear or see a true miracle of God, but instead we fall back on our silly superstitions or "facts" that make us rationalize the miracle away to circumstance? Miracles are supposed to oppose facts or they wouldn't be miracles at all!

God still wants to be with us, commune with us, and work miracles with us today. The covenant that Jesus made with the disciples is the same covenant the holy spirit completes in us today when we invite Jesus into our hearts. God lives within us, and all the power of God is for us. How easy that is to forget when times are tough? And how easy should it be to remember that we can call upon a wonderful loving God to save us when we're in the middle of our storms?

Remember next time you face the storm to seek God in the quiet places of our life. And don't be surprised when he reaches his had out for you in return.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Luke 10: Jesus sends out his Disciples

Hi all, it's been a couple of weeks and we're officially back from all the holiday stuff and in between more holiday stuff, so it seemed like a good time to do some writing. Today I take a look Luke Chapter 10, specifically 17-24 verses.

17 The 70 disciples came back very happy. They said, “Lord, even demons obey us when we use the power and authority of your name!”
18 Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning.  
19 I have given you the authority to trample snakes and scorpions and to destroy the enemy’s power. Nothing will hurt you.  
20 However, don’t be happy that evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven.”
21 In that hour the Holy Spirit filled Jesus with joy. Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from wise and intelligent people and revealing them to little children. Yes, Father, this is what pleased you.
22 “My Father has turned everything over to me. Only the Father knows who the Son is. And no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.”
23 He turned to his disciples in private and said to them, “How blessed you are to see what you’ve seen.  
24 I can guarantee that many prophets and kings wanted to see and hear what you’ve seen and heard, but they didn’t.”

Jesus expanded his Disciples from 12 to 70 or 72 depending on which text you read, and then sent them out with the now famous verse: "Behold I send you out as sheep amidst the wolves." The disciples were supposed to go in pairs into various cities and preach, heal, and cast out demons. They weren't supposed to take any possessions and they were supposed to stay with friendly people there and basically rely on their kindness for food and shelter.

In these verses those 70-something people have returned in awe and wonder. The name of Jesus Christ had power over demons! They were shocked that they could use the name of Jesus to cast out evil spirits and heal the sick. Jesus was excited for them, but he also wanted to remind them that this kind of power to make evil spirits obey paled in comparison to having a place in heaven.

Jesus then praises God for revealing these secrets to little children rather than the wise and intelligent of the earth. Why would Jesus say that about learned or wise people? Did he actually mean little children? I think he was referring to the faith of the disciples, who were gathered from the lowest classes of society to follow Jesus, and lacked any real education. They only knew about God with the intelligence and faith of a child. They were young in faith and young in instruction, unlike the priests and Pharisees of the day who would spend countless hours studying and debating the law.

This statement also tells us something about faith amongst the "intelligent" people of our society even today. How often do you know really smart people who just outright reject the idea of a loving God? They would tell you that if you can't see it, and can't test it, and can't prove it, then it doesn't exist. They call religion the opiate of the masses, that it mollifies and coddles the ignorant, that we are idiots for believing in a false Sky-Daddy who watches over our every move.

But they are flat wrong. Faith and Reason don't intersect. If I can prove God, then I have no need for faith, because faith is the belief in things that are unseen and unknown. Jesus was pointing out that God has hidden things from the intelligent and wise, and revealed them to children. Why? Because the intelligent have a very difficult time discarding the knowledge they've obtained about the World, and then applying it to heavenly matters. There's no reason to believe that God cannot heal or cast out demons, or change lives. Yet, to make that leap of faith, the intelligent person has to admit they don't know everything, and that they will believe in that unseen force which cannot be fully explained.

Now think of a child. A child has faith that can move mountains. Before the world has settled in with hard "reality" of what's possible, a child has the ability to believe in the wonderfully impossible. Often, I think that as adults we start to make assumptions about what God is, and we also start to believe that we can fathom the motives of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. A child doesn't assume to know how God works, a child simple accepts God's love with open joy. To be more child-like in our belief is to become closer to God.

This isn't to say that smart people can't accept God. They absolutely can. Just as rich people can accept Jesus, even though he gave his famous verse about rich men going to heaven being as easy as a camel going through the eye of the needle. The point is that what's impossible with men is possible with God. We absolutely can call on God today to heal, and cast out evil spirits in Jesus' name. Nothing has changed from that time when Jesus sent out his disciples and now. God still wants us to love him, worship him, and follow his commands to change the world.

And we can do all that with the faith of a child.

Friday, November 17, 2017

2nd Thessalonians 2: The Day of the Lord

Someday, Jesus Christ will return and the world as we know it will end. We do not know the day when he will return, but Paul described in an earlier letter to the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. We will not be able to predict it, and the day will sneak up on us completely unaware.

However, at the time of the 2nd letter from Paul to the Thessalonians, apparently a powerful false teaching had arisen which said the Day of the Lord had already come. Paul had to send this letter to the people so they wouldn't be frightened that they had missed Christ's return. But it goes so much deeper into explaining why Christ hasn't returned, and a so-called "Man of Lawlessness" that would also have to come before Christ returned.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,  
10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Many people think the Man of Lawlessness is the eventual AntiChrist who will set himself up on Earth as a false living God. Others look at verse 7 and say that the secret power of lawlessness is already at work in Paul's day, and that the Catholic Church and the papacy is actually the true man of lawlessness deceiving the people and pretending to be God in God's temple. And another sect of people believe that the Man of Lawlessness isn't a man at all, but rather an ideal or political movement that will strive to replace God through deceit and power.

Personally? I have no idea who or what the Man of Lawlessness is, although I can see the fascination it holds for many. There's an allure to evil and what it might look like that captivates people. However, my takeaway from this chapter is from verse 8, that Jesus will overthrow this powerful and deceitful man with his very breath. Imagine how powerful Jesus Christ is that he can simply destroy somebody by breathing and showing his splendor? That is my savior and redeemer that I follow! He's the ultimate power in the universe and all knees will bow to him!

The message from Paul is simple yet important. Don't be fooled by false teachers and people working through displays of power, signs, and wonders. We should questions the teachings of all those who can perform so-called miracles to make sure they follow the Word of God. They are not from God if they fall in accordance with how Satan works. Look well into these teachings and expose them for the lies that they are. For you have the words of Jesus Christ written in the Holy Bible to guide you, and those words should be the ultimate filter for any teachings you hear.

If the teachings do not match what you know of the words of Jesus? Reject those teachings! Especially if they seem like a seductive way to do what your human flesh wants rather than serving your Lord and Savior.

Keep your eyes upon Jesus and you will know the truth that is incontrovertible. That he is Risen and he is Lord! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1 Samuel 24: David Spares Saul

David and Saul had a complicated relationship. Both were in competition for the throne of Israel after the prophet Samuel informed King Saul that God rejected his claim to the throne. It's Samuel that leaves Saul and goes to find David, youngest of the sons of Jesse living in Bethlehem, and anoints David as the new King of Israel. But even after that anointing, it's still Saul who sits on the throne for many years.

This chapter picks up after Saul has actively been hunting for David in order to kill him:

4 David’s men told him, “Today is the day the Lord referred to when he said, ‘I’m going to hand your enemy over to you. You will do to him whatever you think is right.’” David quietly got up and cut off the border of Saul’s robe. 
5 But afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the border of Saul’s robe.  
6 He said to his men, “It would be unthinkable for me to raise my hand against His Majesty, the Lord’s anointed king, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”  
7 So David stopped his men by saying this to them and didn’t let them attack Saul. Saul left the cave and went out onto the road.  
8 Later, David got up, left the cave, and called to Saul, “Your Majesty!” When Saul looked back, David knelt down with his face touching the ground.  
9 David asked Saul, “Why do you listen to rumors that I am trying to harm you?  
10 Today you saw how the Lord handed you over to me in the cave. Although I was told to kill you, I spared you, saying, ‘I will not raise my hand against Your Majesty because you are the Lord’s anointed.’

David had a chance to finish off his enemy and instead showed mercy to the King. Even though David was anointed by Samuel and favored by God, he could not bring himself to kill another who had been anointed by God in the past. In short, he had love for his enemy. That's an idea we wouldn't hear about again until Jesus Christ said it almost 1,000 years later.

How often do we see the misfortune of others as an opportunity for ourselves? How often do we rejoice in the plight of our enemies, or tear down those people who wronged us when they were weakest? It's human nature to seek revenge, and to revel in the consequences of the ways of the wicked. However, it's not our mandate from a heavenly perspective to return hate with hate, and we should be very careful about passing our judgement on the wicked. Only God can do that, as he did with Saul later in the battle of Gilboa where Saul was slain.

David made a very Christ-like choice before Christ even existed. That's what I find most interesting in this story. In a time where mercy was a foreign concept, David didn't press an advantage on his persecutor even though he'd been forced to retreat into a cave to survive. How long he must have waited, worried, and wondered about his future while believing in the promises of God? And when the time finally came for him to possible end it all? He showed mercy and then got mercy in return. Saul let him be, and went on to his own consequences.

May we all be so merciful. For we have been forgiven much.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Titus 2: Guidelines for Christian Living

What does Christian Living look like? In the book of Titus, Paul gives some examples of Christian living to aspire to. Older men and women should stay sober, avoiding gossip, using good judgement, and be examples of love and virtue to younger people. The young believers should also use good judgement, and teach with an aura of purity and dignity.

In verses 11-14 Paul says the following:

11 After all, God’s saving kindness Or “grace.” has appeared for the benefit of all people.  
12 It trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world. 
13 At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every sin and to cleanse us so that we can be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good things.
The bolded part is mine. How many of you have ever trained for something? Maybe it was in the military, or on a job, or for a sporting event? Training is usually difficult and time consuming, and it involves preparation for a difficult task that could not be done if we didn't take the time and effort to train properly. 
If I wanted to run a marathon, I would have to start but running a mile until I mastered that, and then 2 miles, and add on to my endurance week by week until I built up enough endurance to run the entire 26.2 mile race. I'd have to change my diet, and track my progress. I'd have to commit to a daily routine and the hours involved that I needed to run. Basically, training takes a lot of effort. Christian Living is no different. It takes a lot of effort on our part to reject the worldly pursuits and live godly lives in this world. It was no easier 2,000 years ago than it is today.

Understand this about training: you're learning, and by proxy you don't know everything. It also means we're not going to make this transition overnight. We need this training because we don't understand how to live godly lives. We will fail, we will have setbacks, and we will need to build up endurance against the adversity of this world.

The other important thing about training is that it really helps to have a Trainer. When you train alone, it's very easy to take shortcuts or give up when things get difficult. Having a Trainer keeps you focused and on task. That's the relationship we have with the Holy Spirit which resides inside us. The Holy Spirit is our ultimate Trainer. We can rely on the Spirit to guide us because Jesus gave himself up as a sacrifice for our sins.

Does that mean we have to do good deeds to be Christians? Far from it. The work in Jesus was already perfected. We do not have to gild the lily of his sacrifice. He was the perfect lamb, and his blood shed for us means that we are cleansed completely of sin, and as Paul says, "We can be his special people."

But Paul also says we can be enthusiastic about doing good things. Not required but elated! It's not our duty to live well and do good deeds, it's the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. For if you are a changed and saved person, do you believe the Holy Spirit would train you to hide your faith away from public view? Of course not!
In Matthew 5:15 Jesus says, "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." So too, the Holy Spirit gives us light to show to all we encounter.

So when you think of Christian Living, don't fall into the trap of believing it's just about restrictions and sacrifices. Don't look at self-control as legalism and duty. We're all training for a greater goal. We're all working on a relationship with our Trainer to become the best Christians we can be. And the manifestation of that training is a mature relationship with Christ, and all the power of Christ's name that it carries.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

John 19: The Crucifixion

I've picked up this blog again after almost 3 years. Funny how I started something so long ago when I first got my new job, and then immediately had to drop it because the job started to take over too many demands. That led to an eventual mental breakdown, an eventual recovery, a connection with my true love, an engagement, and a new spiritual awakening in my life. Many things have changed, and I feel like I've been led to start writing about Scripture again. However, I don't believe working through the Bible in sequence is a good idea any longer. Instead, I'm going to skip around to various parts of the Bible using a randomizer, and follow where the Spirit leads me.

Today the randomizer picked John 19, which just happens to be Jesus' execution. Thanks randomizer! Way to start off with a light topic right? However, I think believe it's a perfect place to start back up. The crucifixion is the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus laying his life down for all of us, only to conquer death with his resurrection. It's an ending, and a beginning of something infinitely greater. And so hopefully I can start something greater here with this blog, and these chapters as we study them together.

John 19 has 3 parts in the chapter. The first is Pilate talking to the crowd after he has Jesus dressed up in a mocking robe and crown of thorns to declare him the "King of the Jews." Pilate tries to get the crowd to kill Jesus rather than condemning Jesus to death himself. The second part is the crucifixion itself and Jesus' death, and the third part is Jesus being laid in a tomb. If you've ever been to a good Friday service or seen the passion, none of this is foreign to you at all.

What speaks to me today is the position of Pilate when I read this story. I never really knew much about the man, but obviously he was in some position of authority in the Roman Empire, and the temple leaders obviously feared him enough not to kill Jesus without going to him first. As a leader myself, I often saw Pilate in a very unwinnable position. He understands that Jesus is likely without fault, but he's also looking at a possible rebellion if he doesn't acquiesce to the crowd.

Pilate was a prefect in the Roman Army, which was essentially a military governor, and he was charged with governing Judea. The province of Judea at that time which included what today we know as parts of Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, was under direct Roman control because one of Herod's sons was such a bad leader that the emperor fired him and replaced him with his own governor. That title eventually changed hands until Pontius Pilate came on the scene in 26 AD.

Instead of focusing on the death of Jesus here, I'd like to focus on how Pilate reacted to Jesus, because I think it's important. Verses 6-12 detail what Pilate does when he realizes who Jesus is:

6 Pilate told them, “You take him and crucify him. I don’t find this man guilty of anything.”
7 The Jews answered Pilate, “We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard them say that, he became more afraid than ever.  
9 He went into the palace again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus didn’t answer him.
10 So Pilate said to Jesus, “Aren’t you going to answer me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered Pilate, “You wouldn’t have any authority over me if it hadn’t been given to you from above. That’s why the man who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 When Pilate heard what Jesus said, he wanted to free him. But the Jews shouted, “If you free this man, you’re not a friend of the emperor. Anyone who claims to be a king is defying the emperor.”
I've bolded two parts about what Pilate felt when he had Jesus in his custody. I believe we are often pulled between the words of the world, and the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Pilate was no different in this scenario. The world told Pilate that they had a law, and that the law meant death for the convicted. On the other hand, the words of Jesus made Pilate want to free him. Words that inspired death came from the world, and words that inspired freedom came from Christ.

It's an interesting thought for me, and something I wonder about when I think of Pilate: Did he sense the truth about Jesus as the Christ? Or was it simple self-preservation at it's highest to keep the crowd from rebelling in his province. I'm not sure, but the words of John give me more pause than in other gospel accounts. I can put myself in Pilate's shoes as a man given authority from above to choose which Master I'm going to serve. Will I serve an earthly law, or my heavenly Master in Jesus Christ?

Pilate ultimately gave into the crowd. He chose poorly and condemned a man he knew to be innocent to death, just so he could appease a worldly mob. How often do we also deny Christ in favor of worldly satisfaction or mollification. Christ died for us so that we would not have to suffer an eternal life without God, that our death would not be the final death, and that we would live in paradise with him. That was all impossible under the law. The law had failed, and it failed again that day when Jesus was executed after a mockery of a trial under the law.

What I take away from this chapter today is how when we hear Jesus and we feel the stirrings of freedom in our very souls, or when we fear the world and we know it's supposed truths to be nothing but falsehoods? We should run into the open arms of a loving Father, opened by the sacrifice of his Son, and dwelling inside of us in the Holy Spirit. We should stand proudly before the World and declare His Truth rather than meekly acquiesce to the mob.

And in that action we will stand firmly on solid ground. Just like in the words of the hymn, "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.