Day 19/21: The Moment We Wrestle

Welcome here! This blog is an “extra blog” being posted daily between January 13 and February 3 to come alongside the 21 Days of Prayer. We are reading the book of John with the intention of looking at Jesus very closely. We want to know Him really well so that we will love Him even more!

February 1, 2019

Good morning Jesus,

I have read John 19 over a few times…and now I am going to read it out loud because I am not sure what is “the thing” to focus on this morning….(read it again)

What I am thinking about is Pilate and how he wrestled with what to do with You. He was clearly frustrated. He spent a significant amount of time questioning You. He went back and forth to the Jews – hoping they would compromise on their demands. He did not want to crucify You. He was afraid of carrying out that act of punishment. What a bad, bad day for Pilate.

From some of the other accounts of the crucifixion, his wife was also in his ear, warning him. She had a dream and told him that he should have nothing to do with the case against You. She was giving him the eye from her corner of the room. Uncomfortable.

Pilate knew it wasn’t right to crucify You. He knew it. But the power of the people, the pressure of the establishment, his own rebellious heart ultimately tipped the scales. Fun fact: Pilate means “armed with a dart.”

Pilate. What a terrible, terrible thing it is to choose evil in that moment of wrestling and to ignore one’s conscience that beckons towards the light. He was in a position to make a just decision about Jesus. He asked all his questions. He looked Jesus in the eye. He could see…but he couldn’t see. Pilate was so conflicted. It is hard to read this and see the flicker of doubt, the hesitation to crucify Jesus, the acknowledgement that Jesus was innocent…and then…he would not set down his position for righteousness’ sake.

I bet Pilate had to convince himself for the rest of his life that what he had done was fine, “It’s fine that I did that right? What choice did I have?” I bet every single day he had to work to get past the memory. I bet he was so bound up by his guilt that he was in a constant state of justifying.

He was afraid and then “even more afraid” before Your death. What was he like after? How many times did he wake up at night. What were his panic attacks like before he (as I imagine it) drank them away? What depths did he have to descend to, to bury the remains of his conscience?

What were the conversations like with his wife who also had to live with his decision? That look in her eye for the rest of his life. Maybe he divorced himself from truth.

Backing up again, I am thinking of Pilate standing, wrestling before the Lord. Isn’t this how it goes for us? I have that moment before I really blow it to wrestle? How many times did Pilate think about that “moment before” he washed his hands? The giant moment of compromise.

Just now, a thought about free-will. Lord, You see the course of the human heart. You see its leaning and its intent. You do not “mess with” our free-will, yet You are involved in exposing what is truly there, whether softness or hardness. I am just going to leave it at that because I know I don’t understand how that works and how You see the trajectory of the decisions we choose to make. It isn’t for me to know – Jesus knows:

“…and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man” – John 2:25

It grieves me to know that a heart can be so set on hardness, that we can be so focussed on not ever submitting to Christ. How can we be so determined about choosing evil and darkness over holiness and light? How can we be so stubborn. We aren’t really strong for anything else, but we master stubbornness.

Of course…we have help. The enemy is a great friend of rebellion.

Pilate was weighing – weighing – weighing. He considered the path of setting You free, saw the potential fall-out and chose his own skin. He would have preferred to not have Your blood on His hands, but ultimately he was willing to kill You to maintain his property and pleasure.

Lord Jesus,

 I do not want to shift foot to foot, conflicted about whether to be for You or against you. I don’t even want to entertain:

  • Is it better to hang onto sinful desires or be honest and free of them?

  • Is it better to pursue my own ease at all cost or to choose Your path that comes with a cost?

  • Is it better to be right or to just be humble and obedient?

  • Is it better to walk my way, or am I willing to go another direction because You ask?

  • Is it better to sneak off or to face what needs addressing?

In that moment if there is a tug one way and a tug the other…I call out to myself and ask for the power of the Spirit to always choose the way of Jesus. Whatever hardness is in my heart, knead it out Lord. I call my heart, mind, will, and strength to only ever move towards softness. And when I stumble, may I be quick to repent! Spirit help me to get past my pride! Just be quick to repent (don’t be like the King in Daniel who needed 7 seasons to repent).

Ezekiel 36:26

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Jeremiah 24:7

'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

Lord, I want to bring my heart to you constantly. I am so grateful that I actually can be free from the barnacles of sin (quick to scrape those things off) so that I can live ALIVE and ready…

T