Friday, April 27, 2007

At What Price Your Integrity?

A man wrecked his truck recently.

He lied to his insurance company about how it happened.


For the money, of course.

The man who told me this story thought nothing of it. 

I said, “You mean he lied?”

“Well, yeh, otherwise they might not have covered it.”

“So he was willing to sell out his integrity for a little bit of money.”

I watched a movie recently that took place in China.  At one point an old teacher said, “Chinese believe, man born good.”

A lot of people believe that, that we are born good, then learn to do bad.

I think that’s crazy.  First of all, why would anyone want to learn to do bad?  We punish bad.  Bad brings pain and trouble and heartache.  We all know this, and yet we end up doing bad anyway.

Bad has a gravitational pull.  We know we shouldn’t, but we are drawn to it.

I had this discussion with my teenagers the other day.  They felt like kids didn’t start out bad.  I said, “That’s easy for you to say.  You’ve never had kids!”

I said, “I watched all of you from the womb.  All of you came out selfish, demanding your own way about everything.  As soon as you could coordinate your arm, you threw something in rage.  As soon as you could talk, you lied.  As soon as you understood what not to do, you became deceptive to try to do it anyway.”

We have the funniest home video of my daughter at a very young age.  She was told not to do something, so she turned her back on us to do it anyway.  She had these huge blue eyes, and she kept peeking over her little shoulder at us, as if she was successfully deceiving us.

The sad thing is, as we get older we get better at deception. 

Now listen to this.  The main reason we deceive is to avoid consequences. 

Go back to Eve in the Garden of Eden.  When did her deception begin?  It began when she told herself that it was okay to eat the fruit God told her not to eat.

She was told that if she ate it there would be consequences.  But as she analyzed her situation, she decided that the fruit looked good, that it would taste good, and “Wow, this serpent here says it’ll make me wise!”

Her deception started with herself.  She deceived herself into thinking it was okay.

Take the guy in the insurance story.  His deception did not begin by lying to the insurance man.  He first had to deceive himself that it was okay, that the benefit of some extra bucks was worth the cost of his integrity.

My little daughter had deceived herself, that if she just turned her back on us, that she could go ahead and do what she wanted.

It seems our minds know no bounds when it comes to self deception, and we come by it naturally.  We are born with it.

This is why it is so important to stay plugged in to God.  How can you tell the difference between a lie and the truth?  By keeping your eye on the truth.

I know I bang this drum constantly, but we must find time for prayer and Bible study.  By drawing near to God in prayer, and by studying the Word of God, we are far less likely to fall for our own self deception. 

Let me point blank ask you.  Are you doing something you know is wrong, but you are doing it anyway?  If so, why?  At what price your integrity?  How have you deceived yourself into thinking that it’s okay? 

Now here’s the thing.  We lie to avoid consequences, but the lying brings a far worse consequence!  It erodes your integrity.  And not just in the eyes of others.  Let’s suppose they never find out. 

Listen…lying erodes the integrity of your own mind

Don’t let that happen.  Don’t allow yourself to think that doing wrong is okay or justified.  Get plugged into God through prayer and Bible study. 

And remember this.  No price is worth your integrity.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

First Chronicles 29:17  “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”

Proverbs 10:9  “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Win the Lottery...of Humility

What is God’s love affair with humility?

If you read the Bible, this fact is unavoidable - God has a thing for humility.

So why is it that this character trait, this virtue that God values so highly, seems to have so little value in our world?

It’s because our ways are not His ways.

I remember one time making a sales pitch to a bank.  It was my company, which was basically just me, vying against another company, being represented by two women.  We each appeared separately before the bank’s board of directors.  One of us would be handling all of the bank’s marketing and advertising.  And one of us would be going home a lot poorer than we had hoped.

I knew I had two roads I could take.  One would be the Hollywood road.  I could play things up in a big, fancy way, and make it look like I could move mountains for this bank.  But I knew that wasn’t realistic.  I mean, truthfully, there is only so much that marketing and advertising can do for a company.  So I made a very truthful and factual presentation, told them exactly what I would do and exactly what they could expect.

The ladies, which I anticipated ahead of time, blew me out of the water.  I just paled in comparison.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  They had offered so much more than I did, such high results, I doubt that after their presentation the board even remembered my name.  I must say I walked away from that experience, with my hat in my hand so to speak, looking up to heaven and wondering, “Well, God, didn’t I do the right thing?  Wasn’t I honest?  Should I have done it with a lot more pizzazz, even though I knew I would be offering unrealistic expectations?” 

No, I just couldn’t do that and feel honest.  I offered a humble estimate of what I could do, and I ended up being humbled.  I felt like a big loser.  And believe me, I needed the money.

God loves humble, but the world doesn’t.  So who are you going to please, God or the world?  It is very tempting to say, “Well, God will love me and forgive me, so maybe just this once I’d better please the world.”  Well, my friend, that’s called compromise.  That’s called exalting yourself above God, thinking your way is better than His way.

“But to follow God’s way is so…humbling!”

Yes it is, and that’s just the way He likes it.  God loves humility.  He values it.  You know how we value money?  Well in God’s economy, humility is of great worth. 

Many people talk about winning the lottery, and what they would do if they won millions of dollars. 

But think about this, what would winning the lottery of humility look like?  It would look like you got knocked backwards, that’s what it would look like.  It would look like you lost.  It would make you look foolish.  You just can’t look awesome and cool, and be humble at the same time.  The lottery of humility would probably just look like you got knocked flat on your rear end.

And yet that would be very valuable to God.  Hard to believe, really, but it’s true.  God highly values humility.

So what are you going through today?  Are you feeling torn down?  Are things falling apart?  Do you feel hope draining away?  Maybe God is actually giving you something valuable.  Maybe God is giving you His very precious gift…of humility.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tragedy in Virginia

And once again we look to heaven and say “Why?”

The only answer I can come up with is that God sees death differently than we do.

I’ve been studying Jesus’ words in Luke chapter 12.  He said, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.”

Look at how it’s written in The Message bible:  “True, they can kill you, but then what can they do?”

Then what can they do?  Isn’t getting killed quite enough?

How could Jesus speak so lightly about death?  Honestly, He talked about death about like we might talk to our kids about name-calling.

“That kid called you a name?  Big deal.  You have a lot to be thankful for if that’s the worst that ever happens to you.”

But for us, death IS the worst thing that can happen to us…isn’t it?

That’s not the way Jesus presents it.  He says, “So they can kill you, so what?  Don’t be afraid of them.”

Jesus can say that because He has seen the entire landscape, whereas we are stuck on this side of the wall.  Jesus sees the big picture, and in that big picture, death must not be what we tend to make it.

Jesus went on to say, “I will show you whom you should fear.  Fear him who, after the killing of the body has power to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him.”*

He gave us a ranking of whom to fear and why.  We are told not to fear people, because the worst they can do is kill our body.  But we are told to fear God, because He can throw us into hell.

Not that death isn’t bad.  Jesus knows it’s dreadful, which is why He brought it up.  He brought it up to put it in perspective.  He basically said, “Trust me.  Death is no big deal when you compare it to hell.”

Jesus spent a lot of time de-emphasizing life in this body, and emphasizing what some call the “afterlife.”

“Don’t store up treasures on earth…but store up treasures in heaven…”**

“Don’t work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…”***

Jesus often spoke about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.  This Kingdom is of supreme importance in Jesus’ teachings, yet “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God…” (1st Corinthians 15:50)

This body is mortal, but we are not.  We inhabit this body, and for such a short time that Paul even referred to it as a tent - a tent that soon enough will be destroyed. 

Then what?  Second Corinthians 5:1 says, “…if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven…”

Verse 5 goes on to make a powerful statement.  “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose…”

What very purpose?  God made us for what purpose?  To live eternally with Him in heaven.  When this body is finally destroyed, then we can inherit the Kingdom of God.

Jesus sees all of this, but our vision stops at the wall of death.  We stand here, staring at the wall, wondering what’s on the other side. 

The good news is that Jesus has hung a giant sign from the wall.  It has one word, “Hope.”

If there is no life after death, there is no hope.  Events like those in Virginia lead to despair.  Without hope, God becomes trivial in all this mess.

But I have good news!  There is hope!  Life is much more, oh so much more than our few numbered days on this strange planet. 

We have the hope of eternal life.  How can we tap into it?  Through Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

I agree that it’s mortifying to watch the news unfold of this tragedy in Virginia.  And I don’t know why God allows such things.  But I do believe this.  God sees death differently than we do.  He sees the bigger picture of our existence, and in that picture, death is not so big and not so bleak. 

There is hope, and that hope comes through Jesus Christ.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


* Luke 12:5

**  Matthew 6:19,20

*** John 6:27

Here is another interesting example of Jesus de-emphasizing life on planet Earth, even when it came to spiritual activities here.  Luke 10:17 tells of the return of 72 followers of Christ who reported, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  Jesus sort of rebukes them:  “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Murder of Jesus - Conclusion

Jesus’ body was wrapped like a mummy and laid in a tomb with a large rock over the entrance. 

At the prompting of the Jewish leaders, Pilate sent Roman soldiers to seal the tomb and to stand guard for three days.  They remembered Jesus’ prediction of rising from the dead, and they thought the disciples might steal the body then claim that he was alive.

Meanwhile some women hoped to anoint Jesus’ body with spices and perfume.  They didn’t have time earlier due to his hasty entombment, plus the arrival of the Sabbath on which they did no work.

Now it was dawn on the first day of the week.  Suddenly there was a violent earthquake as an angel of the Lord came down from heaven.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were bright white.  The guards were so afraid that they dropped like dead men.  The angel went to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome got up early to go to the tomb.  They wanted to anoint Jesus’ body, but they wondered how they would get the stone moved from the entrance.  Upon their arrival they saw that the stone was already moved.

When they looked inside, instead of Jesus’ body they saw a young man dressed in a white robe.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  Look, he is not here!  He has risen!  Now go, tell his disciples, and Peter, that he will meet them in Galilee.”

They were still in shock when suddenly two men in clothes bright as lightning stood beside them.  The women bowed with their faces to the ground, but the men said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead.  He is not here; he has risen!  Remember, he told you all this beforehand, how he would be crucified, then resurrected on the third day.”

Yes, they remembered, and they were overwhelmed.  They ran from the tomb and said nothing at first.  What could they say?  It was unbelievable.

Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and John.  She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So they sprinted to the tomb.  What they found instead of Jesus’ mummy-wrapped body was strips of linen lying there.  And there was the burial cloth from his head, folded up by itself. 

Peter and John went back home, but Mary stood outside the tomb, crying.  As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb – and saw two angels seated where Jesus’ body had been.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.”

At this point she turned around and saw a man standing there, who looked like the gardener.  He said, “Woman, why are you crying?  Who are you looking for?”

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Then he called her by name, “Mary.”

Suddenly she realized it was Jesus, alive and well!  She shouted, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Jesus also appeared to a group of women who had come to the tomb and found it empty.  They knelt before him and worshiped him.  He said, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers I will meet them in Galilee.”

Meanwhile the Roman guards went back into Jerusalem and told the Jewish leaders the whole story about the angel rolling the stone away.  The chief priests and the elders came up with a plan.  They gave the soldiers a large bribe and a story to tell. 

“You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.”

“But we’ll be in trouble for sleeping on duty.”

“Don’t worry.  If this makes it back to the governor, we’ll take care of it.”

The word was spreading now, and the women reported what they saw to the disciples, who found it all hard to believe.

Later that day a man named Cleopas and a friend were walking to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they discussed what had been going on, Jesus himself came up and joined them, but did not reveal who he was.

Jesus asked what they were talking about, and Cleopas was shocked.  “You don’t know what’s been going on there, all this with Jesus of Nazareth?”

Jesus said, “Isn’t this exactly what the prophets foretold?”  And as they walked along Jesus revealed to them all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah.

At Emmaus they urged the stranger to eat with them.  At the table Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it.  At this point their eyes were opened and they suddenly recognized – it was Jesus!  And just as suddenly, he disappeared.

They were so excited!  They said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us on the road as he opened the Scriptures to us?”

They immediately returned to Jerusalem and found the disciples.  They told the whole story, but the disciples didn’t believe it.

While they were still talking about it, suddenly Jesus appeared in the room with them.  They thought he was a ghost, so he said, “Touch me and see.  A ghost does not have flesh and bones like this.”

He rebuked them for not believing that he was alive, and pointed out how everything had happened just as the Old Testament prophecies foretold.  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

They still had doubts, so he asked for something to eat.  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it right there in front of them.

Now Thomas was not in the room that evening, and he doubted their story.  He said, “Unless I touch the nail marks in his hands and the wound in his side, I won’t believe it.”

A week later they were all together behind locked doors once again, and Jesus appeared.  He said to Thomas, “See my hands?  Put your finger here.  Reach out your hand and put it in my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

After his resurrection Jesus appeared to hundreds of people over a period of 40 days, offering many convincing proofs that he was indeed alive.  He restored Peter.  He delivered the Great Commission, and told them to go to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit.

Finally one day he led them out near the village of Bethany.  He taught them, then lifted his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he was taken up before their very eyes until a cloud hid him from their sight.

As they looked intently up into the sky, suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

The timeline of these events was taken from “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order” with narration by F. LaGard Smith, published by Harvest House.

Interesting point:  Some people ask why Jesus didn’t appear to the Jewish leaders, or even the Roman leaders.  I don’t know, but I like what it says in Acts 10:41, that Jesus was seen “by witnesses whom God had already chosen.”  So whoever Jesus appeared to, we know one thing.  They were exactly the people God had chosen to see the risen Christ.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Murder of Jesus - Part IV

Pilate finally gave in to the pressure from the Jewish leaders and sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.

Now think of everything Jesus had been through to this point.  The stress-filled prayers in the Garden.  The betrayal of Judas.  The desertion of his friends.  Peter’s denial.  Staying up all night for a trial on trumped up charges.  Being mocked and beaten.  Being dragged from the high priest to Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate, who had him viciously flogged. 

And now they forced him to carry his own cross.  It was more than he could physically bear.  As the procession headed out of Jerusalem, the soldiers grabbed a man on his way in, Simon of Cyrene, and made him carry the cross.

The Bible says a large number of people followed Jesus, including women who “mourned and wailed for him.”  At one point Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me.  Weep for yourselves and for your children.  For the time is coming when you will say, ‘Blessed is the woman who has no children.’  At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Jesus, along with two other criminals, were to be executed at a place called Golgotha, which means The Place of the Skull.  From the Latin we also call the place Calvary.

They offered Jesus some kind of wine, but he refused to drink it. 

They nailed him to a cross, and put up the sign Pilate had made which read, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.”  The chief priests complained to Pilate, “It should say that he claimed to be king of the Jews.”  But Pilate said, “What I have written, I have written.”

The soldiers took his clothes, then gambled to see who would get what.

Jesus hung on the cross between two outlaws, who joined the crowd in insulting him.  Some shouted, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 

The Jewish leaders mocked, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!”  “He’s the King of Israel!  Let him come down from the cross, then we’ll believe in him.”  “He trusts in God.  Let God rescue him…if he wants him…” 

Even the soldiers insulted him.  “If you’re the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

Jesus’ first recorded words from the cross were actually a prayer for his tormenters.  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The insults continued as one of the criminals next to him said, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Then save yourself…and us!”

Suddenly the other criminal rebuked him.  “Don’t you fear God?  We are getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  And Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Among the witnesses of this cruel event were many women, including four who stayed close to Jesus:  his aunt, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, and his mother.  At one point Jesus saw his mother standing near his disciple John, so he said, “Dear woman, here is your son.”  And to John he said, “Here is your mother.”  From then on John took care of Jesus’ mother.

At around noon it got dark, and stayed that way for about 3 hours.

At around 3 in the afternoon Jesus mustered the energy to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

Some thought he was calling for Elijah to save him.

Near the end Jesus gasped, “I thirst.”  There was a jar of wine vinegar nearby, so they stuck a sponge on a stick, soaked it in the wine vinegar, and lifted it to his lips. 

Then they said, “Leave him alone.  Let’s see if Elijah really will come and rescue him.”

Suddenly Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” 

His final words were a prayer.  “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”  Then he bowed his head, gave up his spirit, and breathed his last.

Meanwhile, at the temple in Jerusalem, the huge curtain that blocked the entrance to the Holy of Holies was torn in two…from top to bottom. 

An earthquake occurred, strong enough to break rocks apart.

Graves were opened, and some dead saints were raised, went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. 

In awe of all that had occurred, the Roman centurion and those with him were afraid, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

The Jews didn’t want bodies left hanging around for the upcoming Sabbath, so they asked Pilate to have their legs broken to hasten their death.  They broke the legs of the criminals, but when it appeared that Jesus was already dead, they took a spear and stabbed him in the side, just to make sure.

One prominent member of the Council who had not agreed to the plot against Jesus was a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph.  In fact, he had secretly become a follower of Jesus. 

After Jesus died, this Joseph went to Pilate and asked for his body.  Pilate didn’t believe that Jesus had died so quickly, so he had it confirmed, then consented.

Joseph and a man named Nicodemus took down Jesus’ body.  They took about seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes and used it while wrapping the body in clean linen strips, according to Jewish burial customs. 

Nearby there was a garden where Joseph owned a new empty tomb cut out of the rock.  They placed the body in the tomb, then rolled a large stone in front of the entrance and went away.

Mary Magdalene and another Mary saw where they laid him.  They went home to prepare spices and perfumes, and planned to come back after the Sabbath.

Meanwhile the Jewish leaders went to pester Pilate one more time.  “Pilate, you’re not going to believe this, but that deceiver predicted that in three days he would rise from the dead.  You’d better guard that tomb, otherwise his disciples might come and steal the body, then tell people he did rise from the dead.  This last deception would be worse than the first.”

Pilate consented, telling them to “make the tomb as secure as you know how.”

So they went, made the tomb as secure as possible, put a seal on the stone, and posted the guard.

“There.  That’s one body that’s not going anywhere.”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

I was inspired by and gleaned information from one of my favorite books, “The Murder of Jesus” by John MacArthur.


Friday, April 06, 2007

The Murder of Jesus - Part III

The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead.  They had secretly arrested him in the Garden of Gethsemane, then tried him, found him guilty of blasphemy, and sentenced him to death.

Trouble was, the Jews were not allowed to administer capital punishment under Roman law.  So very early in the morning, Luke 23 says, “the whole assembly rose.”  They marched Jesus off to the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.

Pilate began with the obvious question, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

What could they say?  Pilate would not execute Jesus on charges of “blasphemy.”  So they avoided the question entirely. 

“If he wasn’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have brought him here.”

Pilate got the picture.  “Fine.  Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone.”

They needed a charge that would move Pilate to action, so they said, “We have found this man subverting our nation.  He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”

Claims to be a king?  Now they had Pilate’s attention.  So he called Jesus aside to question him. 

“Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus responded with a question of his own.  “Are you speaking for yourself, or did others tell you this?”

“Am I a Jew?  Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me.  What have you done?

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world…”

“You are a king then!”

“Yes,” Jesus said.  “For this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate said. 

Meanwhile, word was spreading and the crowd was growing.  The Jewish leaders were poisoning the well of public opinion.

Pilate announced, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

This riled the Jewish leaders, who began hurling accusations at Jesus. 

Pilate turned to Jesus.  “Don’t you hear what they’re saying?”

Jesus said nothing - and Pilate marveled.

What was Pilate to do?  He had already declared Jesus innocent, yet the Jewish leaders appeared ready to start a riot.

Someone shouted, “He stirs up people all over Judea by his teaching.  He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

Galilee?”  Pilate suddenly saw a way to pass the buck.  Galilee was outside his jurisdiction.  That region was ruled by Herod Antipas.  So he sent them all to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem for the Passover.

Herod was glad to see Jesus.  He had heard of this miracle worker and hoped to see him do something spectacular. 

Herod peppered Jesus with questions, but he didn’t say a single word.  The crowd was shouting accusations, and for Herod the scene was getting ridiculous.  He began mocking Jesus, trying to get a rise out of him, to no avail.  The soldiers joined in, even throwing a kingly robe on him.

It all got old quickly, however, and Herod booted the mob back to Pilate.

Pilate desperately tried to defuse the situation.  He decided to take advantage of an old custom.  During Passover they offered to release one prisoner to the Jews.  Pilate gave them a choice between Jesus and a notorious killer named Barabbas. 

Meanwhile, a messenger showed up with an urgent message for Pilate.  It was from his wife.  “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”


In the crowd, the priests were stirring the pot.  When Pilate asked which prisoner they wanted released they shouted, “Give us Barabbas!”

A frustrated Pilate shouted back, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

“Let him be crucified!”

“Why?  What evil has he done?”

“Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.  “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said.  “It is your responsibility!

And the people shouted back, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

Then Pilate had Jesus flogged.  The soldiers beat him and mocked him with a crown of thorns and a purple robe. 

“Hail, king of the Jews!”

In one last ditch effort, Pilate paraded a bloody Jesus before the crowd.  He waved his arm toward Jesus.

“Behold the man!”

“Crucify him,” the shouted.

Pilate raged, “You crucify him.  As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

One leader shouted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

“Son of God?”  Now Pilate was even more afraid.  He called Jesus aside. 

“Where do you come from?”

Jesus said nothing.

“You refuse to speak to me?  Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus said, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews played their trump card.  “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.  Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

Pilate sat down on the judge’s seat.  He motioned toward Jesus.

“Behold, your king.”

“Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Pilate finally relented, and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

I was inspired by and gleaned information from one of my favorite books, “The Murder of Jesus” by John MacArthur.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Murder of Jesus - Part II

As Jesus and his disciples gathered peacefully in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Jewish leaders were thrown into a frenzy of activity.

Judas had tipped them off to Jesus’ location, but they had to act fast.  They hastily called together captains of the temple guard.  They summoned a detachment of soldiers.  Matthew 26 says “a large crowd armed with swords and clubs” was gathered.  It was a mob ready for violence.

Judas led the throng under the full moon of Passover, into the darkened olive grove.  He told them, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.”

After agonizing in prayer, Jesus was alert and prepared.  He woke his disciples saying, “Rise, let us go.  Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus boldly approached the advancing mob.  “Who is it you want?” he asked.

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am He,” Jesus said, and John 18 says they “drew back and fell to the ground.”

Not to be deterred, Judas stood, looked at Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi.”  Jesus asked the rhetorical question, “Friend, why have you come?” 

Judas made a show of kissing Jesus, who said, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When the disciples realized the situation they said, “Lord, shall we strike with our swords?”  Suddenly Peter took his sword and struck the ear of a servant of the high priest named Malchus. 

Jesus rebuked Peter and told him to put his sword away.  Then he reached out and healed Malchus’ fresh wound. 

He told His disciples, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father and He would immediately put twelve legions of angels at my disposal?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled?”

Then Jesus said to the mob, “Am I leading a rebellion?  Every day I taught in the temple courts and you did not arrest me.  But this has all happened to fulfill the writings of the prophets.”

At this point Matthew records, “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.”

Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane and taken to the home of Annas.  Annas was a powerful man, a former high priest.  Five of his sons had also been high priest, and now the position was held by his son-in-law Caiaphas. 

Annas was sort of a like a Jewish “godfather.”  Exactly two years earlier when Jesus had cleansed the temple of the money changers during Passover, it was the business of Annas that He was messing with.

A hasty trial was organized.  The Sanhedrin was convened.  The mob hung around to see some action.  Peter and John were back on the scene, keeping a low profile out in the courtyard. 

The court officials called for testimony against Jesus, but the witnesses contradicted one another.  Finally two came forward who agreed on something. 

“This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Jesus did not respond to the charge.  The high priest stood up and demanded an answer, but Jesus remained silent.

The high priest must have grown tired of this fishing expedition.  He knew of Jesus’ claims, so he decided to ask him point blank.  “I charge you under oath by the living God – tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus finally spoke.  “Yes, it is as you say.”

Before the crowd could react to this confession Jesus added, “But I say to all of you – in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Bedlam ensued.  The high priest, in direct contradiction of Leviticus 21:10, tore his own clothes and declared, “He has spoken blasphemy!  Why do we need any more witnesses?”

The high priest turned to the council and called for a verdict.  He got the verdict, and the sentence.

“He is worthy of death.”

At this point their barely restrained hatred of Jesus was unleashed.  They spit in his face.  They slapped him.  They turned it into a vile game by blindfolding him, then punching him and mocking, “Prophesy to us, Christ.  Who hit you?”

Meanwhile Peter was in the courtyard.  He was repeatedly questioned about being one of Jesus’ disciples.  He vehemently denied it.  In exasperation he finally began to call down curses on himself and swore, “I do not know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed.  At this point Peter looked toward Jesus, and Jesus looked out, directly into the eyes of Peter.  He remembered Jesus’ prediction, and went out and wept bitterly.

When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned to death, he was filled with remorse.  He brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the elders and said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  They answered, “What is that to us?  That’s your responsibility.”

Judas threw the silver down and left the scene of the crime.  Unable to cope with what he had done, he killed himself.

The Jewish leaders had given Jesus the death penalty, but they had a problem.  The Romans had rescinded their right to carry it out.  All capital punishment had to be approved and implemented by Roman authorities.

The Roman governor was in Jerusalem for the Passover, so they decided to take the case directly to him. 

They bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

I was inspired by and gleaned information from one of my favorite books, “The Murder of Jesus” by John MacArthur.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Murder of Jesus - Part I

To murder someone and get away with it, you need a good plan. 

That’s what the leaders in Jerusalem needed, a good plan to do something about this Jesus who was stirring people up.  Nothing but trouble was ahead if they didn’t address the Jesus problem.

So they got together at the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas.  Other leading priests were there, along with some Pharisees.  The ruling council in Israel was the Sanhedrin, and they were there, too.

“Here’s what we need to do.  We need to secretly arrest him, then do away with him.”

“Yes, but not during the Feast.  The people might go crazy.”

During the Passover, hundreds of thousand of Jews were in Jerusalem.  Hundreds of priests sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lambs.  The place was a zoo.  Even the Roman governor Pontius Pilate came to Jerusalem during the Passover.

Those leaders precisely did not want to arrest Jesus during the Feast.  That’s why they didn’t arrest Him during what we now call His “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem.  They simply wanted to make Jesus quietly disappear.

They knew what they wanted to do, but not exactly how to pull it off.  So they put the word out, “If you find out where Jesus is, report it so we can make plans to arrest him.”

Meanwhile, their secret meeting was no secret to Jesus.  In Matthew 26:2 Jesus told His disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Now look at what happened in the spiritual realm.  About the same time the leaders hatched their plot to murder Jesus, Luke 22 makes this ominous statement, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot…and Judas went to the chief priests…and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”

How fortunate.  At the very time they were fishing for a way to arrest Jesus in secret, an insider comes forward offering to betray Him.  Now all they had to do was wait to hear back from Judas.

Soon enough the time came.  The disciples gathered in an upper room to commemorate the Passover, just like so many others were doing that night.  It was a ceremonial meal which included the passing of a common cup of wine.  Early in the meal, Jesus dropped a bomb.

“Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

This is the first time Jesus said anything about being betrayed by one of His own disciples, and they were shocked.  Matthew 26 says, “They were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, ‘Lord, is it I?’”  Judas played along, and the meal continued, but with a more somber tone.

Eventually Jesus told Judas, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”  So Judas left, but the others did not know what he was doing.

With the betrayer gone, Jesus veered from the traditional Passover ceremony.  At this point He instituted what we now call the Lord’s Supper.  He took the cup and said, “…this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins…”

Meanwhile, Judas was about to earn his money.  The officials had been alerted.  Judas knew where Jesus was going next, to one of their favorite spots, an olive grove called the Garden of Gethsemane.  It was private and secluded, the perfect spot for a secret arrest.

Jesus knew what would happen there that night, but the disciples did not.  Jesus tried to warn them.  In Matthew 26, apparently as they walked along, He said, “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me.”

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

And Jesus answered, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

It was likely about midnight when they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane.  They were no doubt physically exhausted, not to mention the mental strain added by Jesus’ cryptic warnings. 

When they entered the garden, Jesus asked most of the disciples to stay closer to the entrance while He took Peter, James and John further in.  The heaviness of the moment began to settle on Jesus.  He said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful.  Stay here and watch with Me.”

Then alone He went deeper into the garden, fell on His face and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from me.  Nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.”

Luke 22 says, “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground…” as He contemplated the “cup.”  The cup was not the arrest or the torture or even His death.  The cup was the outpouring of divine wrath He would endure, the cup of God’s judgment on the sins of the world.

Three times Jesus came back to his disciples, and three times he found them sleeping when they were supposed to be praying.  He said to Peter, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Jesus Himself must have felt that weakness of body as He kept praying the same thing, wishing to avoid what was coming.  Yet He did not give in, concluding, “Not My will, but Your will be done.”

The third time He returned to His disciples He declared, “Are you still sleeping and resting?  Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us go!  Here comes my betrayer!”

(as heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


The Plot – Matthew 26:3-5, John 11:47-57

The Garden of Gethsemane – There is still an olive grove there today, reportedly with a few trees still around from the time of Christ.

I was inspired by and gleaned information from one of my favorite books, “The Murder of Jesus” by John MacArthur.