Daily Devotional with Dr. Charles Stanley @ InTouch.org
Friday, April 6, 2012
The Role of the Wicked
Read | Mark 15
With hundreds of Old Testament prophecies related to the expected Messiah, it shouldn’t surprise us that God used many people–believers, non-believers, and even some unquestionably wicked individuals–to ensure that the Savior’s earthly life would unfold according to plan. For example, Caesar Augustus ordered a census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, Christ’s birth city (Micah 52; Luke 2:1-4).
What’s more, God used some of the most powerful men of the day to bring about His Son’s sacrificial death. The Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ trumped-up charges helped turn the crowd against Jesus (Mark 15:10-11). Pilate condemned Him, and the Romans carried out the actual crucifixion; they even bartered for His clothes and chose not to break His legs, as predicted (John 19:24, 36).
During the dark days between Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples must have believed the Messianic program had been derailed. But God’s goal wasn’t to bring political revolution as some believed. He sent His Son to redeem mankind: Jesus paid the death penalty for our sins.
Before the foundation of the world, God had planned for the salvation of every tribe and nation. Throughout history, He orchestrated events to fulfill His purpose, using even the ungodly to move His plan forward.
Many have had a hand in advancing the Savior’s story, but the ultimate responsibility is the Father’s. He gave His only Son over to death on behalf of the world He loved (John 3:16). Both the righteous and the wicked who took part in the Easter story were following God’s script.
Jesus before Pilate
1 Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He *answered him, “It is as you say.” 3 The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly. 4 Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!” 5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. 7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. 9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Jesus Is Mocked
16 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they *called together the whole Roman cohort. 17 They *dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they *led Him out to crucify Him.
21 They *pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.
22 Then they *brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 24 And they *crucified Him, and *divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
27 They *crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”] 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.
33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
Jesus Is Buried
42 When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. 45 And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.