Saturday, March 31, 2012

WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME + Daily Devotion + Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mark 15:34 “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me…”

John 19:25-27
25Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
 26When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
 27Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Mark 15:33-35
33And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
 35And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

There are seven recorded sayings of Christ as he hung on the cross.  The first was a prayer that His executioners would be forgiven.  The next two were conversations.  He spoke to the penitent thief and then to His mother.

Is it not touching that our Lord’s last conversation was with His grieving mother and the beloved disciple beside her? Nowhere in the New Testament do we read of Christ addressing his mother as “mother.”  Yet all through the Gospels we see Him honoring her. 

Our Lord’s pathetic cry, “Behold your son,” must have cut to her heart. She had carried this miracle in her womb.  She had nursed this Christ-child.  There was so much that she had kept her heart as she raised this son who from the beginning knew “I must be about my Father’s business.”  (Luke 2:49) She was there at His first miracle.  She was the one who instructed the servants at the wedding feast—“Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” (John 2:5). She was faithful.

Though her Son was the one who was dying for our sins, she suffered too. Sin is seldom, if ever, without collateral consequence.  The Innocent died for our sins but sadly the innocents suffer too.  It would be too much to bear but our Savior has “made a way of escape.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

From the cross Jesus made provision for his mother’s care.  Godly children honor their parents.

At noon, the hour we anticipate the brightest daylight, darkness descended over the whole land.  Some have thought a thick layer of clouds blanketed the land. Others believe that it was a total eclipse of the sun.  Whatever the cause, when the “Light of the World” was nailed to the cross, the light in the world turned to darkness.  Those who deny the Light are finally deprived of the Light.

As our Lord passed through the valley of the shadow He cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.”  Those were familiar words to the Jews who stood near the cross.  For centuries they believed the 22nd Psalm spoke of their Messiah.  With these words Christ not only identified himself as Messiah, He implored “his own” to believe Him. To His dying breath He never gave up trying.

Of course it is not ontologically possible that Christ, in whom “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9) could have divested Himself of His divinity at this crucial moment.  If He had, His sacrifice would have been deprived of its infinite merit. However, it is true that God the Father, purposefully withheld His consolations as Christ suffered and died.  He was left in the hands of the worst, so that He might redeem the worst.

The whole sorry scene impresses upon us the doom, the darkness, and the death, caused by sin—yes my sin.  I am repulsed.  I turn away. I do not want to see it.  But I must. For it is:

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down,
Did ere such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?  Isaac Watts

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We are so grateful that you gave your only Begotten. We are so thankful that our Lord Jesus laid down His life for us.  When we see the price of redemption, we are convicted and broken-hearted.  We are so unworthy of your love. We pray that today, and every day, we would take seriously the consequence of sin.  We pray that we would walk in the Light of your Word. We pray that we would honor the blood you shed—not only with our words, but in our deeds, and by our love. Everything we are we owe to Thee. We love you Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. “Our Father &c.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

TODAY THOU SHALT BE WITH ME IN PARADISE + Daily Devotion + Friday, March 30, 2012

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012
Luke 23:43 “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

 35And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
 36And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
 37And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
 38And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
 39And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
 40But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
 41And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Suffering is a window to the soul.  Nowhere was this more evident that at Calvary.

The cynic impaled on one side of Jesus railed, “If thou be the Christ, save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39). Count him among that multitude who doubts the divinity of Christ and delights in the deity of self.  The first article of their creed is “please thyself.” People and things are seen as means to self-fulfillment.  Even Christ is seen as a means not an end. 

This tormented soul, only hours away from an eternity of unfulfilled desire, refused to abandon his self-centered agenda.  Imagine it. Physically he was inches away from the Savior, but spiritually he was a thousand miles away.  He writhed on the cross, longing to escape the consequences of his choices, but unwilling to make a different choice—to make Christ his sovereign.

On the other side of Christ, a man whom we will call the seeker saw the vulgar error of his companion in suffering.  From his painful post he spoke to the cynic: “Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?”

The seeker humbly acknowledged his sin and the propriety of his punishment.  He confessed, “We receive the due reward of our deeds.”  When we awake to the fact that we have sinned and that we deserve retribution we are well on our way to salvation.

Focusing his eyes on Christ, the seeker expressed his faith, “this man hath done nothing amiss!”  He is continuing toward Christ, but he has not yet arrived.  The recognition of Christ’s perfection is essential, but it is not enough. Remember Pilate had said a few hours earlier “I find no fault in this man.” 

The seeker’s salvation was secured the moment he sincerely prayed, “Lord…”  In that moment, he stepped off the throne of his life and crowned Jesus Lord of all!  The cynic saw Christ as a means to an end.  The seeker embraced Christ as the end.  His heart sang,
My stubborn will at last hath yielded,
I would be Thine, and Thine alone,
And this the prayer my lips are bringing,
Lord, let in me Thy will be done!
Lelia Morris

The Seeker’s fear of God brought him to humbly acknowledge his need for God.  His confession and faith in the Son of God instantly infused his soul with the blessed hope that is unique to people of God.  “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42).  “We have here no continuing city”, but “we look for a city whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 13:14; 11:10)

Suffering revealed the sad soul of the cynic, it moved the longing soul of the seeker, and it demonstrated the great soul of the Savior. Extreme suffering only proved His extreme goodness and His extreme love for us.
“Oh what a Savior! Oh Hallelujah!
His heart was broken on Calvary. 
His hands were nail-scarred, His side was riven,
He gave His life’s blood for even me.” 

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, what a joy to call Thee “Father.” We are so grateful for the promises of your Word. It is such a comfort to know that “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou are with me.” We pray that whatever trial we face today, that we will emerge better not bitter.  Whatever you will that we suffer today, we pray that our faith would hold firm, our love would grow greater, and our hope would hold us secure.  Lord we love you more than anything, more than anyone, and more than ever before.  In Jesus name, Amen.  “Our Father, &c.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

FATHER FORGIVE THEM + Daily Devotion + Thursday, March 29, 2012

Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them…”

32And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
 33And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
 34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
 35And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
 36And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
 37And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
 38And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
 39And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
 40But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
 41And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
 42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

With the precious blood of Jesus literally on their hands, the soldiers heard the Savior pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).  The first of Christ’s seven sayings from the cross was a prayer, not for himself, but for His assassins.

Were the soldiers repentant? There is no evidence that they were even remorseful. They played games at the foot of the cross, gambling for our Lord’s clothing.

And yet, there was no tinge of revenge in what our Lord said during this whole pitiful ordeal.  Eyewitnesses and ancient historians, even those who were not believers, are unanimous—“never a man spake like this man.” (John 7:46)

If it is true that, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” (Matthew 12:24) then our Lord’s heart was purer than the purest. Pilate presented Christ saying, “Behold the man.” We say, “Behold the God man.”

There was compassion. It would have been impossible for those who were responsible to understand the implications of their actions that day.  “They know not what they do,” was our Lord’s verdict.  He felt pity for His persecutors. Not the kind of pity that comes from that malignant  “I’m so much better than you fools” attitude, but the kind of pity that is genuinely sorry to see anyone so lost.

There was forgiveness. He was not angry. He was not blaming.  He was not resentful.  He made no claim for repayment. He did not withdraw. He freely forgave. Think of that.  He forgave.

The soldiers asked for His forgiveness and so He forgave? Actually they never asked, but He forgave, and prayed that they would be forgiven by His Father.

The Jewish leaders begged for His forgiveness and so he forgave them?  That’s not in the Scriptures. They never plead for mercy, but He forgave, and prayed that God would be merciful to them.

Does such an effusive forgiveness imply universalism—that Christ is so forgiving, that everyone who repents and those who do not repent will be granted eternal life? God’s grace is universally offered “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:11), but God’s forgiveness is conditional, He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Jesus forgave before He was asked to forgive. Forgiving people do that.

We say that “to err is human and to forgive is Divine.”  But put the Divine in the heart of the human and forgiveness springs spontaneously.  

God’s offended people rest assured and confident—assured that God knows what is an intended and an unintended wrong, and confident that God’s justice will prevail, “vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord.” (Hebrews 10:30). We believe “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9). We gladly leave the judgment to Him.

Whether or not sinners are ultimately forgiven, we must be forgiving.  Whether or not thoughtless people ask for our forgiveness, we must be forgiving—not angry, not blaming, not resentful, not demanding repayment, not withdrawn, but forgiving from the bottom of our hearts.

If are not forgiving we will not be forgiven.  Hear Jesus, If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15).

Was our Lord’s prayer answered?  Did God the Father forgive those who cruelly mistreated and
executed His only begotten Son?  For their sakes I certainly hope so. 

If He did forgive them, He did it for one and only one reason—they came to faith in the blood of the Lamb of God--the very Lamb they sacrificed at Calvary. 

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We are so undeserving of your forgiveness.  You are holy and pure and right.  Apart from you we are sinful, impure, and unrighteous.  But “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!”  We thank you for praying for us.  We thank you for your offer to forgive us.  We thank you for desiring our redemption. We pray that the same Spirit of forgiveness that Christ exampled at Calvary would fill our hearts.  We pray that we would be forgiven and forgiving today, and every day.  In the name of Jesus, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

AND THEY CRUCIFIED HIM... + Daily Devotion + Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Luke 23:33 “When they were come to Calvary they crucified him…”

17 And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha. 
18 Where they crucified Him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
Mark 15:25; Matthew 27:35

How succinct. How stark. How sad.

With little or no commentary the Gospels report our Lord’s crucifixion.  Two recount His miraculous birth.  But all four tell of His death.

It was 9 o’clock in the morning when our Lord laid His bruised and bleeding body against the patibulum (the cross member) with his shoulders against the wood.  The soldiers drove a square wrought-iron nail through His wrist and deep into the wood.  Quickly the action was repeated on his other wrist.  The patibulum was then lifted into place at the top of the stipes (the upright post).  Jesus’ legs were extended and with toes down a nail was driven through the arch of each foot.  It is generally believed that Christ hung not more than a few feet off the ground. 

A titulus (sign) was nailed above his head, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  The soldiers stood back to watch their victim.  They gambled for his clothing.

Both John and Luke tell us that Christ was crucified at “the place of the skull.” John recorded the Hebrew name Golgotha.  Luke recorded the Latin name, Calvarie Locus.  It is from this we derive “Calvary.”

Some have thought it was called “the place of the skull” because when it is viewed from a certain angle the hillside appeared to resemble a skull.  Others suppose that it was known as “the place of the skull,” because regular executions were carried out at that location.  Origen, a Church Father of the 3rd century, imagines that Adam’s skull was buried at the precise place where Christ died.  More recently some have thought that it was the place where King David buried the skull of his arch-enemy, Goliath. 

While the place is uncertain, it is certain that it was a place. 

The cults are notorious for either over-spiritualizing (accenting the truth that “Christ was very God” and teaching that physical realities are not actual) or over-materializing (emphasizing the truth that “Christ was very man,” and denying the spiritual nature of the Savior’s sacrifice). 

Yet at a certain place, on a certain day, at a certain time, a certain very God very Man Savior suffered on a certain cross, to redeem a certain sinner.  Oh What A Savior!

Historians divide human history at the point of Christ’s birth—BC and AD.  But the redeemed know that Calvary was the decisive point that changed history and eternity for one and for all.

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross;
Had it not been for Man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost.
Rusty Goodman

PRAYER: Our Father, We come to you in the Name of your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  We thank you for your Providence—protecting and providing for our needs.  We thank you for your Presence—assuring and guiding us moment by moment.  We thank you for your Promise—that you will not leave nor forsake us, and that you will come again for us.  As we look again at the cross, we pray that we would never take for granted the price you paid for our redemption.  With the song writer we say, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small, love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”  In the name of Jesus, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

AND THEY ALL FORSOOK HIM + Daily Devotion + Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Matthew 26:56 “…Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled…”
55In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
 56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
 57And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 

Elijah was inducted on the day he alone challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 18)

Daniel joined the day he disobeyed the king, and knelt to pray alone. (Daniel 6)

David was admitted when as a lad he ran alone to face Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)

Jeremiah was accepted when he was thrown into a dungeon and was left to starve and sink in the mire.  He alone had the courage to tell the King what he did not want to hear. (Jeremiah 38)

The Apostle Paul was included the day he stood trial in Rome.  “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.” (2 Timothy 4:16)

And Jesus, the Captain of this band, stood alone to face trial—“all the disciples forsook him, and fled.”  It is “THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FORSAKEN.”

Ah, there were great crowds and calls for Christ to be crowned King, when He fed the multitudes.  But when the dinners stopped the crowds disappeared.

There were multitudes waving palms and shouting “Hosanna,” when He rode into Jerusalem as a king.  But when the parade was over, and the party became a prayer vigil, and the prayer vigil turned into a vicious ordeal of accusation and suffering, Jesus was left standing alone.

Heroes of the faith—those whose lives are immortalized on the pages of Scripture, those who we admire in the annuls of Christian history (i.e. Justin Martyr, Huss, Luther, Knox, Wesley, and Bonhoeffer), and that great host unknown to men but certainly known by God—are all numbered with “THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FORSAKEN.”

Too often we measure success by the numbers of men who are standing with us.  God is looking for men who will stand with Him.  Jesus stood alone for us.  Will we stand alone for Him?

I wonder how those disciples could have forsaken our Lord—every last one of them? I am amazed at the professing Christians I see today—talk about a bunch of “forsakers!” They will not stand for anything, and yes, they fall for everything. 

And then I think of my own choices.  How often have I followed the crowd rather than identify with Christ?  How often have I sacrificed my integrity at the altar of popularity or expediency?  How often have I refused to stand with Christ at a specific point of obedience He has required? 

God grant that with His help we will never again forsake, but faithfully serve in “THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FORSAKEN.”

PRAYER: Our Father, Which art in Heaven, Blessed be the Father, Blessed be the Son, and Blessed be the Holy Spirit.  We give you all the praise for your great work of redemption and for granting us glorious freedom. We pray that we would be so filled with all the fullness of God that your strength would be made perfect in our weakness.  We pray that today and everyday, we would stand for Thee, even if we must stand alone.  If and when we must stand, may we do so in a right spirit and such a winsome way that others will be drawn to stand with you.  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen. “Our Father, &c”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM! + Daily Devotion + Monday, March 26, 2011

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2012
Luke 23:4 “I find no fault in this man…”
 11And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
 12And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
 13Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
 14And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
 15Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
 16And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
 17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
 18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
 19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
 20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
 21The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
 22Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
 23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
 24When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
 25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

Pilate said, “I find no fault in him.” Moments later he sentenced Christ to die.  Why?
The answer lies in Pilate’s skeptical, if not cynical, view of truth.  When Jesus testified that he was sent to bear witness to the truth, Pilate scoffed, “What is truth?”
Having rejected the dictates of truth, Pilate judged on the basis of expediency rather than morality.  The Jews, led by Caiaphas the high priest, clamored for Christ’s execution and finally prevailed.  They won not because they were right, but because they were loud and determined. Pilate’s order would be followed not because he was right, but because he commanded might.
Having lost his moral compass Pilate’s cowardice was inevitable.  Brave men decide and act on the basis of moral conviction.
Is this not the problem of Western men today?  We have jettisoned moral principle and congratulated ourselves for self-serving governance.  It is no wonder that we are standing at the threshold of tragedy.
All this should come as no surprise to students of God’s Word.  When men are demoralized, ordering an execution is only one of many sad possibilities.  The Apostle Paul explains why:  “When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)  The vain and foolish are capable of the grossest immorality.  Read Romans 1:22-32.

Pilate declared himself innocent. Again, how like a modern man. But we are not our judge.  God is. The Apostle Paul wrote plainly:  With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged…of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self… but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” (I Corinthians 4:3-4). 

And what of this hand washing?  Could this public display absolve Pilate of his guilt? Not hardly. “What can wash away my sin, Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
With Pilate we too can say of the Savior, “I find no fault in this man.”  But may we do more than acknowledge his holiness, may we defend His honor.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven.  We stand ready to defend your Holy Name. You are perfect in your love. You are perfect in your grace.  You are perfect in your mercy. Your Word is perfect.  Your will is perfect.  Your way is perfect.  We find no fault in you.  We pray that today we will not blush to speak your name.  We pray that we will not retreat when your cause is under attack. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 24,25). “Our Father. &c”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

WHAT IS TRUTH? + Daily Devotion + Sunday, March 25, 2012

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012
John 18:38 “What is truth?”

 33Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
34Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
35Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
38Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
39But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
40Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

REFLECTION:  Jesus spent His entire life answering the question that Pilate asked on the day Christ died. "What is truth?”

“What is truth?”  While shepherds watched their flocks outside the village of Bethlehem, the angels answered for Jesus, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” 

“What is truth?”  It is a young 12 year old Jesus teaching and questioning the religious intelligentsia of his day, explaining, “I must be about my Father’s business.”

“What is truth?”  It is Jesus calling His disciples along the shores of Galilee, “Follow me.”  They did and they testified, “He was full of grace and truth.”

“What is truth?”  It is Jesus teaching his disciples on the hillside, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God,” “When ye pray be not as the heathen,” “Whoever hears these sayings of mine and doeth them is like a man who built his house on a rock.” (Matthew 5-7).

“What is truth?” It is Jesus standing on the deck of a storm tossed ship saying, “Peace, be still.”

“What is truth?” It is Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, “The hour is come, when the true worshippers will worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23)

“What is truth?”  It is Jesus rescuing a woman about to be stoned for committing adultery and insisting that the one without sin cast the first stone.  And then when all her accusers left, it is Jesus forgiving, “neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

“What is truth?” It is Jesus exposing the pride and defective faith of the Pharisees, “If you were Abraham’s children you do the works of Abraham…ye are of your father the Devil, and the works of your father you will do.” (John 8:44)

“What is truth?” It is Jesus encouraging his disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God believe also in me… I go to prepare a place for you… I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  (John 14:1-6).

“What is truth?” It is Jesus praying for his disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)

“What is truth?” It is Jesus comforting the grieving sisters outside Bethany, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me shall never die.”  Then he weeps.  Then He says, “Lazarus come forth!”  And he did.

“What is truth?” It is Jesus promising his disciples that he would be crucified, buried, and rise again on the third day.  And He did.

Truth corresponds to reality.  Truth is absolute.  Truth is knowable. But it is more.

Truth is more than a philosophical construct. It is more than a universal principle.  Truth is a person, and Pilate, Truth is standing before you.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, In a world that is so filled with sleight of hand, false teachers, and deception, we thank you for The Truth!  Thank you for teaching us the truth.  Thank you for showing us the truth.  Thank you for being the Truth.  Thank you for your Word—both incarnate and written.  We pray that our lives would be ordered by your Truth.  May we be people of integrity.  Fill us with the Spirit of Truth we humbly ask.   In the loving name of Jesus, Amen.  “Our Father, &c.”

PILATE AND HEROD WERE FRIENDS + Daily Devotion + Saturday, March 24, 2011

Luke 23:13  “And the same day were Pilate and Herod made friends…”

 1And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.
 2And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.
 3And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
 4Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
 5And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
 6When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.
 7And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
 8And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
 9Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.
 10And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.
 11And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
12And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

Pilate was bothered and conflicted as he wrestled with the question of the ages, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). He testified, “I find no fault in this man.”  Caiphas, the High Priest, could find no good in Him.  Perspective matters.

Then a way out of his dilemma, certainly a moral dilemma in every aspect, appeared.  He heard that Jesus was a Galilean.  Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee happened to be in Jerusalem for the Passover.  Pilate ordered that Christ be extradicted to Herod’s Court.  It was our Lord’s third march on His way to Golgotha--From Gethsemane to the High Priest’s palace, from the High Priest’s to Pilate’s Court, and now to Herod’s residence.

This was not the Herod who had ordered the execution of the children in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth.  That was his father.  This was the Herod that took his brother’s wife to be his own, imprisoned John the Baptist for decrying his gross immorality, and then ordered the execution of John the Baptist at the request of his salacious step-daughter and her wicked mother.

Jesus knew Herod.  (He knows all of us.)  He called him a “fox.” (Luke 13:32).  Dr. Luke tells us that “when Herod saw Jesus he was exceeding glad…he hoped to have seen some miracle” (Luke 23:8) He was not glad because he wanted to hear the truth, nor was he glad because he was ready to receive the truth. Herod just wanted to see a miracle. For him, Christ was nothing more than a magician—a spectacle.  Herod soon discovered that Christ would not be used. 

Herod then determined to ridicule Jesus. (Luke 23:11) How pathetic to witness vice mocking Virtue.  It must have cut our Savior’s heart.  But Christ stood, wrapped in one of Herod’s shining robes, as Herod and his minions feigned worship.  He “opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7).  Save your pity for Herod’s eternally lost soul.

Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.  And the Bible says, “the same day were Pilate and Herod made friends.”  Spurgeon preached, “As for those two foxes, Pilate and Herod, they were tied, tail to tail, that day by our great Samson!”  How often we have witnessed the enemies of Christ united in their purpose to destroy Him. 

The super-spiritual Jews, the skeptical Pilate, and the superstitious Herod were bound together for one dreadful purpose—that Light of the World would be extinguished. They would succeed, but not ultimately.  Praise God.

If we could make one application for those who love the Lord Jesus:  Might we be as united and fervent in our devotion to our Savior as His enemies are in their defiance.  The bands of hatred are strong, but the power of Divine love is stronger.  May the world admire and desire the love of our lives.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, The more we see and know of your Son—his life, his love, and his sacrifice in our behalf—the more we are amazed “that God should love a sinner such as I.”  We pray that when we are disparaged by the super-spiritual, when we are derided by the skeptical, and when we are despised by the superstitious, that we will, like our Blessed Lord Jesus, possess our souls in that peace that comes only from thy Spirit.  May we live this day in the center of your “good, acceptable, and perfect” will.  In the strong name of Jesus, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012 – John 18:38 “What is truth?”