God Almighty, Lord of Heaven & Earth, God-Who-Sees, God-Who-Provides, Judge & Counselor, our sinful lays before You revealed, nothing is hidden, everything is known to You. The darkest corners of our hearts & the false impressions we put on to impress others are exposed for what they are in Your sight. There are no secrets we can keep from You, nowhere we can run or hide from Your gaze. You know our going in & our coming out, our lying down & our rising up again. Grant us this mercy today, remind us of Your best, the good You have provided because of our worst. Let us see You & be reminded of our own condition in the light of Your glory. Let us remember today, pace ourselves with the footsteps of Jesus along the Way of Suffering & the Hill of the Skull. May we be present there today & turn our hearts heavenward. Remind us, sweet Jesus, of Your love, mercy & grace over us. Forgive us our deep failings, every one & restore our hearts with Your blood & Spirit. We pray this in the power of Your precious Name, Jesus, amen.
Close Your eyes & imagine at the paragraph breaks.
Be present, an observer in the crowd today.
Walk through today aware of what He did for you as your day progresses.
(Friday, Early Morning)
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”
But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
(Friday, About 9am)
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
“35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, ‘Release those men!’
36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: ‘The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.’
37 But Paul said to them, ‘They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out!’
38 Then the police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them, and escorting them out, they urged them to leave town. 40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed.”
Sometimes, as Christians, we feel like it’s wrong to stand up for ourselves. We feel guilty if we engage in behavior that may not be construed as…humble. We remember that “…the meek shall inherit the earth” and so we try to be meek, quiet and unassuming. But the fact of the matter is that Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We are supposed to use our minds, do what is right, be creative, but unlike the world we do this in gentleness and in love. Paul & Silas were wronged, publicly wronged. And where someone might say to ‘turn the other cheek’ they would be taking that command further than Jesus intended. We are not supposed to seek out abuse or situations that bring us harm. We aren’t supposed to let those patterns of behavior continue. We need to stand up for what it right. Paul and Silas were beaten and publicly humliated. If they just ‘took it’ and moved on, what would come for the Christians who get persecuted after them, maybe who aren’t Roman citizens? So it was important that they establish a precedent that would protect others, and keep them from the harm they experienced. At least now the authorities would think first before needlessly beating someone.
We aren’t supposed to seek revenge. Paul and Silas did not.
We aren’t supposed to act in anger. Paul and Silas did not.
We aren’t supposed to ridicule anyone. Paul and Silas did not.
We aren’t supposed to rebel against authorities who are acting in good faith. Paul and Silas did not.
Instead, they stood up for themselves, they stated their rights and they demanded that they receive the proper treatment afforded to them by the law of the land. They stood up for themselves in a God honoring way, left a Christ-centred example and didn’t burn any bridges or leave any unsavory tastes in the mouths of the people. They just showed they weren’t pushovers, and that they understood authority and how it plays out.
As we GoLove others in Jesus’ Name, we need to be mindful of the impression that we leave, whether we feel like we are being treated well or not. How we react makes a difference. How we act, proactively, makes a difference. In everything we do, we need to stand for what is right, even if the governing authorities are not. Insofar as they operate in a reasonable and just way, we comply, but where they stand against the Word of God, then we stand up for what is right in a way that honors God, and hopefully, makes a good impression for His sake and in His Name on those people whom we stand against. It is also important to remember that God is the One who sets things straight and who will see justice done. We stand for the truth, until that time, honoring Christ in our attitudes and actions.
“16 Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 As she followed Paul and us she cried out, ‘These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God.’ 18 And she did this for many days.
But Paul was greatly aggravated and turning to the spirit, said, ;I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’ And it came out right away.
19 When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, ‘These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.’
22 Then the mob joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had inflicted many blows on them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to keep them securely guarded. 24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.”
This isn’t an uncommon reaction to the truth. When told or shown that what they are doing is wrong, people tend to lash out and get angry. They see the sharing of the truth/Gospel as a personal assault. And so they lash out, they get aggressive. This is the way that sin presses back against the truth, and we’ve seen it over and over again. Just like a child who doesn’t want to hear something will cover their ears and start to yell, these people cover their hearts and do whatever is necessary to stop the truth from taking purchase. People who are invested in their sins are not interested in changing while they feel like things are going ‘well.’ And so it is no surprise when they press ack against us as we share the Gospel.
They’ll call us names, try to defame us, insult and slander us and do whatever they can to rally like minded people to their cause to make a bigger noise, a large enough commotion that we would be over powered and forced into submission. That tactic hasn’t changed. It was happening before Paul & company experienced it here in Philippi and it is still happening today. We see it in the news today as Christians are fought against, defamed, shouted at and ridiculed. The tactics are the same and the reasons behind them are the same. So, don’t be surprised when people lash out and fight back against you when you share the gospel with them. Some soil is hardpacked and cannot receive seed. Calloused to thier own depravity, rationalizing their own behavior, they refuse to listen, refuse to hear.
As we GoLove people in Jesus Name, sharing the truth of the Gospel, we are going to experiece a variety of responses. Some will be like these people in Phillippi, some will receive it joyfully. However it happens, we must remember that the aggression and the joy have nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the Gospel message. If they reject it, they are not rejecting us but Him who sent us. If they receive it gladly, they are not accepting something that we came up with or can take credit for, but they are receiving Christ because of His efforts for them. It’s all about Him, and not about us, and so we endure a great many things for His sake andin His Name. Paul and Silas saw this reaction as a victory, hauled off to jail and beaten without a trial, they had spoken nothing but the truth and been faithful to Christ abive all. And because their faith endured, they rejoiced. Pray for that same endurance in the truth for yourself today. Pray that God would grow you in your faithfulness, no matter what the response to your efforts may be…