October 12, 2016
I find myself intrigued by the passion of politics and religion in chapter 19 of John’s gospel. Jesus is on trial at the hand of Pilate who states more than once that he finds no basis for the charges against Him. Pilate would prefer to let Jesus go as a free man and they all could just get back on with their daily living. But in the religious world, the Jewish leaders demand the death of Jesus for His so called blasphemy. They shout, “Crucify! Crucify!”
Ironically in this first century religious world, the Jews have a law that says Jesus (or anyone) should die if they are a blasphemer (v. 7). Yet, the Jews admit they have no authority to carry out such a sentence (18:31). Can you imagine living in a society where there are laws on the books that are not being enforced? “I knew ya could.”
Politics and religion butt heads in this chapter, especially in these last hours of Jesus’ life. Two powers. Two topics. Some say too powerful to discuss at the dinner table. But alas, I see these two as simply agents of a greater power. The Power of God. The Power of His Will.
I just love v. 11 for it shows that in the midst of all the back and forth debates, lies, and false accusations, a greater power is at work. The Will of the Father is happening in spite of, as well as through, the work of mankind. The Will of God will indeed unfold. The Will of God will ultimately unfold according to His plan, whether or not we recognize it.
Another interesting aspect about chapter 19 is the account of Pilate trying over and over to release Jesus. Numerous times he tries but is met with the resistance of the Jewish leaders. It is not until v.15 that the Jews state, “We have no king but Caesar.” Here Pilate hands Jesus over to them to be crucified. Interesting, it’s not until the Jews reveal their own blasphemy, sinfulness and denial of the true king. The powers of the world in politics and religion combine to devastate the Son of God…all part of the Father’s great plan set thousands of years ago.
As the crucifixion unfolds, we see the others involved. John doesn’t focus us on the horrific beatings that Jesus underwent, but on the activity of the others around Him. Pilate and his notice hung above Jesus head (19-22), the soldiers and Christ’s clothing (v. 23), the three Mary’s + one (v. 25), the soldier who pierced Christ’s side (v. 34), and Joseph of Arimathea, along with Nicodemus, and the tomb…many events all working together as the Will of God is carried out.
PRAYER: Gracious Father, continue to work out Your Will in this world full of lies, chaos, and darkness; where laws on the books are not enforced; where the worlds of politics and religion collide. Help me to be faithful to You and not wrapped up in the crooked leaders of the world. Amen.