Motivated by What Is Right

The Flagellation of Christ

The Flagellation of Christ – Public Domain

Reading the Word

Mark 15:15 (ESV)

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:26; John 19:16

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this single verse, we read of how an innocent Jesus ended up on a cross for crucifixion. Pilate, the Roman governor, wanted to please the crowd. The motivation was not doing what was right, but doing what was popular and best for himself, even if an innocent man had to die.

Sinfulness causes us all to do terrible things. Imagine what the world would be like if our political leaders did what was right rather than always looking to score political points. Imagine what the world would be like if we all were motivated by righteousness and justice rather than selfishness and personal gain. Our sin is why Jesus had to die. Our sin out him on the cross and his death was the solution to our sinfulness. Christ the Just was sacrificed as payment for our sins. All who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus will be saved and that salvation is the promise of a new world where sin and evil are no more.

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Choosing Sin over Righteousness

Let Him Be Crucified

Let Him Be Crucified – Public Domain

Reading the Word

Matthew 27:15–23 (ESV)

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Parallel Texts: Mark 15:6-14; Luke 23:17-23; John 18:39-40

Understanding and Applying the Word

Pilate had a custom that he likely used to improve public relations. Each year he would release one prisoner at the request of the people. In this case, he gave them the option of Jesus or Barabbas, who was “notorious, a murderer , and an insurrectionist” (cf. Mark and Luke). We are also told that Pilate knew the real reason the Jewish religious leaders had brought Jesus to him was a result of envy (verse 18). Jesus was drawing crowds and gaining influence among the people. Surprisingly, given the serious nature of Barabbas’ crimes, the request was for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. When asked what should become of Jesus, the crowd cried out, “Let him be crucified!”

The people were given a choice between Jesus and Barabbas. They chose Barabbas the true criminal and requested that Jesus be killed. At first this seems surprising. Why would the people want Jesus killed? But this is a reflection of the story of Scripture. When given a choice between sin and righteousness, the world chooses sin. Jesus, the righteous, exposes our shortcomings and brings our condemnation into focus. Barabbas, the sinful, is just like us and is no threat to us. He makes us feel better about ourselves. So when the world came face-to-face with One who was truly righteous, we murdered him. That’s how much we love sin. That’s how much we need a Savior.

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The True King

close up portrait of lion

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 23:6–12 (ESV)

6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Pilate sent Jesus to Herod hoping that doing so would relieve him of having to deal with Jesus. Herod had been wanting to see Jesus because he had heard about the miracles Jesus’ had been performing. Herod hoped Jesus would perform for him. For Herod, Jesus was entertainment. However, Jesus would not comply and remained silent. This led Herod and his guards to mock Jesus, dress him up, and send him back to Pilate. Doing so must have amused Pilate because he and Herod became friends as a result.

Herod wanted Jesus to perform on demand, but he would not. The Creator and Lord of all is not under the authority of any man. He does not bow to our commands. Herod believed he was in control and had authority over Jesus, but the exact opposite was true. Jesus was the one in control and he was the one with all authority. We too must remember this. God does not perform on demand for us. We do not control him. When we go to him, we may ask, but we must always remember that God answers us according to his plans and purposes. We can trust those plans even when they are not ours because we know he is loving and good. As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe about Aslan the lion who represented Christ:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

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So You Are a King?

John 1837 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 18:29–38 (ESV)

29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was accused by the religious leaders of claiming to be king. The Jewish leaders said this because of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. They rejected Jesus’ claim and when they brought him before Pilate, they knew that such a claim would not sit well with the Romans because it would be a power grab. The leaders were hoping that such an accusation would make the Romans want to execute Jesus.

Pilate asked Jesus if he was “King of the Jews.” In response, Jesus explained that his kingdom was not a worldly kingdom. It is not made up of geographic borders and military strength. Jesus’ kingdom is made up of all who believe in him and his truth. When Pilate realized that Jesus was not a threat to Rome, he went out and told the religious leaders that he did not find any reason that Jesus should be condemned.

When we read this, it is clear that Jesus was going to the cross even though he was guilty of no crime. The reason the Jewish leaders wanted him put to death was because they had rejected him as their Messiah, even though he was the fulfillment of all that God had promised. But we see how we might be a part of Jesus’ kingdom. When we recognize the truth of Jesus’ words and turn to him in faith, we enter the kingdom of the Messiah, the kingdom of God. And the King in this kingdom is Christ, who laid down his life in love for his people, so that they could have life. What a great King!

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King of the Jews

Mark 152 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional insights on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Mark 15:1–5 (ESV)

1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.