Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lesson 13: Crucified and Risen

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of Luke
Lesson 13: Crucified and Risen

As we come to the conclusion of these excellent studies on the Gospel of Luke, let us spend a thoughtful moment contemplating the final scenes of Christ's life on earth. Christ's final confrontation with the religious and political authorities of His day, have much to tell us regarding the 1888 message.
At that awful midnight hour when Judas, having received a band of men and a captain and officers, with swords, came upon Jesus in Gethsemane, it was the band and the captain, and the officers, who at the direction of the chief priests and Pharisees, took Him and bound Him.
They led Him to old Annas first. Annas sent Him to Caiaphas, and Caiaphas sent Him to Pilate the Roman governor. Pilate sent Him to Herod, who with his men of war mocked Him and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him again to Pilate. And when Pilate would have let Him go, the Sanhedrin rung their final political loyalty to Ceasar and Rome, even above the loyalty of Pilate and the Roman himself, "We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King" (Luke 23:2).
Pilate made his last appeal, "Shall I crucify your King?" (John 19:15) only to be answered with the words expressive of their final abandonment of God and their complete unity with Rome, "But they cried, saying, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him'" (Luke 23:21). The voices of the Jews and of the chief priests prevailed.
The mightiest crime and the loudest crying sin in all the history of the universe was committed by the union of church and state.
Never since the rejection by Israel of her King of glory has the heavenly universe witnessed a more inexcusable and shameful failure on the part of the chosen people of God, led by their leaders than in 1888. Frequently the Lord's messenger compared the anti-1888 spirit to the Jews' rejection of Christ. For example:
"Light has been shining upon the church of God, but many have said by their indifferent attitude, 'We want not thy way, O God, but our own way.' ... Many say, 'If I had only lived in the days of Christ, I would not have wrested His words, or falsely interpreted His instruction. I would not have rejected and crucified Him, as did the Jews;' but that will be proved by the way in which you deal with His message and His messengers today. ...
"Those who live in this day are not accountable for the deeds of those who crucified the Son of God; but if with all the light that shone upon His ancient people, delineated before us, we travel over the same ground, cherish the same spirit, refuse to receive reproof and warning, then our guilt will be greatly augmented." [1]
It was not mere human sadism that drove the scribes and Pharisees to demand of Pilate, "Crucify Him!" They were obsessed with a mysterious hatred of God Himself, the roots of which linger in the dark shadows of every human heart. It was not only deicide; it was the dark desire to blot God and His righteousness out of the universe. The murderers of Jesus were Satan-possessed; and they held up a mirror for us all to look and see ourselves--what we would be and what we would do if we had been in their place, but for the grace of God.
But God resurrected Him! And He judged His murderers; and the world has judged them likewise. It's the story of the Murder of all murders because it follows the plot through to its end--which no ordinary human murder ever can do. That old, old story, properly told, is the only hope this dark world has.
The leaders of the nation and church were planning to kill Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest, hated Him. Pilate the Roman governor would deliver Him, knowing He was innocent, to death. And King Herod would agree to His death. The greatest judicial travesty in all history!
Jesus had just reminded them of the well-known story of building Solomon's temple. One large stone had baffled the workmen--they couldn't figure out where to put it and they abandoned it in the weeds, to the heat of summer and the frost of winter and the storms. Finally they discovered that it was the "head stone of the corner," where it proved to be an exact fit. So, said Jesus, He is the "head stone which the builders rejected" (Luke 20:17).
So far, it is clear. But why the idea of anyone falling on the Stone and being broken? (Luke 20:18). Well, Peter was an example of such a person. Arrogant and proud, he was sure he would never give in to pressure and deny his Lord, but before the rooster crowed in the morning he had denied Jesus three times. Peter wept bitterly when he realized the sinfulness of his own heart. His repentance was deep. He "fell upon the Stone and was broken." The love of self was broken up; his heart was broken. It was reported in early times that ever afterward there was a tear glistening in his eyes.
On the other hand, look at Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod. All they have is the final judgment. Christ will not grind them to powder. What will do it is their own history. He will not say a word to condemn them in that final judgment. They will do it themselves. They will salvage nothing for eternity.
It's an either/or judgment we all face. Self must be humbled eventually. Either we by our own voluntary choice are to take up the cross on which self is crucified; or we go on making self the center of our heart's devotion. The former calls for tears of melted-heart repentance now. If we choose self it is ground to powder and blown away like dust in a windstorm,--an eternal record of nothingness. Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate have given us an expensive object lesson.
Let us humble our hearts and join the class again where our instructor, the repentant thief on the cross, is teaching us. He is qualified, because we know for sure that he was truly converted and will be with Christ in His kingdom. Not all preachers are so qualified. The thief will have a place of high honor with Christ!
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Ellen G. White, "Address to the Church," The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 11, 1893.
Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at:
Raul Diaz