Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Feb 12 2013 - Matthew 27:15-31 – They … mocked him

Pilate recognised that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death and did all that he could to release Jesus. He offered to release either Barabbas, a violent brigand, or Jesus, the one who had healed the sick and had compassion on the crowds. To him it seemed a no-brainer; it was obvious whom they would choose. But Pilate’s plan backfired. The crowds, stirred up by nationalistic fervour and egged on by the Jewish leaders, called for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Pilate, desperate to avoid a riot, acceded to the demands of the mob. He had Jesus flogged before having him led away.

Now the Roman soldiers had Jesus to themselves for a while – this man who claimed to be King of the Jews. And so Jesus becomes the focus of all their hatred of this perverse nation. Most of the soldiers are probably far from home and family. They have been serving their time in a nation which, generally speaking, looked upon them with hatred and longed to be rid of them. They had probably had stones thrown at them in the street and had been in fear of being stabbed in the back by the Sicarii, the extreme Zealots intent on cleansing the holy land of the Roman infidels. All of their frustration and anger against this godless nation was now directed against Jesus. It did not matter to them that he had been rejected by his own people; he claimed to be their king, their representative. So they would make him stand before them as the king of this despised people and all their hatred for this nation would be poured out against him.

The soldiers dressed Jesus up in the mock regalia of a king. They made a mock crown out of thorn twigs and pressed it down upon his head. They placed a rod of some sort in his hand in mock imitation of a sceptre. Then they made cruel fun of him, spitting upon him and striking him on the head, forcing the thorns more deeply into his flesh. During all of this, Jesus remained silent. At last, having satisfied their malice, they removed the royal regalia and, dressing him again in his own clothes, they led him away to be crucified.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain...
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:3a, 7)

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured all of this "for the joy set before him" (Hebrews 12:2). This joy was not simply the prospect of returning to the Father – he could have done that by summoning the twelve legions of angels we spoke of two days ago. The joy set before him was that of accomplishing the salvation of his people – the joy of bringing many brothers and sisters to glory. It was for the sake of this joy that, "he endured the cross, scorning its shame".

He was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Father God, help me to understand more of what Jesus, the Lord of glory, endured for me that I might share his glory. Help me to find all my joy in following him and helping others to recognise something of who Jesus really is. By your Spirit, use me to bring many others to glory.

Feb 12 2019 - Exodus 3:1-22 – The burning bush

Moses had now been a shepherd for 40 years. Perhaps these many years were God's means of preparing him to become leader of his people. No time is wasted with God.

One day Moses' attention was drawn to a bush that was ablaze with fire but was not consumed. As he took a closer look he was stopped in his tracks as God spoke to him from within the bush. The burning bush is a picture of the God's glory – a glory that blazes but does not consume. Moses was told to take his sandals off his feet because the place where he is standing is holy ground – made holy by God's presence. The act is symbolic, Moses stands naked before the living God.

God says that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who is faithful to his promises. He has seen the misery of his people, heard their cries, and his heart is moved at their suffering. He has come down to rescue them from the oppression of the Egyptians and to bring them into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. This must have filled Moses' heart with joy, until God adds, "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt".

"Who am I", asks Moses, "that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" The answer is that he is the one whom God has chosen and prepared and whom God will use to do this task. Nor will he do it on his own; God will be with him in every step of the task. The proof of God's presence will be the success of the task; Moses will lead the people out of Egypt back to this very spot where they will worship God for his deliverance.

Many people think God is far away. Despite all of the injustice, pain and suffering in the world, God remains dispassionate and far off – he does nothing. Nothing could be further from the truth; God sees the suffering of his people, hears their cry and comes down to save. He did it at the time of the Exodus, and he did it supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ, the one in whom God came down to save his people.

Moses asked what he is to say to the leaders of the Israelites when they ask him who this God is who has sent him to rescue them from Egypt; what is this God's name? God declares that his name is "I am who I am" (or, "I will be what I will be"). He gives himself the name Yahweh (traditionally, but incorrectly, transcribed as Jehovah). What does this enigmatic name mean?

God is declaring far more than his self-existent and unchangeable nature. God declares his character in terms of his relationship with his people as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God of the covenant; God of the promises. This is his name forever – he is the covenant keeping God. He will be with his people and will fulfil all that he has promised to them. He will bring them out of slavery in Egypt into the land he has promised them. God's revealed name is his declaration that he will be all that he has promised he will be in relation to his people.

Yahweh God, faithful God, thank you that you are a covenant making and covenant keeping God. Thank you for the Lord Jesus in whom all your promises find their focus. Thank you that you are a God of compassion who has redeemed us in Christ, setting us free from slavery and making us free to serve you. Thank you that you are not far off but have come to be with us and to bring us into your holy presence. Teach me more of the glory of your grace revealed most fully in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me also to see that you choose to work through me, weak though I am, to accomplish your purpose to bring blessing to the world.

Peter Misselbrook