Posts Tagged With: Rome

Jesus on Trial (Part 2)

blp398239His name is Pilate, as in Pontius Pilate — P-i-l-a-t-e, not p-i-l-o-t — even though Pilate did manage to fly himself right into middle of a maelstrom of religious and political corruption and compromise with devastating consequences.

In this PODCAST, as we now approach Jesus’ impending crucifixion, the greatest irony of this entire sad saga is that the whole thing is motivated by one thing: self-interest.

As we learned in last week’s podcast, on the Jewish side of things, the entire motivation behind the High Priest Caiaphas and the 70-member Sanhedrin in wanting to kill Jesus was the realization that He posed an existential threat to their power, position, prestige, and possessions, all of them paid for with their obscene wealth and ill-gotten gains — the chief thieves, these religious leaders were, in a den of thieves. Which is what, on their watch, the Temple, The House, God’s House, “My Father’s House” (as Jesus called it), had become.

As we will learn this week, on Roman side of things, the spineless Pilate will collapse like the house of cards that he was because he feared losing his title and power as the Roman Governor of the province of Judea. All of this while killing a man who was utterly, totally, completely and absolutely selfless. Somoen who had not one strand of the DNA of self-interest woven anywhere in the fabric of His sizable soul.

We’re talking their willingness to murder a gentle, peaceable, innocent man — not to mention their Messiah — if that’s what it took to maintain their coveted positions.

Make no mistake about this — Pilate KNEW that Jesus was absolutely innocent, and yet sentenced Him to die anyway, in the most unimaginably barbaric, brazenly humiliating, excruciatingly torturous death ever devised by man.

You talk about Jesus looking out over a vast multitude of precious people with overwhelming compassion in His heart, while lamenting that they were like sheep without a shepherd? Well, these were their shepherds.

Shepherds both religious (Caiphas) and political (Pilate). Unprincipled men who unconscionably used and abused their helpless little lambs for their own personal gain.

Just like they do today. Religiously and Politically. It is today as it was then.

Well, last week we met their religious shepherds.

The time has now come for us to meet their political shepherds. Most specifically, Pontius Pilate, the man who has lived long in infamy as the man who caved to political pressure and who, against own convictions, sentenced Jesus to death.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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When “THIS Mountain” Moves

herodium-complex-balageTo be perfectly honest with you, the passage here in Matthew 21 is coming — for me,at least — at just the right time. And perhaps for you as well.

Given the current political climate in our beloved country, and the increasing despair that I have felt as the presidential primary season has now concluded, I so desperately need to hear my own message, courtesy of Jesus.

Jesus assured His disciples,

“Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, the irony of what Jesus said is so thick that you could cut it with the proverbial knife.

The irony being this: Jesus said those words to the disciples on the eve of His crucifixion in order to strengthen, to fortify their fragile faith. And frankly, to strengthen and to fortify ours.

Jesus knew that the events in their lives were about to spin seemingly out of control. The hopes they harbored in their hearts were about to be crushed into the ash heap of history. The Jesus movement in which they played a central role was about to careen into a wall and to explode into a thousand broken pieces.

The wave they had been riding had peaked on Sunday during the Triumphal Entry, and then again on Monday during the Cleansing of the Temple. But Jesus knew only too well on that Tuesday AM that by Thursday PM that same storm surge would dash them into the jagged rocks of reality.

So to bolster their soon-to-be faltering faith (and ours), Jesus made them (and us) this glorious promise:

“Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

The only problem with that promise? As many of us have come to experience during own crises of faith, It.Doesn’t.Always.Work.

If it did, none of our loved ones would ever die. (Who of us hasn’t prayed for God, in faith believing — to invoke Jesus’ formula — to heal someone near/dear to us, only to watch them whither away to nothing?)

Our kids would never disappoint us, if that promise worked. (What parent hasn’t prayed diligently for their children, in faith believing, Amen, only to stand by and watch helplessly and at times hopelessly as one or more of our kids go sideways?)

If that promise did indeed work, we would always get the jobs we want, have the perfect marriages for which we pray, have enough money at end of each month.

Fact is, myriads of books been written and purchased and read about that promise. Countless sermons been preached and listened to and heeded. All to affirm the fact that if we pray in faith believing and do not doubt, we will receive whatever things we ask. We CAN move mountains by our prayers, we are told. The mountain of sickness, the mountain of debt, the mountain of broken relationships, the mountain of wayward children.

Over the years, I’ve heard it all, read it all, a thousand times. To the point where I’m sick of hearing it. Because it just doesn’t work… Or does it?

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Man Who Crucified Jesus

Good-Friday-proces_1386504bHe is the forgotten figure in the Crucifixion-Resurrection drama. A remarkable man who came to a most-remarkable conclusion.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, I am referring to the Roman officer who actually crucified Jesus.

At the conclusion of the crucifixion, this Roman officer — who had literally just killed Christ — made this stunning statement:

“This man truly was the Son of God!”

Now, I have to ask these questions:

  • How in the world did he come to this conclusion? This Roman? This executioner? This worshipper of many gods? This witness to, and participant in, more crucifixions than he could count?
  • What was it about this crucifixion that set it apart from all the others over which he, as a commander of 100 elite Roman troops, presided?
  • What pushed him over the line from a polytheist to a monotheist? A worshiper of Caesar as god into a worshiper of Jesus as God?
  • And what was it exactly that convinced him beyond the shadow of any doubt that the man he had just executed was in fact Almighty God?

I am profoundly grateful to professors Schmidt, Vanderlaan, Gundry, along with author Lloyd C. Douglas who wrote a wonderfully insightful historical novel, The Robe, for gently nudging my thinking in the direction to ask and now answer these intriguing questions.

Questions about what-in-the-world convinced this Roman Officer to conclude that the man he just crucified was not just a god, but as he exclaimed,

“This man truly was the Son of God!”

What did he see that we, not being Roman, might miss?

In order to answer these questions, I need to take you on a little trip, back in time many centuries, and to the East many thousands of miles, to Rome itself. There, we will attend the grandest, gaudiest, and most glorious of spectacular events. All to answer the question, What caused this elite Roman military officer to conclude that the man he just executed was indeed “the Son of God”?

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Heavenly Chutzpah

determination-687x324It’s been a tough week for our country. Riots at political rallies. An increasingly course discourse. Much angst in the world.

And I know you are feeling it.

Well, consider this PODCAST to be a bright and beautiful shot of much-needed adrenaline to your system, some refreshing encouragement from Jesus’ heart to yours.

Let’s begin our discussion with this: It is one of the most precious, and quite frankly priceless privileges in the entire Bible. I am referring to the one verse that concludes the fourth chapter of the book of Hebrews. One glorious verse that speaks volumes, both to the original readers of this verse, and to us as well.

But before I read it to you, I must first set this scene: As its title suggests — Hebrews — this book was written to Jewish believers in Jesus. These precious people lost everything when they become committed Christ-followers. Unlike the letters of Paul, written to local gatherings of believers in a given city — Rome, Corinth, Philippi — this letter was written to Jewish (Hebrew) believers struggling everywhere throughout the Roman Empire because, due to relentless persecution, they were scattered, far and wide.

We get only the barest of glimpses into their desperate circumstances from cryptic statements such as these:

“Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever” (Hebrews 10).

Or this in Hebrews 13:

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”

No one was exempt. Not even someone as faithful as young Pastor Timothy, protege of the Apostle Paul, of whom we read in Hebrews 13:

“I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released from jail. If he comes here soon, I will bring him with me to see you.”

For the first generation of Jewish Christ-followers, times were tough, their circumstances dire. So in order to encourage them, the writer of this great book made to them (and to us!) this precious promise:

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Emphasis upon that shockingly bold word “boldly.”

Trust me. That thud you just heard was sound of their jaws dropping and hitting the floor as the original readers scanned those words into their suffering souls, for reasons that you will soon hear.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Jesus Walks the Way of Sorrows

The Via Dolorosa!

What images are conjured up in your head when you hear these words? What are its sights? How about its sounds? What’s it like to walk the path that Jesus walked on His final journey to the cross?

My friends, get ready to grow some goosebumps as you listen to this PODCAST.

 

via dolorsaConsider this your very own personalized tour, with me as your humble tour guide, as together we travel the storied streets of the Via Dolorosa. A short walk riddled with “Ah Ha” moments, too many to count! Enjoy.

Please note that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

Thank you for listening. God bless you as you do!

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