We Are Worth His Pain

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.

I think of the night Jesus was convicted of a crime. He should have run when they started in with the thick thorns! The crown of thorns; the thorns of lies that pricked His goodness; the thorns of disappointment as all He stood for was twisted.

Thorns come in many ways. We inflict them with our words, with our narrow minds, with our childish beliefs and unwillingness to forgive. With our fists balled up when we hear something we don’t like! Thorns! We receive them when others are mean spirited or misunderstand us or are unwilling to forgive us when we wrong them.

It was the early hours in the morning. Having been betrayed by Judas (who was off in some corner counting his silver), abandoned by his disciples, and arrested by the Roman guards, Jesus was brought to the courtyard of Caiaphas’ home.

“Caiaphas” means “interrogator.” He was a religious politician called the “High Priest” of the religious elite leaders: the Sanhedrin. People like Caiaphas give good priests, rabbis and preachers a bad reputation. But it paid off; he was 19 years in his position. As the judicial counsel of Israel, the Sanhedrin was bound to the rules of the Mishnah. Among them: No trial was to be held at night, trials had to be held at the temple precinct, and capital trials could not take place during Passover. Three strikes and this trial should have been out. But facts and justice were not their concern. Getting rid of Jesus was. He was a thorn in their side! Here we find Caiaphas and other religious thugs and Jesus. No! I don’t think that the full Sanhedrin were there.  I think some couldn’t stomach the lie! That night, there was nothing sacred or holy amongst the Sanhedrin who attended; only One falsely charged!
The high priest assumed that these charges would provoke Jesus to respond:  Have you no answer to what these men testify against you? As the great theologian John Calvin observes, Christ was again silent, not only because the objection was frivolous, but because having been appointed to be a sacrifice, he had thrown aside all anxiety about defending himself. Jesus’ silence spoke volumes. When you are confident, you can remain silent. It takes a while to learn such things! But when you do, amazing wisdom opens wide in your heart and your spirit can rest from your accusers.

Are you the Messiah?, Caiaphas asked. Jesus spoke: I Am. In Exodus 3: When Moses was called by God in the burning bush that was not consumed, Moses asked God who God was. God responded: I AM, WHO I AM. If this was not clear enough, the rest of Jesus’ response made it abundantly clear: And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven. While it is true that Jesus is coming back…the second coming, what Jesus was talking about here would come in three days! These very people would soon hear of the empty tomb and before they take their last breath will see the Church Jesus erects through His disciples.  Inflict whatever thorn you want, Jesus’ teachings, miracles, and the love and compassion for humanity will be seen in His followers!

In this moment, the thorns were thick and painful for Him. We saw that pain in Gethsemane as He contemplated taking on the world’s sin (remember sin is separation from God). What a thorn. Yet the truth stands that no demons, denial, or discouragement can break the confidence for long of one who trusts in God’s plan. John Calvin again: This will…be a pledge of the astonishing love of Christ toward us, that he spared not himself, but willingly submitted to wear fetters on his flesh, that our souls might be freed from fetters of a far worse description.
The calm and clarity that should have brought awe to the Sanhedrin only caused them to jab more thorns into Jesus. After having Him flogged, Mark tells us the guards received him with blows. The people had become just like the priests. The temple guards followed the evil example of their spiritual leaders. Peter never forgot it. Years later he would write 1 Peter 2: …He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

It’s all so hard to hear isn’t it? Thorns are like daggers. Still Jesus reminds us that His suffer was not for nothing. His suffering reminds us how much more we must rely on God in our darkest hour and continue to praise God for what is to come. Scottish preacher George Matheson prays upon beginning to lose his eyesight: My God, I have never thanked You for my thorn. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensated for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Teach me the value of my thorn.

Teach me the value of my thorn! What would it look like if we began to thank God for our trials, heartaches, and difficulties? What if when we counted our blessings, we include the weaknesses, the hardships, the burdens, and the trials we face? Not blaming or hating or withholding forgiveness but finding that God has used that difficulty, slander or shame to draw us close to Him and cause us to have a deeper and stronger love and compassion for all of humanity! Think about it: in those difficult places we discover Grace…God’s grace – His unconditional love! Jesus should have run when they were sticking Him with thorns! Instead, in His human weakness, His spiritual strength soared and brought us salvation!

With more love for you than you know…
Joy, Joy – Pastor Alexis  

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