Monday July 6th 2015

Jesus In The Shadow Of The Cross (2)

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Herod received Him gladly for he had sought an opportunity to see for himself the many reports that he had heard about this Man. While the atmosphere was friendly, the purpose was not right. Herod sought a demonstration of the power of the Lord through a miracle. Jesus would not respond to such an attitude of heart. His purposes were to help and benefit not to make a display of the miraculous powers which were invested in Him. In spite of the many questions posed by Herod, Jesus did not respond with one word. As the Lamb, he remained silent. Acts 8:32 All this while the chief priests and scribes stood hotly, loudly, brazenly, mightily accusing Him. It does not take much imagination to feel the heat of this violent mob by this time. They were filled with great anger and demanded His death. Luke 23:10

Despite his attitude at his first meeting Jesus, Herod was soon to be caught up in the fanatical spirit that prevailed over the occupants of Jerusalem. Herod, with his soldiers began to mistreat Him, ridiculing Him and mocking Him. They then placed a brilliant and beautiful robe on Him and returned Him to Pilate. Luke 23:10-11 In the process, these two Pilate and Herod who had up to until that time been enemies, now became friends. Luke 23:12

Pilate assembled the high priests and the rulers of the people as well as the people. His decision was true and strait forward. He had well examined Jesus and had found no cause or proof of the accusations which they were making against Him. Their accusations were without merit and in direct and bold contradiction of the Law of Moses. Ex. 20:16 Neither Pilate or Herod had been able to find any fault in Him, let alone a cause for death. Luke 23 :15 Pilate desired to punish Him and then release Him. They responded with a great and united voice, do away with Him. Release Barabbas unto us. Pilate wanting to free Jesus tried again but their hue and cry was one, Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

You have a custom. At this feast the local Roman governor would condescend to the people by releasing one of their country men who had been imprisoned. He offered them Barabbas, whose name means, son of the father. Some commentators have discovered in ancient manuscripts that he was also known as Jesus Barabbas, in contrast to Jesus, which is called the Christ. Jesus or Joshua were not uncommon names in those days nor are they today, in certain countries. Such a situation was not coincidental. It was an act of God. A powerful message of salvation is to be found in this instance. The most innocent one taking the place of the most guilty. The Lamb of God took our place, receiving our just punishment that we might be released from all guilt and condemnation.

Barabbas was a notable prisoner. His name was not unknown by any means among the population. He could well have enjoyed great popularity, in spite of his reputation. His criminal record pretty well covered the spectrum of unrighteous acts. He had been responsible for leading an insurrection against the Roman political powers that prevailed at that time. His attempt to drive out the Romans would have made him a popular figure in the country. He and his cohorts were still considered to be of such danger that they were not only imprisoned but lay bound or perhaps even chained or in stocks. Mark. 15:7 He was also a murderer for in the time of his rebellion he had committed murder. Luke 23:25 Added to all that he was a robber. John 18:40 This had most likely been his dishonorable profession prior to his failed attempt to upset the powers of authority in Israel at that time. To say the least, Barabbas was an uncouth and undesirable character and unquestionably robbed his own people as well as the Romans.

Pilate stated to them, that he could find no fault in him, especially along the line of their accusations. Had they had ears to hear he was calling them false accusers. Give us Barabbas. A choice which every individual must make. Will it be Barabbas the epitome of ungodliness or Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, the perfection of holiness. Pilate was a wise man and judge. He well understood the people, especially their leadership, and their attitudes. He knew the envy that flooded their hearts and therefore tried to release Jesus, the Christ, instead of Barabbas. Mt. 27:17-18

Pilate gave a fivefold witness and righteous judgment that there was not a fault to be found in Jesus. To the chief priest and the people, I find no fault in this man. From the very beginning of His dealings in the matter, Pilate knew, without a question, that he was dealing with an innocent man. Their accusations were astonishingly weak. They said, that Jesus excited the people with His teachings. Thank the Lord He still does. Luke 23:4-5

I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof you accuse Him. Luke 23:14 Pilate questioned the Lord Jesus in the presence of His accusers where they had full view and hearing of the process. He failed to find where Jesus had committed the offenses for which they were blaming Him. Herod likewise came to the same conclusion and sent Him back. He had not done anything worthy of death. Luke 23:15

He (Pilate) went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find in Him no fault at all. John 18:38 It seems to me that there is a bit of an irritation in Pilate’s words to them. No fault at all. He is totally convinced of the absolute innocence of Jesus. His words were to the point and emphatic.

I bring Him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him. John 19:4 While he was totally convinced that Jesus had done nothing worthy of any sort of punishment, yet as a politician he desired to please the people. As unjust as the whole scenario is, we know that it was all in the purpose and will of the Lord.

Pilate said, take Him and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him. John 19:6 Pilate echoed the words of the chief priest, the scribes and the people by telling them to crucify Him, nevertheless he could find absolutely no cause for such drastic action. The words and actions of Pilate were freighted with fear. He feared the accusers, he fear the accused. John 19:8 He was really seeking for a way to release the Lord Jesus and looked to Him for a word which would allow him to free Him. John 19:10 We find here one of those subtle thoughts found through out the Word of the Lord. Five is the number of atonement by blood. Five times His absolute blamelessness and freedom from guilt of any sort is proclaimed.

The silence of Jesus, His refusal to defend Himself would have been a maddening situation to Pilate. Plus the boisterous, howling mob on the other side demanding that Jesus be judged, be condemned and crucified would have brought great pressure and confusion to him. In desperation he reminded Jesus that he had the authority to have Him crucified or released. John 19:10.

Pilate’s declaration of his power and ability to release or crucify Jesus finally evoked a response from the Lord Jesus. It was a rebuke and a declaration of the perfect will of the Lord. Were it not that the process which we see unfolding before us was the plan of the Lord, this scene would not exist. Before him stood the One who had proclaimed and demonstrated that, all power, in heaven and earth had been delivered unto Him. Mt. 28:18 His speech, His Word, His doctrine was with power. Luke 4:32 Had Jesus exercised the power of God vested in Him, there would have been no angry mob or Pontius Pilate. They would have been eliminated by the might and power of His living, all powerful Word.

The decision that Pilate was about to make was not his own but a manifestation of the Lord controlling all worldly powers and kingdoms. In a dream, the Lord spoke to Nebuchadnezzar revealing to him that the Lord is in absolute control. Even the vilest, the very worst are part of the plan and purpose of the Lord. Note His words to Nebuchadnezzar. The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Giving it to whomsoever He will, even the very basest, the lowest of men.
Dan. 4:17b Paul wrote to the Romans that the powers, the authorities that exist are ordained of God. None of them exist outside of His eternal strategy. Rom. 13:1.

Then greater sin, committed by Judas, the high priests, the scribes and even the mob all of whom had an ulterior motive of some sort in their actions. Even though it was in the eternal intention of the Lord that one would die for the redemption of all who would believe, those who were a part of its fulfillment must bear the responsibility for their actions. Their act was lawless to the extreme, by any standards of conduct by any of the nations of the earth. Acts 2:23 None of them were ignorant of their lawless actions. They were a people run amuck. Wild and blinded by their over zealous and strong desire to protect their religious order.

Are you then a king? King of the Jews? Pilate was desperately seeking a way whereby he could release Jesus. He was thoroughly convinced that there was no cause to imprison Jesus. Let alone crucify Him. As the ruling governor he found in Jesus no threat to his office nor to the Roman empire. He believed the Lord Jesus when He said that His kingdom was not of this world. John 18:37, Mt. 27:11.

Thou sayest. An answer in the affirmative. Jesus responded by stating that, I am exactly what you have said, I am a king. Isaiah had prophesied that He would be the King of Righteousness. He, being the very epitome of Righteousness and imputing the same to His people. No sinners in His kingdom, only sinners saved by grace and made righteous through His righteousness. He is LORD, Jehovah the true Holy One, the creator, not only of Israel, both natural and spiritual, but of all creation. He is our King. Isa. 43:15 Jeremiah proclaimed Him to be the King of the nations. He rules unseen, most generally His voice is not heard. Yet, He rules the nations of the world. Though they do not know it, they are under His control. There is no King like Him. Jer. 10:7 He is of course, KING of Kings, always been and always will be. Rev. 19:16 He is the ONLY Potentate. 1 Tim. 6:15.

Born to bear witness to the truth. His reason for coming into the world was to convey the truth of the Lord to the inhabitants of this earth. His cause is to minister the Gospel of truth to all who will hear. John 18:37 In Jesus is to be found the completeness of grace and truth. This is that which He desires to share with all who will come unto Him. John 1:14
Where truth prevails grace is manifest in the richest of measures.

All those who have the ability to hear and recognize truth find Him to be their Savior and King. This is a test as to whether or not we are truly in Christ Jesus. Do we hear His Words? Hearing them and obeying them is a true sign that the individual is in Christ Jesus. Just as communicating on the internet is called, talking. So, the Word of the Lord, as we read it will speak to us by His Spirit. John 8:47 To obey the truth is to purify the soul. There is a sanctifying power in the Word as it is illuminated to us by the Spirit of the Lord. Consummating in the nature of the Lord being revealed in us to such a great measure that we love one another with pure love, without hypocrisy. 1Peter 1:12

During that second visit to Pilate’s judgment hall he received an urgent message from his wife. She warned him concerning his decision pertaining to Christ. Literally she wanted him to refrain from having anything to do with the plot to kill Jesus that was at hand. She had a dream concerning the whole affair and was frightened because of it. She was fully persuaded that Jesus was totally innocent of all charges brought against Him. Whatever she had dreamt, it was of such magnitude that she was afraid of the consequences, for Pilate, herself and her family, of condemning a just man and wanted Pilate to withdraw from the whole affair. Mt. 27:19.

Political forces were brought to play as Pilate sought a way whereby he could release Jesus He was completely convinced of His absolute blamelessness. He thoroughly understood the motives behind this rabid mob that were demanding the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The more Pilate questioned them as to His guilt and his constant declaration of the finding of no fault in Him, the angrier they became. Now they were accusing Pilate of not being a friend of Caesars which would mean political if not physical death for one in his position. That motivated Pilate to pronounce sentence and deliver Jesus to the chief priests and scribes. John 19:12.

It was the preparation of the Passover and unbeknown to that crowd, they were preparing the true sacrifice, the only offering which can possible save mankind from sin. Christ is the true Passover Lamb. All others were but shadows pointing to that which would come. 1 Cor. 5:7b Pilate was constantly provoking them with his insistence that Jesus was their king. He had to know that saying to them; Behold your King, it would only increase their fury, but he did and it worked. John 19:14 Then by saying to them, shall I crucify your King, he provoked the high priest into proclaiming that they recognized no king but Caesar. In the heat of anger many foolhardy words are spoken and many stupid acts are committed. This was one of them. In his outburst the high priest had denied the God of his Fathers. The Lord who had brought them up, out of Egypt. John 19:15 The words of the high priest that day make the words of the Psalmist to be a prophecy of the treatment given the Lord Jesus. Ps. 59:12 The sin of his mouth and words spoken by him was a direct denial of the Lord and a commitment to an earthly heathen king.

For the third time Pilate was to declare that he had found no fault, most definitely no cause of death due to the actions and words of the Lord Jesus. His decision, his will was to chastise Jesus and free Him. Luke 23:22 such a choice proved to be extremely unpopular with the chief priests and their followers. The crowd furiously demanded with loud shouting that Jesus be crucified and Barabbas be released. Luke 23:23 Pilate gave in to their will and passed the sentence which they had required. He delivered Jesus to their will. Luke 23:25.

Just prior to His surrender into the hands of the angry crowd to be crucified, Pilate scourged Him. The maximum of flogging that could be done to a person was forty stripes. Deut. 25:3 Paul five times in his ministry received thirty nine stripes, one short of forty so that they cold whip him as many times as they desired. At anytime, had they added the fortieth, he could never have been beaten again, that is according to their Law. 2 Cor. 11:24 The number of stripes which were applied to the back of the Lord Jesus is not given, but how about a full forty. His experiences were unique, even while being crucified with others and as many previously were crucified. He was absolutely innocent. He was bearing the sin of the world. He was dying as the Lamb of God. His death was once and for all. The shedding of His blood is the only means of salvation. Heb. 10:5.

The extreme wounding of His back and the subsequent flow of blood assures us of healing for our physical bodies. Such action, with it’s result, places healing directly in the category of the atonement. There is healing virtue in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. Isa. 53:5 Salvation and healing are treated alike with the Lord. He forgives and eliminates both from the life of those who trust in Him. Ps. 103:3 There are no impossibilities with the Lord. While the abilities of human beings are limited, there are none with the Lord. Luke 18:27 Israel having partaken of the Passover lamb in Egypt became a nation without a sickness, disease or physical infirmity among them. There had to have been a mass healing in Egypt when they partook of Passover. Ps. 105:37 The Lord sent His Word and healed, cured them all. Ps. 107:20 Not only did the Lord promise healing but went beyond and promised health. He revealed Himself to Israel as Jehovah-Rapha, the healing Lord. Ex. 15:26.

The back of the Lord Jesus would have been horribly torn and frayed by the cat of nine-tails and the pieces of bone which were attached to it. Thus tearing and mincing the flesh of His back with each blow. It is no wonder that the Psalmist, speaking prophetically said, that the plowmen had made deep furrows on His back. Ps. 129:3 That is extremely expressive language but it helps convey to us the magnitude of the suffering which Jesus endured, in this case to bring healing to those who trust in Him.

Jesus took upon Himself all our infirmities, whether they are spiritual, physical or mental, He exchanged places with us that He might bear the weaknesses of the human race. In so doing, He freed us from their pain and anguish. All the sicknesses of mankind were a part of His suffering.Mt. 8:17 May the Lord help us to realize that there is no need of our bearing that which He has already borne. Lord teach us to throw all our worrisome and troubling situations and sicknesses on You, for You have already paid the price for our deliverance from them. 1 Peter 5:7 How complete is the deliverance which has been purchased for us by the shedding of His blood from that horrendously wounded back? To the same extent that He has forgiven all our iniquities, so He has healed all our diseases. Ps. 103:3

The prayer of faith produces salvation and forgiveness of sin, plus healing for the physical man. The two are indelibly connected and may be considered one act. ‘The prayer of faith will make the sick person well, the Lord will raise him up James 5:15 NIV Which is easier, take up your bed and walk or your sins be forgiven thee? Mark 2:9 If we have faith for salvation, then the same faith is that which brings deliverance from sickness and disease. Faith is motivated by the Word of the Lord. The examples of faith are many in the scriptures. Any one of them may be applied to a personal situation and generate the faith necessary for an act of healing. The Word sent to Israel of old produced the desired results and that same Word is most effective today. Ps. 107:20 So we see that the tearing up of His back, in particular, has purchased our healing. There are many facets to divine healing and in some cases requirements which must be met. The spiritual condition of the individual can make a difference. A wrong attitude of heart, such as bitterness, hatred or even sin can become a hindrance. Correcting thoughts and feelings will in some instances produce the sought after healing.

At this time Jesus was placed into the hands of the cruelest of men. David, wrote in Messianic prophetic vein when he spoke of his many enemies, who hated him with cruel hatred. Ps. 25:19 Never has there been a man like Jesus who has been so vehemently hated, by some, while on the other hand so deeply loved by those who know Him. Their actions were those of a most malicious nature. We see mankind demonstrating their basest, most spiteful nature as Pilate gave Jesus into the hands of his soldiers. To them, in that day, it would have been considered sport to mistreat Jesus as they did.

Matthew records Jesus having been in the hands of this band of soldiers, twice. It would appear as if they were a special unit designated to be a special guard for Pilate. As Jesus was first delivered to Pilate we see that He is in the hands of these soldiers. At which time they also spit in His face. Spitting in the face was a sign of rejection and deep disdain, the ultimate of insults. Mt. 26:67, Mt. 27:30.

The Messianic statement of Isaiah gives us a bit more insight into the circumstances of this time in the life of the Lord Jesus. His willingness to become the offering, the suffering one may be noted in the statement, ‘I gave my back.
Isa. 50:6 This is comparable to the statement of Jesus,I lay down my life. John 10:17-18 It is here in Isaiah where a detail not recorded in the gospels is given. That is the plucking of the hair of His head and beard. What excruciating shame and pain He bore, not for Himself, but for us. For all the paintings of the Christ on the cross, none have ever depicted the true face of the Lord Jesus as it appeared then.
Isaiah said that His visage was marred more than any man. Isa. 52:14 The word visage in the Hebrew refers to the appearance, a handsome face, the good looks. While to be marred, is to be disfigured. Above all others His face was bloody, discolored and swollen. These men were not just tapping Him in the face but their hands, roughened by the life they lived, were hardened like stones. It is also apparent that their blows were not only to the face but to the whole of His body. Between this horrible beating by this band of soldiers, in Pilate’s judgment hall and His crucifixion at Calvary, His form, or His whole body was bruised, battered and broken. He came to His own and His own mistreated Him, rejected Him. Now, through that tremendous love which He has for mankind, all may come to Him and becomes sons of God. John 1:11-12.

In the hands of the band of Roman soldiers Jesus was to suffer yet more indignities. This Roman band of soldiers would have numbered between four to six hundred. That would constitute a mob of raucous, shouting men who were determined to ridicule not only Jesus but the Jews over whom they ruled. They stripped Him of His clothing that they might put Him to shame. Being forced to be unclothed was an act designed to be inflicted as a sign of shame. Isa. 20:2 Those who do not maintain the covering of the gospel will be exposed and shamed at the coming of the Lord Jesus.Rev. 16:15.

How little did they know the significance of the scarlet robe which they now placed upon Him. Mt. 27:31 In mockery they gave Him a robe which was a color worn by kings. Scarlet is also a color depicting the sins of mankind. Jesus bore our sins and the subsequent penalties in His own body. He is the King over all sin. He reigns and will destroy all sin from off the face of the earth, and will have a sinless kingdom. Isa. 1:18 The color is beautifully portrayed as a sign of deliverance by the scarlet thread in the window of Rahab the harlot. Josh. 2:18 It brought freedom from death to her whole household, as many as were in her house when the Lord destroyed Jericho. It was also used extensively in the clothing worn by the high priest. In the ephod. Ex. 28:6 In his girdle. Ex. 28:8 and in the breast plate. Ex. 28:15 Jesus is the King of liberty and freedom from the guilt and condemnation of sin. He is our High Priest. Heb. 7:26-28.

They mocked Him. Ridicule was heaped upon Him from every side. Surrounded by a gang of thugs such as this every hew and cry would have been repeated over and over as they heaped verbal abuse upon Him. It would have been an ugly scene enacted by men who were hardened by their conflicts and battles. Jesus told His disciple that He was to be spitefully entreated, to entreat shamefully, to exercise violence. (Strong) He would be verbally insulted in every way possible. Also, that His captors would continue to spit on Him. Luke 18:32 As ugly and hideous as this scenario was Jesus faced the greatest test of all in the crucifixion which was inevitable. The process of the final act of the redemption of mankind had been placed into action. The pure, holy, totally innocent Lamb of God was about to be offered. His blood was about to be shed. Atonement was to be completed.

So unruly had that boisterous crowd become that Pilate, the voice of authority saw that he had no control over them. His position as ruler had been completely eroded. He had lost all ability to govern the people. He could not prevail against their will. If he did not agree with the people the next step would have been a riot. Pilate could see but one way out of his dilemma and that was to deliver Jesus to their will. Mt. 27:24.

The religious leaders of the people who should have been directing the crowd in the ways of the Lord were the instigators of the whole lawless act. The law reads, that they were not to follow a crowd to do evil nor were they to turn aside justice. Ex. 23:2 Their actions were of the utmost lawless measure by any law of any country or of any kind. It is difficult to portray the human emotions of the Lord Jesus at this moment of time. Yet, they were there. Take for instance, the emotion of fear. Under such dire circumstances who would not fear. We must remember that Jesus was human, just like all others, and every human emotion may be found in Him. David, in one of his Messianic statements said, “The sorrow of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.� Ps. 18:5.

Pilate attempted to free himself from the condemnation, the guilt of the shedding of the blood of the Lord Jesus. He was thoroughly convinced of His absolute innocence. He stood before the angry crowd and washed his hands in what he thought would be an act absolving him completely. This was a custom in those days practiced by many nations. It had its roots in the Law of the Lord. Note, Deut. 21:1-10 Unfortunately for him, only that pure, holy blood that was about to be shed profusely can bring cleansing from all condemnation and guilt. As gruesome as the whole history of His crucifixion is, all these who played a part in it did us all a favor. It is the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, which has the power and ability to cleanse us from all of our sin. There is no other way of obtaining salvation but through the blood of the Lamb. 1 John 1:7 There is but one source of the redemption of the soul of any person and that is by the priceless blood of the Lord Jesus. 1 Peter 1:19 Inasmuch as it is a known scientific fact that the blood of a child originates from the father, the blood flowing through the veins of Jesus was the blood of God. His blood is the blood of the eternal covenant. Heb. 13:20.

to be continued…

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