You are more than what is said about you or done to you.

When you know who you are in Christ then the belittling only serves as a reminder. People and circumstances can knock you down but all they do is confirm what God has done and who He has made you. You are more than what is said about you or done to you.

“Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27 v 27-31)

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace, this is Pilate’s or Herod’s intimidating palace: yet Jesus was from a place of greater authority. After his baptism, “a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” and shortly before his arrest Jesus had said, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

They called together the whole company of soldiers, these would be the ones who committed the brutal and violent death sentences: yet Jesus was guarded by a greater power, during his arrest he said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

They put a scarlet robe on him, it represented his royalty: yet the whole world will see Jesus clothed “with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed infine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” Just as John would see in his Revelation.

They twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him: yet Jesus will one day receive the crowns of our lives, again John sees in his revelation, “They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.'” 

They began to call out to him, “Hail King of the Jews”: yet Jesus is more than an earthly king of the Jews isn’t he? “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”.

They struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him: yet Jesus was the good shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep and his spit is used in the healing of blind people not in offensive ways.

Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And … mocked him: yet one day will come when Jesus will be worshipped by every one, as Paul says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hide your identity in Christ and who He says you are. Let people and circumstances serve to remind you: You are more than what is said about you or done to you.

What will you do with His blood?

Will you wash it off your hands?

Will you claim responsibility for it?

“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27 v 24-26)

If you believe then don’t give up, don’t back down and never be intimidated to turn away from what you know is the truth. Don’t be like Pilate.

Our responsibility to the cause of Christ remains. We cannot pass it over. Not one of us can claim to be innocent of His blood and what it represents. We are part of all that is fallen. We don’t wash His blood from us. We must let His blood wash not just our hands but our whole lives.

If you believe them never let anyone manipulate you or bully you to change your praises and cheers to judgment and jeers. Don’t be like the crowd.

One sentence has been used throughout history to support anti-Semitism. The declaration of personal responsibility for the death of Christ has meant that the Jewish people being seen as Christ-killers in every generation. That was not Matthew’s intent in including this into his gospel of love. Don’t line up with the angry and those who hurt others. Don’t copy them.

You do need His blood on you not because you are without sin but because He died also for you.

What kind of Jesus do you want to follow?

The world needs the gospel of surrender not of insurrection.

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” (Matthew 27 v 20-23)

Barabbas’ full name was Jesus Barabbas (v16): Saviour (Jesus) son of the father (Bar abba = Barabbas). So before us are 2 Saviours who are sons of the father. But there is only one Saviour and only one Son of the Father.

The crowd choose the easy option and they still do. Not liking the Jesus of Nazareth that was being portrayed to them, they choose an easier option. Jesus of Nazareth will disappoint our pre-conceived ideas of what he can do for us and what is expected from us. We cannot follow that Jesus, so we create a different Jesus in our mind, one that isn’t too costly for us, not as demanding. We want a Jesus who is a rebel not a Jesus who surrenders and submits. But our world needs the Saviour Jesus, the Son of God the Father, the one who surrendered to the violence of the cross.

Innocent

At the Bema (Judgment) seat Pilate is in control. He is the Governor and the main character. By his word people lost their life or kept it. One day Pilate would stand before the Bema of Christ as we all will but on this day Jesus is before him.

“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” (Matthew 27 v 19)

The cry of this wife is the message Matthew is wanting to proclaim.

We are guilty.

Jesus is innocent.

Many have imagined what her dream was about. She has even received a name and authors have speculated on who she was.  But Matthew simply tells us she is the wife of Pilate and within the gospel message is a declaration that Jesus is innocent and it doesn’t come from where we would expect it to come from.

Can God speak to you in such a way that you become a voice of warning into someone’s life? When was the last time someone corrected you? Did you listen and adjust accordingly? Can you imagine if our lives had such accountability?

Can God burden you with an image or message via a dream, vision, a Bible passage or perhaps simply an overwhelming thought, in such a way that you will act on it?

Can God use you to speak to even your closest friend?

The message? We are guilty but Jesus is innocent.

The innocent died for the guilty.

Jesus has set us free

Our gospel message is this: the innocent was sentenced and the guilty was freed. The enemy of our soul wages war against us all our life to try and manipulate that not to be the case. A watered down gospel to say that we are not guilty is not a gospel.

“Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.” (Matthew 27 v 15-18)

Barabbas was in prison (Mark says he was with the insurrectionists who had committed murder). He was a rebel, maybe even a rebel leader, against the Roman authorities. Maybe that is why the crowd would call for his release, he was their hero perhaps. Barabbas was facing a death sentence for sure. He was guilty and Jesus was innocent. The gospel writers all agree in contrasting the innocent Jesus with the guilty Barabbas. Jesus came and Barabbas would be set free. We know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Barabbas was heading deservedly for the cross but he would be set free. We should be condemned but we are also set free into a life of no condemnation (Romans 8:1). We are guilty but Jesus took our place.

What to do or say when people are speaking lies about you or when they believe things about you that are not true.

Ever walked into a familiar room but realise straight away that something isn’t right? It doesn’t feel like the same room and then you realise the picture on the wall has dropped at one end. A small distortion of the truth, a simple stretching of the truth, an exaggeration of what really happened and then passed on in the whispering gossip channels and before long it is out of control and you cannot stop it nor defend your position. What do you do?

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.” (Matthew 27 v 11-14)

Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge. Pilate was amazed and so are we because we know how hard that is to do.

It is so difficult when people are speaking lies about you or when they believe things about you that are not true.

Here is what I have come to believe:

  • What is spoken against you is not as established as it may look.
  • What is spoken to you about someone else is not the evidence of the reality.
  • The lie against you can lead you into the destiny God has for you, it can become a servant.
  • It takes wisdom to dissect a lie.
  • It takes courage to walk through a lie.

I have found the above 5 statements of great comfort to me.

But what does Jesus give us in this passage?

I believe He would say. Let the liars have their day. There are moments when what you say is not as important as what is being said about you. Resist all attempts to defend yourself. You have nothing to hide.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied

That is his reply.

Let the liars speak. We serve the ‘I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life’.

Blinded by majoring on minors.

Some things have become far more important than they need to be. Ever used a fine-tooth comb?

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.” (Matthew 27 v 6-10)

They majored on the aspects of what it says in Deuteronomy 23:18 “You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.” Yet were blinded to them playing a part in the fulfilment of prophetic fulfilment regarding the death of Christ.

Be careful with what you are scrutinising today. It might cause you to miss the important thing.

A sad story of being with the wrong people

There are times when we badly get it wrong. Judas had totally misunderstood the mission of Jesus and had tried to advance the cause. His plan failed.

“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27 v 1-5)

Deep regret over his betrayal and knowing he has sinned, he returns to those who represent God. He is looking for help. The weight is too heavy. But he returns to the wrong people.

These leaders would never carry his burden. They have used Judas. They offer no resolution for him. In just a few hours the right person was going to die for Judas. But he cannot see this as he is with the wrong people.

Judas still has the thirty coins of insult, of no real value, the amount of a slave accidently killed (Exodus 21:32). But this is no accident and Jesus is no slave. He throws the coins back at them and leaves. What he does next is because he is with the wrong person, himself. He was hours away from the death of his master and days away from it all making sense. For him there was only one thing left to do.

The sound of life

There may be sounds that remind you of what went wrong for you.

Sounds of what you have lost. Sounds of your failure. Sounds of your missed opportunities. Sounds of your own impetuousness.

But I want to tell you there is a sound of heaven which is far more important than the sound of the earth.

“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26 v 69-75)

I wonder in the years to come what the sound of the rooster would mean to Peter?

Matthew writes Peter goes outside and weeps bitterly. John just ignores him. We know nothing of what happens to Peter until after the Resurrection. The man who wanted to be involved in everything and the first to volunteer for anything is not part of the most important part of the story of Jesus.

Do you remember when you failed miserably and it took you out of the action for a while?

It seemed that God removed you from the place you were in and looking back you know it came as a result of your failure.

The sound of denial can haunt a person for the rest of their life.

But we of course know there is another reminder.

The sound of my new beginning

The rooster crowed and a new day began.

Our lives don’t change on our success but on the trauma of failure, brokenness and repentance.

There is a brokenness that leads to death as Judas experienced. But there is a brokenness that leads to life.

From that moment Peter was moving into a new day. It was recognition that he needed saving. A few days later Jesus would meet him and restore him fully and appoint him a leader.

But he would forever remember the moment (whenever he heard the morning sound) the turning point of his life when he became a broken man that led to new life.

It’s only over when you stop recognising you are in the presence of God who can do anything!

Don’t let anger or offence disqualify you.

Don’t let hurt or despair have the last rites over you.

You stand in the presence of God so don’t tear your clothes and nullify your position.

Let me show you a couple of verses about the high priest who stood in the presence of God:

“‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt or tear his clothes.” (Leviticus 21:10)

“Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its centre. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear.” (Exodus 28:31-32)

Now let us read today’s verses of what Caiaphas did:

“Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26 v 65-68)

The high priest knew what it was to stand in the presence of God. He had that experience. He was the only one in fact who knew it. To tear your clothes was to say it is over, this is too big even for God to solve. It was in fact to say I do not acknowledge the presence of the Almighty.

Even when He is standing right in front of you!

Because of Jesus we now have access to the presence of God. We are priests ourselves. There is absolutely no circumstance where we will ever need to say God is not able. The enemy of your soul longs for you to tear your clothes. He wants you offended, angry, in despair and void of hope. Do not do it. You stand in the presence of God. He is able. Do not negate your position or your identity and do not be blinded to the might of God.

Interestingly:

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” (John 19:23-24)

The robe of the final and perfect High Priest was not torn.

He is able.