Bible Reading: John 19:1-22
Warning, warning!!! This devotion is going to get deep. We are going to think about God’s sovereignty…that means His control over His creation. It’s not easy…believe me. But, let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart and you will understand it. And once you do…it will give you faith, courage, peace, and comfort, like you have never known, before.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Have you ever seen the movie, “The Truman Show”? It was based on a guy named Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey) who lived in Seahaven Island. Truman is an insurance salesman, is married to Meryl, and has a best friend named Marlon. He is friendly and outgoing. Whenever he meets someone, it is his common response to say, “In case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.”
However, completely unknown to Truman, his entire life is not real, it’s a deception. Actually, he lives in a giant bubble (a kind of dome) that covers the entire island and extends far beyond the shoreline and out to sea. The inside of the bubble is painted to look like the sky and is capable of producing sunshine and night time (stars and all), rain storms, and other astronomical and weather affects. Actors play the parts of his family, friends, co-workers, everybody. They are either acting out their part from a script, or repeating lines being fed to them by the show’s director through earpieces. Since he was born, thousands of hidden cameras have followed his every move and broadcast them around the globe as a live television show. It is now the most popular television show in history. The movie picks up at what would have been the thirtieth year of the show.
But because of a series of incidents, Truman has become suspicious that something is not right. For instance…
- One day, a spotlight falls out of the sky and lands right next to him (it had broken loose from the bubble). Later, he hears a news story that says it had fallen from an airplane.
- While he is sitting on the beach it begins to rain…only on him…and nowhere else.
- His car radio begins to broadcast a report of his every movement as he is driving down the road. By mistake, it had picked up a broadcast intended only for the crew that is filming him.
- While in college, a girl he met named Sylvia tries to tell him the truth about his life. But her father appears out of nowhere and rushes her away…saying that she is emotionally disturbed and that they are moving to Fiji.
- He accidentally walks into a room that is filled with cast members on break wearing headphones and eating sandwiches. Security guards quickly escort him out of the building for trespassing.
- While he and Meryl are driving down the road he decides to take an impromptu trip. But strange things happen that stop him such as a sudden wildfire with flames shooting across the road. Then, they are stopped by men in hazmat uniforms who warn them that the power plant has had a meltdown and the road is closed. The problem is that one of the men (that Truman had never met) accidently calls Truman by his first name.
- Meryl offers him a drink of something new that she had bought at the grocery store. She pretends to be performing a television commercial. The fact was, she was actually doing a real advertisement for the live television audience. He realizes that there is something strange about her behavior and questions her.
- At one point, Truman loses it and panics. He grabs Meryl and puts her into a headlock…demanding to know what is going on. Even though they are the only ones in the room she cries out for someone to stop him.
- When Truman was young, his father had drowned (not really, he was only acting) when he and the family were out sailing. The director of the television show used this incident and constant reinforcement to give Truman a fear of water (aquaphobia). In this way, he would never try to leave the island on a boat. However, years later, the man who had played his father snuck back onto the island dressed as a beggar and for just a moment, Truman saw him.
All of these things led Truman to begin questioning his life and what was going on around him.
Truman’s entire life was a lie. He was being deceived by the producers, the director, and the actors of the television show. They carefully controlled him and everything that happened to him…so that he would continue to live on the island and never leave. Why? Because the show was so popular that companies paid millions of dollars to advertise on it.
Finally, Truman had experienced enough to convince him that something wasn’t right, something was going on. And it had to do with his being on the island. Every time he tried to leave the island…he was stopped. Through a clever escape plan he set out to sea in a small sailboat. He didn’t know exactly where he was going…but wherever it was, it was away from the island. When the director discovered that Truman was gone…he began a massive search for him. After a while, he was spotted by a camera that was mounted high up in the bubble. The director decided to cause a storm that would either force him to come back to the island, or capsize his boat. But then, he would possibly drown. He started the storm…but Truman refused to stop. The director could not risk Truman dying. After all, millions of people were watching the live broadcast. So, he stopped the storm. Suddenly, the bow of Truman’s boat ran into something. It was the inside edge of the bubble. He followed the edge of the bubble and came to a small set of stairs. He climbed up the stairs and found a door. Just as he reached for the door handle the director spoke out loud to Truman over an intercom system. It was the first time that Truman had ever heard his voice. The director told him that he was the creator of a television show that had followed Truman’s entire life as entertainment for the world of people outside of the bubble. He then told Truman that he had been watching over him since the day that he was born. The director tried to convince Truman to stay in the bubble where he would be happy and never have to face suffering, or pain. He tried to deceive Truman into believing that he was afraid to leave the bubble. Truman listened quietly, saying nothing. Finally, the director told him to say something…because the whole world was watching in anticipation. Truman looked up and said, “In case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.” With that, he bowed, opened the door, and left the bubble.
When we study the Bible, we learn that God is “sovereign”. That means that He is in absolute and total control over all of creation. In The Truman Show, the director was sovereign. He completely controled Truman’s life. He controled everything from the weather, to his education, to his parents and friends, to his wife, to his job, to the food that is available, to his fear of water, to his remaining on the island, to…everything. The director was sovereign. But there is a huge, let me say it more clearly…HUUUUUGGGGEEEE…difference between the director being sovereign, and God being sovereign.
You see, first, the director kept himself hidden. He never, ever wanted Truman to know that he even existed. He just controlled Truman’s life from a distance. Second, the director was using Truman for his own benefit…to make money. And third, the director controlled Truman…restricting what he could, and could not do with his life. Giving him no choice in the matter.
On the other hand, God has revealed Himself to us. Through creation, through the prophets, through Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, and through His Word (the Bible)…God has made Himself known to us over, and over, again. He wants us to know Him. Second, God loves us and doesn’t manipulate us for His own good. In fact, He is constantly caring for us, and providing for us, and protecting us…for our good. And finally, God gives us a free will and freedom to act on our will. Oh, there are laws that govern His creation. But, within those laws God has given us the right to decide for ourselves if we are going to be obedient to His will, or if we are going to be disobedient. In fact, He has even given us the right to believe in Him, or not believe in Him. And in that sense, God has given us the right to live outside of the bubble. It’s our choice. And yet, God is sovereign. That means that nothing happens that He does not allow. Good things, and even bad things.
The Jewish leaders despised Jesus and wanted Him dead. Because they were under Roman jurisdiction, they could not put Him to death, themselves. So, they took Him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate questioned Jesus and decided that He was no threat to Rome and wanted to release Him. But the Jewish leaders pressed him to crucify Jesus, threatening to report to Rome that he was not a trusted supporter of Caesar as the king. So, Pilate questioned Jesus, again. But Jesus just stood there, silent. Then Pilate said, “Don’t You realize that I have the authority to release You, or kill You?” Jesus replied, “You don’t have any authority of your own. The only authority that you have has been given to you from above.” By this, He was saying that the only way that Pilate had any authority at all…was because God had allowed him to have it. Everything that Pilate did…was within the sovereign control of God. Even his authority to have Jesus put to death.
God is in control. Sovereign. He has established laws that govern all of creation. When we live by those laws…we are blessed, we receive the positive results. When we break those laws…we suffer the negative consequences. And yet, God has given us the freedom to decide, and to act, on our own.
However, sometimes we live by God’s laws and still suffer. What’s that all about? Why is that? Sometimes it is because while we may follow God’s laws in one area…we don’t follow them in another area. And the Bible says that while we can speak of God’s laws individually…in reality, those laws are all a part of each other, they are a single whole…they are the law. To break one law…is break the whole law. So, if we manage to keep most of God’s laws, but break one, we are guilty of breaking all of God’s law…and we suffer the negative consequences. And then sometimes we suffer because others have broken God’s laws and we suffer from the consequences of their bad decisions and actions.
In the midst of all of this…God is sovereign. Even then, He is still in control. Despite the fact that we have broken His law…God still loves us. So, He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sin, to suffer the consequences for our sin. When we accept Jesus as our Savior…He takes our sin and its consequences onto Himself…and sets us free from its penalty.
Somebody might ask, “If God is sovereign, then why doesn’t He do something about suffering and evil?” Well, actually, He already has. Let me explain what He didn’t do…then, explain what He did do. God could have stopped suffering and evil…at its source. That would be you and me and everyone else. He could have taken away the ability and right that He had given us to have a free will and free actions. There, no more bad decisions, no more sin…no more suffering and evil. But what kind of a life would that be? You’re a robot. You have no mind, no decision, no will…of your own. No, that’s not a good option. God did not do that. So, how about option number two? God allows us to keep our free will and our free actions…but, He makes a way for us to be forgiven when we make bad decisions, when we sin. How did He do that? Because He is sovereign, God could have stopped Pilate from having Jesus crucified. But, He didn’t. Jesus didn’t suffer because He had sinned (He never did)…but because other people had sinned. He willingly paid the price for our sin. And because of His suffering…we are blessed and benefited. God brought something wonderful out of something awful. He used suffering itself…as a tool to accomplish His purpose. God can do that kind of a thing because He is sovereign. And get this…the Bible says that He will take our suffering…and use it for good. We may not see how, we may not understand why…but God does. He is sovereign. So, trust Him. Trust Him even when bad stuff is happening. Trust Him even when you don’t understand why it is happening. Trust Him. He is sovereign…and ultimately, He will bring good out of your suffering.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,