Saturday, April 4, 2015, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 18-19 (Selected vv. ESV). In Context Jesus had just had a long discourse with his disciples concerning the facts of life. He told them that he was going to die, but that he would come back to life, and that he would be going to the Father. He taught them what it means to be a servant. He comforted them with the knowledge that he was going to prepare a place for them and that one day he would return and take them to be with him always. He promised them he would not leave them as orphans, but he would send the Holy Spirit to live within them, who would then teach them all things, and who would remind them of what Jesus had taught them. He commanded them to remain in him and in his word, for they could do nothing apart from him. He also warned them of the cost of following him. They would be hated and persecuted as he was. Then he prayed to the Father for them, for their spiritual protection, and he reminded them that they had been called out of the world, not to be of the world (See: John 12:20-17:26). When Jesus had finished talking with the disciples, and when he had finished praying to the Father on their behalf, he then went with his disciples to a garden to pray. Judas arrived with a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They arrested Jesus. Peter and John followed Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times, as Jesus had foretold, and then the rooster crowed. Jesus was brought before Pilate. Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world. When questioned as to whether or not he was a king, Jesus answered, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Then, Pilate found no guilt in Jesus. He would have released him but for the Jews who wanted Jesus dead, and who chose to have a robber released, instead (See chap. 18). No Power Then Jesus was flogged, arrayed in a robe of purple, and had a crown of thorns placed upon his head. The soldiers mocked him and struck him with their hands. The chief priests and the officers cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate wanted nothing to do with crucifying Jesus. The Jews appealed to Pilate on the basis of a law they had which called for Jesus to die because he “made himself the Son of God.” This statement frightened Pilate, so he questioned Jesus. Jesus did not give him a reply. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” ~ Jn. 19:10-11 I don’t know about you, but I find tremendous comfort in the words of Jesus here. Satan has no power over us. He can do nothing to us unless God allows it, and God allows it for a purpose. No human being can do anything to us unless God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and God intends to get the glory in our lives through it. Things don’t just happen to us. God has a plan and a purpose for everything he brings into our lives and/or for everything he allows to come into our lives. And, he will give us all the strength we need to endure and to be victorious over our enemy if we will put our trust in the Lord, if we will submit ourselves to his will for our lives, and if we will not give way to fear. What I Have Written Pilate still tried to have Jesus released, but the Jews kept insisting that he be crucified, so Pilate eventually caved to the Jews and he delivered Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” ~ Jn. 19:16b-22 Pilate was not without guilt in all of this discourse, which ended in Jesus’ death. He could have released Jesus, but he caved to pressure from the Jews. Yet, he did something unusual, I believe, when he wrote that inscription. Though I am not certain what motivated Pilate to write what he did on the cross on which Jesus was put to death, what he wrote was the truth, even though he must have known this would incite the Jews. He didn’t seem to care, though. This time he did not cave to pressure. Perhaps his guilty conscience had seized him by then. He knew Jesus was innocent. He knew he had condemned an innocent man to death. Maybe this was his way of reconciling it all in his own mind. He did not save his life, but he would pronounce him to be who he was, the King of the Jews. Certainly this is not an exact parallel to our lives, for Pilate was not a believer in Jesus, at least not that I know of, but what stands out to me here is that he told the truth about Jesus, but the Jews tried to get him to change what he said, but he stood firm and did not give in to them. I see this as something we need to do, as well. Satan does not like it when we tell the truth, so he will try to convince us to change, alter or dilute the message so that it says something else, i.e. something which will be more acceptable and agreeable to the people who are opposed to the real Jesus, and to who he really is, and to his teachings. And, Satan will be more than happy to supply us with the words he wants us to say. Yet, we must stand firm in our faith and in our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel, and we must not compromise the truth in any way, shape or form in order to make it more appealing to those who do not believe in Jesus and/or who want to continue in their sin. It Is Finished The soldiers divided Jesus’ garments and cast lots for his tunic, which fulfilled scripture. Jesus’ mother Mary and the disciple John stood by the cross and watched as Jesus was being put to death. Jesus then gave his mother to John, and John to his mother, so John took Mary to his own home after that. After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. ~ Jn. 19:28-30 So, what was finished? Why did Jesus have to die that horrible death? What was the purpose in it all? Jesus was a good man. He never sinned against anyone. He loved people with God’s love. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He delivered people from demons, comforted the sorrowful, and he preached the good news of salvation. He did not deserve to be treated as he was. So, why did God the Father allow his only begotten Son to die? Jesus came to this earth for this very purpose, to be our sacrifice for our sins so that we could go free of the curse of sin, be set free from bondage to sin, and be free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. He died so we would die to sin and live for righteousness. He died so we would no longer walk after the flesh but so we would now walk after the Spirit, in the power and the working of the Spirit in our lives. And, He died “to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; Gal. 2:20; 2 Co. 5:15; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6-8). So, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” it meant he had completed the work he came to do, and he had fulfilled the purpose for why he came to the earth to die. Now the people of the earth could be saved from their sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in glory. It meant that we could believe in him and no longer be under the control of sin, but we could be free to live for him and no longer for our own sinful and selfish desires. That is awesome! I know I am so thankful that Jesus paid the price for my sin so that I could go free! Yet, there is so much more to our salvation than just being set free from sin. We have been restored to fellowship with God and now we can walk and talk with him, and he with us, and we can have such an awesome relationship with God which is intimate, loving, tender and kind. Also, he gives purpose and direction to our lives, and he places us in areas of ministry, and he uses us to touch other lives with his love and with his message of hope, healing and forgiveness. And, one day we will be able to say “It is finished,” when our work on earth is done, and Jesus takes us home to be with him. Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84 Lord, I praise You forevermore. You, my Savior, I now adore. Hope in heaven awaiting me, Because You died at Calvary. I have been forgiven, And I’m bound for heaven. Jesus set me free from All my sin, I say. I will praise Him always! Lord, I love You for all You’ve done: Overcame death, my vict’ry won! Jesus saved me, and now I’m free! I rejoice in His love for me. I will walk in vict’ry! My sin is but hist’ry! I am free to please Him With my life today. I will love Him always! Lord, I thank You for giving me A new life bought at Calvary. Loving Jesus, I meet with Him. Tender mercies now flow within. Lord, I am so thankful; Through my Lord, I’m able To sit at His table; Fellowship with Him. I will thank Him always!