A Testing Time
As you pray, offer this day, with all its opportunities and needs, to God your loving Father.
Read John 18:19-40
 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.  “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.  Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”  When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.  “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”  Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.  Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.”  One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?”  Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.  Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.  So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”  “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”  Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected.  This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.  Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”  “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.  But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”  They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat was Pilate's verdict on Jesus?
Jesus stands trial, first before the Jewish religious authority of Annas and Caiaphas (19-24) and then before the political court of Rome, represented by Pilate (28-40). The King of kings (36,37) is interrogated before the two most senior earthly powers who, despite their best efforts, can find no secret shame (20,21), no fault or reason to condemn him (38). In the place of trial, Jesus stands his ground, knowing that–contrary to appearances–his Father’s plan is still being worked out (32). In contrast to Jesus’ resolute trust in his Father, we are shown Peter’s fearful denial of Jesus (25-27). Two trials: one passed through faith; one failed through fear. It’s easy to look critically on Peter, but are we not much more like Peter than Jesus when in the place of testing? And Jesus had prayed for Peter “that [his] faith [would] not fail” (Luke 22:31). Is it not therefore so comforting to know (if we glance to the end of the book) that there is hope for a fruitful life beyond such failure (21:15-19)? In the end, Peter’s faith was firm, just as Jesus had prayed.
Pray for friends whose faith is under pressure. Send them a note to let them know of your care and prayer.
Lord, I pray that my faith would not fail, but remain firm for You, no matter the pressure I face.