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

Pilate was unjust. He was faced with a decision: should he behave with integrity or care only about retaining his position as governor of Palestine? Pilate 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 are like Barabbas; they may not have started an insurrection, but by their refusal to accept God’s Son as their Savior and King, or by refusing to obey Him, they are being insurrectionists in their spirits. They want to be king. Does this describe you?

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

Christians, what can you do when you suffer unjustly? As was said in a previous lesson, if it is a civil matter, you 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 you, do not 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:

  • If you are guilty of sin or rebellion like Barabbas, there is good news; Jesus died the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God (more...)
  • 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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