Lenten Devotion: Back to Pilate

… Then, arraying Him in splendid clothing, he sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:11b).

Read Luke 23:13-25

Pilate has examined Jesus and found no crime based on the charges made against Him. This was also the case with Herod or he would have condemned Him. Again, Jesus should be set free immediately. Instead, however, Pilate proposes a solution, “I will therefore punish and release Him.”

Perhaps Pilate thinks he is offering the Jewish leaders a way to save face before their people. They surely wouldn’t want him to release Jesus and publicly humiliate them, would they? But seeing Pilate back down from his verdict, the priests know they need to stand their ground, and Pilate will eventually surrender Jesus.

Pilate’s punishment for Jesus was the brutal Roman scourging. It used whips with pieces of bone or lead fastened to the tips. After this horrific violence, Pilate honors a custom, giving the crowds their choice of two criminals. He offers them a severely abused Jesus or the most dangerous criminal in prison: Barabbas. Pilate may not realize it, but he has lowered Jesus to the status of a criminal, thus making it easier for the Jewish leaders and the crowds to call for His death. The Jewish leaders convince the Jews to demand Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ crucifixion.

For a third time Pilate asks what terrible thing this Man has done? The judge is now pleading with the people; he has totally lost control of this trial. The crowds increasingly demand Jesus’ crucifixion. Their voices prevail over Pilate’s sense of justice. He orders Barabbas released, and Jesus is to be handed over to their will.

Jesus’ prophecy about His passion has been accomplished: Judas handed Jesus over to His Jewish enemies; the Jews handed Jesus over to Pilate, and Pilate now hands Jesus over to the crowds that are demanding His crucifixion.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Pilate watched Your trial spiral out of control. Help me see that You were in complete control, winning my salvation by Your innocent suffering and death. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: The Rock Crumbles

…Then they seized Him and led Him away, bringing Him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance (Luke 22:54).

Read Luke 22:54-62

When Jesus is arrested, the disciples scatter in fear and go into hiding-all, that is-except for Peter. He follows at a distance then slips into the courtyard, posing as one of the temple police. Though it seems bold and courageous, Jesus does not want him there. He wants him safe with the other disciples. There is no reason for Peter to put himself in jeopardy. Jesus has already spelled out exactly what will happen.

In the cold night air the guards light a fire and Peter sits down to warm himself. But the firelight betrays him. Carefully studying his face, a maid points him out to the other guards: “This man also was with Him.”

Realizing the grave danger, Peter quickly answers, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A short time later someone else recognizes him and says, “You also are one of them.”

Peter answers, “Man, I am not.” Luke’s narrative is kind to Peter; he only mentions the denials, not the oaths and curses he calls down on himself.

An hour later still another challenges him, “Certainly, this man also was with Him, for he too is a Galilean.”

Peter snaps back, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately he hears a rooster crowing and turns and looks straight into Jesus’ face-even as the words of his third denial are pouring from his lips.

Remembering Jesus’ prediction, Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. In its own way Peter’s denial was as painful for Jesus as was Judas’ betrayal. For Peter the guilt and shame must have been dreadful.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You looked in love on Peter in the midst of his sin. Look on me in my sins and turn me to sorrow and regret, so I may run to You for forgiveness and peace. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Midweek Worship

Our Lenten Sermon series “Words From the Cross” continues tonight. Join us at 7:00 pm as Pastor Edwards leads us in worship.

…When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30).