The Rooster’s Second Crow, the Look, and the Tears June 18, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Christian Grief, Denial, Forgiveness, Grace, Grief, guilt, Luke 22:61-62, Mark 13:32-36, Mark 14:72, Matthew 26:75, olivet discourse, Peter, Rooster, Tears, Weeping
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“And Peter remembered Jesus’ word when he said, ‘Before the rooster crows, three times you will disown me.’ And he went out and he wept bitterly.”
“And at once the rooster crowed a second time and Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, three times you will deny me.’ And he fell down and wept.”
“And the Lord shifted position to look directly at Peter and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken to him that before the rooster crowed today, three times you will renounce me.’” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Three of the four Gospel writers remind us of Jesus’ prophetic statement to Peter about the rooster crowing, but only Luke adds that at the point that Peter made his third denial, Jesus shifted his position to look in Peter’s direction. It is as if Jesus was saying, “Peter, is this how you wish to leave me?” It is an act of discipline, but an act of grace as well reminding Peter of the forgiveness that is to come on the other side of this very dark night. We are told nothing about the look — good or bad — it is simply left to us as a reminder of Jesus’ care for his disciples. Some have struggled with the idea of Jesus, on the other side of an angry mob of people, being aware of Peter’s location, let alone his denials, but that criticism forgets that Jesus is also God as well as man, with a perfect knowledge of all that must come to pass.
During what we refer to as Jesus’ Passion Week — the week between the Triumphal Entry and his Glorious Resurrection — Jesus told an interesting parable. He was giving what we refer to as the “Olivet Discourse,” a sermon largely looking toward both the fall of Jerusalem and the end of times when Jesus would return. As Jesus closes the sermon he does so with a parable about not knowing the day or the hour of his return (Mark 13:32-36) — that he might come during the evening, midnight, or when the rooster crows. Now, it must be stated that the context is a little different given that Jesus is speaking of his own return, but given that this is the only other time in the Bible that Jesus (or any Biblical writer) mentions a rooster (let alone a rooster crowing), it is worth drawing the connection — a connection based simply on the principle importance of being aware.
How important it is for us to keep alert and keep up our guard when sin comes crouching at our door (Genesis 4:7). How quick we are to drop that guard either when we are comfortable or when we, like Peter, feel threatened. The question that the parable asks, though, is what will we be found doing when the Master returns? In Peter’s case, when the Master gazed over in his direction, he was found denying and disowning his Lord. In our case, when our Lord looks down on our lives from his royal throne, what does he see us doing? And when he returns again, what will He find us engaged in? May the crowing of the rooster always be a reminder to us to be engaged in our Master’s business. When Peter heard the rooster crow this second time, he came to his senses and fled — doing the only thing humanly conceivable — he wept bitterly. Holy grief overwhelmed him, but in God’s grace, it did not consume him. There is a difference. May we recognize our sin for what it is and grieve accordingly, yet not end there, but turn to our God for grace. Beloved, he will give it.
The Rooster Crows a Second Time June 17, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Cock crowed, Denial, desperation, Forgiveness, Harmony of the Gospels, John 18:27, Luke 22:60, Mark 14:71-72, Matthew 26:74, redemption, Rooster, steeple, Weathervane
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“Then he began to curse and to take an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ and at once the rooster crowed.”
“Then he began to place himself under a curse and take an oath, ‘I do not know the man of whom you speak!’ And at once the rooster crowed a second time and Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, three times you will deny me.’ And he fell down and wept.”
“But Peter said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about!’ Immediately, even as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.”
“Again, Peter disowned him and at once the rooster crowed.”
It has been said that the tradition of putting a rooster on top of a weathervane is meant as a reminder of the denial of Peter and how often, by our words and by our actions, we too fall into that sin. As we reflected before, isn’t it curious as to how God uses such a variety of things to remind us of our sin and to call us to righteousness. And now, through history, we are reminded of this great truth any time such a bird crows.
We have already noted that Mark is the only one that records that the rooster actually crowed twice, something that ought not be too surprising given that traditionally Mark is understood as having been Peter’s secretary in Jerusalem — and if anyone would know how many times the rooster crowed, Peter would.
What should weigh more heavily on your soul, though, is the cursing that takes place on Peter’s part. As has been mentioned, Peter is desperate. On one level he is desperate to follow Jesus and find out what is going to happen to his master. On another level, he is rightfully afraid for his life. There is no telling what this mob will do if they get their hands on Peter. Peter knows that and the words that fall from his lips reflect the reality that he is acting in that desperation. You can almost hear him screaming, “Just leave me alone!” to those who keep prodding him. And, then, this third disowning of Jesus is wed together with curses.
Interestingly, Matthew and Mark describe the curses somewhat differently. Matthew simply describes him cursing or swearing that his words are true. Mark adds that this curse was an imprecation against himself — something along the lines of, “May God strike me down if I am not telling the truth.” These must have been devastating words for Peter to utter and then to hear the crowing of the rooster following right on its heels, it must have been a crushing blow. Peter was reduced to a broken man.
Yet, that is not the end of Peter’s story. The difference between Peter’s story and Jude’s story is ultimately one about forgiveness — both from God and by oneself. Judas rejected Jesus just as plainly as Jesus did and both were broken men. Yet in God’s design, Judas bore the blame of his betrayal to the grave and into eternity. Peter, though broken, clung to hope and in God’s design was not only brought to forgiveness, but remade into the bold preacher we find in the book of Acts. What a transformation takes place between these verses and Acts 2, just a couple months later!
But that is how God works, is it not! Through the process of breaking God shows us that He is sovereign, that He orders our days, and that He is King and Ruler over the universe. We serve Him, not He us. We get ahead of ourselves if we explore Peter’s three-fold forgiveness here, but we need to at least be reminded that for Peter, as dark as this night may be, the day is coming and the story is not yet over — and praise be to God that such is the case! May you too rest in the knowledge that no matter how dark the days may seem — God is not done with you either.
Details, Details, and More Details June 12, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Annas, boldness, Forgiveness, hope, John 18:26, Luke 22:59, Malchus, Mark 14:70, Matthew 26:73, Peter's Denial, Renouncing Jesus, southerners
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“After a bit, those who were standing around went up to Peter and said, ‘Truly, you are also from them; your speech makes it evident.’”
“But again he disowned him. But in a short while, again those present said to Peter, ‘Truly, you are from them because you are Galilean.’”
“And after about an hour had passed another was insistent saying, ‘Truly, this man was with them — he is also a Galilean!’”
“And one of the servants of the High Priest — a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off — said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’”
This sets us up for Peter’s third denial, but notice that this challenge to Peter is one of the reasons that doing a harmony like this can be so valuable, for each Gospel writer adds a little different piece of the puzzle that helps us to better see the whole. Mark gives us the basic account, but from Matthew we also learn for sure that it was Peter’s dialect that has given him away. This can be surmised from the accounts leading up to this statement, but here Matthew confirms that his accent has given him away in Caiaphas’ court. Remember, in ancient times, people were not nearly as upwardly mobile as they are today, so most people spent their whole lives (except for festival pilgrimages to Jerusalem) within a small radius of where they were born. Thus, a variety of accents surrounding you was more uncommon than not. Peter was from the north and that gave him away as he was trying to blend in with the southerners who were conducting this trial.
Luke, the doctor interested in chronological details, adds that about an hour has passed at this point from the previous denials. This again goes to support the premise that Peter’s disowning of Jesus was taking place while Jesus was being questioned — first by Annas and then by Caiaphas. Finally, John tells us who it is from this crowd of bystanders that speaks — it is a relative of Malchus, the one whose ear was cut off by Peter himself. I suspect that were I to witness someone attack a relative of mine with a sword and cut off his ear, that I would be quick to recognize this man, and that is precisely what happened. Peter is in hot water and when the question of “fight or flight” comes up, he chooses the latter. We criticize Peter for his fearfulness, and rightfully so, but realistically, how many of us would have acted differently?
And that is one of the principles that we must keep before our eyes — does our life present a bold witness that we belong to Jesus Christ? Or, have we kept that under wraps? Would your co-workers be able to testify that they knew you were a Christian? How about neighbors? Family members? If the answer is, “no,” then that is not the end of the world — the follow up question is just, “What will you do to correct this fault?” Loved ones, live out your faith in the public sphere — not to point a figure at yourself, but to point a finger toward Christ. This world is in need of life and hope, only Jesus can provide that hope and life — if you know that, share that. It is good news for weary souls.
The Second Denial June 11, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Challenges to faith, Disowning Jesus, John 18:25, Luke 22:58, Mark 14:69-70, Matthew 26:71-72, Missionaries in the Muslim World, Missionary work, Peter's Denial
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“Going over to the entranceway, another saw him and there said, ‘This one was with Jesus of Nazareth!’ But again he disowned him with an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’”
“And the slave-girl saw him and began to say again to those present, ‘This one is from them.’ But again he disowned him. But in a short while, again those present said to Peter, ‘Truly, you are from them because you are Galilean.’”
“And a short time later another saw him and affirmed, ‘You are also one of them!’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’”
“Then Simon Peter was standing and warming himself; there one said to him, ‘Aren’t you also one of his disciples?’ He disowned him and said, ‘I am not.’”
We know from Mark’s account of Peter’s denials that after the first time he disowned Jesus, Peter moved over toward the door. John relates that Peter is still standing by the fire warming himself, though the simple solution is that it is a different fire than before and perhaps is one located much closer to the entrance to the courtyard. Likely, Peter is fearing that he is identifiable and is moving to an area where he can more easily flee. The last thing one would want is to be cornered by an angry mob within the walls of Caiaphas’ court. Then again, he desperately wants to know what will happen with his master. Such is the agony of this evening.
And, to make the matters worse, he is recognized by a second person. This time, some profiling takes place. Why would a Galilean be hanging out in Jerusalem at an illegal midnight trial unless that Galilean were connected to the Galilean who was on trial? In our age the idea of profiling is considered a form of racism, but there are times and places where a profile is made by the simple application of logic…this reasonably being one of them. And once again, Peter seeks to save his skin by denying his relationship with Jesus. This time he adds an oath — it is also clear that Peter is beginning to get mad. From our perspective it might seem a bit odd for us that Peter is getting upset, but then again, Peter is realizing that he has put himself in a dangerous place and is unable to “blend in” to the crowd. Surely we can relate to the combination of frustration (with himself) that must be overwhelming Peter at this point and in that context can begin to see why his anger is rising.
Our situation is different and thankfully we will never be in exactly the same shoes as Peter is at this moment in Peter’s life. That said, we are often faced with times when we are challenged in word or in action to follow Christ in dangerous times and settings. Certainly this is a lesson that every missionary in Muslim lands has had to learn, but it is also the lesson that is sometimes learned in the workplace or school. Surely in this latter context our life is not at risk, but we may be exposing ourselves to mockery or worse if we speak up as a believer. Yet, if Christ did this for us, why should we not face mockery (or worse!) for him? Loved ones, immerse yourselves in Peter’s struggle here and see the guilt and grief he bears after his failure. Learn from him and be willing to stand when the challenges rise around you. Honor Christ by being willing to sacrifice your comfort and security to speak truth into a dying world that so desperately needs the hope of the Gospel (and needs to see it lived out boldly in you!).
The First Denial and the First Rooster’s Crowing June 10, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Denial, Disowning Jesus, Luke 22:57, Mark 14:68, Matthew 26:70, Peter's Denials, Rooster Crow
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“But he disowned him before everyone saying, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about!’”
“But he disowned him saying, “I don’t know or understand what you are talking about!’ He went out to the gateway and the rooster crowed.”
“But he disowned him saying, ‘I don’t know him, woman!’”
“The slave-girl that was at the door said to Peter, ‘Aren’t you also from the disciples of this man?’ He said, ‘I am not.’”
We tend to be familiar with the account of Peter’s denial. The variations should be pretty readily recognizable as in harmony with one another — each Gospel writer focusing on a little different aspect of what was said by both parties. In English, we often render the word ajrne/omai (arneomai) as “deny,” but in context the term means to disown or repudiate one’s connection with another person and deny just did not seem strong enough to convey what is going on at this point in time. Peter is disowning the one person who had promised never to disown him (Hebrews 13:5). How true that is with us and with our sin. How often, by choosing sin we choose to turn our backs on the one who offers us salvation, forgiveness, and the eternal fellowship of divine grace. He will never leave nor forsake us, but how often we forsake our blessings and hope by looking for satisfaction elsewhere.
One will note that in Mark’s account he records the rooster crowing after this first denial while the other Gospel writers do not record the rooster’s crowing until after the third denial. Again, that should not cause us to stumble greatly as Mark is the one Gospel author who points out that the rooster crowed more than once. The other writers, then, are focusing on the rooster crow after the final denial and Mark also pointing out that the rooster had crowed earlier in the night as well — perhaps as a warning to Peter as to the path that he was now taking. How often God offers us warnings and how often we ignore those warnings as we go through life and fall into sin and grief.
It is sometimes suggested that the fact that the rooster is crowing is an indication as to just how late (or how early, depending on your perspective) it happens to be in the night/morning. While it is certainly clear that this is taking well past dark and likely into the wee hours of the morning, the inference is not really one that can be drawn from the presence of roosters who are often thought of as crowing at the rising of the sun. The reality is that roosters crow at all different kinds of hours, using their crowing to mark territory, attract the hens, and to warn at the presence of predators. What we can say is that God has chosen to use this common farm bird as a tool in the eternal plan of redemption — a reminder to we who are human (and able to understand God’s gracious acts towards us) that God is sovereign King over the created order — even the animals serve at his command. May perhaps this crowing of the cock be a reminder to us as to God ever present providential governing of our own lives as well.
And thus, the rooster’s crow (from a distance) marks Peter’s first denial. Twice more will he deny the Lord on this dark night. Yet, let Peter’s sobering experience be a reminder to us as well as to how often we are tempted to deny our Lord by word and action — especially when we feel threatened. And may this reminder to us be a clarion call to act; pursuing Christ no matter the cost and no matter the opposition to the glory of our God and Father. Yet, on this night, the rooster’s crow would be a warning and then a reminder that would drive Peter to his knees — breaking his pride so that he would be fit and pliable clay in the Master’s hands.
The First Accusation June 07, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Harmony of Peter's Denials, Harmony of the Gospels, John 18:17, Luke 22:56, Mark 14:66-67, Matthew 26:69, Peter, Peter's Denial
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“But Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the slave-girls approached him saying, ‘You were also with Jesus the Galilean.’”
“And Peter was down in the courtyard and one of the slave-girls came and saw Peter warming himself. Looking at him intently she said, ‘You are with the Nazarine, Jesus.’”
“And a certain slave-girl saw him sitting towards the light and looking intently at him said, ‘This man was also with him!’”
“The slave-girl that was at the door said to Peter, ‘Aren’t you also from the disciples of this man?’ He said, ‘I am not.’”
This is the first of the challenges that leads to the first of Peter’s denials. Though John includes the challenge and the denial in the same verse, we will be focusing right now on the challenge. In the arrangement of the verses above, I have taken John 18:17 out of order not to imply a rearrangement of events, but to better group the discussions around the challenges to Peter. It seems, based on the accounts, that this first challenge takes place as Jesus is being questioned by Annas, so the rearrangement should not cause too much difficulty for us.
The same thing can be said of the slave-girl that questions Peter. Some would suggest that these are two separate denials — one taking place at the doorway when Peter comes in and one taking place at the fire where he is sitting. Yet, the only thing that the language of the doorway really implies is in connection to the slave-girl. She is not any slave-girl in general, but the slave-girl from the doorway — whom we see referred to in John 18:16 as “the doorkeeper.” Perhaps Peter’s appearance did not register with her right away or was not clear in the lower light by the doorway, but something also did not sit well with her and she followed him to the fire to confirm her suspicions.
This reading would be affirmed by the language of Mark and Luke who write of her “looking intently” at Peter. She wants to make clear her suspicions and will follow up with a question that is little more than a veiled accusation. Remember, this courtyard is hostile territory and the mob filling the court is out for blood. Thus, this question should not be seen as an innocent matter — she is making an accusation that could have cost Peter his life (a life he had earlier that evening promised to give, though it was not God’s time). How Peter responds next is inexcusable in many ways, but reasonable at least on human terms, but we get ahead of ourselves.
This is the first of the accusations or challenges — two more will come for Peter. Such is how Satan sifts Peter like wheat, but such is also how God teaches his own faith, trust, humility, and obedience. What Satan intends for evil; God intends for good. What an amazing God we serve.
Let Justice Flow June 06, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Annas, Caiaphas, Disabled, Duty to do Justice, Homeless, Jesus before Annas, John 18, Justice, Mentally Ill, Poverty, righteousness, Unborn, Unjust
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“Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the High Priest.”
We have already discussed the relationship between Annas and Caiaphas as to how both are referred to as the High Priest and how this short exchange formed a kind of initial interview in the shadows of the evening prior to the official trial by Caiaphas. Most likely, it was Annas who had the pull to bring out the Temple Guard to make this arrest and it is most likely that Annas wanted to satisfy his own curiosity in this case. The interview does not produce much other than indignation on the part of Jesus and the interview is cut short and Jesus is sent to Caiaphas for the trial.
It is interesting that probably one of the most significant activities that God calls his people to perform is the one thing that is entirely devoid of this evening. God calls us to pursue justice (Genesis 18:19; Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 16:19; Micah 6:8, etc…). Justice is the ensuring that people are treated with righteousness according to God’s will. It is the heart behind the commandment in Leviticus 19:18 that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Justice means that truth is upheld and wickedness is exposed for what it is — that righteous activities are rewarded and sin is punished. And this evening, no justice takes place.
Then again, in the divine plan, were this evening about justice in its purest sense, we would all be condemned. Jesus endures the injustice of men here so that he may bear the justice of God on the cross on behalf of unjust men — that means you and me. Folks, that simple reality ought to stagger us and drive us to our knees in repentance, thanksgiving, and praise. How interesting it is that God chooses to use such ways to show us such grace.
There is something else that follows that needs to be before our eyes, and that is the change that this grace of God works on us as we live our our life in this unjust world. Will we seek justice? Will we seek to act with grace to those who act unjustly toward us? Will we seek to bring justice to the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves? Millions of babies have been aborted in America and the church has often remained quite silent. Will you be a voice for those babies who are being treated so unjustly? The poor and homeless are often shunned by the church as not fitting into “the mold” that the church is looking for and their voices are often marginalized by city governments that don’t really want to wrestle with the question of abject poverty. Will you be a voice for those who society has sought to silence? Mental Illness is widespread in our culture but few seem to want to address it and learn how to minister to those in our midst that need such care. Again, will you be their voice and advocate? Children with severe disabilities are often denied the kinds of therapy that are needed to help them live a productive life and their families are worn thin with the battles against the system. Will you be their advocate? Justice demands that we be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves and to ensure that righteousness is advanced and the wicked are punished. And God commands of us that we work justice. Will you be obedient to that command, or will you, like Annas, use Jesus to satisfy your own curiosity and allow justice to be perverted to preserve your own status, comfort, and influence?
“Let justice flow out like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing torrent.”
Kalos and Kakos June 04, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Annas, immoral, Jesus, John 18:23, Kakos, Kalos, righteous anger, trial, virtue
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“Jesus answered him, ‘If I spoke wickedly, testify as to the evil; but if nobly, then why did you beat me?’”
There is a certain irony in Jesus‘ choice of words. Some of our modern translations render Jesus as saying, “If I have spoken wrongly…” which gives the impression that Jesus is defending his own deportment with respect to the High Priest. Indeed, the man who struck Jesus did scold him for speaking to Annas in such a way, so it is natural that such an interpretation would be made. Yet, that is not what Jesus is saying. This is a false and unjust trial and the man to whom he is speaking is not really the High Priest anyhow. In such a context, what role does protocol have in the first place?
The subordinate struck Jesus for now begging before Annas. Jesus’ response is righteous, truthful, and contains a level of indignation that, were Annas and his cohorts really aware of the man to whom they spoke, should have reduced them to a quiver. Jesus is going like a lamb to the slaughter and soon will remain silent before his accusers, but here in the pre-trial, righteous anger is found to lie behind these words.
The irony in Jesus’ statement can be found in his choice of language before Annas — in two words to be specific: kako/ß (kakas) and kalw◊ß (kalos). The word kako/ß (kakas) refers to that which is evil, wicked, unwholesome, defiled, etc… In the Greek culture, it was the polar opposite of that which is kalw◊ß (kalos), which means noble, beautiful, morally upright, or done in a manner that is pleasing. When used together like this, the contrast is between that which is moral and that which is immoral, that which is virtuous and that which is foul. Jesus is essentially saying, “You who have acted unrighteously toward me, are you going to accuse me of unrighteousness?” Let him who is without sin cast the first stone, indeed.
Of course, this statement also frames all that will take place during these trials. From beginning to end, there is no legitimacy and all the testimonies of witnesses are staged. Often, as we live out our faith in this fallen world, it can seem as if unbelievers or unbelief in general is out to get us — Satan roaring like a lion looking to devour us if given the chance. Peter reminds us that this kind of behavior should not be that surprising to us for this is the way that Jesus was treated (1 Peter 2:21) — and if anyone can testify to that great truth it is Peter — Peter who on this night would deny his relationship with Jesus three times. John, who is also there that night, reminds us that we ought not be too surprised when the world hates us (1 John 3:13). The world hated Jesus first and we ought not be too surprised that we who are servants are treated in the same manner as our master (John 15:20). In fact, be of good cheer — for if the world does not listen to you it very well may be a sign that you are getting things right.
A Debt of Love I Owe… May 31, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Annas, Caiaphas, club, death, house of the wicked, Jesus, John 18:22, Officers, Sacrifice, Sin, slap, struck Jesus, Subordinates
“But when he said this, one of the subordinates who was standing there gave a blow to Jesus saying, ‘Is this how you answer the High Priest?’”
Again, many of our English translations like to render this word as “officer” when it comes to the one who slapped Jesus, giving the impression that this was one of the military guards. A better translation is subordinate, particularly recognizing that this term often refers to governmental offices, not military offices. Thus, we should see this man not as one of the soldiers, but as one of the underlings of Annas, perhaps even one of the Sadducees in authority — we are just not told. And this man strikes Jesus because Jesus refuses to submit himself before Annas in this false trial.
It is interesting that this subordinate also refers to Annas as the “High Priest” although the title rightly belongs to Caiaphas. Thus adds a further degree of support to the theory that Annas is still pulling the political strings of the High Priest’s office from behind the scenes and has likely arranged the events of the night to bring Jesus under Caiaphas’ judgment.
The blow that is struck upon Jesus will be the first amongst many, though it stands out as one of contempt and pride — it is the blow of an underling, likely trying to gain credibility in the eyes of his master, though truly only doing the devil’s deed. Many of our English translations render this phrase in such a way as to argue that the man slapped Jesus. That could be the case, though the word could also refer to one clubbing another with a stick or another blunt object. Were this man one of the mob that was so armed with torches and clubs from earlier that night, it could conceivably be the club and not the hand with which this man struck our Lord.
Loved ones, the one thing that we must keep painfully clear and before our eyes is that Jesus did not need to endure such suffering. Yet, in an outpouring of his grace, he chose to suffer for us by the hand of wicked men. Jesus could have called legions of angels to his defense and left the entire countryside scattered with the bodies of his enemies, but he chose to go like a lamb to the slaughter, be beaten and abused, falsely tried, and then horrifically executed on the cross. He did that for me. He did that for you, that is, if you are trusting in Him as your Lord and Savior. They say that the story of the Gospel is the “Greatest Story Ever Told” and there is truth in that claim. Yet, it is a story that not only travels to great heights in terms of the resurrection and promise of glory — but it is a story that travels to the greatest depths of misery — human and divine — as Jesus enters the household of the wicked to bear the sins of the wicked (you and me!) on his shoulders — and not only facing false judgment by the hands of wicked men, but facing righteous judgment by the hands of a holy God, who crushed him for our sin. Jesus was our substitute, so when you are tempted to wag the finger at these hypocritical Jewish authorities, remember first that he did this for you … and he did this for me. We are the reason Jesus gave himself into the hands of these men, thanks be to God! But oh, my soul, what a debt of love I owe to the King of Grace!
Boldly and Plainly May 30, 2013Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on the Gospels.
Tags: Boldly, Jesus, John 18:20-21, kosmos, Mock Trial, Testimony, Witness, World
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“Jesus answered him, ‘I have spoken frankly to the world — I have always taught in the synagogues and in the temple where all the Jews gather. And in secret I have said nothing. Why then do you question me? Question the ones who heard me as to what I said to them. Look, they know what I said!”
To those who like to insist that the word “world” — ko/smoß (kosmos) — always refers to all people without any exceptions, here is a great illustration of the breadth of the term. For clearly, the world of whom Jesus is saying he has spoken to is not talking about all people without any exceptions. Instead, Jesus is implying that he has spoken to all kinds of people in the length of his ministry and in doing so he has spoken openly, boldly, plainly, and frankly. Certainly, in some contexts, the word ko/smoß (kosmos) can refer to all people without exception, but it must be noted that there is a breadth in the usage of the term such that context must be the key to understanding this word’s meaning when it is used.
What is more significant is Jesus’ statement to Annas that he has spoken nothing in secret. There are some who would challenge this statement citing the times when Jesus took the disciples to the side to instruct them or who would cite that the purpose of Jesus’ parables was to keep the unbelievers in the dark as to what Jesus was communicating (Matthew 13:13). While it is true that Jesus did take his disciples to the side on occasion, there was nothing secretive about these actions and the disciples were there as a witness to what it is that Jesus taught. Jewish culture also required two to three witnesses to charge a person with a serious crime — Jesus always took at least three (Peter, James, and John) with him so that they could record what was said and done. In terms of the parables, they were being spoken publicly, if the spiritual truth behind the message was unrevealed that stood as condemnation against the unbelieving Jewish officials, not as judgment against Jesus.
The bottom line is that Jesus is not going to recognize that these false judges have any authority over him — thus he does not legitimize their late night travesty of justice by answering their questions. He simply says, go ask the witnesses. If the witnesses would speak truth, there would be nothing that they could charge Jesus with — but truthfully or otherwise, the wicked priests had arrested Jesus for the purpose of murdering him — this evening would not come to a close without them making their charges — in this case, through trumped up false witnesses, but here I get ahead of myself.
And thus begins the false trial of Jesus in Caiaphas’ court. Perhaps, though for us, it is most important that we ask the question of ourselves — what have we been teaching others by our words and by our actions? Can we say, with Jesus, that our faith has been articulated in a way that would be considered bold, frank, or otherwise plain? Could witnesses to the things we have said and done articulate what we really believe? Would those witnesses even know you as a Christian by what you have talked about on a lunch break at work or at the ballfield? Sadly, I fear that “bold, plain, or frank” would not be an adjective that could accurately describe the lives of many professing Christians in America today. Yet, if the problem is noticed, the next step is to correct the error. Will you do so in your life? Will you strive to the kind of witness that speaks truthfully of Christ to a world that is in desperate need of the Gospel?