“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33, ESV)
In 9:1-11:36, Paul addressed the tension between God’s faithfulness and Jewish unfaithfulness and concludes this section of his epistle with a doxology. He bows in praise and wonder before God’s awesome sovereignty. He praises God’s wisdom in designing history as he has so that salvation would be available to all peoples. God is the source and director of human history, and all things – even the evil choices of sinful humans – would in the end glorify him and the rightness of his wisdom.
God’s sovereign choice, far from being unjust, has been the means of his mercy being extended to people of all nations. This display his unsearchable wisdom and causes his thankful people to give him praise and glory.
Fee, Gordon D. & Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible Book by Book. A Guided Tour. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2004.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
MySword For Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
“He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30, CEB), were the last words that we have from John the Baptist. He went on to imprisonment, suspense, martyrdom, while Jesus grew in popular favor up to his passion and death.
While Jesus and his disciples were preaching and baptizing in Judea, John the Baptist was spending the closing days of his ministry preaching and baptizing further north, in the region of the Jordan Valley. Some of John’s disciples were becoming jealous of Jesus’ popularity, and John had to rebuke them. he reminded them that his work was only to prepare the way for Jesus. That work was now finished. John was like the friend of bridegroom who made the necessary preparations for a wedding, but withdrew once the bridegroom arrived (John 3:25-30). The purpose of John’s ministry is to point men to him. When that is done his work is done. He came not to form his own movement.
Let us emulate John’s attitude!
MySword for Android. Riversfot Ministry, 2011-2019.
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55, NKJV)
This is also mentioned in Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.” (NKJV)
Paul interprets the word “punishment” in the Greek version of Hosea 13:14 as the rhyming Greek word “victory.” Jewish interpreters often linked different texts together on the basis of a common key word; “death” and “victory” occur in Paul’s paraphrase of Isaiah 25:8 and also in Hosea 13:4, which Paul may therefore apply to the resurrection as well. Although the latter passage is in the context of judgment, it does seem to say the same thing as Isaiah 25:8 unless read as a question.
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16, NKJV)
Since we do what is right and refuse what is wrong, our lives will be characterized by love. But the world will not respond kindly to our goodness, just as Cain did not respond kindly to Abel’s. When sinners are shamed by the uprightness of others, the outcome usually is that they hate them for it. Hate produces murder, and murder is obviously not a characteristic of the Christian.
Those who have genuine love, instead of taking the lives of others, would rather sacrifice their own. Self-sacrifice, even in the everyday things of life, is the chief characteristic of love. Love is proved by actions, not words, as Jesus Christ showed, and Christians must follow his example.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)
Before Paul became a Christian, he had judged Jesus by the standard of ordinary person of the world, and in so doing had judged him wrongly. Now he no longer judges Jesus, or anyone else, from merely human standpoint, because in Christ he sees everything in a new light. Old attitudes go and new attitudes replace them.
This changing from old to the new is done by God through Jesus Christ. It is part of the total work that God does as he reconciles people to himself, and turns sinners into friends. Having reconciled them, God then sends them out to preach the message of reconciliation to others, so that other sinners might be brought to God. The basis of this message is the death of Christ. Through the judgment of sin in Christ, God is able to forgive repentant sinners and give them a righteous standing before him.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV)
We already know that we have forgiveness only through the grace of God and the blood of Jesus. But here Paul takes us further by telling us that one day all the rebellion and confusion throughout the universe will come to an end, and unity between God and his creation will at last be restored through Christ. The universe will find its full meaning in him.
The blood of Christ was the redemption price paid down for our salvation. This was according to the riches of his grace which is rich and abundant in kindness. This grace is manifested in generosity to us, in our redemption through the sacrifice of Christ. It is the measure of God’s grace and…
In the Philippines, Resurrection (Easter) Sunday is marked by a joyous tradition, the Salubong.
Salubong is a pre-dawn meeting of two processed images, one of the Risen Christ, and the other of a still-mourning Mary. The statue of Mary, covered in a black mourning dress, is carried by the women of the town along one route, along with statues of the saints who had been with Jesus in the days before and after his death. (As is the case on most other processions in the Philippines, the saints’ statues belong to pious families in town who care for them and showcase them in their homes year round). The statue of the Risen Christ is carried by men along a different route. ((www.catholicsandcultures.org)
Crowds of people join both processions. Their destination is an outdoor stage, decorated for the occasion, where the images of Jesus and Mary meet…
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NKJV)
Judaism emphasized the significance of heavenly wisdom, which God revealed in his word. Sometimes this wisdom or personified (1:30). Given popular Greek respect for philosophy and *rhetoric, it is possible that that some educated members of the *church are especially interested in “wise speech.” Apollos may have fit their preferred speaking style better than Paul did (1:12).
Romans regarded crucifixion as a death appropriate for slaves while the Jews saw it as shameful (Deut. 21:23). Those considered as “saviors” were gods, kings, wealthy benefactors or miracle workers. Roman society was built around power and status. Power centered at the male head of the household, in wealthy and aristocratic families, and so…
Right after Pilate washed his hands and handed over Jesus to the crowd, Jesus was scourged.
Then, he was mocked, a crown of thorns was put to his head and he was led to the Golgotha to be crucified. On his way, he became too weak to carry the cross, so Simon of Cyrene was pressed to carry the cross for him (Matt. 27:27-32).
Crucifixion was Rome’s punishment for slaves, foreigners, and criminals who were not Roman citizens. It was the most agonizing and ignominious death a cruel age could devise. Nails were driven through the hands and feet, and the victim was left hanging there in agony, starvation, insufferable thirst and excruciating convulsions of pain. Death usually followed in four to six days. In Jesus’ case it was over in six hours. (Halley)
Pontius Pilate was a Roman governor under the emperor of Tiberius in the 1st century. He is believed to have hailed from the Samnium region of central Italy and probably connected with the Roman family of the Pontii, and called “Pilate” from the Latin pileatus or “wearing the pileus”, which was the “cap or badge of a manumitted slave,” indicating that he was a “freedman,” or the descendant of one.
He was the 6th in the order of the Roman procurators of Judea (A.D. 26-36). His headquarters were at Caesarea, but he frequently went up to Jerusalem. His reign extended over the period of the ministry of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ, in connection with whose trial his name became prominent.
Attempts to Free An Innocent and Just Man
As governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate faced a conflict of interests between the Roman Empire and the Sanhedrin Jewish council. It all started when Jesus was brought to him accused of being a malefactor, after his trial before the Sanhedrin.
Pilate was not satisfied with this, so they further accused Jesus of:
preventing the payment of the tribute to Caesar, and
of assuming the title of king.
Pilate entered the Praetorium, called Jesus and questioned him in private; and then returning to the crowd he declared that he could find no fault in Jesus. This declaration triggered the crowd to press further saying that Jesus “stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee..” (Luke 23:5, NKJV) When Pilate heard of Galilee, he sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and thus, had jurisdiction over that province. Herod and his men mocked Jesus and sent him back to Pilate clad in purple robe of mockery.
Pilate then, said that he and Herod did not find any fault in Jesus and proposed that the accused be released. While Pilate was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife Claudia, sent a message to him saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” (Matthew 27:19) Then the crowd clamored to have Barabbas released instead of Jesus. Perplexed, Pilate asked, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ”? They all said to him, “Let him be crucified!”
Annoyed and not knowing what to do, Pilate said, “Why what evil has he done?” (Matt. 27:23; Luke 23:22). With fiercer fanaticism the crowd yelled out, “Away with him! Crucify him, crucify him! And Pilate yielded, and sent Jesus to be scourged. After the scourging Pilate presented Jesus again to the crowd saying, “Behold the man!” But the sight of Jesus, now scourged and bleeding only stirred their anger and once again cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
Wanting really, to free Jesus, Pilate took him once more within the Praetorium and asked him, “Where are you from?” (John 19:8) But Jesus did not answer him. Seemingly irritated, Pilate continued, “Do you not know I have the power to crucify you, and power to release you?” Jesus calmly answered, “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19: 11)
By this time Pilate was determined to let Jesus go but the crowd shouted, “If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” (John 19:12) Upon hearing this Pilate said, “Behold your king!” They answered, “Away with him, away with him! Crucify him! Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests of the Jews responded, “We have no king but Caesar!” Then he delivered Jesus to them to be crucified. He took water and washed his hands declaring his innocence of Jesus’ blood in a ceremony such as Moses commanded in Deuteronomy 21:1-9, and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.” And the crowd answered, “His blood be on us and our children.” (Matthew 27:24)
After several failed attempt to exonerate Jesus, Pilate succumbed to the Jewish authorities’ pressure on him to execute Jesus. The Gospels indicate Pontius Pilate’s indecision, citing that he conceded to letting Jesus go at one stage of the trial, but later rescinded the offer.
First, we see an indecisive leader. After his interrogations of Jesus, he knew for a fact that Jesus was innocent. He even ignored his wife’s advise, and gave in to the demands of the people.
Second, he was more concerned for his political future than doing what is right. He melted when the crowd said, “If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” He does not want the Sanhedrin to lodge a complaint with Caesar that he, Pilate, has let go a rival king.
Third, when it was all over, he washed his hands — trying to convince himself and others (unsuccessfully) that he was not responsible for the unjust execution that was about to take place.
Pontius Pilate exhibited a complete failure in political leadership. Unfortunately, the same failure still happens to this day. It is all too common.
Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Third Edition. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2002.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.