The consolation that God is in control ...
Text: John 19: 1-16
Text verse: John 19:11
This passage describes something of the torture that Jesus experienced. He was flogged.
Anyone who was not a Roman citizen was whipped with an instrument with a short wooden handle. A few leather straps were fastened to the wood and at the ends of the leather, pieces of iron or bone were fastened. With such a blow, pieces of your skin were literally ripped out.
This torture was so severe that many people died because of it. It also contributed to Jesus dying so quickly (also see Mark 15:44).
After Jesus was tortured, Pilate brought Him out in a very dramatic way (also see vv. 4 & 5), displaying him to the people in the hope that the Jews would drop all the accusations against Him.
Yet they kept shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
We see here something of the inhuman injustice done to Jesus. Yet He handles it so much differently than we would have. He answers Pilate with sobriety and with great peace (vs. 11).
We stress and swear and overreact so easily because we live under the false impression that we are in control. Like Pilate, we think we have the power to determine every outcome (also see vs. 10). This is why we become rebellious when things seem out of our control.
What do we learn here from Jesus about how we can better handle difficult situations?
1. Recognise God’s sovereignty
It is striking that Jesus always refers to the sole rule (sovereignty) of the Father in such challenging situations (6:44; 10:18; 17:12). He found his consolation in the fact that his Father is in control of circumstances even though it does not always seem so from the human perspective.
In this case, Jesus again draws his comfort from God’s sovereignty. Pilate has the mistaken idea that he can determine Jesus’ fate, but Jesus knows that it is not in peoples’ hands. God determines everything and He gives authority to those that He chooses.
Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection should give us that same comfort. Despite the impossible situations in which we may find ourselves, we can know that God is in control. He will not let us down. Jesus’ resurrection is proof of this.
2. God will judge fairly
Here Jesus is talking about greater guilt (vs. 11). It reminds one of Jesus teaching that the one who knows more, has greater guilt (Luke 12: 47-48).
Pilate is guilty, but those who handed Jesus over to Pilate, namely Caiaphas and the rest of the Jewish Council, have greater guilt. They had all the prophecies of the Old Testament at their disposal and knew what was foretold around the Messiah, and yet they extradited Jesus.
For us as human beings it is impossible to judge others because we do not know everything as God does. Therefore, we must also leave everything to God, who will judge fairly.
Besides, we deserve to be judged. Still, we rely on the grace we receive in Christ; all the more reason we should leave the condemnation to God. He will judge fairly and in His time.