John 18:19-27: Religion
December 14, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Peter became one of the greatest Christian leaders ever to walk the earth, and yet here we meet him at his worst. It bespeaks the genuineness and reliability of the Bible that it does not sugarcoat the failings of its heroes. They have clay feet. They even deny the Lord—and do it repeatedly. Peter’s failings are a testimony to what a pious and godly man can do under pressure.
You who think you stand be careful lest you fall. If we think we could never do what Peter did, imagine whether we would ever be as great a leader as Peter was. If he was capable of denying the Lord, then surely we need to seek the empowering of the Spirit—that Peter experienced in fullness at Pentecost—and be careful and not rush in where angels fear to tread. And when we fail, act also like Peter: seek forgiveness and a new start.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
But the section starts with a comparison with a far greater leader, indeed, God himself incarnate. It is extraordinary to observe Jesus’ sure-footed response to various false allegations. What greater pressure could be a man be under than to be falsely accused and about to face crucifixion—and not any crucifixion but a wrath-bearing sacrifice. And yet, Jesus’ words betray no sin, evidence no lack of wisdom, and are constantly witnessing to his glory that is being revealed in this his great extremity.
They question his teaching. He replies that he always spoke openly and to ask those who heard his teaching (18:20-21). They strike him for not answering the high priests question directly (18:22). He says if he did anything wrong, say what that was, and if he did nothing wrong, then why strike him (18:23). Over and over again, Jesus shows the verbal ability that can only be possible for the Word of God incarnate himself.
Let us not miss one other cause of stunning contrast. It is religion that is killing Jesus. The high priest (18:24). We think of religion as always on the side of Christ, but it is often human religiosity that is the worst enemy of genuine faith. Seek God and live—but do not seek mere religious ceremony by itself, or positions of religious power. Always remember that a high priest questioned Jesus to prepare him for being killed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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