Devotional Thoughts for Today
“A Shattered Reputation”
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. 6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
After having worked for a financial corporation in New York City for several years, I have learned that a common theme running through today’s corporate culture is branding. Whether it’s the status of our company or our personal reputation, managing our standing is given high priority. Thus, we meticulously display our best selves on our resumes and social media, and minimize our weaknesses by terming them “areas of improvement.” And if any false accusations are leveled against us—whether through gossip or hearsay—we act quickly to dispel those rumors to maintain our reputation.
In contrast, today’s reading displays Jesus, the only perfect man to have walked this earth, staying silent (v.5) despite being falsely accused (v. 3). Even an outsider like Pilate was able to discern that the ill treatment towards Jesus was based on envy as opposed to justice (v. 10). And when Pilate asked the crowd what wrong Jesus had committed (v.14), there was no response to his question, only further cries to “crucify him” (v.15). Why did Jesus accept such vile treatment?
One possibility is that Jesus knew His mission from the Father and only lived to do His will (John 4:34). Luke notes that “when the days drew near for him [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Like a solider, Jesus did not entangle Himself in civilian pursuits but only aimed to please God (2 Tim. 2:4). Knowing that fulfilling His Father’s mission involved being despised by others (Isa. 53:3), Jesus endured the abuse and completed His task. The irony of it all is that He will eventually be praised by all men (Phil. 2:9-11).
As believers today, are we getting involved in the wrong battles? Are we diverting precious time and effort from kingdom work by curating our reputations? When we hear something about ourselves that we may not like, perhaps deeper understanding and reconciliation can be achieved by trying to understand, instead of instantly defending ourselves. And even if such words about us are wholly false, let us take comfort that He who knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21) was not immune to such attacks. Let us ask Him for His strength today.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I care too much about what others think or say about me. I confess that I spend time putting out these fires, instead of resting in the righteousness that You have given me. Give me the wisdom to discern when to speak and when to be silent. And thank You that in Your eyes, I am fully righteous because of the work of Christ. In Your Name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Timothy 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Isaiah 50:5-9: “The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. 6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. 7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! 9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.”
Questions to Consider
- How does Jesus resemble the Suffering Servant in this passage?
- Why does the Suffering Servant have such boldness and confidence in verses 8-9?
- Do you have such trust and confidence in God?
- Jesus did not turn away from His accusers (v.5-6). He took comfort that God the Father would keep Him from disgrace and set His face like a flint to carry out God’s will (v.7).
- He has tremendous trust in the Lord, who vindicates Him (v.8) and helps Him (v.9). As Christians, we, too, can have the same confidence that it is the work of Christ, not our own actions that justify us.
- Personal response.
Unlike Jesus, we are not perfect people. Even the harshest of criticism or slander may have a sliver of truth. If you have been the recipient of some choice words, ask God for His help to discern what may actually be helpful.