|Vol. 13 No. 10 October 2011||
The Corinthian church held a special place in the heart of the evangelist and apostle Paul. No doubt this was, in part, because he and Timothy were co-laborers together with God in sowing the seed of the Gospel in that part of Achaia during the middle of the 1st century A.D. (1 Corinthians 3:9). Paul was thrilled God had given the increase (3:6-7). In consideration of the rank idolatry and gross immorality so prevalent in that strategic commercial city, it is hard to imagine any ancient city needing the prevailing benefit of the Gospel any more than did they. Now they were washed, justified and sanctified!
While Paul was later evangelizing the city of Ephesus, he learned of plenty perplexing problems through both oral and written means of communication. He experienced heartache and deep sadness prompting his tears to flow as he penned what we know as 1 Corinthians. About a year or so later, he would give the Corinthian saints insight into his emotions as he penned the earlier epistle. “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you” (2 Corinthians 2:4).
The epistle of 2 Corinthians informs us how Paul “believed in the Corinthians” that they would do what was right in a number of areas needing attention. Apparently, Titus had been less optimistic. However, Paul was proven that his confidence was not misplaced. The majority of the brethren in Corinth repented, causing Paul to feel relief and tremendous joy. Can God have similar confidence in us today? Can God rejoice over us?
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
Fault finding is a pastime that is as old as it is distasteful. Often is the case when people just want to find something wrong with another to the point of dreaming up crimes or allegations to convict. As the youngest of the family, this writer can relate to some degree as to the possible motives one might have to do this. Yet, when it comes to doing another harm or injury, there is no good or acceptable reason or motive.
After our Lord was betrayed by Judas in a Garden where He often found peace, tranquility and comfort (John 18:2) and denied by Peter, Jesus was then brought before Pilate for questioning. Pilate was the Procurator or Governor of Judea for about ten years (26-36 according to Josephus, Ant, XVIII, IV, 2). It was before Pilate that our Lord was brought because of the desire of the Jews to put Him to death. It was not permissible for the Jews to put one to death without the consent of Rome, so Pilate was used to speed things along. It was not because Pilate was loved or respected by the Jews, he was not. “Pilate never became popular with the Jews. He seemed to be insensitive to their religious convictions and stubborn in the pursuit of his policies” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
In spite of their distain for Pilate, the Jews had a goal in mind, and they sought to accomplish it – and accomplish it they did! In John 18:29-31, Pilate asked the Jews “What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”Pilate was being used by the Jews to do evil, and though he could have refused there request, he decided to question Jesus, willingly going along with their sinful plan.
After some questioning, Pilate returned to the Jews and said, “I find no fault in Him”(John 18:38), proclaiming the innocence of Jesus. Having a custom during that time of the year to offer the release of one in custody (at the Passover), Pilate believed that perhaps the crowd would allow the release of Jesus (seeing that He had gained much popularity), but he was wrong. The people desired for a known thief by the name Barabbas to be freed instead.
What began as perhaps an entertaining idea for Pilate turned into a matter of sin into which he was sinking deeper and deeper! The next step was to scourge, mock, beat and humiliate Jesus before the people. Pilate brought Jesus out to them and declared yet a second time, “I find no fault in Him”(John 19:1-4). The crowed grew even more insistent on putting Jesus to death. Their cries filled the air, and Pilate told the people, “you take Him and you crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him” (John 19:6). Matthew’s account says, “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24).
Three times Pilate proclaimed that Jesus was innocent, and yet he allowed Him to be taken and put to death. People often get themselves involved in things that may seem to be “just a little” or “borderline” sinful until the sin grows and grabs a hold, becoming rooted to the point where there will be consequential scars. Not that these sins cannot be forgiven, they can be, all sin can be forgiven (as long as we are alive). However, the consequences of some sins have lasting effects, both mentally as well as physically.
Pilate later showed leniency, and he permitted Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus their request for the body of Jesus after His death (John 19:38-39) – showing perhaps a small amount of sorrow or sorrow for his part in the death of Jesus. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes Pilate this way: “Pilate is a good example of the unprincipled achiever who will sacrifice what is right to accomplish his own selfish goals. Although he recognized Jesus’ innocence and had the authority to uphold justice and acquit Jesus, he gave in to the demands of the crowd rather than risk a personal setback in his career. This is a real temptation to all people who hold positions of power and authority.”
[Editor’s Note: Every Christian, too, faces the type of peer pressure in addition to outright temptation that challenges him or her daily. Respecting this principle, will we act differently than Pilate did?]