Summary: There is only one power at work in the last week of Jesus’ life - not Pilate’s, not the religious leaders’ - but the power of His love for the world. This power kept Him silent and drove Him to the cross.
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
I was reflecting on the events leading to Jesus’ death on the cross last week.
• And was encouraged by these thoughts and would like to share it with you today.
• We’ll continue with Haggai’s last message next week.
I saw many powers working against Jesus in the last week of His life.
Beginning at the garden of Gethsemane, He went through an internal struggle, praying that the cup be removed if it was possible.
• The intense pressure to shun pain is human; it’s natural and we understand.
• As human we would naturally seek comfort and the easy way out, but Jesus hanged in there.
And there was the influence of the devil.
• Mel Gibson tried to factor that in, in the movie Passion of the Christ, when this figure confronted Jesus in the Garden, and then floated in while He was whipped.
• Thought unseen, I believe Jesus felt him.
And then we saw at the trials – not one but six trials in all - the powers of men, men in authority – political and religious powers.
• Trial 1: He was first brought before Annas (former high priest for 16 years and father-in-law of Caiaphas) – Peter denied Christ three times at his courtyard.
• Trial 2: Brought to the High Priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin Court.
• Trial 3: Before all the Jewish elders, including the High Priest, scribes and whole Sanhedrin. They decided to ask the Roman government to kill Jesus.
• Trial 4: So he went to the Roman governor Pilate, who declares, "I find no guilt in this man."
• Trial 5: Since Jesus was from Galilee, the territory of Herod Antipas, Pilate decided to send him there. Jesus refused to answer any questions so Herod returned him quickly to Pilate.
Trial 6: Pilate tried, repeatedly, to release Jesus but the Jewish leaders continued to object.
• He wished Jesus would say something, but Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor. (Matt 27:14)
• Pilate did the next best thing and that is to have Jesus physically tortured and beaten, so that the Jewish leaders would be satisfied and he could release Jesus.
• He was also pressurised by his wife - Matt 27:19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."
The chief priests and elders managed to rally the crowd behind them.
• Pilate resisted the demand. He thought that by comparing Jesus to the notorious prisoner Barabbas, he would stand a chance.
Now that’s all a history.
• Jesus was finally crucified, after a week of power play.
• At a glance, Jesus seemed to be a victim of all these powers; helpless and meek.
• Everything seemed to be happening against Him.
• I saw the Passion of the Christ on Good Friday, after the service (on StarWorld) - Jesus seemed so helpless, speechless; unable to defence Himself.
• Isaiah described it so well (Isaiah 53:7): He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Then it dawned on me – there was another power at work…
It was not Pilate’s, although he has the power to sentence people to the cross.
• Jesus said, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11)
It was not the Jewish leaders’.
• Jesus said to Peter, after he drew a sword and struck a servant’s ear in the Garden, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26:53)
He was a victim of some sort.
• Not a victim of man’s political agenda, as we’ve seen.
• Not a victim of the mob power; and surely not the victim of the circumstances.
There was a power that was at work, greater than all these powers we saw.