September 6

Matthew 27-28, Psalm 95

We must be very careful how we size things up, things are often not what they appear on the surface. In a previous post I mentioned a fellow medical student back in 1985 who was making a mess in the lab on a Saturday morning and was politely told by one of the workers in the lab to be a little neater and clean up after himself. The medical student sized up the situation and puffed up in pride condescendingly let the worker, whom he deemed was below him, have it. The worker didn't respond and quietly left the lab. On Monday, there was a letter in the school mailbox for this student. It was when he followed the instructions in the letter and found himself before Dean Craig (the lab worker who was actually the dean) that he saw things more accurately. As a result of his pride and condescending attitude this student was expelled for the year and forced to repeat that year of school. In another previous post, I gave the example of the new pastor of a church who dressed like a homeless man when he entered the sanctuary. Those in the congregation assessed the situation in their own eyes and essentially shunned this man. No one welcomed him as he entered. No one fellowshipped with him before the service. When he sat in the front he was actually asked by the ushers to take a more appropriate seat in the back of the church. After the announcements, when the new pastor was introduced, he got up from the back of the sanctuary and removed his costume. It was then that those in the congregation realized what they did in judging him by his appearance . In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus told a Parable about taking the lowly place. We read in 14:8, "When you're invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by Him;". He concludes this Parable in 14:11, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

In Matthew 27, we read a series of events surrounding the beating and crucifixion of our suffering, humble servant and savior, Jesus, by different groups who all assessed the situation incorrectly. On the surface, Jesus appeared defenseless before the sheer power and authority of the Jewish religious leaders, the Roman authorities and military, and King Herod. We know that Jesus took on and allowed this position as He told Peter in Matthew 26:53, "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" So, as we see Jesus put on trial before the mock court of the Sanhedrin and then the Roman governor, Pilate, and choose to remain quiet in Matthew 27:11-14, and then before the crowds as he is placed next to Barabbas, or when He is scourged, beaten and mocked by the Roman soldiers in 27:26-31, or when hanging on the cross as He continues to be mocked and ridiculed by those passing by the cross along with the religious leaders assembled in 27:39-44, it appears that Jesus was on trial and that the multitude of those gathered were clearly in charge. But as in the previous examples in the first paragraph, things are not always what they seem. For He who was beaten and crucified was none other than the Judge of the universe. In reality, those assembled and partaking in His beating and death would one day come before Jesus and be judged for what they did, unless they chose to repent before their death.

We should all be careful how we size things up from a human standpoint. Like Jesus, we are to adopt the position of humble servants and no matter what earthly position we might achieve we better never forget it. Those in positions of authority or power must remember what Jesus said, that "whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted". This attitude can only be achieved if we are in a true relationship with Jesus and see ourselves in comparison to Him. Compared to Him, we are ants. Compared to Him we are covered with filth from head to toe. Compared to Him we are deserving of nothing, not even our next breath. The only answer to pride and self-exaltation is a personal relationship with our Savior and Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only through this relationship that we can stop assessing the world from an earthly standpoint and begin seeing it as He would like us to see it.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster