Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 21 August 19:
Luke 23:24 – “So Pilate decided….”
When the infant Jesus was brought to the temple to be blessed, Simeon prophesized, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35) Jesus said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53) How do you reconcile these words with Jesus’ sermon on the Mount — “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”? The division is the result of individual decisions about Jesus – some will receive the Good News, repent and follow Jesus, and others won’t – “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:9-13)
In today’s readings, we see many different responses to Jesus. Some saw Jesus as a threat to social order, domestic tranquility and perhaps even national security and wanted Him silenced. (Luke 23:1-4) The priests viewed Him as a threat to their laws, traditions and authority and wanted Him killed as a blasphemer. (Luke 23:4)
Herod was fascinated with Jesus but mocked Him and abused Him when Jesus didn’t meet Herod’s expectations. (Luke 23:6-11) While some viewed Jesus as a dangerous threat, both Herod and Pilate viewed Him as merely irrelevant, insignificant and powerless – they considered Jesus and dismissed Him. However, the issue of what to do with Jesus wouldn’t go away – a decision had to be made. Pilate chose to appease the crowds.
As Jesus was being led to His crucifixion, a great multitude followed Him, some cursing Him and mocking Him and others “mourning and lamenting for him.” (Luke 23:27) The crowd was divided. Then, finally, we read about the two criminals who were being crucified with Jesus, one on His right and one on His left. One acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God and pleaded for His favor, and one didn’t. The criminals were divided in their opinions about Jesus, and they both made their choices, eternal choices.
The ultimate dividing question is, “Who is Jesus?” Everyone decides how they will respond to Jesus. Some will acknowledge Him as the Rock, the Cornerstone, while to others He will be a stumbling stone, a stone to be rejected. (1 Peter 2:1-10) There is no third option – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) Some will be united in Christ, while others will be united against Him – “And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.” (Luke 23:12) Everyone takes a side in the great cosmic battle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Choosing not to decide is really choosing to reject Jesus as Lord and Savior.
– 1 Kings 18:21 — And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
– Joshua 24:15 — And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
– Revelation 3:16 — So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Jesus didn’t come “to give peace on earth,” but rather to give peace (reconciliation with God) to those who would accept Him as Lord and Savior – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
– Luke 24:36 — As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
– John 16:33 — I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
– John 20:19 — On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
– Romans 5:1 — Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
– Romans 15:13 — May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’” (John 20:21) If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and have received peace with God through Him, you have been entrusted with the message of peace – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Be faithful to the message and your ministry, understanding that not everyone will accept the Good News.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 August 19: Walk in peace and communicate peace with God through Jesus Christ.