Week of Aug. 23

What Will You Do With God’s Candidate?

Read: Jeremiah 23, 25; John 19

Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
John 19:14, ESV


“Believing, then, is directing the hearts’ attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to ‘behold the Lamb of God,’ and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives,” says A.W. Tozer. The great preacher nails the truth on the head. This claim is precisely what John wished to communicate in the crucifixion account. In my estimation, our focal verse today provides the heart of John’s theology about Jesus in his gospel. I selected the verse because it contains the pinnacle of John’s powerful message about the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God, and the King dying in behalf of his people (see 1:29; 12:13-15, 32; 13:1). Let’s examine the implications of this passage for our lives today.

A Biblical Lens

The historical context is filled with tension, but Jesus was calm under the pressure. His mission was about to be fulfilled. The struggle in Gethsemane was complete, and Calvary was all that remained. On the other hand, Pilate found himself in the crosshairs of difficulty. The Jews wanted Jesus dead, regardless, and Pilate could find no offense worthy of capital punishment, much less any offense at all (19:6, 12; NAC; EBC)!

Pilate sat at the judgment seat which physically was a raised platform where he was elevated above the masses. Roman authorities would render their verdicts in similar fashion believing that they did so before the gods and in the presence of their subjects (19:13). John, from a different perspective, states that it was the Day of Preparation, the day before the Passover. This was to be the day that the Lamb of God was sacrificed for the “ultimate Passover” (NAC). John did everything but scream out loud, “Pay Attention!” This setting is the climax to which he has been building in the entire gospel. So, what is the point?

The “sixth hour” causes scholars all sorts of head-scratching because that time does not match Mark’s record (15:25). Every possible option has been explored, which we will not take time to explore in this devotional. However, Gerald Borchert, in my mind, suggests a reasonable solution. They did not tell time like we do. All who have served as missionaries, or taken short-term mission journeys, in other parts of the world, will know that a meeting scheduled for 10 A.M. may begin two hours later--which is right on time! More importantly, in Ashlock-speak, John was not interested so much in chronology as he was in theology (NAC).

The sixth hour was the time of day that Jews began the preparation of the Passover. Their world came to a virtual halt at this time as the entire focus was on the slaughter of the lamb. Reach back to chapter 1, verse 29, then look forward to this place. God’s deliverance through a new exodus was about to begin. Pilate, obviously with sarcasm in his voice, announces, “Behold your King!” Those words were intolerable to the Jews, but they were entirely truthful. Isn’t this the way of the world? Nonbelievers will often make vehement denials that Jesus is Savior and Lord. Pay that sort of upset no mind because God has given his full and final approval to King Jesus. John asks us a direct question: In whom do you believe (cf. Philippians 2:6-11)?

A Moral Pathway

It has begun. Sounds cryptic, doesn't it? Seriously. People have asked me a question every four years throughout my forty-two years of ministry: “What do you think will happen if so-and-so is elected President?” I take such questions quite seriously, even though my typical response may appear to be dismissive. I usually reply, “I have absolutely no idea.” I honestly had no idea. I never enjoyed political science as a course in college, and I have not cultivated much of a taste for politics since that time. Even this week I was asked what I thought about one of the political party’s candidates. I must say that I presented a rather confused answer.

When I view the events of this week through the lens of John 19, I am compelled to see the politically revolutionary statement that Jesus' sacrificial death makes. Orbery Hendricks, in The Politics of Jesus, states, “Jesus Christ was ‘made flesh and dwelled among us,’ as John’s Gospel puts it, to model and set into inexorable motion the way of liberation of mind, body, and soul from the tyranny of principalities and powers and unjust rulers in high places.”

Dr. Hendricks writes from the practical experience of an African American minister, and from a different theological perspective than the one to which I adhere, but his words put my political disinterest into an awkward light. The encounter in Jerusalem that day was extraordinarily political in one true sense. Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection burst apart the chains of religious and political oppression to provide new life to the religious and political outcast.

I realize now that only a few of the questions that I was asked through the years were ultimately related to political science, the theory and practice of government, and politics, the activities associated with governance. People really wanted me to calm their fears and offer them hope. I flat out missed it, I fear!

I will not miss it today. The moral message that John makes clear is that all of the evil maneuverings of humankind can never thwart the ultimate plans and purposes of God. Isaiah prophesied that the government would rest upon the shoulders of Messiah, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Even though the Jews rendered a false verdict, and the Romans did the same, neither group was able to prevent God from rendering the true verdict—Worthy is the Lamb of God that was slain! (Revelation 5:9-10). God's election of Christ is complete, and He is our true and lasting hope.

For Your Journaling

1. Imagine that your life is being lived at “the sixth hour” because, in a sense, we all indeed live and must decide what we will do with the Lamb of God that came to take away our sin. Has this Jesus, God’s Hope for the world, changed your heart? If not, then invite him to do so today.

2. Furthermore, how “politically” engaged have you been as a kingdom citizen? In what way(s) have you been engaged in helping people to break free from the tyranny of “principalities and powers and unjust rulers” in high places by introducing them to the Great Liberator, Jesus Christ?

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock