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 Post Post subject: Devotions - Sunday, June 10th, 2007
Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 4:35 pm 
Catspaw knows all

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Reading: 1 Kings 3, 1 Kings 4; Proverbs 1; John 19:1-22

Good morning Church,

What have we done to the gospel of Jesus Christ and his body, the Church? I know I ask that question a lot but we need to ask it a lot. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a revolution of the heart. We have institutionalized it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest work of grace man has ever encountered. We have converted it back to the law. The gospel of Jesus Christ sets the prisoners of sin and hopelessness free to experience the extraordinary love of the Father. We have introduced shackles to keep such hope bound to the reality of the flesh. Why? I find that much of this answer is found in the drama played out with Pilate.

Today we add to the drama we had considered yesterday. Yesterday we saw a man confronted by the only one who had the answers to the burning questions of his heart, but Pilate would not stay long enough to hear. Jesus tried to lead Pilate to a place where his heart would be revealed to himself but Pilate would not look, he would not even consider it. After asking Pilate if he was willing to explore this matter for himself instead of taking other people’s opinions he then tells him plainly:

"You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37)

Pilate asks the right question but he had no intentions of waiting for the answer to what was really in his heart and what is in the heart of every person, “What is truth?” or, as we often hear today, “Who’s truth?” Add to this what we have discovered today:

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"
But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."

The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. (John 19:6-9)

What did Pilate feel at that moment? I am sure his world was shaken as pieces began to fall into place. There was something about this man, something different about Jesus. What if … ? The word says that “he was even more afraid” which means that Jesus had already caused him to be afraid, especially of the situation he found himself in, judging this man. Pilate really wanted nothing to do with this. He was not strong enough to put it to an end but neither did he just give in, or at least at first.

Pilate reacted as every person reacts when they encounter Jesus; who are you? Remember Saul on the road to Damascus. Remember John’s question from the jail. Remember the questions of the Pharisees. Remember your own first encounter. Who are you? But Pilate was not about to get an answer. Jesus had told him enough. It was now up to Pilate to work it through and to make a decision. When he tried to force Jesus he was put in his place, much like a child:

"You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19:11)

There was something in this response that convicted Pilate:

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free. (John 9:12)

Conviction had come to Pilate’s heart as it often comes to ours. We are convicted about our attitudes and actions. We are convicted about our living for the glory of Jesus. We are convicted! Do you remember those moments when you knew there were things for you to do? Do you remember the revelation just as Pilate had received it? You were willing and determined that you would move mountains to see it accomplished. What happened to those convictions?

Ask yourself if they were preference or conviction. A preference is when we choose one way out of several possibilities that all look equally valid. Conviction is when we are compelled by the love of Jesus Christ to do something that we know is his will and that we will take it to the end no matter the cost. Are you living a preferred life or a life of conviction? Are you involved in things that you know that you could never walk away from because you are compelled by the love of Christ? It does not matter if you have the talents, resources or money, you are going to do it anyway. Is that you? Or, are you living a life filled with many possible ways to go, and each choice has equal value to you?

I ask this because it will determine what will happen to those things you consider are convictions. Look at Pilate again:

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.

But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"
"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:12-16)

Pilate’s conviction could not stand under the pressure of man’s opinion. Why? Because Pilate was unwilling to listen to the answer concerning truth. He was convinced that there was something different about Jesus. He felt the fear of the possibility but he was unwilling to discover the real truth. Because of this Pilate felt he had choices in this situation. If it had been true conviction he would have known he had only one choice. Under the pressure of man Pilate shoved aside his questions and listened to a mob concerning Jesus:

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

What about you?

If I may be indulgent for a moment allow me to give you an example of what I am attempting to point out here. Allow me to use an example from a pressing issue facing the world right now. I felt a conviction a while ago about my use of our family vehicle. We live around the corner from a Metro station and often my children and I go to one place each day and return. We had been using the family van to go to school each day but the van just sat there all day until we were ready to leave. So, based on my conviction I decided we would buy monthly passes and use the public transit system. This was a decision with a price tag. Our destination was 9 minutes away by driving and an hour and 10 minutes by the public transit system. However, I was convicted no matter the cost.

Since making that decision you would not believe the number of reasons that have risen to tempt me to use our vehicle. Each time I had to ask myself was this a preference or a conviction? People even suggested that a vehicle would be faster and easier on certain occasions. Although there are certain occasions when I must use the vehicle due to my responsibilities at the school most occasions are a matter of convenience. Was this a preference or conviction? I decided for the transit system. I felt I had no choice; it was conviction.

If it is possible to live with such conviction for the cause of the environment how much more for the cause of Jesus Christ? So I find myself asking, have we truly encountered the lover of our soul? Have we truly faced him and heard the answer to our questions? Are we living preference or conviction? What have we done to the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ?

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