Tag Archives: Pilate

Jesus: Failure or Focused?

When Jesus was arrested and condemned to die, everyone seemed to be terribly confused. Peter was so confused that he denied even knowing Jesus, not once, but three times. Judas was so confused that he betrayed Jesus, with a kiss!

The Jewish religious leaders had so much hatred for Jesus that they were willing to lie, cheat and murder. They condemned Jesus then tried to convince the Roman governor, Pilate, that Jesus was a threat to Rome, hoping he would execute Jesus.

Pilate interviewed Jesus and concluded that he was no threat to the Empire. He knew that the religious leaders had turned Jesus over to him out of envy. They were jealous because Jesus was so popular with the people of Israel.

Pilate also got a note from his wife urging him to have nothing to do with “that righteous man” Jesus. Why? Because in a dream that very day she suffered much because of Jesus. Romans took dreams seriously.

So, from his interview of Jesus, from his knowledge of the Jewish religious leaders’ real motives, and from his wife’s dream and warning, Pilate was surrounded by evidence that Jesus was innocent. What would he do?

The governor had a custom to release one prisoner to the crowd during the feast. Pilate brought out a notorious prisoner named Barabbas and gave the crowd a choice between him and Jesus. Pilate hoped that they would choose Jesus over such a dangerous man. Then he could set Jesus free.

The crowd surprised Pilate by choosing Barabbas. They were persuaded by the religious leaders to insist that Jesus be crucified. They threatened to riot. So, in a pathetic attempt at absolving himself of responsibility, Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd and proclaimed himself innocent of Jesus’ blood.

Surprisingly, the crowd accepted responsibility for Jesus’ death, saying “His blood is on us and on our children!” Just days earlier, on Sunday, the crowds accompanied Jesus into the city with palm branches and praises, shouting, “Hosanna!” By Friday morning they were persuaded to shout, “Crucify him!”

The crowds were fickle and foolish. Pilate was worried about his political power. The religious leaders were worried about their personal honor. Politics, religion, and popular opinion all turned against Jesus.

If Jesus came for political power, he failed. If he came for religious honor, he failed. If he came for popularity with the people, it didn’t work. What was Jesus’ goal?

Barabbas was a man guilty of murder and insurrection, worthy of death. A Roman cross had his name on it. But Barabbas was unchained and released. A guilty and unworthy man walked away free.

Jesus, a man everyone knew was innocent, allowed himself to be taken and condemned. He died on a cross that had Barabbas’ name on it. Jesus came to die for the unworthy. Jesus came to die for sinners, for us.

If we chase political power, religious honor, or popularity, we have parted ways with Jesus. Jesus’ mission is to save lost sinners.

May God’s Holy Spirit keep us focused on our kingdom mission,

Brother Richard


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Can We Talk Religion?

Can we have an honest discussion about religion? No. Not if those who speak the truth are indiscriminately labeled as bigots.

To discuss religion in the U.S. is to discuss Christianity and Islam. To discuss Islam is to discuss the problem of radicalization. But honest discourse is shouted down by predictable accusations of “hate speech.”

But to point out that Islam has a problem with violence is not hatred for all Muslims. To deny that Islam has a problem with violence is to ignore the facts and to stick one’s head in the quicksand of political correctness.

It is time to stop showing graphs that compare radical Islamic murder in the U.S. with other murder, but begin the count on the day after 9/11! The agenda of such cherry-picking of the stats is plain for all to see: to rewrite history in order to exonerate Islam.

Why the strained effort to elevate Islam and to denigrate Christianity (i.e., defining Christianity by the acts of 1,000-year-dead crusaders)? It’s the new definition of Equality.

The New Equality is not simply advocating for fair treatment between the races, between men and women, between the rich and poor, or between different creeds and religions. The New Equality is systematically dismantling established ideas of what is morally right and wrong.

The New Equality claims to be acting out of heartfelt sympathy for the exploited and the underdog. But the real goal is to establish a new foundation for defining right and wrong.

The long-time foundation for right and wrong is God. Different cultures and religions have diverse views about God, but still he is the authority, the basis for beliefs, values, laws, governments and societies.

But God and religion are no longer valid in the world of the New Equality. Things are simple with this new perspective. Erase all differences. Remove all pride of accomplishment or confidence in righteousness and you eradicate all hatred and violence, right? Soon everyone will be well-fed and satisfied, right? Wrong.

In the New Equality, nobody can claim to be right. All religions must accept absolute sameness. If a certain group claims to be right or to know the truth, then they are accusing someone else of being wrong, and that might hurt someone’s feelings.

Feelings are now more important than truth. Or, put another way, feelings have become truth. Not so long ago we were told, “If it feels good, do it!” Now we are faced with another step back: “If it feels good, it must be right!”

All this moral confusion is a result of denying humanity’s ability to know the truth. In an increasingly secular culture, we are asked to believe that nobody can really know ultimate truth, and so it is impolitic to make such a claim.

And yet certain claims stubbornly refuse to exit the stage of history. The words of Jesus still ring out: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life – nobody comes to the Father but by me.” “I am the Light of the world – whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Think of all the kingdoms, movements and philosophies that have come and gone in the past 2,000 years. But Jesus’ words continue to speak truth and hope to hearts around the world.

Just before he slipped away into the pages of history, Pilate asked a famous question, “What is truth?” When he uttered those words he was literally looking truth in the face, but he turned and walked away and washed his hands of Jesus.

The New Equality perpetuates the attitude of Pilate, insisting that truth is illusory. Deciding beforehand that we cannot find the truth really limits the discussion.

An honest dialogue admits to the possibility of real answers, of one position being right and another being wrong. Can we talk religion?

May God’s Spirit open your heart to his truth,

Richard Foster


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The Last Word

Jesus stood before Pilate.  A humble Jewish carpenter who had become an itinerant preacher was at the mercy of the powerful Roman governor.  Jesus stood bound by the chains of disgrace and Pilate stood adorned in the robes of honor.  The preacher was in submission and the statesman was in control—so it seemed.

Jesus had made some powerful enemies among the religious leaders in the city.  Pilate had forged some powerful connections in the ranks of the ruling elite.  Jesus apparently represented nothing more than a small spiritual movement confined to a relatively limited region, a movement that was embraced by just a handful of followers.  Pilate represented the mighty Empire that ruled much of the civilized world.

A lowly preacher was delivered into the hands of a powerful government official.  History thrust these two men against each other, but their conflict appeared to be one-sided.  As events unfolded that busy day in Jerusalem, anyone watching would have given the victory to Pilate and his Empire.  Before the day was done, Jesus had been brutally executed and Pilate still occupied his seat of authority.

Despite his honored status and impressive authority, despite the magnificence of his culture with all its wise laws and brilliant architecture and military might, Pilate and his Roman Empire would fade from its exalted place, left behind by the unstoppable advances of history.  On that Friday morning he seemed to be in command, but his power was not the last word.

Despite his public shame, his painful wounds, his broken body, his spilled blood, and the heavy stone that sealed his corpse in a tomb, Jesus would rise up and give birth to a spiritual movement that would challenge the powers and authorities of this world for two millennia, a movement that continues to challenge the powers and authorities of this world today.  On that Friday morning he seemed to be defeated, but his crucifixion was not the last word.

The turning point was Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus, it turns out, was not simply a lowly preacher who left behind the life of a carpenter in Nazareth.  Jesus was, and is, the Leader of God’s Kingdom.  His resurrection firmly establishes his vital place in time and eternity.  All kingdoms and empires, all powers and authorities, every leader and every ruler, will not only step aside, but they will bend the knee and they will confess the supremacy of the One Lord sent by God: Jesus Christ the resurrected Savior.

Jesus’ resurrection makes everything clear.  Now we know which kingdom will finally be victorious.  Now we know which kingdom to support and to serve.  Now we know, despite any appearances in the meantime, that citizens of God’s Kingdom will share the ultimate victory for all of eternity.  Now we know that our participation in Christ’s Kingdom, no matter what the cost, is not in vain.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we should never lose heart, despite the apparent victories of the powers and authorities in this world.  Because of Jesus’ resurrection we know that all such victories are temporary, fleeting shadows in this passing age.  Because of Jesus’ resurrection we should gather on every Lord’s Day and worship, but especially on Easter.

Easter reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Living Word, the Word of Truth, and the Last Word—we need not wait for another Word from God, Christ is the fullest revelation of God’s glory.  The chains that bound him and the nails that pierced him have long since crumbled.  Jesus the Crucified and Risen One is seated at the right hand of God in glory!  What could possibly keep us from praising him?

May God’s Spirit fill us with the power and the joy of Christ’s resurrection,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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