Five Points Blog

Holy Week Devotional: Tuesday, April 15

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this state- ment, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no au- thority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king op- poses Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Ara- maic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

John 19:7-15

Having just endured the pain and shame of a flogging, Jesus is once again pre- sented by Pilate to the Jewish crowd. Anticipating the thorough beating Jesus received would have slated their bloodlust, Pilate fears the situation he finds him- self in even more. “Is this man indeed sent from God?”

As the dialogue continues between Pilate and Jesus and then Pilate and the Jewish leadership, we see the stakes rise as the question of whose authority is supreme comes to the forefront.

The Jewish leadership first seeks to assert their authority by appealing to the law of the land, law that the Roman ruler is to enforce. Pilate then asserts his author- ity over Jesus, “Do you not know that I have authority ... ?” John records where real authority comes from and who really is sovereign over these proceedings; all human authority is derived from and subject to that which is from above. Neither Rome nor Jerusalem reign supreme. God does.

And yet again, we see the Jewish leaders attempt to establish themselves on a throne, feigning allegiance to Caesar to force Pilate to do their bidding. But Pilate will not be out done; he sits in judgment in the place of authority and ironically declares, “Behold your King!” Answering more truthfully than they know, the Jews declare they have no king.

As we reflect this week on the person and work of Jesus, do we persist to clamor for control over all aspects of our lives or do we submit ourselves to the king who was bloodied on our behalf? Do we manipulate others to do our bidding or puff our- selves up by wielding wrongly what God has given? Or do we entrust ourselves to the One above who has all authority? 


Holy Week Devotional: Monday, April 14

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

John 19:1-6 

"Christ was never more lovely to his church than when he was most deformed for his church" - Richard Sibbes

Flogged. We very quickly can read right over the word and continue on to verse 2. But this punishment was given to hasten death once the criminal was on the cross. This calls to mind Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

The word “crushed” means being trampled with the result of being pulverized. Some translations have the word “bruised” here, but our English words just can’t match the emphatic sense of “crushed.” It suggests a breaking into pieces. Sometimes this word is translated “dust,” as in there is nothing left but dust! In John 19 we witness the continuing of the suffering of Jesus. Here we watch as Jesus was beginning to be crushed into pieces, pulverized into dust, trampled to death.

All this for our iniquities. We were given peace as Jesus was being pulverized. Our healing comes through the horrific harming of Jesus. As we were wandering in our sin, he suffered the punishment we rightfully deserved. He was suffering the wrath of God for our sin. He was made a curse for our blessing.

There lies the shock of the cross. God laid every single thing that made us so revolting to his holy eyes on the shoulders of his Son. The perfect Son became sin. The treasured Son of God became twisted. His perfection marred by our perverseness. Every despicable sin, every revolting act, the Lord laid on him. Everything we deserved, he bore.

All this was done in love! What a love! What a cost! All praise to our Suffering Savior! 


Holy Week Devotional: Sunday, April 13

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

John 12:12-19 

The final week of our Lord’s earthly ministry begins with an air of victory—a darkened victory. Riveted on his mission, Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem at Passover time. His hour has come. He comes of his own accord. When he gives himself to die five days later, he must do so willingly. God’s wrath will be wiped away only by a sacrifice of willing obedience.

The palm branches, the coats for his donkey to tread upon, symbolized their response to Jesus’ power over death. He had recently raised Lazarus of Bethany from the grave. He had dined with his formerly dead friend there and now his victory tour brought him to Jerusalem in time for Passover. The crowds were so filled with excitement they quoted ancient cheers of honor and praise to God’s king, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

Jesus receives their victorious praise as God’s king and affirms it by finding a donkey to ride upon in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He knows, as they do, this fulfills Scripture: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:15 quoting Zechariah 9:9).

Yet I say this is a victory darkened because no one saw clearly how great a
King Jesus is; nor did they see how great God is. The disciples didn’t have clear understanding until much later, when Jesus rose from the dead, he miraculously ascended to his glory at the Father’s side, and the Spirit was poured out (John 12:16). The crowds looked at Jesus thinly, as a mere worker of signs (verse 17-18). The religious leaders saw Jesus only as a threat to be destroyed (verse 19). They all suffered from spiritual myopia.

Do you? Do you suffer from spiritual blindness to the victorious power of Jesus Christ over death and all evil? You need not. Begin this Holy Week for 2014 with the prayer, “Lord, open the eyes of my heart to behold clearly the full splendor of your victory at the cross and over the grave!” 


The Son’s Dying Compassion

While the Son of God hangs upon the cross, brutally scourged, savagely beaten, falsely accused, publicly humiliated, cruelly abandoned and dying, he shows astonishing compassion. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” (John 19:26).

 If Jesus cares for his natural mother Mary with such great compassion, how much more will he show compassion to all his disciples who hear his Word and obey it? Do you remember Christ’s values displayed when he learned his mother desired to see him? He said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). If Jesus cares for his earthly mother so tenderly, he will care for his gladly obedient spiritual kin even more!

 And if the Son is full of compassion while suffering the world’s most excruciating death, greater still is Christ’s compassion now that he reigns in power and glory! I can’t but soar with Paul at Christ’s infinite power for his own: "What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Ephesians 1:19)! All such power is released in compassion on those who trust in him.

 And what a holy charge Jesus gives to John: “Care for my mother when I die!” The puritan commentator Matthew Henry observes, “If he who knows all things had not known that John loved him, he would not have made him his mother's guardian. It is a great honor to be employed for Christ, and to be entrusted with any of his interest in the world.”

 Never doubt Christ’s compassion for you as a child of his love, but surge with Christ’s compassion for the grieving he has placed around you. 

Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we revel in the compassion Christ has shown us.

What Does Glory Look Like?

How do you know God’s glory rests upon you? The Spirit of God wants you to be confident in your salvation, that the glory of God can be seen in your life. After exulting in the majestic plan of salvation for eleven mighty verses (v.3-14), Paul applies it to real individuals in v. 15-16, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

Inspired by God, Paul knows how important the question is, “How do the Ephesians (and the rest of us) tell for sure if they are among those elect from before the foundation of the world (v.4)?” We only have to look in our lives for the two evidences Paul looked for in theirs: “Because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints.” There they are, faith in the Lord and love for other believers. Those are the two signs that Paul looks for in the Ephesians to confirm that God’s glory rests upon them and that they are saved.

You can tell Paul elevates these two tests, faith and love, up to the level of life assurance because he begins v. 15 with the phrase “for this reason.” Since all these glorious doctrines of grace are true, they therefore have power to effect God-ward change in the lives of those in whom they operate. What change? They produce faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love for others on whom God has set his glory. 

So pause and ask yourself: Is there within you a deep delight in God through his son Jesus Christ, and a genuine, zealous love for other believers? If yes, his glory rests upon you.