The Roman Vs. the Rabbi

A dear senior citizen was angry.  She came from a generation in which you dared not speak out of line to a teacher let alone hit the instructor.  The average public school of her generation was more strict than the average Christian school today.  Part of her anger had to do with the seismic shift in American public opinion regarding gay marriage and other issues.  To this Bible teacher, patriot and godly woman, her country was not just in decline but hurdling toward an abyss.

She was in the background of my mind as I prepared to give a portrait of Jesus on Good Friday.  I surfed through a Harmony of the Gospels (if you have never seen one of these, you must get one) and cut and spliced together a thorough narrative of the events of this tragic yet triumphant day.  After having studied it and considered what to present, how to present it and how to drive it home, one particular scene especially caught my eye.

Jesus is standing before Pilate.  He is bruised, battered, stained with blood and lacerations.  Dried spit is likely stuck to his face and neck.  The color red may still remain where He was struck repeatedly and told to prophesy who hit Him while blindfolded. 

In that condition, He stood before the representative of the powerful Roman government.  Impatient, Pilate blasted Jesus for not answering when he, the Roman governor, had the very power of life and death in his hands.  As our Lord's body probably shook involuntarily from the shock of the abuse that He suffered, Jesus said the most remarkable thing.

"You would have no power over me unless it were given to you from heaven."

That's it!  Around the world and even in our own country, it may seem that evil is prevailing and good is getting pummeled.  Persecutions; the advancement, acceptance and normalization of immorality; the powers of government growing while liberties shrink and on and on.  In the midst of this vortex of shouts, anger and divisions, we can stand as Jesus did, shaking involuntarily from the shock of it all yet declaring that they would have no power if it weren't given them from heaven.

We win!  Jesus likely was looked on with pity or as a weakling, yet He stood in the strength of His convictions that God is the only Judge/Governor that truly matters and someday all, even Pilate, would kneel before the King of kings and Lord of lords.

So, let them assert their authority. Let them ridicule, mock and persecute.  We can confidently look the apparent victors in the eye and say, the victory is not yours for there is a God in Heaven.  He is sovereign, He is good and He is in control.

A Harmony of The Words and Works of Jesus Christ
by J. Dwight Pentecost

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