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RELEASING MURDER AND IMPRISONING PEACE
You may say that this is too chromatic, too colourful, too dramatic; and that true Christianity is low key, does not waggle the lion's tongue in his mouth, lies low, smiles or smirks and continues in what Bunyan called its silver slippers, making the best of both worlds, for there is no good, as some say, in making yourself a martyr unnecessarily.
It is to be hoped that you avoid such a blooper, however, for the spiritual realm is just as susceptible to foozling fouls as is the mathematical. The above would, in maths, resemble trying to divide by zero, which even Einstein once reputedly did, such was his desire for a world which is not the same as this one.
This world however is what it is, and if justice and equity, truth and righteousness, kindness and heart seem to you justly to be terms with which to characterise it, then your ideas of justice include mass slaughters in Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia, Sudan, Iraq, Biafra, to mention a few, in the last 70 years, ONE life time! And for what ? For daring to be Christian, for daring not to allow absolute pretensions of merely human power to play God, for daring to state in China that there are spiritual realities beyond the State, for being leaders in the Cambodian community, or non-Muslim non-manipulees in the Sudan ?
If however we return to reality, this world is as foul and polluted a place as could well be imagined. In one sense, it is worse than hell, for there the case is concluded, but here hypocrisy adds to it!
To be sure, it is also a place of superb beauty, magnificent astronomical, biological, ecological, physiological, cerebral, botanical, physical and chemical order. The grounds for the continuance of life continue in their designated designs, including those for our brains, enabling thought to oscillate and purposes to be formed and performed. Yet the defilement is so intense, as in child prostitution and famine based deaths in the midst of plenty for little ones, in the deliberate incitement of pagan and profane appetites, deleting the joy of life and its tenure, as in drug, alcoholic and cigarette advertisement or connivance, that the responsibility which is man's, reaches to the very heavens.
Do we not read in Isaiah 4, concerning the Lord's assessment: "He looked for justice, but behold, oppression, for righteousness, but behold a cry!" There you see righteous expectation from God, and evil assault from man, on justice, on truth and on fellow man. And the result ? It is a cry of anguish which is heard in the very heavens!
All of this has a basis, and it is sin; and in particular, the sin with which the Prince of Peace was crucified, and a murderer released instead of Himself, even when the judge, Pilate, declared Christ innocent. When you release murder, and imprison and kill the Prince of Peace, what would you expect ? In mercy, opportunity to repent, but in justice, blood from the Murder so revered, and anxiety from the Peace, its Prince so given exit licence from this earth. Though He was resurrected in three days, His body indeed never to rot, yet peace still rotted where He is not received. It does so to this day, and the stench arises like clouds of rubber burning to the sky.
Today we look at this release of Murder, and Imprisonment of Peace, as seen in Luke 23.
I THE MURDEROUS FACT AS DETAILED Luke 23:14-23
a) The False Charge 23:14 Brought to him by Jewish authorities, as one who was misleading the people, Christ was examined.
b) Its Rebuttal 23:15
Pilate found Christ utterly devoid of guilt in the matter. Reality did not support the idea of Christ's antagonists, and the Governor dismissed it. Indeed, his examination of the victim had been executed in the presence of Christ's captors, and even then, nothing could be shown to justify their chagrin, or validate their death wish for Him.
c) Its Second Rebuttal 23:15
Not only so, but Pilate had sought a second opinion, in the grotesque but imposing figure of Herod, no friend of the rigour of the Jews; and he too found nothing to warrant the desired devastation of Christ Jesus.
d) The Cry for the Murderer to Replace the Divine Healer 23:16-21
Justice having failed, the Jewish authorities sought to remove, what from their diseased viewpoint, was a dangerous possibility. COULD Pilate seek to balance their passion and his endeavours, however weak, for justice by releasing Christ as a gift to the people, the common intervention for the feast, occurring periodically, to show governing goodwill!
No, not at all come the voice of the impassioned! Crucify Him! Release Barabbas, the well-known murderer instead.
e) The Passion for the Slow Blood Drip 23:20-22
Pilate, that strange governor, cried as if the Jews were the real judges, and cried out to them again, seeking Christ's extradition and release. But no! once more. "What evil has He done ?" he asked. "I have found no cause for death to Him." Indeed, he prefaced this query by another ... WHY!
That, it is the great question, no mystery existing as to the answer to it, but every reason being present for it to be asked! WHY sin, why be unjust, why be inequitable, why not have a just and sound wisdom in estimating human claims, one against another, and impartially meditate, not according to the power of the groups, but according to the power of fact and argument ? WHY is this not done in employer-employee relationships, a question to be asked in this great Southland at this very time in the presence of the new labour laws! WHY so much fuss, why not reasoned concern and careful estimates leading to mutual understanding ? Indeed, in Europe could not further questions be asked: Why not feed the starving, and why limit food production to keep prices high ? WHY!
Why is man so unstable ? It is because being separated from the vine, the dying branches called human life, do not have the vigour, the spiritual exuberance, the godly passion, the self-sacrificial force, the nobility and the love to see things aptly and truly, but rather perform the rat-dance of more for me, mine or mine desire!
The question lingered.
WHAT HAS HE DONE ? asked Pilate. Done ? He had healed the sick, the incurably diseased, raised the dead, encouraged the meek, rebuked the proud, fulfilled the word of God to authenticate Himself as Messiah, so that NO ONE could do ANYTHING but murder Him: otherwise it would not have been necessary. Truth stood like a fortress and in NOTHING that the entire SCRIPTURE said could He be shown to be false! How hard they tried (Luke 11:52ff.); and how little they could accomplish.
The more they tried Him, the more they lost. Thus murder to save the nation was the choice (as in John 11:49ff.). It was quite explicit.
Christ in raising Lazarus from the dead, by express command from His own lips, several days after his death, had provided the last straw. His delay in coming when His friend was still living, had been deliberate (John 11). He had determined to show His power before His own hour, encouraging understanding and stimulating faith. Thus did He increase the severity of the challenge, as one who is a champion tennis player, may relish the change to do the apparently impossible. But this relish, it was not for the thrill but for the thriving of His people, who being thus reassured that He could do anything He willed, and would do what He promised.
Indeed, it was nearing the time for the last assault of divine benevolence through the incarnate Saviouir, on the unbelief of man, who could not stand the sheer brilliance of divine action, since he preferred darkness to light, and his own vanities to virtue and truth. Demonstrable and demonstrated CONTINUALLY was His deity in meeting the divine identikit specifications in the Old Testament and lightly moving His own power to redirect natural energies in this world, indeed in the never erring Christ, they could find by testing of every type, that He was precisely the Son of God, the Messiah, the One specified from of old for a millenium and more, present before his very eyes!
Moreover, the more He proposed test even for Himself, to satisfy them on spiritual things (as in Mark 2), the more promptly did He meet it. Nor was it a test in the case of Mark 2, which He merely devised. Rather was it one to MEET their EXPRESS criticisms. COULD He indeed forgive sins ? they thundered. Very well. Let us turn to what you CAN see. Let this deeply ruined man arise and take up his bed and walk NOW! Such was the thrust of His answer both in word, and as consistently the case with Jesus Christ, in deed to match it, at whatever level.
The one, in the case in view, who had been let down from the roof into the midst of the turbulent masses seeking to get near to such power for good as that of Christ, and to such a personage as He, had been PARDONED by Christ! Pardoned ... how DARE He do such a thing! That was the reaction to that pardon.
ONLY God can pardon: how dare this Christ do so! Such was the vehement and distasteful attack on Christ, when He forgave, doubtless seeing the fundamental cause of this particular case, FIRST, and so treating it first.
Dare ? Thus Christ audaciously (from this world's point of view) proceeded to do the impossible physically, to attest what He had just done spiritually, at the physical level. If they thought the pardon impossible, then since they also would think the sudden healing equally so, the issue was clear. Let Christ's word be tested. COULD He have the power of God ? Assuredly. Then He would do it, and did it without lapse or digression, without delay or preliminary. He announced it and then did it.
Was not the Messiah (Isaiah 35:5-6), to do precisely this sort of thing! (cf. Isaiah 29:17). Very well: He showed it in order to authenticate the divine and invisible, but crucial and eternal reality that He could and WOULD pardon as He saw the place for it. How wonderful that He had divinely and directly expressed His will that NO ONE that came to Him in faith, would He cast out! (John 6:37,47).
Since this was the case, the ONLY way to remove His appeal, was to remove His person. If He met every test, why not try the death test, and add a heavy brew of the herbs of mockery as well. Surely this would do it!
Let Him be mobbed, despised, thrashed, buffeted, humiliated and given anguish unspeakable. Perhaps then, this followed by the dripping, suffocating death would convince the people to obey their leaders and have what in fact would be a God-free religion, in which as in Romanism, they dictated the terms, even in the very presence of Christ (as now in the very presence of scripture to the contrary as in Matthew 23:8-10, cf. SMR pp.1032-1088H).
The voiding of God can also be sought by trying to turn creation into a magical phenomenon without cause (as in Communism*1 ), or verifiable scripture into a non-est, a non issue, as whatever is desired is proclaimed, even contradicting its own reputed preliminaries, the prophets of the Old Testament (SMR pp. 1080ff.) *2 .
f) The Priests' Cry for Slaughter (this time not of animals, but of their King) 23:23
The voices of "these men" AND of the "chief priests" prevailed in the clatter and clamour of will, concerning the expedient extermination, as it was conceived, of the Son of Man (cf. Daniel 7:13ff). The marching notice, not from engagement but from life, was thus served on Him of all men the paragon, in power, in infinite intimacy with the Deity on high (John 5:19ff., 8:58, 8:29), in mission from Him (Isaiah 48:16; 29; 35), of commission in Him (Isaiah 40:10ff., 42:1ff.), of eternity put into flesh (Micah 5:1-3), of compassion and of nurture (Ezekiel 34, where God made it clear that HE HIMSELF would come as the Good Shepherd), of perpetual infallibility as a man indeed: for to GOD ONLY does such a thing belong.
All mere men ? they are SINNERS (Romans 6:23).
The High Priests, like such a moiety, such a multitude indeed of religious leaders today, cried for His demise, or remaking, for plastic surgery on the Lord, and so on His commandments. There is no change in spirit in this matter today; but the negative cry is becoming unbecomingly international in its squalor; for the whole world has now been so immersed in His teachings which have spanned it as He foretold (Matthew 24:12), that the Gospel is an object for reverence or derision by billions.
Thus is it that the effort to strangulate His morals, compromise His power, reject His deity is as guilty now as it was then!
II THE RELEASE AND THE REPROOF Luke 23:24-31
It was but one coin: the crime against the Lord and the punishment for it. The long result came from the short folly. The murderer released, the Saviour to be ruined! Millenia have scourged this earth, but little remains before the King comes to rule (Luke 21:24, the 'time' of the Gentiles is gone, since Jerusalem is back with Israel). As Christ declared, on the way to His slaughter, "Daughters of Jerusalem! do not weep for Me but weep for yourselves!" (23:28-31). How they would weep, alas!
What then do we find in history ? Many are the flaming flares which burst their noxious fumes upon this largely demented, because spiritually inert earth. There are flares which ignite other flares, and the afforested park of man's domain is becoming more like a funeral pyre or an incandescence of ire, than the peace which was its nature, is still available, and is to be found ineffable in its purity, beautiful in its majestic power and natural for man in the image of God, to this day. Yet it is not to this world it is accorded; for it is denying the Lord as empty clouds deny rain to the earth.
What then do we find as we follow this vast work of passion against Christ ? this famine-shed for the pillage of the earth and its people, this removal of peace and its Prince ?
Let us take the more immediate consequences first.
According as Israel the NATION (not the race, many including the apostles, were fine Christians and many are to this day!) were heartless, so likewise would be their enemies. These, like Hitler, like the Holy Roman Empire for example in Austria, like the papacy of yore, would lack pity in the purges, whether in the Inquisition or other, and so, like the Russian pogrom murderers, would they lack restraint.
Yet this is not all. Just as passion without pity prevailed in Jerusalem against the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7), so did it prevail from 'a foolish nation' (Deuteronomy 32:21), against them! Enemies of small virtue would be able to glut themselves! Despite their massive victories of 1958, 1967, 1973 and their vicarious one in 1991, this passion against Israel's just and biblical place (Galloping Events Ch. 4), still seen in the UN and in Islam at large in many a nation, as likewise in the Pan-Islamic Alliance, continues to exact blood. Indeed, it seeks to extort more and more from their pittance of land, to add to the vast Arab domains from Morocco to Pakistan.
Nor is even that by ANY means all ... The Gentiles are increasingly, even in Europe in its spiritually baseless European Union, continuing to swallow up truth in convenience: the EU in its new Constitution, no less than the UN, showing its disdain for the Lord, while many peoples are becoming joint recipients of ruin.
Though Gentile nations soar to the skies and outer space, outdoing Babel in its elevation and utter disregard of the Lord (Psalm 115:16, Genesis11), littering space with their parodies of power, and seeking the ultimate space station in their excesses of militant zeal*3 , yet their disdain brings devastation on their race, which now can scarcely survive, for its extreme cleverness, as Christ foretold (Matthew 24:12,21-22 cf. Daniel 12).
Starving millions mill with militancy as a surround, rape becomes a means of genocide, to debase what is to be murdered, to populate with other blood, disease follows the death of truth with its solemn and systematic reaping, as sexuality aborts the continuation of the race with lust, and prodigies of arrogance mar the political landscape, corruption itself one more of the many fleurs de mal. Power extorts from its witless misusers, the burden of making insufferable the environment of the race; and mere individuals can so distort the profane 'wisdom' of man, that he becomes subject not only to the passions of mind, body and spirit, which deform him, but object of the inane aspirations of false prophet and imperialistic power alike. Yet truth could not be caused to rot, but He, Christ arising from the dead, rules to this hour, His every word fulfilled in exquisite detail and dynamic power (cf. SMR Ch. 8).
Let us however look a little further on the prurient passions which brought to this Age, its peculiar virulence.
III THE PATHETIC PANTOMIME Luke 23:32-38
a) The Setting - 23:32 cf. Isaiah 53:9), as foretold by Isaiah. True to Isaiah's prediction, the Messiah is here the centre-piece for two thieves, being crucified with Him, the ultimate in contamination by association, guilt by association, that vastly misused project of prejudice in cunning and crafty mankind, where unredeemed, it is left to its passions.
b) The Kindly Sentence on the King - 23:33
They simply came to the place of the Skull, and sought to add three more to it, one that of their King, lacking which, they have for nearly two millenia been tried to the uttermost. It is never good, if human, to excise your brain, or your heart, or your lungs, and then to seek to continue to live. With what ? with a computer to mock your lack of liberty ? with wind, to smack the air with vain words, drawn from the reservoirs of folly in philosophy ?
Crucifixion ... OCCURRED. It is so simple, so short, but not quite so sweet. Where is the passion for power now, that it rejects the healing wonder, the sympathetic prowess, the skilful hands and the peace-equipped heart of Christ! A few more bodies, 20 or 30, in Iraq killed this day, and perhaps several hundred injured - all people made in the image of God, however distorted may be the remains in spirit, now marred in body too; a few more Jews killed by desperate conscience-free guided missiles of hatred, imposters to the name of humanity; a few more thousand children to die of hunger; a few more thousand liars to pollute the air, and mislead many by their unfolding eloquence of deceit!
This now occurs. The disease of man is more rampant in spirit than in body, but even there, it is like a plague; and as to plagues, were these not foretold, in all their virulence, as the end of such smouldering candles, in place of the arc-search lights of the truth of God, gut themselves (Revelation 6, 8)!
This proceeds until eventually the imperialistic plague of potentate to come, makes as far as may be, of all men the slaves of his imposture! The anti-Christ is merely Hitler and Stalin and Mao, bound together, and extrapolated, until their inane lusts and wildly demented passions are all lost in one inveterate viciousness, the effort to displace God, and MAKE man survive, even if not man but robot he must be made, by human power. This desperate module of inhumanity is yet to come (I John 4:3, II Thessalonians 2, Revelation 13, 16, 17), but it is near, and nearer it comes as more and more national exemplars raise their polluted heads, to dictate to millions already!
c) The Kingly willingness to Pardon on the Cross - 23:34, not once, but often made clear.
Christ's cry, we find from the grammar of the Greek in this declaration, is not made once, but it is continued. Father, He calls, Father, He cries, Father forgive them, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Thus, not once, but often He makes the recorded cry. It is deep from the heart being ruptured, strong from the mind being dismissed, tender from the flesh of the body being made the greatest massacre of all time: for in it, man's Maker (John 1:1-3) was being made into a corpse, an infinite achievement, unfortunately, in the wrong direction, like an astronaut, by mistake, taking off into a mine!
d) The Derision of His Salvation - 23:35
The sneering of the rulers is now mentioned. You could save others ? How sad that you could not save yourself! Giggle, giggle... The alien philosophy, alienated from God, found in this malicious and spiteful mirth, was founded on the assumption that any man who does not look after HIMSELF, does not exist. OF COURSE, if Christ were genuine, He would FIRST of all look after number one. That was their theme, their naked assumption, their rat-like hole of thought. SINCE this is so, THEREFORE, His not acting to deliver Himself from pain, mockery, contempt and death shows that He is not genuine!
Thus the fact that they 'sneered'.
It was however at themselves that the real charge is levelled. If this is how ALL men act, so that you can DEDUCE that Christ is powerless and just butt for ridicule, then this is indeed how THEY act; for although they do not know all men, far less Jesus the Christ, yet they do know on what basis they themselves are acting: Look out for number one!
Thus it comes to be that in judging HIM, they succeeded only in this, judging themselves, who sought rather to deliver Israel than truth, to secure their own lives rather than receive the joy of the Lord; and in this, they succeeded not at all. The drab desolations of Jerusalem to come within a generation of Calvary, were all too ironic an indication of their miscalculation, depravity growing into devastation.
Nor was this surprising; for indeed, it was with tears predicted by Christ, because they did not recognise the day of His visitation, of their opportunity (Luke 19:42ff.). Moreover, if you delete the fountain, in vain do you look for its flow! They saw the seedy and inherited the ash itself.
Christ however, like the prophets of old, had higher domain than mere physical survival to contemplate, for having made flesh, He was not self-indulgent on this phase of creation, but concerned for its needs. Ineffable grace poured from Him like the waters of Victoria Falls, in full flood, surrounded in the beauty of impenetrable mist: yet its effects are in no mist.
If a mother would die for her child, how much more the Creator for His invention, when it is in HIS OWN IMAGE! The God who IS love, is like that. It is from this source that all goodness flows, undefiled, unpolluted, in sheer majesty of wonder. Here in Christ, the very definitive expression of God, evil was overcome by good, and the abyss of defilement of heart, was met by the alpine majesty of its purity in Himself.
The LORD will LAUGH at their folly and their bumptious presumption, acrid arrogance and empty effusions, as He foretold for the case of seeking to dump the Messiah, in Psalm 2, a point cited in Acts 4 in the prayer of the saints. Yet He has wept for their inanity in acting as if to make forcible repatriation in heaven, for the Prince needed for peace on earth.
e) The Jovial Game - 23:34b
However, the world loves a good laugh, and so the soldiers by the cross had their own day, gambling for the object desired, Christ's fine seamless robe! The humour in that, not appreciated at that time, was that this too was predicted, so that the mockery was in the divine data base, if one could put it that way, for He knows the hearts and lives of men, and their uttermost efforts are already countered in His wisdom, and have their place, as at the end of a Shakespearian play, when the action is over! (Psalm 22:18).
f) The Military Jibes - 23:37
Nor was this sufficient, for the world also loves to make a welter of evil, and to wallow in its unwisdom to the uttermost, as if the passion for truth and probity, equity and purity, being misdirected, had its outcome with similar force, only in the wrong direction!
Thus the soldiers proceeded to taunt Him: "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" This had the same error as evinced by the rulers in verse 36, but applied it with military vigour, not in mere derision, but in invitation for Him to ACT! Yet had He acted, He would have disauthenticated His work, witness, person and program. He HAD to die, and Gethsemane underlines the crucial necessity. NOTHING else could or would do! God does not vary in His understanding or grow in His wisdom, from from beginning to end, is He, who inventing time, brings to man the program, the Person, the salvation, the sin-deletion work which he needs; but He forces none. Hence folly raises its scrawny neck and crows, and crows, with that funereal note so common in the crow family.
g) The Accurate Title - 23:38
At least they put up, and Pilate would suffer no change - THE KING OF THE JEWS, in three languages. Pilate's conscience needed stiffening, as a plastic spine needs strength; but he insisted on this dig at the austere hypocrisy of the religiously self-parading Jewish leaders.
IV THE LAST ACT FLOWS FROM THE FIRST
With rare respite, the Gentile nations have done the same ever since, not in body, but in spirit, often using the bodies of Christians to work their ire.
is mocked, truth is subverted (cf. Isaiah 59:8,14-15),
and love is lampooned;
pantomime of power and lust amid mass murder
is dressed drably in deadly passion
as has been startlingly the case now for a century or so, about our own time;
and self-preservation, individually,
nationally or internationally,
replace spirituality and service;
of national affairs usurp the King's place in the race:
slow murder is repeated, but this time among men, among races,
among tribes, peoples.
This is the fruit of that planting: Barabbas, murder's man released,
and Christ, Life’s Prince, to the gallows!
This is the fruit of that planting: Barabbas, murder's man released,
and Christ, Life’s Prince, to the gallows!
Lose the Principal and you meet the pollution.
His was that way which the mass of mankind refuses to comprehend,
His drops of blood strewn like Autumn leaves,
the only beauty His sacrificial cover for those who receive Him.
What did it mean ? Ever since murder has reached new depths and force new depravities of kind.
Jerusalem and Rome asked for
murder in Jerusalem on that day,
and the world is now inundated with blood. Where Peace is deposited in the dump,
and murder is preferred, you lose what the ONE GOD has to offer.
There is nothing else!
There is no other Gospel,
no other way (Galatians 1:6-9),
neither other Saviour nor Redeemer.
The only way out is to repent of the sins, each one of us, that led to Calvary and to its long-time extension in spirit; and to bring forth by faith, fruits worthy of repentance: this and to live by faith, not force, purity not pollution, truth and not pantomime, as when the lips are near but the heart remains far from the Lord (Isaiah 29:13). It is to live thus by a spiritual power that works for God instead of play-acting in the grip of unruly passion whether for lands or home, pleasure or prestige, approbation or power, money or self-satisfaction, acclamation or acceptance.
Take up your Cross and FOLLOW Him!
Tender Times for Timely Truth
The Grating Grandeur ... Ch. 2; SMR pp.925 ff.;
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
with News 98, News 37.
More Marvels ... Ch. 4, esp. *4,
SMR pp. 829ff. ,
Dancers, Prancers, Lancers and Answers Ch. 3, *1A
Lord of Life Ch. 3 (and force), 1081ff. (and faith), Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 5;
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4; 3
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 9,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8 (in perspective), see also *1,
Divine Agenda Chs. 6, 3 (an overview of religious truancies, including Marx, Darwin and Koran);
Highway to Hell (Koran citations in both, with ideational parallels in perspective, in the former; and in the latter, futile depravities in endless ideologies such as Sudan has shown so significantly, Islam ablaze without glory),
cf. Overflight in Christ Ch. 1 (and the Koran's musings);
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7, SMR pp. 1074ff., esp. 1079
(This shows this religion, with the other three major conspiracies towards the ultimate - why conspiracies ? It is because men conspire, or breathe plans together for a control, rule or oversight not ordained by God: these are breaths of man, and the breath that matters is that of God, in and by which all scripture is inspired by Him (II Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 8:20), in the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16), the Bible, and sustained and implemented by Him (Matthew 26:54ff.): other ideas for rule are always unruly, since they always tend to use power for what neither reason nor truth compels).
Cf. The Moon Soon