Friday, March 5, 2004

March 5, 2004

8:31 PM Would you like to be on TV—or at least in a TV audience? The Total Living Network in Chicago is looking for 40 couples (but singles are also welcome) to attend the taping of a special marriage seminar called “For Better, For Worse, For Keeps,” taught by Dr. Bob Moeller. The taping will take place on Saturday, March 13, 9:30 AM-4 PM at the TLN studios in Chicago. A light lunch is provided. Call 312.433.3838 to reserve your spot. 2:01 PM A friend writes with a very good question based on “The Passion of the Christ,” my sermon last Sunday, and the debate over who really killed Jesus:

In John 19:11, Jesus says to Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” The words jumped out at me after having heard your sermon on Sunday. How does this fit in with the words of the creed, saying Pontius Pilate is the one guilty of Jesus’ blood?

Great question. Here is my answer: The point about “the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt” is well-taken. The commentators are divided on who Jesus is referring to. Probably Caiaphas but it could also refer to Judas. In either case, it means something like, “The one who handed me over knew more about me than you will ever know. As a Roman, your knowledge of my true identity is very small. But the Jewish leaders (or Judas) had every opportunity to test my claims and come to the right conclusion. For them to hand me over in the face of such knowledge means they have the greater guilt.” Having said that, it’s still true that the Jews didn’t put Jesus to death. They didn’t have that power. Only Pilate could make that decision. And it’s possible to read the text this way: Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders acted on principle. When Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, they either had to believe that or accuse him of blasphemy. They made the wrong choice, but at least they acted on principle. Pilate appears to be a man with no principles at all—only the self-serving law of political expediency. In some ways, the very fact that he seems like a sympathetic figure makes his act more dastardly. At least the Jews could claim to be standing on their principles. Pilate was standing on nothing when he condemned Jesus. Both perspectives are true to the text. I guess you could say there is plenty of guilt to go around. No one comes off looking good. And the Creed mentions Pilate (and not the Jewish leaders) because he made the final call—He sentenced Jesus to death when he knew he was innocent and when he could have set him free. 11:36 AM Just read a remarkable e-mail from someone who read my book The God You Can Trust. God has been teaching him many things as a result of his struggle with prostate cancer. Here is part of what he wrote:

It was while reading your book, which I couldn’t put down, that God and I came to peaceful terms with cancer. Not only that but He gave me ability to see how cancer would be useful in His kingdom and in my life. Cancer clears away the cobwebs, cancer clarifies, cancer makes concise, cancer enables you to find comfort in God and freedom from the world’s entrapments.

He also writes about his daughter who lives on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and her encounter with a “grizzled old man” who read the book. And her fiance, now serving in Iraq, who read the book. Click here to read A letter from Ken in Erie, PA. 11:05 AM Details, details … Craig Hammond is preaching this Sunday on “Don’t Waste Your Life” … Marlene and I are flying to Florida where I will be speaking at the Word of Life conference center in Hudson, Florida—about an hour north of Tampa. We’ll be there Sunday through Friday. The services are open to the public so if you are in the area, please come by and say hello… . Just heard from George Cominos who lives in the Tampa area. He and Barb and their son Alex plan to come by the conference center… . I hope while we’re in Florida, we can spend some time with Paul and Phyllis Lavenau and Dick and Ann Baer. They live about an hour east of Hudson… . Josh left yesterday with some friends to spend a few days with my brother Alan in Tupelo, Mississippi. Alan called me yesterday to say that he had purchased five pounds of “North Carolina barbecue” to serve the boys when they arrived. That reminded me that after our recent trip to Alabama, I was going to write an essay about the significance of good Southern barbecue. When we visit my brother Andy in Florence, Alabama, we always have several kinds of barbecue. The food experts know that there many regional differences in the barbecue world. Lots of people think Kansas City has the best barbecue and one of these days, I plan visit my friends Bob and Denise Weller and find out for myself. When we were with Andy several weeks ago, he said the best barbecue is sold at service stations. That doesn’t sound quite right, but it’s true. Lots of folks in the South make their own barbecue and sell it in service stations—sort of like people in Chicago have small restaurants where you can buy Italian Beef, Italian Sausage, Polish, Gyros, etc. I didn’t know what any of that was until we moved to Oak Park 15 years ago. In Texas or Alabama you could look a long time and never find any Italian Beef. People don’t even know what it is. Andy bought some barbecue that was shredded and served in a big Styrofoam cup with a cup of yellow slaw on the side. Add some rolls or white bread and some sauce for dipping and that’s about the finest meal there is. I’m not really sure about “North Carolina barbecue” or why it’s being sold in Tupelo, Mississippi, but Alan said it was sweeter. I’ve become a big fan of regional cuisine. Readers of this blog know how I feel about Parky’s and Gene and Jude’s. Last Monday night we ate supper with Lyle and Patty Saunders and their daughter Rachel. Patty made a big bowl of fried okra—a genuine treat and something I hardly ever get in Chicago. That’s also good food—I think we’ll have chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and fried okra and sweet tea (Bruce Thorn would want me to add that) every day in heaven. As I said, I was planning to write an essay about barbecue and I guess that’s what I’ve done. The only other point I’d add is that Chicago has the best pizza in the world. I think it’s time for lunch.

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