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prisoner convicted and taken away November 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 15:6-21; Matthew 27:15-32; Luke 23:13-32; John 18:39-19:17a

Unjustly Convicted and Sentenced!

A parent punishes the wrong child. A teacher punishes the wrong student for misbehaviors. An adult is wrongly disciplined at work or fired for something that is not his/her fault. A person is implicated in a crime and suffers many long years in prison. These are examples of injustice. What do we do when we suffer unjustly?

Jesus knew how it felt to suffer unjustly. Jesus was innocent but accused of crimes he did not commit. Instead, Barabbas, a known insurrectionist and murderer, was released. Jesus died in his place, the righteous for the unrighteous (1Peter 3:18).

Pilate was unjust. Pilate was faced with a decision: should he behave with integrity or care only about retaining his position as governor of Palestine? He knew Jesus was innocent. He wanted to do the right thing and release him. He pleaded for compromise, but the crowd would not listen.

For the third time he (Pilate) spoke to them [the crowd of Israelites and religious leaders who shouted for Jesus to be crucified].”Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.

So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will, (Luke 23:22-25, NIV).

Pilate was a cowardly politician. He wanted to do the right thing, but he did not want a report brought to Caesar that he had let a proclaimed king go free (John 19:12-15). If Caesar got wind of it, Pilate might lose his coveted position. Do we do this? Do we act without integrity because of possible repercussions? Do we seek to please men or God? If we seek to please men we cannot be servants of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

Barabbas went free. Many of us are like Barabbas. We may not have started an insurrection, but by our refusal to accept God’s Son as our Savior and King, or by refusing to obey Him, we are being insurrectionists in our spirits. We want to be king.

“But we are not murderers like Barabbas,” we may say. We may not have committed the physical act of murder; but if we have a continual pattern of hatred for people, we commit murder in our hearts. The love of God is not in us, we are not true Christians, and we are as guilty as Barabbas (1John 3:15; 4:20). Whether we do or merely think acts of hatred, all wrongdoing of whatever sort makes us guilty and totally depraved. Is there any good news for us? Yes, there is good news: Jesus came to take our place; “The righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God,” (1Peter 3:18a, NIV, more...).

So, what can we do when we suffer unjustly? As was said in a previous lesson, if it is a civil matter, we can go to the police and our governing authorities for justice (Romans 13:1-5). If it is a religious matter and there are no civil laws to protect us, we are not to take revenge. Romans 12:17-21 says,

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NIV)

Lessons to live by:

  • We may suffer unjustly as a Christian, especially in today's world, and so did Jesus. Endure it and remember that God will bless you (2Timothy 2:3; 3:12; John 15:20; Matthew 5:10).
  • When suffering injustice and going to civil authorities is not an option, do not take revenge yourself; let God do it. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21, NIV).
  • Follow the example of Jesus. When he suffered unjustly, it led to his death on the cross, but it gave us the opportunity for eternal life. Your godly response to unjust treatment is a testimony of God’s grace in your life. Perhaps that testimony will also lead others to seek God for eternal life.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (NIV)

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