Sometimes "Bible Pick 'Ems" lands me right in the middle of an unfolding scene.
Today, I found myself sandwiched right in between Jesus' arrest and His crucifixion. Our poor Lord, being beaten and taunted – shuffled around to various "authorities" to decide His fate.
Didn't they know? – (rhetorical question…)
His death was a plan put in place before the world began.
But as I looked at the two pages that I turned to in my Bible, what jumped out to me was all the little red letters.
So, I put all of them together. Here's what our Savior, on the eve of His crucifixion, had to say to His accusers:
"Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.
If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I'm speaking the truth, why are you beating me?
Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?
My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.
You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.
You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin."
(From John 18 & 19)
I am made speechless by the Lord's words.
First of all, as an English major, I am impressed at their cohesiveness. Because, you see, these words were not said at the same time or the same place.
Some were said in front of the high priest, some were said before Pilate (at two different times) – and there was a lot of shuttling around in between.
So, I am amazed at how the Lord's words sound like one paragraph, spoken at one time. He absolutely knew what He was saying at any given moment.
Second of all, I believe those words could be said this very day to any person alive. Those words still have the same impact, the same power, the same authority they did almost 2,000 years ago!
Why? Because they speak truth.
Third, I love that Jesus says He spoke "where the people gather." Yes, His message is meant for the people. Jesus sought out the places where the people were. He met them on their own turf – and gave them His Truth. We ought to do the same. Jesus said, "You want to know about Me? Ask those who heard Me."
Friends, that would be us – we are the ones who have heard.
Fourth, though we can't read the tone of Jesus' voice, sometimes I think I can hear it. So, when He says to Pilate, "Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?" – I think it's more than just a quest for information. There's some irony in there.
I think Jesus is implying that Pilate had already heard His message – perhaps He is implying that Pilate was interested.
"Are you asking your own questions, Pilate? Or have you heard about me from others and you're interested? Hmmm??"
Pilate’s retort sounds defensive to me: "Am I a Jew?"
Jesus always causes a reaction, doesn't He? And it's curious to me how often He makes people defensive and angry, testy and argumentative. Few people are apathetic about His Name.
The rest of Jesus' words hold such power.
My kingdom is not earthly – it is not of this world.
If it was, the world would want to save Me.
The reason I was born? To testify to the Truth.
And those who recognize truth – Absolute Truth – outside of their own logic and understanding?
Those are the ones who will recognize Me.
And the closing words of Jesus are words that are spoken to every ruler or authority on this earth and in the heavenly realms – you have NO POWER over Me.
So, as we approach the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus, I am captivated by what we learn about Him at the approach of His death.
He didn't come into the world as a king – but as a King.
And He was born to die…for us.
Have you ever just gone through the New Testament and read only the red letters?
Take some time and let Him speak to your heart through His words – only His words – in the Word!
"When in doubt, search God out!"