Monday, April 30, 2012

Afar Off – Part 5


Light or darkness.  What's on the horizon or what's at hand.  A choice.  "Sunrise in My Backyard" was taken by John Vincent.  Foggy marsh, dusky sky, sunlight tinted by the angle as it comes over the horizon.  The source of the light seems so far away.  Which highlights the spiritual lessons we're sharing in this series.

We began the series with the events on Palm Sunday.  The next several posts brought us up to the trials that led to Jesus' sentencing.  Today, let's park at the topic of the scourging.  That very event highlights some very interesting realities.

The scourging itself isn't really mentioned much and only once as an event.  Pilate says it's his intent to scourge Jesus and let Him go. The Gospel account of the scourging doesn't go into much detail other than that Jesus was dressed in the robe and the crown of thorns at the end of the scourging.  Then He was taken back to Pilate for him to decide what would happen to Jesus.

Historically, the scourging was 39 lashes.  Just enough to cause pain and damage without killing the prisoner.  And I suspect that a weaker prisoner might get fewer lashes, just so he didn't miss any of the pain and agony by dying.  A concept from the Roman mind, straight from the denizens of hell, but certainly not from the mind of God.

And history indicates that a prisoner who was scourged would not be crucified.  And a prisoner who was to be crucified wouldn't be scourged.  That was Roman law.  A law that was never broken, with the exception of Jesus. And that's where things get interesting.

Consider all the undercurrent involved.  Like so:

  1. The Pharisees, driven by demonic influences, wanted Jesus gone.  To the point of wanting Him dead.
  2. What little Pilate knew of Jesus, combined with His answers, didn't give him enough to authorize Christ's execution on the cross.
  3. Pilate realized there might be more consequences to displeasing a rebellious colony he ruled over, as opposed to displeasing a very distant caesar.
With that all going on, is it any wonder that Pilate leapt at the chance to send Jesus to Herod for interrogation and sentencing? Buck passing is part and parcel of thinking without the influence of God.  Unfortunately for Pilate, Herod came to the same conclusion he did.  And sent Jesus back to Pilate for disposition.

If you remember, we began the series referring to the fact that a relationship with God can seem so far away.  Even when we're already believers.  And here we see three examples of missed opportunities.  The Pharisees had all of Christ's ministry to recognize the truth.  Both Pilate and Herod had personal time with Jesus, yet failed to recognise His Godhood.  That distant light wasn't so distant.  Yet they all missed it.  Because it's not the distance that makes the difference, but our own attitude.  Are we looking for God or relying on our own resources?

Next time, we'll continue with the final sentencing.  But, in the meantime, we can look within ourselves.  Are we looking to God or are we spiritual "do it yourselfers"?

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