Friday, April 21, 2017

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Beyond the Resurrection: Jesus’ “Real” Crime

This past week we have been focusing on Beyond the Resurrection, and have addressed discipleship topics that we need be cognizant of  for our own spiritual growth and to disciple others, including: the Significance of the Resurrection in our lives, Jesus’ promise of peace in the midst of our circumstances, the Christian conspiracy of love,  spiritual growth from the inside-out, the powerful effect of having faith the size of a mustard seed, and today we will wrap up the series of posts with our final subject, Jesus’ ‘Real’ Crime.
Have you even been falsely accused of something that you know you did not do?  I’m sure that most, if not all of us, have encountered such situations in our lives or have heard of this happening to others. There is the conundrum of deciding if false accusations warrant legal action, either criminal or civil. In either case, we have access to legal counsel and representation. However, Jesus was not afforded such legal counsel or representation, and He didn’t receive a fair trial, but one that was conducted secretively in the dead of night by the religious leaders. Eventually, even though He was taken to Pilate to receive His punishment (because the Jews didn’t have the legal authority to put Him to death), Pilate found Jesus blameless. In spite of this, He was given over to be flogged and executed in the name of ‘keeping the peace’. 
 But what were the actual charges that were brought against Jesus? The primary indictment was that Christ claimed to be the King of the Jews, which was a volatile political statement that was sure to attract the attention of the Roman Governor, Pilate. However, when Pilate questioned Jesus, Who noted that His Kingdom was not of this world, he found no support for the indictment, (Jn. 18: 36; Lk. 23:14). Not to be deterred, the religious leaders brought out their laundry list of miscellaneous charges and falsely accused Jesus of inciting and misleading the people, advising the Jews not to pay taxes to Caesar,  and blasphemy, (Lk. 23:2, 5; Jn. 19:7; Mt. 26:).  Ironically, Jesus—blameless of inciting the Jews—was given over to be crucified to keep the peace of the mob stirred up by the religious leaders.
But what was Jesus’ “real crime”? While I was studying for this series of devotionals, I came across a phrase that immediately resounded in my spirit. As I studied the Gospels I realized that the religious leaders had wanted Christ dead for some time.  Many who had witnessed the raising of Lazarus from the dead were spreading the word in the swelling crowds entering Jerusalem for the Passover. The excitement resulted in a “…welcoming parade. [And]The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: “It’s out of control. The world’s in a stampede after him,” (Jn. 12: 18-19, MSG).  Plus, they were peeved that Jesus had reduced their profit margins when He cleared the merchants and bankers from the Temple courts. Thus, in a nutshell, Jesus’ “real crime” was that His teaching and compassion for the people resulted in the religious leaders being jealous of Christ’s popularity with the people, which caused the revelation, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”  
The Great Commission is not to figure out how to conduct fund-raising activities to build bigger churches, nor how to create better tracts to drop on unsuspecting people, but to present to them Jesus’ love and His compassion for His people. We won’t need to beg people to get saved; we merely serve as channels to direct them to Jesus, and they will become part of the ‘everyone has gone after Him!’—we have, right?!  Amen!
Thank you for joining me on this Lenten journey from the Cradle to the Cross, and Beyond (the Resurrection). I pray that you have also found encouragement, hope, and renewal during this holy season.  Amen.

Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)

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