Jesus In Control

John 19:10-12 “‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realize that I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?’ ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, ‘If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.’”

Bullies are insecure. Their bullying isn’t evidence that they have too much confidence. It is an attempt to cover up their lack of it. Pilate’s insecurity leads him to try to bully and threaten Jesus into responding. “I am the mighty Roman governor. I hold your life in my hands. I am free to save you or destroy you. Don’t you dare disrespect me with your silence!”

Jesus brings Pilate back to reality and deflates his delusions of power. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Even in worldly terms, Pilate had to answer to the emperor for his actions. He was not completely free to do as he pleased. And an even greater authority was standing in front of him at this moment, the Son of God from whom Pilate ultimately received his authority in the first place. Pilate has things exactly backwards. He doesn’t hold Jesus’ life in his hands. This Jesus hold’s Pilate’s life in his hands. Jesus claims to be, and is, the Son of God, and that deflates Pilate’s delusions of power.

As if to further drive this point home to him, we see how effective Pilate’s power is when he attempts to use it. Pilate tried to set Jesus free. Why try? If he has so much power, why doesn’t he go ahead and do it? In both word and experience, the Son of God has a way of deflating our delusions of power.

You and I don’t sit in positions of political power like Pilate did. But we live in a free country and we believe that we sit more or less in control of our own lives. Or do we? The Apostle James reminds us, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” Who of us doesn’t experience this often? We make plans, we have intentions, we pour ourselves into making something happen, but when the day comes circumstances far beyond our control change everything, and nothing goes according to plan. We aren’t in control. Jesus is.

The bare fact that Jesus is the Son of God as he claims calls for our trust just because of who he is. Once you find the true God, does it make sense to follow any other? Look again at the scene before us this evening. Here we have the Son of God, who can create the universe out of words, who can send down fire from heaven, who controls the winds and the seas, who can bring the dead back to life. But what does he look like? He is a man, and a rather humiliated man at that. He stands there soaked in his own blood. He endures the sarcasm and insults of Jewish official and Roman governor alike. His own people are calling for his death because he claims to be who he is: the Son of God.

The governor values his life less than the governor’s own political career. It is more convenient for Pilate, less of an interruption in his day, to let Jesus be killed than to see to his defense. Jesus doesn’t speak in his own defense. He does not plead for justice. He does not power his way out of the predicament. The Son of God endures it all, and then crucifixion and death.

Why? This is how much he loves you. This is how intent he is to see your sins forgiven, your soul redeemed, your heaven secured. You won’t find love like that from any of the gods in any of the holy books in any of the world’s other religions, even if they were something more than myth. Only here. Only Jesus. He claims to be the Son of God, they say, and he is. And the fact that he endures so much to save you invites our faith in his grace.

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