Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely. The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe. They came up to him again and again and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly in the face.
Again Pilate went out and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no reason for an accusation against him.” So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Look, here is the man!” When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said, “You take him and crucify him! Certainly I find no reason for an accusation against him!” The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”
When Pilate heard what they said, he was more afraid than ever, and he went back into the governor’s residence and said to Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you know I have the authority to release you, and to crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.” John 19:1-11
As you look at the state of affairs around the globe today, are you fearful? Does your faith suddenly seem inadequate to carry you through what’s coming upon the world? When you think of the days, months, and years past–when you were sure you would never betray the Lord, come what may–do you now fear you may find yourself in the company of men like Peter, who in a moment of weakness denied he even knew the Lord Jesus? If so, you’re not alone. And you’re actually in a pretty good place.
No one wants to suffer, of course. And when faced with suffering, it’s normal to want to draw back and find a safe harbor to wait out the storm. Even Jesus, just before His arrest, prayed that God–if possible–would remove the cup of suffering He was about to endure. Many people read this and speculate that this prayer was offered in anticipation of bearing the sins of the world or being separated from His Father. I’m sure those things were at the top of His list; but we can’t forget that, although He was God, He was also a man. And as a man, He was not immune to pain and suffering. He understood the full scope of what was awaiting Him, knowing full well it would all culminate in an excruciating physical death. And He, like us, recoiled at the thought of all He would endure. But He received strength from His Father (Luke 22:43) and He did not draw back but was obedient unto death. He understood this: No one had the power or authority to take His life; rather, He was laying it down willingly (John 10:18b).
The leaders of our respective countries boast in their power and authority. They believe they are in control and will rule as they see fit. But they, like all created things, live and breathe only as God grants them the ability to do so. And they rule only as they are permitted, for a time and a season. They, as all who tread this earth, are but a mist that appears for a short time then vanishes (James 4:14). Never forget that neither they, nor anything else in all creation has any authority or power other than that which has been granted to them from above.
As we contemplate what we might be asked to face in the near future, we can rest in the knowledge that our lives are not subject to the whims of those who would pursue us. Are you afraid you may be called to lose your worldly possessions? Do you fear the possibility of persecution, suffering, imprisonment, and/or death? Then follow Christ’s example and set your face like flint toward the Lord and know that He will never allow you to be shamed or disgraced, Isaiah 50:7-8. Choose this day to surrender your life willingly and proactively for His glory and He will give you the strength to endure when it is needed. Then whether you live or die, you can confidently proclaim with the Lord: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18b).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. ~Hebrews 12:1-3
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