"You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."
“HEY, if you don’t keep up, you’re going to be the one who gets caught!” Everybody remembers when we were Kids running away from a broken window or a fight. Once the parents or police were on the way, you did not want to be the slow one. Sad to say, some of us were devious enough to actually include in our group someone we knew to be slower to be the designated “fall guy.” Unwittingly they were so happy to be included only to figure out that they were chosen to purposely be left behind. Sad that sometimes that person did not figure this out- which only magnifies the guilt of you who rooked us into this designated “lamb for the slaughter.” (I hope I am tugging at all the consciences of you older brother and sisters who let us younger ones tag along only to be left to pay.)
NOBODY would rightly volunteer for this role. Sometimes it was who didn’t make it back to the car before the engine roared to life. Sometimes it was who had on darker clothes which could blend into the night. Sometimes it was who knew the territory and hiding places better than the rest. Sometimes it just boiled down to Speed! The guilt of the act, the guilt of the group was piled on this one who might even be innocent except that they were now “the Caught”!
Jesus filled this Role
Caiaphas volunteered Jesus for this Role in the verses quoted above. The Sanhedrin wanted the Romans to see Him as the upstart rather than see the whole nation as rebels. How telling it is that Pilate sees through their jealousy to know that Jesu is not a rebel while indeed He is a King. Pilate had to wash his hands of Innocent blood.
Jesus shared that Role
Two thieves hung on either side of Jesus. He was dying the death of a criminal- crucifixion- in the company of criminals. Who could doubt His guilt having been condemned by “just Roman” and dying with “unjust thugs”?? But one thief stated it best: “we are dying justly for what we deserve, but this Man is innocent- LORD remember me when You come into your Kingdom.” A Roman centurion saw through it all when He said, “surely this man was the Son of God.”
Jesus was predicted for this Role
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we did think him to be smitten by God and afflicted.” “Strike the Shepherd and sheep will be scattered.” … the sheep who were already going astray.
But Jesus VOLUNTEERED
He was not taken because He was last in line; He cut the line right to the front and said: “Take me but let these others go.” He did it in the Garden and He does it at the Cross. -He was not taken because He was unwitting; He told the disciples, “You do not understand what I do now, but the day is coming when you will.”- He was not taken because He shared in the Guilt; He was taken because His Innocence made Him the only One who could die for the guilt of All. -He was not the one who was left behind; He was the one who stayed behind so that you and I would not be left behind in our Sin and Guilt!
The Silence is Broken
For hundreds of years there had not been a word from God through a prophet. Man really was walking in Darkness and the shadow of Death ruled without challenge- Silence and Darkness joined to equal dark despair! But suddenly that Silence was broken in the Holy Place of the Temple as Zechariah, a priest, ministered before the LORD.
“Zechariah, your wife Elizabeth is about to have a baby in yours and her old age,” an angel spoke to him. What?! The silent womb was about to be silent no more but was about to give birth to “the Voice Crying in the Wilderness”! Zechariah’s son John the Baptist would break that silence with his announcing the soon appearing Messiah. How ironic that Zechariah himself spent the next 9 months in silence. His own struggle with doubt meant God said he was to live in silence until he would break out in Testimony upon the birth of his son John (Luke 1:57-80). A song full of faith and trust in the Sovereign God who was giving birth to Hope for His downtrodden People by the birth of John to him and Elizabeth.
Once God broke the Silence, there was no holding back from that point on. Angels were sent to Mary and Joseph and eventually to the shepherds. God was sending His streaming message of salvation through His Son Jesus who is indeed is the WORD-of-God-made-flesh.
John would cry: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
The Father would testify: “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased”
Pilate would cry: “Behold the Man” – as they took Him away to be “silenced”.
But the Angels would announce, “Come, see where He lay for He is not here but is risen from the dead just as he had said” – Death and the Tomb could not silence the Word-made-Flesh now declared the LORD of Life!
God still cries out to us: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” “Come, all of you who are thirsty and I will give you to drink from the streams of the water of life.” “Come let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet they will be made as white as snow.”
God Broke the Silence; now you need to open a Conversation with Him!!
Most of us have had a conversation where the conversation suddenly ended because we or the other person Hung Up. One party or the other raised the level of hostility and “poof”: the call is terminated. Maybe it’s a friend or family member. We stopped talking to each other and now we were just talking past each other. Suddenly the line goes totally quiet and it is not because we hit a “bad zone”. How do you come back from that?? How do you open a Conversation when communication was cut off? Oftentimes when people have hung-up once, they just continue to hang-up by using their caller-ID. How sad; and the Time flies bye -bye…
Have any of you ever Hung-Up on God? How do you come back from that? That Line should be buzzing all the time: Request and Praises making their way to the Throne room while the Holy Spirit translates for us the treasured message of God’s Word. But “No”, God seriously “disappointed” us; God seemed to go silent, so we “hung up”- on God. How do you come back from THAT? It makes about as much sense as Blocking both incoming and outgoing 911 calls on a phone.
When I read the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel/1 Chronicles and then read the prayers of David as recorded in the Psalms, I am reminded of a guy who kept an “open-line” conversation with God going all the time. David sees miraculous victories like the one over Goliath- he writes God a Psalm of praise. He is betrayed by Saul or Doeg – he writes a prayer for deliverance plus praise that God is his Refuge. He suffers the consequences of his adultery with Bathsheba- he writes a Psalm of repentance and restoration. He is left alone even by his own army- he writes a psalm about leaning on God alone. In fact, the only time he “hung up” was while he was trying to live in the denial of his sin and guilt. Listen to what he says in Psalm32:3, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” David could not stand the silence that existed between him and God. How about you? Have we actually gotten used to the silence? Or just learned to drown it out with the rest of the noise of life?
When David’s young new born had died, David got up from the ground, washed his face, ate some food, and worshipped the Lord (2 Samuel 12). When David’s sinful counting and trusting in his army caused God to send a plague on Israel, David cried out to God and made a special sacrifice to God that stopped the plague (1 Chronicles 21).
Where many of us would have “hung up” on God, David hung-in because he knew that God alone could uphold him. Where many of us would hang-up in fear, David called out. Where others would conclude that the subject was closed, David would bring it up again because God is always the One who gets Final Word.
The only way to come back from a “hang-up” is to make a Call. Same with God! The amazing thing is that He Keeps the Line Open! In fact, if you are a Believer, you have a direct line from the Holy Spirit in your heart that runs straight into the Throne Room of Heaven and is answered by our Intercessor Jesus Christ!
PICK UP THE PHONE!!
Matthew 4:1-11; James 4:1-10; 1 Peter 5:6-8
The Bible clearly says: “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” I certainly would welcome the sight of putting Satan on the run! Too often I believe that we are ignorant of the devil’s schemes and thus become a victim of the roaring lion. Then we slink away in shame and defeat.
To me, what is set forth in by both James and Peter is best seen in Jesus when He was tempted in the Wilderness. In both passages we are told that Humbling ourselves to God gives us the strength to Stand against the devil. Our posture of humility with God gives us the posture of confidence with satan. Jesus sets this supreme example in His handling of satan in the wilderness. Jesus was submitted to His Father’s will and timing the entire ordeal. In fact, the very first verse says that He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. His Tempting was the Father’s will so that Jesus would be “… able to save to the uttermost those who are now tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).
Jesus commands satan at the end of His tempting, “Go, Satan! …then the devil left Him and behold angels came and ministered to Him.” I want that too! SO how did Jesus do it? What is necessary to RESIST the devil?
Jesus resisted the devil so that then He said, “Go, devil” and the devil left…until a more opportune time (Luke4:13).
We can resist the devil when we are submitted to God. We can stand against the ruler of this world when we have bowed to our Sovereign. We can dialogue with the devil when we know what God really says! And then we too can command him to leave.
Last night I got home from a week’s vacation. As I walked in the kitchen, I noticed a stale, sour odor but did not really think too much of it because I figured it was a week’s worth of pent-up Summer air. I could just air out the house plus spray my Febreze Unstoppables that lasts up to six hours (really quite some amazing stuff).
BUT this morning I was putting a few things away and opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink — rotten potatoes! Rotten potatoes have the worst smell; they actually smell like something died.
I gingerly picked up the bag, sealed it in another trash bag and put it in the Trash. BUT not the inside trash, the trash that immediately goes to the Outside trash! I then sprayed chlorox on the spot, aired out the cabinet and kitchen, and sprayed my Febreze Unstoppable six-hour spray. It was NOT enough to air it out—it would only linger and get stronger. It was NOT enough to spray Febreze—that would only mask the source that was going to outlast the six-hours. It was NOT enough to put it in the Trash—it needed to be in the outside trash. You have to be rid of the Source of the Stink!
I am struck with the thought that Jesus takes out the Trash of my life. I take inadequate measures hoping nobody will notice the stink:
Jesus takes out My Trash. If you read the passages, Jesus became the Scapegoat of our Sin and suffered outside the City because He not only took out the Trash—He BECAME Trash (Sin) in my place and then took it out-- Outside. I am humbled by the realization that my best efforts can only mask the Source while it gets steadily worse and ripens to the point of an overpowering stink in my life and character. Jesus is the One who became a stench in my place so that the pleasing Aroma of His Sacrifice would make me a pleasing Aroma as well.
So why you still wrestling the “garbage man” to hold onto your Stink??
Thank you, Jesus, for taking out my Trash.
Yes, Jesus really is the ONE!
But what that means entirely depends on one’s perspective:
But He was not the ONE they perceived Him to be:
Next week is Easter Sunday: Jesus’ Victory over Sin and Death.
Truly the Thief and Enemy of our souls comes to kill, steal, and destroy. The thief leaves loss, brokenness, and broken hearts wherever he has been. BUT Jesus’ response was “I have come that you may have Life and Life to the full.”
And further He said, “I have come to destroy the works of the Devil.” Jesus would “rob” from the Thief his ability to bring ultimate destruction.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry we see testimonies of His great power against the effects of the thief’s power of sin and death. Jesus healed broken lives devastated by the cursed world we live in. He healed broken hearts that had been devastated by their fellow man and even their very family members. We even witness His power over the thief stealing a life as He stands and speaks with authority:” Lazarus, come forth.” However, there was still a greater power He was yet to face: Death itself. All these with their healed sight, legs, and hearts would still one day have to die.
Then the Thief tried to use his power of Death on the Lord of Life. He thought he had won a glorious victory and now would be free to wreak greater destruction on mankind. BUT that same part of John where Jesus promises Life, He tells us how that life will be possible: the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. The thief would try to steal the Life of the Shepherd not realizing that he would be defeated by his own “victory”!
Jesus now would offer Eternal Healing,
Eternal Life, and Forgiveness!
The most startlingly testimony to this is the Thief on the Cross. He was actually the very first to understand that what Jesus was doing right then would open the hope of eternal life. He began his last hours Guilty and Condemned. But his words of faith to Jesus: “Lord, Remember me when you come in your Kingdom” meant he ended his earthly life forgiven and welcomed into the very Kingdom of the One dying next to him! The Resurrection of Jesus guaranteed these to that criminal. There are also offered to all us guilty ones who even now live much our lives not recognizing the One who is always next us offering His Death on our behalf.
Broken hearts are healed forever in Heaven. Broken understandings are forever clarified in Heaven. No anger, unforgiveness, addiction, sorrow, or other instruments of the Thief will ever it past the Gates of Heaven. Jesus lives and reigns there forever where He has stored up and guaranteed the real Treasures!
Meanwhile we still see things “in the Glass darkly” as it states in 1 Corinthians 13. We try to imagine and live by eternal things but the things of this sinful world keep distorting that which we try to see and understand. Just like a mirror at a county fair, we can’t trust what we think we are seeing—we need God to set us straight and look rather into the mirror of His Word. Some us get it more distorted than others. Thank God that His Resurrection and Eternity reverses all that distortion.
“For now we see only a reflection in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part;
then I will fully know, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12
I watched my Father pass into Heaven itself just a week ago (March 18, 2016). The Thief did not steal my Dad away because Jesus by His Death and Resurrection had already secured for him a place in Heaven “where the thief cannot break in and steal”!
I have been by many bedsides and with many families reading these words of comfort and faith from Psalm 139 — but now I am by my own Father’s bedside speaking to my own Mother and sister as we watch my Dad in the sleep of unconsciousness. Will these words bring comfort to us, to me as I have sought to bring to others?? Of course they will because they are not my words but God’s!
At this point my dad was “asleep” to us and the world of this life. He was in this state for the last two days. We were the Awake and watching; it was not easy. In that time, these words of Psalm 139 became very personal. These are the words of the Psalmist reminding everyone through his words that while we are in this Life there is nowhere we can go that God is not already there. And should I fall asleep in the sleep of death, when I awake I am STILL with You (Lord) — for the Believer, we awake in His Eternal Presence.
These words reminded us of two things:
Thank you for all your words and prayers for our comfort and strength!
Twice during Jesus’ last days, He tells the Disciples to go prepare something but He lets them know they only have to give His title and they will find that the “Reservation” has already been made. So in actuality, they were not tasked with making the Preparation, they were only asked to carry out what He had already Prepared!
As they near Jerusalem, Jesus sends them to get the Colt on which He will ride in triumphant into Jerusalem. They were told when they had found this colt, just start untying it and if challenged, say, “The Lord has need of this.” Where is their Notified Letter of Authorization? Where is the “Photo ID”? I believe the Disciples show a greater faith and obedience than I might be comfortable with—they went, they were challenged, they gave the exact phrase….and they returned with the Colt!! (Luke 19:30-35).
Jesus wanted to celebrate the Passover with the Disciples. Jesus tells them to go into the City and find a man carrying a jar of water who they will tell that the Master needed his room to celebrate the Passover with his disciples--- there were a lot of men carrying jars around Jerusalem! (Mark 14:13-15) I would have asked for more details: Carrying a jar on which street?... What design or type of jar will it be? From which well will he be carrying this jar? But they don’t need these assurances. They go and make the preparations because they were only carrying out Jesus’ pre-preparations.
Jesus still sends His Disciples to carry out PRE-Preparations. He sends us to Make Disciples of all nations while having given us all authority in Heaven and Earth and having already convicted hearts through the Holy Spirit! We are not preparing hearts. We are not going in our own Authority. We are carrying out His Pre-Preparations.
Go, show the same confidence and faith as the Disciples who untied a colt and found some guy carrying a pitcher of water!
Only days before His death Jesus is at dinner with Lazarus and his sisters. Mary walks over to Jesus where she breaks open a bottle of extremely expensive perfume. She pours the contents over Jesus’ head and feet. The observers are offended at the waste of such an expensive perfume that could have been used for more practical uses. They are offended that Jesus has not stopped this even before it started. But there is one thing of which they are all very much aware: The Scent of Perfume has permeated the entire room. (I have a candle that has close to the same scent of this mixture. I can only burn it for 10-15 minutes because it is soo strong.)
Jesus deflects their comments while making a predictive observation: her anointing points to His fast-approaching death and burial. How ironic that there would be a group of ladies carrying spices to anoint Jesus in the Tomb who would never get that opportunity! He had already Risen! We are not told whether or not she was aware of any of this particular significance. For Mary this was an expression of love, gratitude, and worship. She must have known that others would not understand, and even think this wasteful. Mary does not worry about their opinions nor does she open her mouth afterwards to defend herself. She keeps it simple: giving her best to Jesus in a public demonstration of her love and devotion!
The scent of her sacrifice permeates the air, speaking of the coming Scent of Sacrifice that Jesus was about to make — the pleasing aroma that would rise to the nostrils of the Father where it would become our Scent of Forgiveness (Ephesians 5:2). Jesus observes that this act of honor and devotion would be remembered wherever the Gospel would be preached. She was the first to anoint Him in preparation for Death.
Am I driven to such love and sacrifice for the One who gave Himself for me?? Do I hold back because my actions might be misunderstood or thought strange?
Take the Risk! Mary did … and permeated the whole room and the whole of history with the unashamed testimony of devotion to the One who died as a Sweet Aroma!
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.