Category Archives: Holy week

Overturning the Wrong

Elias sat at his booth in the marketplace with great anticipation. This was the best season of the year for business. His family had owned this place right inside the front door of the market for years. His father, and his grandfather had brought him up and taught him the way to help people with their offerings to the Lord. They were shrewd merchants who knew exactly what was needed to make a good living. Elias had learned well.

He was a small man, standing 5’3” short and stocky. His mustache rolled over his lips so it was hard to see the top one as he spoke with his rough, gravelly voice. His eyes were bright and looked very honest as he would look out over the people coming into the marketplace. He had a wife and three children to care for, so was hoping for a good day on this bright sunny morning. On a normal day he would help over 500 people with their offerings, but this was no normal day. It was only 10:00 AM and he had already sold 300 sheep and 200 pigeons to people who had imperfect offerings, or so he said. In reality, he had tricked those people by telling them their offering was not pure enough for the sacrifice, and sold them one of his sheep. But then once the people were out of sight, he would sell their lamb to an unsuspecting couple, calling it pure. He did this all day long and made good money as a result. His table sat with a large balance to weigh the money, which was much faster than counting it. However, his weights were slightly altered in his favor, so he made a little extra money with his unjust weights also. And being right inside the temple gates made him one of the first merchants people saw.

It was three days before the Passover, and Elias knew there would be throngs of people in Jerusalem for this blessed time of year. He was daily in the temple, and business was always good. But this year was different, and Elias knew this different was going to be a boom for business. He had heard the commotion the day before as a man named Jesus came into town bringing a huge throng of people. There must have been 10,000 who greeted him at the main gate. They shouted Hosanna and laid palm branches before him. It seemed they thought he was some kind of King. Elias had heard stories of him healing people and teaching extraordinary lessons. There was even a rumor going around that he had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. It seemed many were running after him, hoping he would set up some kind of kingdom. Elias scoffed at the idea. It was ludicrous. But he knew all those people would eventually have to come and offer their burnt offerings to the Lord during Passover, and he was grinning ear to ear.

A young mand walked up to his booth without a sacrifice, and Elias knew he would need one this day.

“How can I help you, young man.” Elias softly said.

The young man looked excited. “I need a pigeon for the offering today, sir”

Elias went over to his pigeon cage, opened the door and was about to take one out when a herd of people swarmed into the marketplace, led by a man with a white tunic on. All the people were shouting “Jesus, Jesus” like he was something so special. They were a wild bunch and the birds in the cage starting flying around like crazy, making it hard to get one out. Jesus stood there, looking out over the marketplace and all the booths that were set up to sell sacrifices to the people. People were buying and selling just like he was about to do. It was an eerie scene; one he had never encountered before. The whole crowd had stopped behind him, yelling his name and holding out their hands to him. For a moment it seemed time stood still as Elias reached in to get one of the pigeons for his customer. Before he could grab one, this man called Jesus walked up to his booth, picked it up and turned it over. The balance and money went flying all over the ground. Elias, shocked and furious turned to try and save things and the birds starting flying out of the cage. There was no hope to recover them as they scattered far and wide. He scrambled on the ground, looking for his money as others in the crowd started to pick it up and run off with it.

He heard the commotion as Jesus proceeded through the marketplace doing the same to every table. The noise was unbearable. Merchants screaming at him to stop, people scurrying to try and get the money that fell to the ground, sheep running all over bleating as they were freed from their cages and pigeons everywhere, cooing and making a mess. Total chaos took over the marketplace. But above all the noise and ruckus I could hear Jesus shout out “It is written: my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” How dare he make such an accusation, Elias thought. Elias was helping people get what they needed to present an acceptable offering to God. So, he made a little profit. That was what fed his family. Now He would have to try and find all his sheep and pigeons again – an impossible task. His money was gone to the hoards that grabbed it off the ground. What he thought was going to be a great day turned into a disaster.

I wonder how many of us need our lives overturned. We are busy in the church doing what we have always done not realizing God has a bigger task for us. We have become so tuned into our own little way that we don’t realize we have walked out of the will of God for our lives. Sin has crept in and we have allowed it to, justifying our deeds by our seemingly righteous acts. While we teach Sunday School, or lead worship, or serve on the church board, or lead the ladies’ group in the background we are satisfying our own selfish sinful desires. No one around us knows what is going on beneath the service of our seemingly holy lives. This was Elias. This was me.

There was a time that I was so eaten up with pride that I could easily defy God and justify it in my own mind. I served in many roles within the church and no one knew that sin knocked at the door on a daily basis, and that many days I let it in. Elias sold lies on a regular basis, justifying it as providing for his family. I lived a lie, justifying it by the good works I was doing. There was no excuse for my behavior, but I gave plenty of excuses. This went on for years and then was discovered. After a period of repentance and renewal, I turned right back to it, as dog returns to his vomit. 5 more years of deceit went by before it was discovered again. This time God overturned the tables in my life. My marriage nearly ruined, fired from my job and rejected from my church, I went on a sabbatical that changed my life and set my course straight again. God redeemed me once again through His overwhelming mercy and grace.

If you have sin inside the door of your life, don’t wait for Jesus to come and overturn the tables. This can cause deep losses on your part. Tackle the problem now. Ask for forgiveness now. Repent now. Turn your own table. You will thank yourself for it. Because if Jesus comes in and overturns the wrong, you could lose everything, just as Elias did.

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The Scourging

John 19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

The Romans were experts at inflicting pain.  The scourging was believed to have been done with what 1s called a cat-o-nine tails whip.  It is nothing like the whips we see today.  It has nine lengths of leather.  Each one is studded with small shards of rock to cut open the skin.  The whip would actually embed itself in the flesh, so when it was pulled away, it would take small pieces with it.  One of these lashes would be enough to make me want to give up.  Jesus took 39.  39 times the shards cut into his flesh and pulled it apart.  39 times He felt that whip come across his torso, not just his back.  The tails would whip around his body, ripping His flesh apart.  39 times.

After he scourging, they made a crown of thorns and placed it on His head.  It is believed this crown was made out of a bramble bush, which has thorns about 1 inch long.  The bramble is easy to shape and weave, and would inflict a good amount of pain.  They mocked Jesus as King once they put the crown on Him.  They also put a robe on His back, the back that was open with sores..  The blood probably congealed on the robe in the 5-10 minutes it was on Him, so when they pulled it off, the wounds opened up again.  To top off all of this, they beat Him and spit on Him.

Pilate tried once more to get Jesus to denounce everything so he could let Him go.  But Jesus is resolute in His mission  He tells Pilate that he only has power over Him because it was given to him.  Jesus recognizes all this as part of the plan, and is determined to follow it through to the end.  Pilate has no choice but to send Him off to be crucified.

When we are in the middle of a difficult time, maybe in sickness or financial distress, do we understand that those things have no power over us that is not allowed by our Father above?  And do we also know in our heats that God never gives us anything that does not have an escape plan (1 Cor 10:13)?  I use Job;s example all the time to demonstrate this.  Everything that happened to Job happened because God pulled away the hedge of protection and allowed Satan to attack him. God set the limits on how far Satan could go.

We must realize that our trials and difficult times are meant to help us grow, not to tear us down.  We should enter into them with a sense of expectation, knowing God is working out something good in our lives (Rom 8:28).  There is never a time that God is not in control, and here is never a time that God does not set the limits on what will come our way. When you know this deep down in your spirit, you can go through anything that comes your way and stay on top of t.

The First Trial (around 3 AM)

John 18:13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.  14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

 

Annas was father-in-law to Caiaphas, the high priest.  They brought Jesus to Annas first from the garden.  Annas was to get him ready to go to the high priest.  There was no doubt Annas saw Jesus as guilty of something, because He didn’t have Him very long.  We do not even have any recorded question that were asked by Annas.  He simply held Him until Caiaphas and the council were ready for Him.

Waiting is no fun.  At the doctor’s office, I quite often have to wait, and I just want to get everything done and over with.  But these offices don’t call you patients for nothing!  It is important for us to be patient at all times.  Jesus knew what was coming, yet was patient enough to wait for each step to unfold.  Let’s make sure we display that kind of patience when facing difficult times, or people who are our to get us.

Sixth Trial – Pilate (7:30 AM)

Luke 23:13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,  14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:  15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.  16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him.  17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)  18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:    (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)  20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.  21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.  22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.  23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

Pilate was indignant that they brought Jesus back to Him again.  He had found no fault in Him, Herod had passed on Him, and now he was back.  Pilate wanted to let Him go, but the people started shouting to be given Barabbas instead.  Every year at Passover one prisoner was released.  Pilate was shocked they would rather have Barabbas than Jesus, but He was in charge of making sure the peace was kept, and was afraid a riot might break out if he defied the crowd.  When he asked the crowd what he should be with Jesus, they cried crucify him over and over, at the urging of the priests and scribes.  No one wanted to cross them.  Pilate finally signed His death warrant.

Are you one that goes along with the crowd?  When I read stories in the bible, I try to put myself at the scene, at the time.  It is easy to look with hindsight, but I try to be at the scene when it happens and decide what I would do.  Four days earlier, they had hailed His entrance to the city as the coming Messiah.  Now they are issuing Him a death sentence.  This shows the power the scribes and pharisees had over the people.  Plus the fact that the last few days, he has preached some messages that really turned a lot of people off!  I think it would have been very hard to go against the religious leaders.  I probably would have gone with the crowd at that time.

But the crowd today is headed for the wide gate that leads to destruction.  Many, even in the church, are not committed to Christ.  They are just coasting along, depending on one prayer they said when they were kids.  Even Jesus said not every one who calls Him Lord does He know.  He only knows those who are doing His will today!  Let’s be about doing His business every day, and make heaven our home.  Stop being part of the crowd.

Fifth Trial; Herod (7 AM)

When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.  And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.  And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.  Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.  10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.  11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.  12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

Herod was thrilled Jesus was coming to visit.  He had heard so many great stories about Him, and was hoping He would “perform” some miracle for him.  But when Jesus came, He would not say a word to Herod.  The priests and scribes just continually accused Him, but Jesus sad nothing at all.  Herod was disgusted with Him and had His men mock Him and the sent Him back to Pilate.

To stand firm when all around you is falling apart is indeed a great attribute.  Jesus was strong in the face of the worst adversity.  Am I?  When things are going wrong, am I someone my friends and family can lean on, knowing I will be strength for them?  Will I stand strong in the worst adversity, and will I be able to hold their hand through the trial?  I pray that I will be.  I pray I will have the strength Jesus did when He faced all these people accusing Him.  I pray I have the words to pick others up when they are down.  I pray I can be their strength when their strength is gone.  I pray Jesus will flow through me to them!