Sunday, April 22, 2012

Afar Off -- Part 4


John Vincent's "Sunrise in My Backyard".  As of yesterday, Chuck Colson is with our Lord.  His wisdom and love for God will be missed on this earth.  But Chuck's new place to live is in heaven.  The subject of today's post had been preplanned before we heard of his passing. But Chuck Colson's life was an example of the contrast we're discussing today.  Fortunately, he chose to go from darkness to light.

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The photograph illustrates a number of aspects of what we're discussing.  We've been talking about the light coming from the horizon, compared to the cloudy atmosphere of where we are now. The relationship with God seemingly as far away as the light shining over the horizon.   Which leaves us either looking for a way to shorten the distance of that relationship or creating others that may be less beneficial.  And, as we'll see, that's part of what happened next in Christ's journey to the cross.

We last looked at the events as they were described by Luke, in Chapter 22.  There's no surprise that, by the end of that chapter, Judas really did betray Jesus and Peter denied Him three times before the cock crowed.  But what comes next is really interesting. Because Christ, in effect, doesn't just go through one trial, but three.

Jesus first was brought to the high priest and was interrogated about being the Christ.  Jesus responds that His answer doesn't matter, He'll be convicted no matter what He says.  In His religious trial, Jesus was falsely convicted as a heretic and blasphemer. Normally, that's all it would take for Jesus to be executed.  But these weren't normal times.  Israel was a conquered nation. Conquered by the strongest military force of their time.  So, Jesus couldn't be executed by the clergy of His time.  They had to get the Romans to allow His death.  They took Jesus to the governor, Pontius Pilate.

In the trial before Pilate, Jesus was accused of saying He was the King of the Jews.  And He responded to Pilate in such a way that Pilate's question was the only time either would recognize that term in their conversations.  Pilate could find nothing in Jesus' answer to condemn Him. Because of the response of the crowd, Pilate needed a way to smooth things over. Finding out Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate passed Jesus along to Herod the governor of that territory.

Herod was happy about the turn of events.  He had heard of Jesus and His miracles.  And Herod wanted to see Jesus do a miracle, much like being entertained by some travelling magician.  Again there was no response from Jesus to His accusations.  I'm sure Herod was disappointed.  But, with the prodding of the Jews, he and his soldiers made a mockery of Jesus' kingship and sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate's final verdict was that he still could find nothing wrong with Jesus.  His "sentence" was that Jesus would be scourged then released.  We know that, later, at the prodding of the crowd, Jesus would take Barabbas place on the cross.

All of this is actually a great example of relationships in each of the spiritual kingdoms.  There are differences, as we'll soon see.

The dark.  There are certain things that pop out at us from these events.

  1. The way of dealing with any situation that threatens the status quo is to eliminate it. (the priests)
  2. There's never a real examination of whether the "threat" might actually take things in a new and better direction. (all of the trials)
  3. If there's any possible negative impact on ourselves, pass the blame and responsibility to someone else. (Pilate sends Christ to Herod, who sends Him back for final sentencing.)
  4. Relationships come out of perceived intent, based on visible results. (Luke 23:12 And that same day Pilate and Herod became friends with one another, for before they were at enmity between themselves.) (Pilate and the priesthood after the crucifixion was guaranteed) ("What have you done for me lately?")
The light. In contrast, there were certain things about what Jesus did.
  1. Jesus didn't wipe out those accusing or trying Him
  2. He didn't avoid the circumstances to come or the results.
  3. He never tried to deny the Father's will and plan.
  4. Christ took the things done to Him without implicating anyone else or blaming anyone else.
  5. There was no self related motivation to Jesus' actions.  What Jesus did and went through was a result of agape love -- unending, unchanging, unconditional.
Those are pretty stark, well separated examples.  In our own lives, it's not always that clear.  Our fallen minds can easily mix Godly and ungodly perceptions and decisions.  The worst sinner can have some thoughts with God.  The greatest saint can be tricked into some ungodly thoughts.  We need to be fully aware of the source of our thoughts and motivation.

What are you doing today to direct your thinking, motivation and relationships in a Godly direction?

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