Darrell L. Bock on What Jesus’ Arrest and Trial Can Teach Us About Facing Opposition

“Christ before Pilate” by Mihály Munkácsy

“So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of’” (Mark 15:4).

When we approach Easter, there are many things we think about: Jesus’ death in our place, the disciples’ lack of understanding, God’s choice to have women be the first witnesses to the empty tomb, resurrection hope. There is a multitude of directions to go when thinking about the end of this most significant week in history.

But there is one we rarely consider: how Jesus got through that experience. Yes, we note Gethsemane where he wrestled with his coming fate and eventually handed it all over to God. But what did that mean for him? Is there anything for us to learn from how Christ faced the intense rejection by the world that the Cross represented?

During the entire second half of his ministry, Jesus taught his disciples that they would face opposition, resistance, and rejection just as he did. Their spiritual development depended upon how to cope with this reality—a reality our churches today are struggling with as we move into an increasingly post-Christian context. John O’Sullivan, former editor of the National Review, defines it this way: “A post-Christian society is not merely a society in which agnosticism or atheism is the prevailing fundamental belief. It is a society rooted in the history, culture, and practices of Christianity but in which the religious beliefs of Christianity have either been rejected or worse, forgotten.”

What can Jesus’ arrest and trial teach us about our own calling in such a world? How do we best remember what many in the world have forgotten?

Jesus was betrayed by one of his own. He was examined about his identity by the Jewish leadership. He faced Pilate with his life hanging in the balance, depending upon what he would say. The stakes were high as he stood before the Roman governor. As we contemplate Christ during his trial, what can we learn?

First, trusting the Father, Jesus did not fight back down or reflect fear in the face of the rejection. The scene with Pilate is revealing. Pilate is shocked that Jesus did not respond as he’d expect someone in Jesus’ situation would. In fact, Mark 15:5 says Pilate was amazed. Jesus’ way of engagement with opposition is not like that of the world. As bad as the circumstances were (and as grim as they looked to Peter, who denied the Lord at about the same time), Jesus knew that the call the Father had given to him included this space. No hard fight back was required.

Second, Jesus rested in the confidence of his identity. He was secure in this place. As John the Evangelist notes, Pilate was surprised when Jesus initially made no reply to the accusations against him. Then, in John 19:11, we see Jesus’ response, which is rooted in the security his identity in God provides him: “You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above.”

Earlier Jesus had told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (18:36). This previous exchange took place as they debated the nature of truth. For Jesus, God the Father and his way—connected as it is to Christ himself—was the truth, so there was no need to whine about what was happening, nor any need for rebuttal, nor any need to act out of fear. First Peter 3:14 expresses the idea this way: “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” Rejection will come, just as it did for the Master, but how we respond to it should reflect the path he took.

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Source: Christianity Today