Are You Serious?
Friday, November 1, 2019
So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” John 19:10-12
Several decades before John wrote his gospel, a leader named Theudas stepped forward as the long-prophesied Jewish conqueror. Four hundred armed men joined his side with the hope of defeating Rome, but they failed miserably.
Not long after, a man named Judas of Galilee stepped forward and announced his messiahship. The ever-hopeful Jews rallied to his side as well, hoping that this time Rome would surrender. Unsurprisingly, their guerilla warfare failed and Judas, too, was condemned.
Fast forward to John’s day, and Pilate is now stationed in Judea as a buffer between Rome and the Jewish provinces. His job is to snuff out these uprisings before they grow into something more devastating.
So here in John 19, Pilate stands before Jesus with a puffed out chest, uttering the same threats he’s probably given a thousand times, but for the first time in his life he is exposed as a fraud. Jesus peers past his Roman tunic, his signet ring, his royal guards, and his prideful glare, and gives him a glimpse of what real authority looks like.
I love imagining this scene and it is one of my favorites in all the gospels. Pilate doesn’t scoff, yell more threats, or keep up his façade. He immediately tries to release Jesus. He has seen a lot of so-called kings come through his halls; but this king is unlike any other. This king is serious.
I’ll never forget my son telling me a story about a discussion he had with a professor in Wales. Seth was working on a master’s degree in ancient history, and he was invited to a stammtisch dinner (in German it means “regular gathering”) hosted by a notable German professor of theology.
My son sat directly across from the professor and another post-graduate student who were discussing how Paul had rewritten Christianity and lied about Jesus. Rather flustered, Seth spoke up and debated with the professor about the nature of Paul’s conversion and the consistency of his gospel message.
Sadly, when my son was finished speaking, the professor responded through broken German, “Jesus was just one of many insurrectionists during that time. There were many so-called ‘messiahs.’ Don’t take Him too seriously.”
That’s the mantra of our present age, isn’t it? “Don’t take Jesus too seriously.” Curse His name in movies and TV shows. Make Him the brunt of satirical jokes. Mock Him on t-shirts and bumper stickers. Do anything with Jesus, just as long as you don’t take Him seriously.
I pray you are reading this devotional right now because you have taken Jesus seriously. But how committed are you to discipleship? How fervent are you in obeying all of Christ’s commands as your King and Lord?
The name “Christian” is a gift and a responsibility, and we should be intentional about how we are representing Christ to a watching world. After all, they won’t take Jesus seriously until we do.