Script for the June 8th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the June 8th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 30-31 and John 18. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

2 Chronicles 30

As this chapter begins, King Hezekiah sent word to those in his kingdom as well as the kingdom of Israel to come to the Lord’s Temple to observe the Passover.

Observing the Passover wasn’t a fleeting desire. King Hezekiah, his officials, and the entire congregation of Jerusalem had decided to observe it since it hadn’t been observed as often as the Law required.

But the king didn’t merely call for the people of Judah to come to the Temple. He actually encouraged the people of Israel to come as well.

2 Chronicles 30:6 (CSB): “So the couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the hand of the king and his officials, and according to the king’s command, saying, “Israelites, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel so that he may return to those of you who remain, who have escaped the grasp of the kings of Assyria.”

The king of Israel would have never allowed his people to reconnect with Jerusalem. If they started going to Jerusalem again for worship, the nation of Israel would weaken and maybe even implode. So, the people of Israel needed to stay north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Inviting the people of Israel seems a bit naïve on King Hezekiah’s part. He would have known the resistance he would have gotten. But when someone loves the Lord and wants others to enjoy Him, too, they sometimes appear a bit naïve. They may speak to people that others would suspect have little chance of responding positively.

In King Hezekiah’s invitation letter, he acknowledged that Israel’s ancestors had abandoned the Lord and caused the negative consequences that the people of Israel were presently experiencing. So, he encouraged the Israelites to return to the Lord and enjoy His favor.

How did the people of Israel respond?

2 Chronicles 30:10-12 (CSB): “The couriers traveled from city to city in the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but the inhabitants laughed at them and mocked them. But some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. Also, the power of God was at work in Judah to unite them to carry out the command of the king and his officials by the word of the LORD.”

We learn in these verses that God was at work. But we are also reminded that when God is moving among a group of people, there will always be another group that scoffs. That’s when we need to remind ourselves that we aren’t in the business of pleasing people. We are ultimately in the business of pleasing the Lord by calling people into a closer relationship with Him. So, if some people don’t like it, so be it. That won’t stop us.

Well, many people showed up to observe the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The folks who had shown up to worship got busy and took away the pagan altars that were in Jerusalem. It seemed that anything displeasing to the Lord was going to bite the dust.

The Levites and priests got busy and started offering up burnt offerings. But it was discovered that a group of people from Israel had not properly cleansed themselves to observe the Passover. Apparently, they became sick and associated it with their lack of compliance with the Old Testament Law.

If you are a leader in a time of potential spiritual renewal, you must be careful in times like this. Any false move and you could quench the Spirit. So, Hezekiah didn’t reprimand them. He simply interceded for them in prayer, and the Lord healed them.

The Day of the Passover and then the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread came and went. The people, priests, and Levites worshipped the Lord and enjoyed the experience. They didn’t want it to end. So the Festival was extended for another seven days. All of the people who came, including the folks from Israel, were happy!

2 Chronicles 30:25-26 (CSB): “Then the whole assembly of Judah with the priests and Levites, the whole assembly that came from Israel, the resident aliens who came from the land of Israel, and those who were living in Judah, rejoiced. There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for nothing like this was known since the days of Solomon son of David, the king of Israel.”

The priests and Levites weren’t merely doing their duty now. I suspect that they had observed that this was no mere Passover celebration. God had shown up. I bet they were overwhelmed with God’s goodness and grace as they prayed over the people.

2 Chronicles 30:27 (CSB): “Then the priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, and their prayer came into his holy dwelling place in heaven.”

2 Chronicles 31

The people who attended this Festival had a renewed excitement about God. After the Festival, they went to all the cities of Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh, and they broke up and chopped down every pagan thing that was offensive to God.

Then, the people of Judah and some in Israel gave to the priests and Levites. Hezekiah led this to provide for the folks who were serving in the Temple. This offering was to be given to them so that they “could devote their energy to the law of the Lord.” The people responded and gave abundantly.

Hezekiah seems to have been a leader who kept close tabs on things and loved working problems to achieve desired results. So he observed the piles of contributions that the people of Judah and Israel had given. He asked the priests and Levites to explain what he was looking at. They said that it was the people’s contributions for their care, but they had been well taken care of. The piles were the overabundances that they didn’t presently need.

Hezekiah didn’t want the people’s contributions to go to waste. So he told them to prepare chambers in the Temple and use those locations to store the extra. This way, it could be organized and protected from the elements until it was needed at a later time.

Then, we read that certain men were assigned to oversee the offerings made to the Lord. They would be sure to distribute the resources to the Levites and priests who were not in the Temple.

Because Hezekiah was a man of competence and character, and because he was organizing a time of spiritual renewal for the people under his care, the Lord blessed him.

2 Chronicles 31:20-21 (CSB): “Hezekiah did this throughout all Judah. He did what was good and upright and true before the LORD his God. He was diligent in every deed that he began in the service of God’s temple, in the instruction and the commands, in order to seek his God, and he prospered.”

John 18

John 18:1-3 (CSB): “After Jesus had said these things, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas took a company of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees and came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.”

These verses tell us how Judas was able to know that Jesus would be in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus took his disciples there often. It might be that Jesus prayed in the garden on multiple occasions and that He had taught them and led them to pray in that location.

But, something else seems to be visible in those previous verses. Interestingly, Adam lost paradise and a relationship with the Lord when he was in the Garden of Eden. Likewise, we read that Jesus, who was the second Adam (according to 1 Corinthians 15:45-49) regained Heaven and a relationship with the Lord after spending time in the Garden of Gethsemane. So the fall of humanity happened in a garden, and the redemption of humanity also included a garden scene.

When the rogue mob showed up in the garden with Judas leading them, Jesus broke the silence and took control of the situation. He asked who they were seeking. They said: “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus responded by saying, “I am.” These are the same words that the Lord used from the burning bush when Moses asked what to tell Pharoah if he wanted to know who was sending him.

These two words in the Greek language were so powerful that Judas and his crowd fell backward. As they were getting back up, Jesus asked again: “Who are you seeking?” It may be that the first time they answered that question, they did so with arrogance and a sense of power. This time, it’s not a stretch to believe that they answered with humility. They knew they were in the presence of someone powerful.

Then, Jesus demonstrated care for the men who had been following Him for three years. He asked the mob to let his followers go even as they were preparing to take Jesus.

John 18:10-11 (CSB): “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) At that, Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?’”

As we read the previous verses, it seems that Peter wanted to make good on his commitment to die with Jesus, if need be. He may also have wanted to affirm that he wouldn’t deny Jesus. That’s why he was willing to fight with his sword. But when Jesus reprimanded him and told him to put away his sword, it didn’t make sense. He couldn’t process what was going on or what his response should be that Jesus wouldn’t reprove him for. So he did the only thing that seemed to make sense in the moment – he ran.

Jesus was bound and led to Annas, the father-in-law of the current high priest. Annas had been the high priest from AD 6-15. In AD 15, he had been removed by the Romans because they didn’t want a priest to gain too much clout and influence by serving as priest for too long. Yet, the Jews believed that a high priest was one for life, so it’s possible that they treated him like the high priest, even though his son-in-law was the current high priest.

Then, we read something in the story that is peculiar to the Gospel of John. None of the other Gospel writers tell us of the unnamed disciple.

John 18:15-16 (CSB): “Simon Peter was following Jesus, as was another disciple. That disciple was an acquaintance of the high priest; so he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. But Peter remained standing outside by the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the girl who was the doorkeeper and brought Peter in.”

Ok. So who is this unnamed disciple? Traditionally, this is thought to be John, the author of this book, “the one that Jesus loved.” This puts Peter’s cowardice in an even greater light. John was freely going back and forth and even talked to the girl who was the doorkeeper to invite Peter in. So, the young girl that asked Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus had just heard from John that he was Jesus’ disciple.

John 18:17 (CSB): “Then the servant girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, ‘You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’ ‘I am not,’ he said.”

She may have been tempted to say: “But John just said that you were!” I bet she was shocked at his cowardice.

As John continues to tell this story, he leaves Peter outside around the fire as he pans his camera to the place where the high priest was interrogating Jesus.

Caiaphas, the high priest, questioned Jesus about His followers and what He taught. Jesus’ response seems to demonstrate that the high priest’s laziness was utterly distasteful to Him. The high priest was asking questions that he should have already had the answers to since Jesus didn’t do anything in the dark. There were plenty of people to question if the high priest was serious about this mockery of an interrogation.

John 8:20-21 (CSB): “‘I have spoken openly to the world,’ Jesus answered him. ‘I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews gather, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. Why do you question me? Question those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.’”

Then one of the officials slapped Jesus. That couldn’t be ignored. It was unjust, and Jesus knew it. So he asked the man what offense He had committed that justified the slap. Even though Jesus was headed to the cross as God the Father had determined, that didn’t mean that people who mistreated Him and sent Him there could act unjustly and get away with it.

Now, John pans the camera back outside. It’s a cold night, and a charcoal fire is warming those surrounding it. That’s where we find Peter again. And that’s where we observe the next two denials.

After the first denial, someone else cornered Peter and asked if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denied it. Then a third person confronted Peter. But this isn’t just any person. Remember when Peter cut off the high priest servant’s ear in the garden earlier that evening? Well, listen to who confronted Peter the third time.

John 18:26-27 (CSB): “One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?’ Peter denied it again. Immediately a rooster crowed.”

Peter may have recognized the last guy that questioned him. He was a relative of the man that Peter aimed at with his sword. Peter might have been afraid that if he said “yes” to the man’s question, he might say: “I knew it! I knew you were the one who cut my relative’s ear off! How dare you! Take your glasses off, bud! We’re going to fight!” So it may have been that Peter was boxed into a corner, and a cowardly denial seemed appropriate to save his own skin. But then the rooster crowed, and Peter ran away and wept bitterly.

The camera pans back inside toward Jesus again. The mob took Jesus to Pilate because the Jewish legal counsel didn’t have the authority to kill Jesus. As much as they hated it, they needed Rome’s permission to kill Him.

As they arrived at Pilate’s quarters, he asked them what Jesus had done. We’re given their answer in another gospel. But in John, the author doesn’t include their response. Instead, he sees right through it and doesn’t even include their words because they were unfounded and stupid.

Pilate really didn’t have time for this. So he told them to take Jesus and do with Him according to their own Law. But then he must have been shocked when they said that they wanted Jesus dead and Rome wouldn’t allow them to kill him. Rome would have to take the lead in his death.

Pilate felt the weight of the situation and asked Jesus if the allegations of the religious leaders were true. Was He the king of the Jews?”

John 18:34 (CSB): “Jesus answered, ‘Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about me?’”

Essentially, Jesus was saying: “Pilate, you’re asking me if I’m the king of the Jews. Where did you hear those allegations? Did you hear it from others? Or are you saying it for yourself because you honestly believe that I pose a threat to Rome?”

Pilate seemed to be a bit flustered by Jesus’ words. Pilate was a man of action and words were a waste of time. He didn’t want Jesus’ riddles and things. He wanted an answer to his question.

So Jesus answered and said that He posed no threat to Rome or Israel.

John 18:36 (CSB): “‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ said Jesus. ‘If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’”

Jesus was saying that His kingdom wasn’t a worldly kingdom. His kingdom was made up of all of those folks who have trusted in Jesus to save them. They are all over the world, in every worldly kingdom.

John 18:37 (CSB) “‘You are a king then?’ Pilate asked. ‘You say that I’m a king,’ Jesus replied. ‘I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’”

Jesus told Pilate in those last words that He came into the world to speak truth. All that were interested in truth would listen to Him.

John 18:38 (CSB): “‘What is truth?’ said Pilate.”

Pilate’s question may have been the reaction of a man who twisted the truth so much that he wasn’t even sure what it was anymore. Clearly, Pilate wasn’t one of the individuals who sought truth.

Pilate was not a good man. There is much that is recorded of the evil he did to the Jews. But it seems that he didn’t want the envious Jews to win this battle. He didn’t want them to kill an innocent man that intrigued him. Besides, his wife told him that she had a dream about Jesus (Matthew 27:19) and that Pilate was to leave him alone.

So Pilate offered an option to set one person free. He selected Barabbas as the second of only two choices that they were given. They chose Barabbas and desired that Jesus should be crucified.

Prayer

Lord God, we observe in today’s story that so much injustice happened to Jesus before He ever reached the cross. When we bring in the other Gospel accounts, we realize that He was abandoned, betrayed, spit upon, slapped, hit, beaten, mocked, and so much more. Yet, in Your divine wisdom, You used all of those injustices to accomplish Your divine purpose of offering up Your own Son as the substitute payment for anyone who will trust in Him. Thank You for saving us but also thank You for giving us the privilege of telling others the wonderful news of how Jesus can save them. Help us to recognize that with privilege comes responsibility. Please give us an opportunity to share the Gospel at least one time in the next week. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!