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Reflections on my experience
Yesterday, I asked us to put ourselves on trial, in an attempt to better understand Jesus’ wondrous gift to us of his trial and execution for our sins. As I prayed through the questions, I tried to get a mental image of Jesus after the trials before the religious authorities and Pilate. Then, I talked to him about my sins of omission (the things I haven’t done, but should have done). Some of my reflections are below.
(1) Ingratitude – I think too much about myself and too little about my Savior who was willing to experience trials and the cross for my sins.
(2) Lack of love for God – It is easy for me to ask for things in prayer. It is more difficult to truly worship him. I think this reveals a lack of love for him.
(3) Unbelief – Every time I choose my own self-direction instead of following the guidance of the Spirit, I reveal my unbelief. If I believed more fully in God’s love and ability to lead my life, I would choose his leadership every time.
(4) Lack of love for people who are distant from God – At my first church, I regularly prayed for all 142 people in the town. Why don’t I use the address book on my phone to pray for the people God has placed in my life?
(5) Neglect of family duties – If my family took the witness stand, they would tell Jesus that I could do better.
(6) Neglect of self-denial – I am happy to serve Jesus, as long as the service is not too costly and is something that I want to do. I sometimes serve Jesus, “kicking and screaming” all the way.
Jesus’ trial before Pilate
Like yesterday, this aspect of Jesus’ trial is presented to help us appreciate Jesus’ utter love for people like us. Please read it to get a picture of Jesus. Then, imagine yourself before him confessing your sins. (A list adapted from the writings of Charles Finney will be provided in the next section to help us in this exercise.)
John 18.28-40 – Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.
29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”
30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.”
31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Putting ourselves on trial
Yesterday, we looked at sins of omission (things we should have done, but didn’t). Today, we will consider our transgressions. God has clearly placed “No Trespassing” signs in our path. A transgression is to see God’s “No Trespassing” sign and disregard it.
Place yourself before Jesus, who has endured the trial before Pilate. He is falsely condemned and will soon be executed on a cross. He did this so the sins you and I list today may be completely and forever forgiven. (See 1 John 1.9)
(1) A mind conformed to the world’s system – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.2). Is my mind molded more by the influence of the world around me or by knowing the will of God?
(2) Pride – Jesus highlighted the connection between pride and unbelief. He said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5.44). Am I more concerned with what people think of me, or with pleasing God?
(3) Envy – Do I want to have the wealth, beauty, power, and possessions that I see in others? Do I desire the talents and gifts of others, but fail to be thankful for what God has given me?
(4) Do I have a bitter, judgmental spirit – Can I see the speck in the other’s eye, but fail to see the log in my own? Note, criticism is not a spiritual gift.
(5) Slander – Do I speak behind the back of other people? Do I “stand on top of other people” to make myself look taller?
(6) Lying – Do I deceive people for selfish reasons?
(7) Hypocrisy – Do I want to appear to be someone I really am not? Am I a play-actor, unwilling to reveal who I really am?
(8) Robbing God – What do I do with my time, talents, energy and money? Where do I waste what God has given me, participating in what is worthless or actually harmful?
(9) Hindering others – How have I kept others from fully following Jesus? How have I excused my bad behavior – and theirs – so we both could live distant from God? In what ways have I led to their corruption and guilt?
I hope you have gained insight and appreciation for Jesus’ great gift to us. Listing our sins is not intended to drive us to despair. Rather, it is intended to drive us to Jesus, who “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1.15).
I was a young preacher when I first completed this exercise. I had several pages of notes, listing my sins. I knelt beside my bed and confessed each sin to the Lord. I took the pages of my notes to our aluminum trash can and burned them. Since Jesus forgave them, they were completely forgiven and out of my life.
That same day, I was preaching in a neighboring town. The pastor and I walked the streets of the small village on a beautiful spring day. We stopped at the house of a woman whom neither of us had met. Jesus led me to speak to her about her salvation. She began a relationship with Jesus that day. On the following Sunday, her husband, her daughter, and her grand-daughter were all baptized with her by the pastor of the church.
I pray for us all to have profound experiences, as we meet with Jesus today.
Dear Jesus, we praise you for your selfless love that took you to trial and the cross. Thank you for forgiving our sins and for giving us new life. Please help us to live the abundant life you intended for us to live.