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Blog: God-in-a-Box—Your Inbox

 

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We hope this becomes a dependency. Strange thing for a therapist to say. But we are dependent on God for life and peace and joy. Spending time with Him every day (imagining these vignettes) will enhance your life and growth as nothing else can.

 

Misinformation about God is rampant out there today. This is good stuff--agreeing with the best interpretation you can put on Scripture.

 

  Below, Love's Playbook, Arla's new series, is the first interpretive version of the Bible -- it's God's love story like you've never read it--written to keep you reading! (Images are Amazon linked )

 

By Arla, Mar 5 2021 02:00AM

Pilate grasps the opportunity to heal an old quarrel by sending Jesus to Herod. Pilate has no intention of condemning him.


Herod is happy to meet Jesus, whom he's heard much about. His sensitivity and guilt have greatly dulled in the past two years since killing John, but he still hopes to clear his mind and conscience by saving this prophet. He is sure Jesus will do whatever is necessary to save himself. He has no idea...


The priests and elders accompany him, and all begin talking loudly.


Herod silences them and demands Jesus' hands be released, rebuking their harsh treatment. Looking at him, he knows the priests have brought him from envy. He begins to question Jesus, but Jesus doesn't respond. So Herod commands the sick and crippled to be brought in. He promises Jesus freedom for doing a miracle.


The leaders are in a panic. They've seen his miracles. Their plans are dissolving before their eyes!


Jesus gives no indication he has heard Herod. He can't do anything to save himself. He must go through this as any man would have to. And Herod had the best of prophets give him evidence--more won't make any difference.


Finally Herod gets it; Jesus isn't going to perform. Furious over what he perceives as insult, he labels him an imposter, even though impressed that he's God-like; and again, soldiers restrain crazed people. Herod has a gorgeous robe put on Jesus, and mocks him; people and soldiers joining in with horrible abuse. And then he's sent back to Pilate.


Luke 23:8-12



By Arla, Mar 4 2021 02:00AM

The priests panic, if Pilate knows their charge is religious, he'll dismiss it! Perjuring themselves, they yell, "He was speaking against Rome, forbidding taxes, saying he's a king!"


Pilate turns to Jesus and asks, "Are you king of the Jews?"


"You would say so," says Jesus his face lighting from within.


Angry priests demand his death, stirring the mob into an uproar with help from Satan and his evil angels.


Pilate looks at Jesus and knows their charges are false. "Aren't you going to answer their charges?"


Jesus' silence causes Pilate to move him further inside and ask again, "Are you king of the Jews?"


"Are you asking? Or repeating what you've heard?" Jesus gives Ruach time to work.


Pilate understands the question, but pride stifles conviction, "Am I a Jew? Your own people have brought you. What have you done?"


"My kingdom isn't from this world, if it were my servants would fight."


"You are a king then?"


"That is what you would call it. I was born and came into the world to give witness to the truth. Everyone who wants truth responds to me."


"What is truth?" Pilate feels a desire to know, but he doesn't wait for an answer; noise from outside distracts him.


Going out he motions for quiet and says, "I find no fault in him."


Rebuked, rage-crazy priests know Pilate's weakness and threaten him with losing Caesar's favor. "He stirs up everyone from Galilee to here!"


Galilee! Herod's jurisdiction! Pilate sees his escape, seizes opportunity, and sends Jesus to Herod.


Matthew 27:11-14,  Mark 15:2-5,  Luke 23:1-7,  John 18:33-38


By Arla, Mar 3 2021 02:00AM

Jesus is taken to Pilate, the Roman governor, to confirm Caiaphas' sentence.

 

Pilate is not happy at being called this early from his bed. He is irritated and determines to get this done quickly. However, he is curious. He assumes this is someone the Jewish leaders are eager to have punished.

 

He nods at the temple guard who brought him, and looks at Jesus; but he is unprepared. He feels awe. Never has someone radiating goodness and nobility in his face and bearing been brought before him.

 

Pilate's better nature is aroused, he has heard of Jesus and his works, and now he recalls rumors from different sources. He remembers his wife sharing how a Galilean prophet has cured the sick and raised the dead. He determines to demand their charges.

 

The priests had hoped Pilate wouldn't question them--he has hastily condemned men to death for them before. They know the life of a prisoner has little value to him, and signing a death warrant is not a big deal. But now Pilate is demanding charges!

 

Pilate is remembering Lazarus' rumors, "...Raised a man four days dead..." Spirit shows him truth, and he suspects the priests of jealousy and foul play.

 

The priests and rulers have stopped at the entrance, not willing to exclude themselves from Passover by entering a Roman hall. But they call to Pilate, "We wouldn't have brought him if he wasn't worthy of death," implying, how dare you question us!

 

Pilate turns and says, "If you're so certain of his guilt, judge him yourselves."

 

John 18:28-32


By Arla, Mar 2 2021 02:00AM

Guilt consumes Judas. Now that they've used him, he is sport for the dark side, their pathetic joke. It's how Satan treats those he uses.


Judas grabs the robe of Caiaphas and cries out, "Release him, Caiaphas, I have betrayed innocent blood!"


Caiaphas shakes him off, confused, and embarrassed, scattered silver making it obvious the priests had bribed him. Regaining self-possession, he scorns Judas, despising his action, "That's your problem."


Judas falls at Jesus' feet begging him to deliver himself, acknowledging him as the Son of God.


Jesus looks with pity at Judas; he knows his sorrow is being wrong, there is no desire to change, just shame. Things hadn't turned out as Judas had planned, and Satan's condemnation is eating him alive. Jesus says simply, "This is why I came into the world."


Judas had meant to force Jesus into declaring himself king, to push his disciples to act. He had always thought his plans were better than Jesus'. He had always expressed doubts that confused the disciples. He had been honored with Jesus' presence and his power, but he never trusted Jesus--surrendering his will, his plans, his life. He never let Jesus love him.


The assembly is again convicted that Jesus is more than human. But why then doesn't he free himself and rise up in triumph? wonder silences spectators.


Judas sees that Jesus is going to allow their plan for his death, and rushes out crying, "It is too late! It is too late!" and in despair hangs himself.


Poor Simon! In one day he loses his son and his new Lord.


Matthew 27:3-5



By Arla, Mar 1 2021 02:00AM

Peter runs from Caiaphas' courtyard, sobbing, not caring where he goes. He ends up in the garden, where Jesus had agonized, wishing he could die. He remembers everything...


Now Peter understands, and his heart breaks, realizing if he'd prayed and supported Jesus, he wouldn't have denied his Lord. He remembers Jesus' words, "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat..." (now "getting" that he'd been tested by Satan--kept unprepared.)


Meanwhile, day is breaking, and the Sanhedrin is reconvening for the "legal" trial. Not all heard Jesus' claim to be Messiah. The leaders hope he will repeat it, which they'll twist into a seditious affront to the Romans.


"Are you the Son of God?"


Jesus remains silent, and they continue questioning.


Finally, in pained voice, Jesus answers, "If I tell you, you won't believe me. If I answer, you won't let me go. But you will see me invested with power on God's right hand, coming in clouds of angels."


Instantly, accusing priests speak as one mocking voice, "Then you are the Son of God?"


"You say so."


"He is guilty! You've heard it yourselves!" screams Caiaphas .


The trial erupts into the worst abuse yet. The members and mobsters rushed him. Had it not been for Roman soldiers who couldn't tolerate a man being convicted without a Roman trial, Jesus wouldn't have lived to be nailed to the cross.


As the trial closes, a tall form presses through the crowd, a haggard, pale face cries, "Spare him, Caiaphas, he is innocent!" Thirty pieces of silver ring on the marble.


Matthew 27:1-5, Mark 14:72-15:1, Luke 22:62-71,




By Arla, Feb 26 2021 02:00AM

Through the uproar following Caiaphas' pronouncement of "Guilty!", Jesus is taken to the guard room to await a legal trial. Here, unprotected, he is terribly abused by all the fiendish ways Satan can inspire in ignorant, out-of-control men of war. But the worst hurt comes from a friend...


Peter and John, regrouping, had followed the mob at a distance. A priest, recognizing John, lets him in; and he requests Peter's entrance also.


But Peter, preferring to assume indifference, hangs-out in the courtyard with others huddled around a fire against the pre-dawn chill.


A woman, the doorkeeper remembers seeing him with John. Curious, she asks if he is a disciple.


Startled, Peter pretends not to understand, and becomes angry with her persistence. "I don't know him." he lies, giving the enemy an advantage to him.


His agitation shows, and another asks if he is a follower of Jesus. Again he says vehemently, "I don't know the man!"


An hour passes with Peter catching glimpses of the trial, trying hard to hide his pain, when a relative of Malchus, whose ear was healed, says, "I saw you with him in the garden..."


Peter flies into a rage and curses, swearing that he doesn't know Jesus.


A rooster crows. He remembers.


Jesus turns and looks for Peter, whose eyes are drawn to Jesus. Peter sees pity and sorrow in his face, but there is no anger there. In horror his heart breaks. He realizes how little he knows himself, but how well Jesus knows him! He runs out, uncontrollable weeping blinding him.


Matt 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:15-18, 25-27



By Arla, Feb 25 2021 02:00AM

The Jews wanted their Messiah to control and overwhelm their enemies with power and glory... Jesus knows what they want, and his biggest temptation is to give it to them by laying out his cruel tormentors in a flash of divine power.


To be surrounded by people under the control of Satan is revolting to him. But his mission includes taking all the abuse men can give, and staying a man in submission to God.


Annas gives command to take Jesus to Caiaphas.


It is still night, and the council comes together by the light of torches, Caiaphas presiding. He has been jealous of Jesus' influence, and now is struck with admiration for his God-like bearing--calm and dignified. Quickly banishing that thought, he sneeringly demands a miracle.


Not getting a response, he brings in bribed witnesses.


These can't agree, and Jesus is silent.


"You'll say nothing?" a nervous Caiaphas threatens; then fuming with anger, demands, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah!"


From respect for the law and the oath to his Father, Jesus replies, "I AM. And after this, you will see me coming in clouds of heaven."


Jesus' divine identity flashes through with the words.


Terror strikes Caiaphas who imagines a resurrection and judgment he doesn't believe in. To hide his fear, he rips his robe pretending horror, "We don't need witnesses! You have heard his blasphemy!"


They pronounce Jesus worthy of death.


Ironically, tearing priestly garments carries a death sentence.* It ruins the symbol of Messiah's gift to all--a robe of wholeness and perfection. Caiaphas condemns himself.




Matthew 26:59-65, Mark 14:55-63, John 18:24,28,

*Leviticus 10:6 (According to God's law, given to Moses, which had been amended by the Sanhedrin to exclude blasphemy.)


By Arla, Feb 24 2021 02:00AM

It is past midnight as the mob and priests lead Jesus from the garden, past olive groves and into the city to Annas' house, who is head of the priests. Because of age he is recognized as high priest, though Caiaphas holds the office. People hear him as if he speaks for God.


He doesn't trust the inexperienced Caiaphas with this presiding. He knows it will be difficult to find anything against Jesus that the Romans will regard as criminal, yet he must get a death sentence. The Jews have no power to execute unless the Roman governor agrees.


Everything is rushed. By their law, it's illegal to convene a hearing at night, with a partial body of the Sanhedrin. (Certain members haven't been called.) But if they don't act quickly, they will have to wait a week because of Passover. By then the populace will be aroused because of his mercy to them, and very likely a rescue would be attempted.


Annas hopes to get Jesus to declare his kingdom, which the priest will represent as a secret society, charging him with sedition and blasphemy.


But Jesus sees through him, and contrasting their methods, says, "I've done nothing in secret. Daily I taught in the temple and synagogues, ask those who heard me."


Annas doesn't know what to say.


A temple officer, angry that the priest has been silenced, strikes Jesus in the face.


We would react, but Jesus, self-possessed, responds firmly and calmly, "If I spoke evil, show it to me; if not, why do you strike me?"



Matthew 26:57, Mark 14:53, Luke 22:54, John 18:12-14, 19-22

By Arla, Feb 23 2021 02:00AM

Jesus repeats his question, "Whom do you want?"


"Jesus of Nazareth" they say again.


"I've told you I am he. If it's me you want, let these go," he points to his followers, knowing their faith is weak, wanting to shield them.


Judas has told the soldiers to take the one he kisses--the customary greeting for friends. So now he pretends to have nothing to do with the mob, and taking Jesus hand as a friend he kisses him saying, "Greetings, Master."


"Friend, have you come to betray me with a kiss?" asks Jesus, but he doesn't refuse it.


Seeing Judas touch Jesus, the soldiers grow bold enough to bind him.


The disciples can't believe he lets them take him. They are disappointed; outraged. Peter takes his sword to fight and defend him, but only cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant.


Jesus can't help himself, releasing his rope-bound hands, he says to his guards, "Allow this much," and he touches the servant's ear, restoring it perfectly. And then turning to Peter, "Put away your sword, those who take the sword will perish by it. Just know that if I asked, my Father would send twelve legions of angels, but then how would I fulfill my destiny? Shall I not accept this cup I've chosen to drink?"


Terrified and angry, Peter suggests they save themselves, and they all flee the scene.


The guards rebind Jesus, having again seen evidence of Jesus' divinity.


Matthew 26:48-54, Mark 14:44-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:7-11



By Arla, Feb 22 2021 02:00AM

The angel hasn't come to take the trembling cup of God's wrath from Jesus, but to strengthen him to finish it--the universe must see what happens to created beings when God lets go--when Satan is in control. Gabriel assures Jesus that many will respond and be saved, that Satan's kingdom will be defeated, and this world will be returned to Adam's children.


Jesus comes to his disciples strengthened and calm, even though the storm's fury is building. He has come through what no broken human could have--experiencing the second death for every man.


His disciples are asleep. Sadly he looks at them, "Sleep on and rest, he says, the time has come, Messiah is betrayed into evil hands." As he finishes speaking, he hears the mob approaching.


"Rise," he says, my betrayer is here," and leads them. He steps in front of his friends, no trace of his struggle on his face now, "Whom do you want?" he asks.


"Jesus of Nazareth," the mob shouts.


"I AM he," he answers. The mob falls to the ground, helpless as death from either the energy effect of his declaration, or because Gabriel moves between him and the mob. Jesus' face and form are illumined. He has opportunity to escape, but he stands, calm and self-possessed.


The disciples are awed. What will he do to save himself and them?


But quickly things change. Roman soldiers and priests, ashamed of weakness, scramble to recover. Judas remembers his part--pushing Jesus to act.


Matthew 26:45-47, Mark 14:41-43, Luke 22:45-47, John 18:2-6



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If you like this series, see Arla's new series on the Bible>

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