DayBreaks for 5/12/17: The World’s Deadliest Illusion
John 19:10 (NIV) Do you refuse to speak to me? Pilate said. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?
I’ve got to admit that I’m fascinated by the great illusionists. To this day, I don’t understand how David Copperfield could make an airplane, the statue of Liberty, or even a nickel disappear like he does! Fascinating.
The greatest illusion of life may be the fact that we think we have power, that we put ourselves in a position of judging God. Of course, there is some truth to this idea that we have power – God has given us the right to choose, but we must not mistake that for having power. Our choosing is a God-given right and he gives us the power in our hearts and minds to choose many things. One of those things we can choose to believe is truth – or we can believe lies. Pilate found himself in a situation where he truly thought he had jurisdiction over Jesus, that he, Pilate, was in charge of the unfolding events and that he would determine the outcome. He claims to have the power to either free Jesus or kill him.
Think about that a moment: recall how that when Jesus was being tempted to cast himself off a high place so Satan would yield to him, even Satan noted that Jesus had the power to summon angels to come and catch him so he wouldn’t even hit his foot against a stone. Do you think for one moment that Jesus, as he stood before Pilate, could not have called a million angels to come and obliterate Pilate, the angry mobs, the hypocritical religionists, and the entire Roman army and empire? In the OT, all it took was a single angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians! If an angel is that powerful, how much more powerful is the One who created them?!!!
Pilate had no idea what he was saying because he’d bought the lie of having power over Jesus, and by extension, over God. We are not so very different. We think that through our prayers we can manipulate God into doing what we want him to do – and we may even think that He’s obligated to give us what we pray for – but he’s not. We think that we can lift a passage out of context and make it an absolutely binding promise on God – forgetting that God sets conditions (some of which we know and some of which we don’t), that involves our obedience, or our faith, or our motives. James says we can ask but not receive because we’re asking for something driven by our own greed and selfishness – not so we can use if for God’s purposes. So we can’t just take Jesus’ statement that we can ask for anything and that God is under our power to have to give it – we tend to forget the conditions: if you ask in my name, for the things that Jesus wants, that he approves of for us.
If we had power in any way, shape or form over God, He would no longer be God – we would be. If in any way at any time, humans can force God to do something, God is no longer all-powerful, he would cease to be El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty.
The end result of our belief that we have power over Jesus is seen by our rebellion to God’s ways. If we believe we are in control of our lives, that we have only ourselves to answer to, we will choose inevitably what we believe is in our own best interests. And because we cannot see the future events before they unfold, we’re at best guessing blindly as to what will be in our best interests in the long run. Only one who knows the consequence of every decision, the intricacies of every human interaction with absolute clarity, can know what will work out for the best for us in the long run.
Because Pilate truly believed he had power over Christ, he made the decision to crucify him, not knowing that he was doing exactly what God had planned to have happen from eternity past. God’s plan will not be thwarted by puny humans who have a god-complex about themselves.
This calls for deep introspection – not by ourselves, but by the Spirit. We can’t trust ourselves to be honest or to see the truth. I need to take some quiet time aside and ask the Spirit to search my heart and show me where I seem to think that I’m God and that He is not. And then I need to ask God to forgive me, humble me, change me so that instead of being like Pilate, I’m like Jesus, who constantly submitted himself to the will and power of the Father.
PRAYER: God, keep us from the foolishness of thinking that we have any control or power over you. Help us to remember we are the clay – not the Potter, we are just sheep and You are the Shepherd. Help us to yield our desire for control to the control of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.