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  • # 227 Compassion Prevails

    The cross made for Barabbas is laid on Jesus' bleeding shoulders. He tries to carry it and falls.

    All night he's been under stress, no sleep, nothing to eat or drink, walking from place to place, subjected to horrible abuse. The garden experience alone would have killed him; but strengthened by an angel, he went on to face mocking, hitting, spitting, beatings that cut, people even tearing out his beard! Physically, he is spent.

    After another attempt to carry the cross he falls, and the soldiers, realizing he can't carry it, look for someone to conscript. Only the worst criminals carry their crosses, and the male bystanders scatter.

    Simon from Cyrene watches amazed; he has come into the city this Friday morning. He isn't a follower of Jesus, but his two sons are, and he can't believe his eyes. Overheard expressing compassion, he is immediately enlisted.

    Ever after Simon is grateful to providence for getting him there just then, allowing him to carry Jesus' cross. He carried it with gratitude in his heart the rest of his life.

    Even now compassion prevails, Jesus speaks to some crying women who don't know him. "Don't weep for me, daughters of Jerusalem; weep for yourselves. If they'll do this when things are good, what will they do when they're bad?" He's thinking ahead to the destruction of their city.

    Jesus' mother, supported by John, follows him; her heart breaking. She recalls his words about his death...Oh God, must I give up belief that he is Messiah? What about his birth?

    Matthew 27:32-33, Mark 15:20-22, Luke 23:25-31, John 19:16-18

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  • #226 Does God Want Revenge?

    Why did Judas and Pilate commit suicide? and the Jews have so much suffering?

    Does God get revenge?

    The answer is in "All the world's a stage" for God's character. But we live in the war zone between good and evil. Humans are born under sin's curse, and can no longer live in God's physical presence. It would kill us. Our unstable atoms would combust.*

    How could we know God and be in His presence? God wanted us to experience what They are like, (three beings=one God/one position) and let us decide. One of Jesus' names, "Emmanuel" means "God with us."

    Adonai (His name before becoming Jesus) proposed that He would become one of us, born under the law of sin and death, experience the curse--the worst that Evil could do--without breaking his dependence on God, even going through our death, and it would remove the curse from us.

    His death reversed evil's curse so we can live with Them again. But does that remove the curse from everyone?

    No. God can only rescue those who want to be rescued --those who agree with Him. People who like evil, who don't choose God's love, are still under the curse.

    What Jesus did was take on the curse of evil (death) and take back his kingdom. By rising from death as God, he became the antidote. Anyone who "takes" Him--acceptance, trust, surrender--escapes the second death.** The Jews as a nation didn't. Judas didn't. Pilate didn't. So God couldn't protect them from Satan. Evil destroys.

    God has no evil, hates revenge, loves fairness; but everyone gets to choose.***

    John 3:17, Galatians 3:13-14, *Hebrews 12:29, Malachi 4:1-2, **Revelation 20:14, ***1John 1:5

    For more on this topic go to http://arlasoveralls.wordpress.com/perfected through suffering???

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  • # 225 Religion Becomes a Curse

    Outside Pilate's hall a mob screams "Crucify him!"

    "Why? What evil has he done?" Pilate shouts above the roar. Then waiting for it to subside, asks, "Shall I crucify your king?"

    "We have no king but Caesar!" a priest yells back, and the cry is picked up by the others. Israel's leaders withdraw their nation from the theocracy, with finality rejecting God as king, pretending allegiance to their hated Roman conquerors. Now they have no protection from evil, no deliverer--a nation ruined by its religious leaders.

    Pilate has a basin brought and washes his hands in front of the people saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just man. You are responsible."

    Caiaphas answers defiantly, "His blood be on us and on our children." The mob takes up the curse, chanting, "His blood be on us and on our children." In choosing Barabbas, a hardened liar, thief, and murderer, they choose his leader--Satan, and will feel his cruelty for centuries--a perpetual curse.

    Pilate longs to deliver Jesus. Looking at him he thinks, He is a god! and says to Jesus, "Forgive me. I cannot save you." He knows that the priests will turn their wrath on him if he doesn't give them what they want. He knows he can't free Jesus and keep his position.

    So Pilate delivers Jesus to soldiers to scourge again and crucify. He violates his conscience, giving into the priests, protecting himself.

    Nevertheless, soon after Jesus crucifixion, Pilate is removed as governor and, wounded by pride and remorse, commits suicide. The curse of evil demands its victims.

    Matthew 27:31, Mark 15:14-15, Luke 23:22-25, John 19:12-16

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  • # 224 A Hard Choice?

    Some soldiers, instigated by demons, put a purple robe on Jesus after they've beat him 39 times with leather thongs studded with bone. They make him a "crown" out of the thorn bush. They must have been desperate to lighten the stress of such obviously inappropriate treatment, so they mock him king, abusing him both physically and mentally.

    Pilate hopes the sight of this pale, bleeding, wounded, yet majestic being will wake up the mob shouting for his death; so he brings him out. The people cry for his crucifixion, a priest shouting, "He deserves death because he claimed to be the Son of God."

    Pilate is startled, and takes Jesus inside again, "Where are you from?"

    But Jesus doesn't answer. He's already told Pilate. He lets Spirit work.

    "Now you won't talk to me? I have power to crucify you or release you!"

    "You would have no power if it weren't given you from above. So those who brought me have a worse sin." Jesus is trying to arouse and strengthen Pilate.

    Pilate puts Jesus and Barabbas side by side before the people, certain the contrast alone will work justice. But he knows little about mob psychology, the passionate hatred of the priests, or contending with demons in human form.

    "Behold your king!" says Pilate.

    The contrast speaks eloquently; everyone is convicted of Jesus' divine identity. But Satan and frantic priests whip the crowd into fury, chanting "We want Barabbas!"

    "What then should I do with your Messiah?"

    "Crucify him!" They scream again and again.

    Matthew 27:15-22, Mark 15:12-13, Luke 23:18-21, John 19:2-11

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  • # 223 The Tragic Flaw of Pleasing

    Herod isn't about to condemn Jesus, so he sends him back to Pilate, who isn't happy to see him.

    Pilate's tragic flaw is indecision mixed with pleasing. Justice hasn't been his rule, and now he finds it difficult to oppose the clamoring of priests and people. "I told you I find no guilt in him. I will flog him and release him."

    Now the Jewish rulers know they have him. If he will punish an innocent man, he will also sentence him if we push hard enough.

    As Pilate hesitates, thinking; a messenger comes with a note from his wife.

    In answer to Jesus' prayer, Pilate's wife was given a dream showing her the trial, crucifixion, and second coming of Jesus. She awoke in horror and wrote to Pilate, "Don't have anything to do with that righteous man--I've just awakened in a panic from a dream about him."

    Pilate goes pale, and comes up with another angle. Every year at the Passover, Roman governors curried favor with the Jews by releasing a prisoner. Pilate hopes to set the people against the priests.

    "Shall I release Jesus for Passover according to custom?"

    The mob is stirred up by satanic energy, to yell, "We want Barabbas!"--a hardened criminal imprisoned under a death sentence for murder.

    "What then shall I do with Jesus, your Messiah?"

    "Crucify him!" came the answer.

    Pilate fights crucifying this innocent man, but he hasn't built the character needed to resist evil, and he has Jesus flogged before the people hoping to arouse their pity and sense of justice.

    Matthew 27:15-21, Mark 15:6-13, Luke 23:13-21, John 18:39-19:1

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  • # 222 Hopes for a Show Dashed

    Pilate grasps the opportunity to heal an old quarrel by sending Jesus to Herod. Pilate has no intention of condemning him.

    Herod is happy to meet Jesus, whom he's heard much about. His sensitivity and guilt have greatly dulled in the past two years since killing John, but he still hopes to clear his mind and conscience by saving this prophet. He is sure Jesus will do whatever is necessary to save himself. He has no idea...

    The priests and elders accompany him, and all begin talking loudly.

    Herod silences them and demands Jesus' hands be released, rebuking their harsh treatment. Looking at him, he knows the priests have brought him from envy. He begins to question Jesus, but Jesus doesn't respond. So Herod commands the sick and crippled to be brought in. He promises Jesus freedom for doing a miracle.

    The leaders are in a panic. They've seen his miracles. Their plans are dissolving before their eyes!

    Jesus gives no indication he has heard Herod. He can't do anything to save himself. He must go through this as any man would have to. And Herod had the best of prophets give him evidence--more won't make any difference.

    Finally Herod gets it; Jesus isn't going to perform. Furious over what he perceives as insult, he labels him an imposter, even though impressed that he's God-like; and again, soldiers restrain crazed people. Herod has a gorgeous robe put on Jesus, and mocks him; people and soldiers joining in with horrible abuse. And then he's sent back to Pilate.

    Luke 23:8-12

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  • # 221 Escape Route from Conviction

    The priests panic, if Pilate knows their charge is religious, he'll dismiss it! Perjuring themselves, pretending, they yell, "He was speaking against Rome, forbidding taxes, saying he's king!"

    Pilate turns to Jesus and asks, "Are you king of the Jews?"

    "You would say so," says Jesus his face lighting from within.

    Angry priests demand his death, stirring the mob into an uproar with help from Satan and his evil angels.

    Pilate looks at Jesus and knows their charges are false. "Aren't you going to answer their charges?"

    Jesus' silence causes Pilate to move him further inside and ask again, "Are you king of the Jews?"

    "Are you asking? Or repeating what you've heard?" Jesus gives Spirit time to work.

    Pilate understands the question, but pride stifles conviction, "Am I a Jew? Your own people have brought you. What have you done?"

    "My kingdom isn't from this world, if it were my servants would fight."

    "You are a king then?"

    "That is what you would call it. I was born and came into the world to give witness to the truth. Everyone who wants truth responds to me."

    "What is truth?" Pilate feels a desire to know, but he doesn't wait for an answer, noise from outside distracting him.

    Going out he motions for quiet and says, "I find no fault in him."

    Rebuked, rage-crazy priests know Pilate's weakness and threaten him with losing Caesar's favor. "He stirs up everyone from Galilee to here!"

    Galilee! Herod's jurisdiction! Pilate sees his escape, seizes opportunity, and sends Jesus to Herod.

    Matthew 27:11-14,  Mark 15:2-5,  Luke 23:1-7,  John 18:33-38

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  • # 220 Irritation Becomes Awe

    Jesus is taken to Pilate, the Roman governor, to confirm Caiaphas' sentence.

     

    Pilate is not happy at being called this early from his bed. He is irritated and determines to get this done quickly. However, he is curious. He assumes this is someone the Jewish leaders are eager to have punished.

     

    He nods at the temple guard who brought him, and looks at Jesus; but he is unprepared. He feels awe. Never has someone radiating goodness and nobility in his face and bearing been brought before him.

     

    Pilate's better nature is aroused, he has heard of Jesus and his works, and now he recalls rumors from different sources. He remembers his wife sharing how a Galilean prophet has cured the sick and raised the dead. He determines to demand their charges.

     

    The priests had hoped Pilate wouldn't question them--he has hastily condemned men to death for them before. They know the life of a prisoner has little value to him, and signing a death warrant is not a big deal. But now Pilate is demanding charges!

     

    Pilate is remembering Lazarus' rumors, "...Raised a man four days dead..." Spirit shows him truth, and he suspects the priests of jealousy and foul play.

     

    The priests and rulers have stopped at the entrance, not willing to exclude themselves from Passover by entering a Roman hall. But they call to Pilate, "We wouldn't have brought him if he wasn't worthy of death," implying, how dare you question us!

     

    Pilate turns and says, "If you're so certain of his guilt, judge him yourselves."

     

    John 18:28-32

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  • # 219 Betrayer Betrayed

    Guilt consumes Judas. Now that they've used him, he is sport for the dark side, their pathetic joke. So Satan treats those he uses.

    Judas grabs the robe of Caiaphas and cries out, "Release him, Caiaphas, I have betrayed innocent blood!"

    Caiaphas shakes him off, confused, and embarrassed, scattered silver making it obvious the priests had bribed him. Regaining self-possession, he scorns Judas, despising his action, "That's your problem."

    Judas falls at Jesus' feet begging him to deliver himself, acknowledging him as the Son of God.

    Jesus looks with pity at Judas; he knows his sorrow is being wrong, there is no desire to change, just shame. Things hadn't turned out as Judas had planned, and Satan's condemnation is eating him alive. Jesus says simply, "This is why I came into the world."

    Judas had meant to force Jesus into declaring himself king, to push his disciples to act. He had always thought his plans were better than Jesus'. He had always expressed doubts that confused the disciples. He had been honored with Jesus' presence and his power, but he never trusted Jesus--surrendering his will, his plans, his life. He never let himself love Jesus.

    The assembly is again convicted that Jesus is more than human. But why then doesn't he free himself and rise up in triumph? wonder silenced spectators.

    Judas sees that Jesus is going to allow their plan for his death, and rushes out crying, "It is too late! It is too late!" and in despair hangs himself.

    Poor Simon! In one day he loses his son and his new Lord.

    Matthew 27:3-5

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  • # 218 The Hardest Work is Facing Yourself

    Peter runs from Caiaphas' courtyard, sobbing, not caring where he goes. He ends up in the garden, where Jesus had agonized, wishing he could die. He remembers everything...

    Now Peter understands, and his heart breaks, realizing if he'd prayed and supported Jesus, he wouldn't have denied his Lord. He remembers Jesus' words, "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat..." (now "getting" that he'd been tested by Satan--kept unprepared.)

    Meanwhile, day is breaking, and the Sanhedrin is reconvening for the "legal" trial. Not all heard Jesus' claim to be Messiah. The leaders hope he will repeat it, which they'll twist into a seditious affront to the Romans.

    "Are you the Son of God?"

    Jesus remains silent, and they continue questioning.

    Finally, in pained voice, Jesus answers, "If I tell you, you won't believe me. If I answer, you won't let me go. But you will see me invested with power on God's right hand, coming in clouds of angels."

    Instantly, accusing priests speak as one mocking voice, "Then you are the Son of God?"

    "You say so."

    "He is guilty! You've heard it yourselves!" screams Caiaphas .

    The trial erupts into the worst abuse yet. The members and mobsters rushed him. Had it not been for Roman soldiers who couldn't tolerate a man being convicted without a Roman trial, Jesus wouldn't have lived to be nailed to the cross.

    As the trial closes, a tall form presses through the crowd, a haggard, pale face cries, "Spare him, Caiaphas, he is innocent!" Thirty pieces of silver ring on the marble.

    Matthew 27:1-5, Mark 14:72-15:1, Luke 22:62-71,

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