“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Trinity is seen at work redeeming man in these two verses–the Spirit anoints, Jesus proclaims, God pours out His favor. The ‘three-in-one’ is active and moving, and He is incredibly involved in each one’s salvation. This quotation is taken directly from Isaiah 61:1 and it completely defines the ministry of the messiah.
The focal point here is on the needy and desperate. The poor, captives, blind, and all of the oppressed become the chosen ones of Jesus’ ministry. His specialty is neglected and the needy, that is His work and I believe that those are still the specific ones He has had His eye on all along. His mind hasn’t changed in 2000+ years.
The Holy Spirit is critically needed to do this work.
If Jesus needed to be consecrated for this task, how very much more do we. The message is always one of healing, the needy, and the beaten down. That really must be our M.O. We must do the work in God’s way, with God’s power. We must be energized to reach the very lost with the presence of God. This is His heart cry.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
“Jesus answered, “You are the one saying I am a king. This is why I was born and came into the world: to tell people the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.””
“Pilate said, “What is truth?” After he said this, he went out to the crowd again and said to them, “I find nothing against this man.”
John 18:37-38, NCV
Not only was Jesus on trial, but it seems the truth was too. “Truth” is mention three times in just two verses (again, for emphasis). Pontius Pilate who was the Roman governor of Judea, meets with Jesus to make the determination if Jesus would be executed.
Truth seems to be a focus here. Jesus understands that he was sent to declare the truth to the people. He also states that those were called would be listeners, and these would respond positively to all the Jesus had been saying. Jesus clearly understood what he must do, it was the reason he was born.
Pilate is cynical, “What is truth.” He asks the question that even today is being considered. He thinks that truth has many variations, and none of them could be understood.
But Jesus pronounces that he is the King of truth, and to Pilate that was foolish. No one person, in his mind anyway, could be the sole source. He dismisses Jesus’ statements with a philosophical idea that things are relative, nothing can be understood with any degree of certainity.
Pilate very obviously believes in unbelief.
He seems to want to set Jesus free–from his balcony he points out Jesus’ innocence. He finds no reason that Jesus should die for these statements. We see him negotiating with the Jewish people. But the Pharisees have decided that Jesus must die, we see them stirring up the crowd.
To Pilate’s credit he tells them that Jesus is no revolutionary. He presents no danger to either Rome’s empire or Judea. Being pressured, he orders Jesus to be whipped. It was also the place where a crown of thorns was put on Jesus’ head (John 19:1-5).
He tries to negotiate once more.
But the people won’t listen. It was Passover, and there would be pilgrims in the city. Scripture tells us that they’re on the verge of rioting. They declare that anyone who supports Jesus must be an enemy of Caesar (John 19:12-16). Pilate finally acquiesces and orders Jesus to be executed. C.H. Spurgeon makes the following observation about Pilate:
“Oh, the daring of Pilate thus in the sight of God to commit murder and disclaim it. There is a strange mingling of cowardliness and courage about many men; they are afraid of a man, but not afraid of the eternal God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”
Pilate ceremoniously washes his hands over the whole thing. He seems disturbed by the whole incident (Matthew 27:24).
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
This is our calling–and this verse exhorts us to do this in order to learn holiness, and to follow him with a complete heart.
Tradition has it that Pilate does become a believer in Jesus some years later. He is martyred for his faith by being beheaded on orders by the emperor Caligula.
“If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68 and if I ask a question, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”70 And they all said, “So You are the Son of God?” And He said to them, “You say correctly that I am.” 71 And then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth!”
Luke 22:67-71, NASB
The Sanhedrin thought they had him. Jesus mounts no defense in this particular trial. He is serene, quiet and very much in control. The interrogators tried 5-6 different questions, each purposefully designed to reveal Jesus’ guilt. We should remember, he was regarded as guilty until proven innocent.
This was regarded as a capital crime–a death penalty could be given. But the Law declares that a trial could only be held in the daylight. It was to be public, open to all Jewish men. And in cases like Jesus’, the evidence was to be offered on one day, and a verdict the following. It couldn’t be a “rush” to judgement.
They got there licks in even before the official arraignment before the high priest. Jesus is blindfolded, mocked and beaten, even before the trial began (Luke 22:63-65). All of this took place as soon as he was brought in from the Garden, even before he was charged with a crime!
The deck was definitely stacked against him. The blindfold seems to be a test of sorts, it was believed that the real Messiah would have the supernatural ability to discern his attackers, even while blindfolded. That explains much if it’s true. The spitting was pretty evil though (Mark 14:65).
In this passage Jesus carefully turns the tables on his interrogators. His reply is perfect–they are forced to examine their own hearts. When you put the Son of God on trial, you can expect to see things like this.
“Jesus warned them that though they sat in judgment of Him now, He would one day sit in judgment of them – and with a far more binding judgment.”
Jesus reply of “I am” carries significant meaning, and we see the impact it has on his captors. In verse 71, they now have the answer they’re looking for, and we sense that they’ve got the evidence in that response. It’s the breakthrough they’ve been waiting for.
The patience and endurance of Jesus amazes me.
He stands alone in the middle of accusations and after being mocked and beaten. In the Garden he states that at his word he can have “twelve legions of angels” ready to protect him (Matthew 26:53). This is profound–I consider not only his restraint, but also his steadfastness, his ability to press on no matter what.
He doesn’t crack or break under the pressure. He goes the distance. He patiently endures it all, and he did this for you and me. Now dear ones, that’s a very good thing.
“For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.”
“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
The Father is in me.”This is one of the clearest passages Jesus uses to explain his ministry. His listeners are doubters. They have decided that he must be executed for blasphemy. In verse 31 we read of their deep, deep anger–“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.”
It’s crazy how “bad religion” affects people. The Pharisees thought for certain that they were defending God’s honor. They really believed that they were doing exactly what they needed to do. Their religion demanded it.
“I and the Father are one” (v. 30), really disturbed them. Leviticus 24:16 delineated their duty. They must defend God from blasphemers, it was their duty as religious leaders. And Jesus was one of the most egregious offenders that they had ever seen.
This confrontation between them and Jesus was quite intense, and yet Jesus, (instead of backing off) presses the issue. The Father has sent him–Jesus must speak the truth, and there is absolutely no sugarcoating his message. He very clearly states what is real. It has to be believed.
“Believe” is mentioned three times. “Know and understand” are thrown out there for good measure. All explain the necessary components that must be present in a saving faith. And yet, all it did was make them angrier.
I believe that Jesus speaks softly, and with wisdom and compassion–but what is real and true, must be spoken. I really don’t think he “returned” their anger. That would’ve been wrong. And John doesn’t mention it.
“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife.”
“The Father is in me and I am in the Father” explains his ministry, and Jesus can’t, or won’t, compromise his message, or the truth. It is a fact. It’s something you can hang your hat on.
“He is not ‘making himself God’; he is not ‘making himself’ anything, but in word and work he is showing himself to be what he truly is – the Son sent by the Father to bring life and light to mankind.”
When they looked at Jesus–they saw the face of God. The Father was living in him–and he resided in the Father. This is the truth, and it blew out their religious circuits. It was something they simply couldn’t accept.
“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”
Luke 13:12-13, (context, vv. 10-17)
Doctors call it spondylitis ankylopoetica, which produces the fusion of the spinal bones. Sometimes physical issues have spiritual reasons, and many times crippling diseases leave their marks on our hearts. They damage us inside.
Eighteen years is an awful long time.
The response to this astounding miracle was less then ideal. Quite often “religion” responds out of foolishness, and anger at what God wants to do:
“But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”
Jesus is angry. He rebukes the hypocrisy of the synagogues leaders. Their livestock get better treatment.
“As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.”
“Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help. He is the Balm of Gilead, the Great Physician who has never yet failed to heal all the spiritual maladies of every soul that has come unto Him in faith and prayer.”
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
John 17:15-16, (context, vv. 13-19)
What strikes me is the use “of the world” three times in this passage. Jesus seems to make a point to describe the system we’re all enmeshed in. It’s very clear to Him that we do belong somehow; the first phrase makes it awfully clear that we are part of this structure, and we must accept this.
Like father, like son–but in this case it’s “like savior, like disciple.” The religious apparatus couldn’t humble themselves to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Their dislike becomes hatred, which ended up in murder. And now they fix their dark gaze on us. We’re guilty by association, to a certain degree.
This is a prayer. And “the second person of the Trinity” happens to be interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25.) I don’t know, but there is some very heavy voltage packed into this prayer. Far more than I can even imagine. But He has covered you, don’t doubt it for a single second.
We belong–but yet we really don’t.
Our commitment to Him has completely blown away our chances to be friends with this world’s system. They see us as enemies (or at least, minor irritants) to their dark way of living. At best we’re tolerated, and at least they murder us; all they’ve done to Jesus is now suddenly turned on us.
“I tell you, my friends, don’t be terrified by those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more.
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”
John 7:7 (context, vv. 1-8.)
Forty years of following Jesus has taught me many things. Lumped up in my top-ten is the hard lesson, “people dislike truth.” We are all fallen, and the fig leaves we find don’t cover much–they’re always wilting. And yet we avoid the light, and make up things that are really illusions (or delusions.) We find a mask and wield it to prevent the truth from penetrating our hearts.
Darkness is everywhere it seems. We see it in politics, religion and the media. We see it in our self, and others. It’s grim and sad and proud. And it’s disturbing that it actually turns into a solid hatred. And as believers, and part of the Church, we catch levels of flack from different levels of darkness.
“If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.”
John 15:19, Amplified
Jesus knows every heart, He evaluates and can’t find anything good. “The works are evil,” and every place He looks it is night, spiritual darkness. When you’re dark spiritually, you’re in a very bad place–you are still lost in your sins (Luke 19:10.) I’m sorry, but I am telling the truth.
The world system still hates Jesus, and we’re despised by association. We must be aware. As believers, we’ll never fit in. Much of persecution is satanic, the devil originates much of it. There are countries today that blast believers with dark attacks. I’ve read that more Christians have been killed in the last century than all the others, combined.
“Princes, kings, and other rulers of the world have used all their strength and cunning against the Church, yet it continues to endure and hold its own.”