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John 19:1-16a, Jesus Condemned

Sunday, March 18

Jesus Condemned

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Jesus condemned.

Again, unlike the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John’s Jesus was quite verbose at his encounter with Pilate. He neither admitted nor denied the accusations against him. How could he? They were human accusations about human-made doctrines. Jesus was God being held to human standards. He could not win this human fight as God.

But Jesus knew that this was going to be the outcome. He had enough wisdom to talk his way out of this, but he didn’t try. He had enough followers to fight his way out of this, but he didn’t ask them to. Jesus knew that surrendering to the unstoppable wave of hatred and spite would have far more lasting effects than fighting. He came to bring God’s peace to this world. Fighting would be contrary to his entire message. He spoke with wisdom whenever the situation called for wisdom. Here, his refusal to beg for his life was wisdom.

Surrender is not in our nature. We have an instinct for fight or flight. Surrender requires an internal strength and self-confidence. Especially when surrender ends in the way Jesus’ did. But sometimes surrender is the best way to victory. We can surrender our self-interest in favor of the interests of others. We can surrender control in favor of healing (think addiction). We can surrender over-achieving and impossible standards in favor of healthy work-life balance. There are many ways we can surrender so that God can take over. In the end, Jesus’ surrender conquered sin and death, and we are blessed by it forever.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 19:1-16a

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.