Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reactions to Christ

This past Sunday morning pastor Voigt preached on some of the reactions and attitudes of those coming into contact with Jesus in Mark 15. This chapter describes the trial, scourging, and crucifixion of Christ. One of the phrases that stands out in this chapter due to its repetition is "King of the Jews". In the varied reactions we can see many of the same attitudes that are displayed by people today when confronted with the fact of the Kingship of Jesus.

First of all we see Pilate in verses 1-15. If he had been given a choice he would not have been involved with the whole "Jesus situation" at all. His attitude can be summed up in one word. Indifference. Pilate did not perceive Jesus to be guilty of anything worthy of death, but that conviction was not enough to make him take a stand and release him either. He would have happily let Jesus go free with perhaps just a good beating as somewhat of a compromise.

In verses 8-15 the crowd of people are shown to be easily influenced. Wishy-washy you might say. The chief priests, in verse 11, are said to have "moved the people" to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. It is quite likely that among this crowd were some of the same people who had a week earlier hailed Christ's entry into Jerusalem with cries of Hosanna. Disappointed, perhaps, with Jesus failure to take the nation by force, they were quick to turn on him.

Next are the Roman soldiers. Verses 16-20. They, as a group, already have hatred and contempt for the Jews. They are more than willing to take it out on Jesus. They are bullies who like nothing more than to beat a man when he is defenceless. It is part f their job, and they love their jobs!

In verse 21 it is said of Simon of Cyrene that the soldiers "compel" him to bear Jesus cross. From the text we get little information about this Simon except that he was an unwilling participant.

The Jewish religious leaders can be found in several places throughout this chapter. Their motivation is made clear from verse 10, which states that Pilate knew that the chief priests acted out of envy. Clearly they wanted to remain the focus of religious authority in the Jewish nation, and so needed to get rid of this Jesus that so many of the people were turning to follow.

But where were the disciples? Not to be found in this text! Even the women who followed Jesus were said to be "looking on afar off" in verse 40. Now we know from other books of the Bible that at least some of the disciples were present, but they apparently were keeping a low profile. Keeping their distance. Not making an outright denial of Christ (as Peter had done earlier), but neither willing to share his fate.

Its pretty easy to make the comparison between those described here in Mark 15 and the people of our time. Perhaps most of the world is like Pilate. They can take or leave Jesus. They are willing to accept that he was a great teacher, but...

Unfortunately, many of those who call themselves Christian today may fit into the mold of the crowd who were so easily swayed. They may be hailing Jesus as savior one day, only to reject him as King the next, when they find he is not the one their man-made theology made him out to be.

Clearly there are "Roman soldier" types at work today. Atheists show their hatred of Jesus Christ on a daily basis. They hold him in utter contempt just as most of those soldiers did so long ago. For the most part they make it obvious that their hatred is reserved for Jesus, since they rarely waste any time attacking any false religions.

Simon the Cyrenian. His modern day counterpart can be seen in nearly anyone who is unsaved. They are an unwilling participant in God's great plan, but participant they are nonetheless. In fact it is only after God has saved us and changed us that we begin to become conformed to his will. Phillipians 2:13 says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

We have some religious leaders that appear to be in it for the fame and fortune. They take the focus off the King, and seem to prefer that the spotlight is on them. These modern day "chief priests" seek to keep their athority at all costs.

And what of the disciples? How many who really are Christians spend much of their time keeping a low profile? Watching the work of the Lord from a safe distance? All of us are guilty of this to some extent at one time or another. Keeping our focus on the King should help!

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