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The Lamb of God (ii), John 19: 8-16

15th Apr 2019

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. (NRSV) 

As a Seasonal Youth Worker and Seafarer, working onboard cruise ships, my experiences of travel are varied and breath-taking. Yet nothing has inspired me as much as my ‘silent’ encounters with Jesus in churches in some of the beautiful ports I visited. These experiences left me deeply moved and spiritually ‘challenged’.  I believe God used these times to speak deeply into my soul. In John 19: 10, Pilate, in a state of fear and anxiety, became agitated because Jesus would not speak to Him. This was Jesus, 'the Lamb of God’ fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth’’. When Jesus did eventually talk, it was to affirm His direct connection with God, His Father. The ‘power from above’, giving Pilate ‘power’ to influence Jesus’ life on earth (John 19:11). Pilate found himself ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ in terms of the Jewish Leaders' demands, wanting Jesus destroyed and his growing realisation that Jesus was clearly no ordinary man. I believe his fear arose from knowing this. "It is a terrible thing to fall into hands of the living God’’ (Hebrews 10:31).

There are times in our spiritual walk, when we are faced with silence. When our prayers appear to be hitting a glass ceiling and we become agitated and impatient. 'Lord grant me patience and I want it now!’ In a world of fast fixes and instant solutions, we can fall into a ‘demand culture’, expecting instant, spectacular results. Yet in my experience, I have discovered that it is in this ‘silence’ that God’s deepest secrets about His relationship towards us are revealed. "Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come’’ (Jeremiah 33:3).

It was ‘silent’ encounters in foreign locations with face to face artistic representations of Jesus’ own dear, weeping face, that brought me directly into an ‘audience’ with God. At first this was unnerving, yet I knew I was repressing a huge deluge of heart-break from my past that was in urgent need of release. Gradually, I began to realise that Jesus was grieving for me just as much as I was grieving for my late Husband and Father. As God began to reveal the source of my internal torment, He simultaneously engulfed me with His overwhelming love and compassion. Jesus’ silence had purpose to release me from pain and lead me into His freedom and overwhelming joy! "I have loved you, my people with an everlasting love. With unfailing love have I drawn you to myself’’ (Jeremiah 31:3).

When Pilate was seated upon Gabbatha, John 19: 13, Jesus’ fate was finally sealed. Pilate allowed the people to pronounce their judgement upon Him, in loud shouts of derision. Unnecessary hate and malice overflowed. Pilate made no attempt to appease the angry crowd, although technically, he was ‘Judge’. He allowed the heat of the moment to overwhelm him into denying who Christ was. When we face doubt and storms shake our lives, let us not be swayed into turning away. May we receive sweet refreshing and renewal in ’silence’, if we but still our hearts and allow ourselves to be loved and received by the one and only Almighty God.

 Shelly 2

In a small rustic shop in Corfu, I discovered a hand-painted image of Jesus that brought tears streaming down my face and shop-keepers rushing to my side to ascertain what was wrong. I revealed that it was the expression on the face of my Jesus that was moving my heart. This little painting now lives beside my bed and is the image above on the left. On the right is a stunning portrait of Jesus I found in a Monastery Chapel in Dubrovnik. This is such a realistic portrait, I was convinced that I could see ‘real’ tears running down Jesus’ cheeks and body! These pictures mirrored my own grief and led me to seek healing and a closer walk with God.

"When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied’’ (Isaiah 53: 11).

Shelly Jones, Distance Learning student