Quiet “As A Rock”

Do you ever find it hard to keep quiet?  Do you feel the need to answer every objection or criticism?  Has Twitter become a place for you to “let off some steam”?  When others are shouting at you, can you find the strength to be silent?  When you feel overwhelmed by the “mob” mentality, do you know how to stay calm, focused and strong?
Mark tells us that Jesus was silent before the barrage of accusations from the scribes and priests so that Pilate was “amazed.”  Amazed at Jesus’ silence!  How long since you were amazed by someone NOT reacting in rage and retaliation.  Pilate was amazed that Jesus was able to remain calm, focused, and peaceful in such a blistering storm of false accusations.  Pilate knew the true motive of the priests who were calling for Jesus’ execution.  They were envious of His compelling life and teaching.  People were often amazed at the gracious words that Jesus spoke so much so that they would testify that “no one ever spoke like this man!”
Jesus is teaching us that silence is strength not weakness.  Ours is the shouting generation.  It’s common to witness the unleashing of a hot, but meaningless tirade of words.  In refusing to get entangled with His false witnesses, Jesus offered one of His greatest demonstrations of strength.  He is being a rock in a category 5 tornado of spiritual conflict.  Jesus didn’t allow others to direct His narrative.  Most of us end up mindlessly following the mob rant, parroting what is popular and what others are saying. Not Jesus.  He chose silence in this moment, teaching us the importance of knowing when to speak and when to be quiet.  
Let’s face it.  We talk too much.  We say too much.  We need to learn to be silent more often.  It’s interesting that the wise King Solomon wrote that with too many words sin is not lacking.

          18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.

      19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

      20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

      21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

In other words, you can sin by talking too much.  So, the next time you feel like spouting off because of the insane rhetoric of our day, think twice before you speak.  Of course, I’m not saying that you should not speak up against injustice, sin, and evil.  The same wise old king (Solomon) said that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).  What I’m saying is that you need to make sure that you are inhabited by the same peace that controlled the mind and heart of Jesus.  Think before you speak is still a good policy.  And when you do speak do so peacefully. 
Standing on the Rock with you,
Pastor Deric

Jesus Is On Trial Still

There is no question about who Jesus Christ claimed to be.  As He stood before the first of three religious trials (and three civil trials), He was asked to answer the charge of blasphemy.  The high priest asked Him straight up, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”  Mark’s Gospel records His straight up answer, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 

Rather than examine the real evidence that Jesus offered as proof of His identity, the Sanhedrin conspired with false (albeit flimsy) witnesses.  Liars were encouraged by the Jewish Council to falsify the evidence against Jesus.  They were not interested in hearing the truth but in achieving their prejudiced sentence against Jesus.  They hated Him and rejected what He taught.  His good example made them insanely angry.  They would silence Him one way or another.

Their own law was meticulous about the proper use of witnesses.  The entire judicial system of Judaism was predicated upon faithful and trustworthy witnesses.  Just a quick reading of Deuteronomy 19:15–21 (ESV) will expose the trial of Jesus as a mockery of the Torah. 

15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed.  Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.  16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.  18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst.   20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.   21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Objectivity, cross-examination, rigorously scrutinized witnesses and a fair trial are as old as time itself, with deep roots in the Old Testament Law.  A person is considered innocent until proven guilty, and that by multiple witnesses whose testimony bears evidence to the same.  But Jesus, in the end, was tried, sentenced, and condemned to die without one single witness to verify a single violation of God’s law.    

Why?  Why were they so enraged by Jesus?  The answer is unnerving.  It’s the same reason that so much of the world is angry at Him even now.  Jesus exposes our deeper and darker motives.  He explained the root of man’s resistance to Him in John Chapter 3.  He said, “19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.   20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.   21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

In a very real sense, Jesus’ trial didn’t end with His crucifixion on a Roman cross.  It’s acted out every day in the beating heart of every human being.  Each person is responsible to re-enact the trial of Jesus humbly considering the evidence of His birth, His life, His death, and ultimately His resurrection from the dead.  What is your judgment of Him?  Will you hear the truth as He described it? 

I’ll see you on Sunday morning at one of our two services when we will study Mark 14:53-72,  Jesus Is On Trial Still.   

Journeying with you towards Easter,
Pastor Deric


P.S.  Christianity, like its leader, is very much on trial in our prejudiced world.  At least in the West where I live, it’s easily demonstrable that Christianity is being subjectively scrutinized and unjustly sentenced without the evidence being objectively weighed.  False witnesses on the outside are multiplied against Christianity.  Faltering witnesses inside of the church aren’t helping our witness as the church.  But “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” the church, so says Jesus.