Breathing is kind of important. Agreed?
(Who knew we’d all be on the same page within 10 seconds of the start to a sermon?)
Breathing is important, but …some breaths are more meaningful than others:
The deep breath as you ask your first crush on a date.
A gasp when your significant other gets down on one knee.
The final Lamaze breath as your child enters the world.
Your first breath as you enter the world.
But…what if I told you the most important breath of your lifetime didn’t even take place in your lifetime?
MAIN BIBLE PASSAGES:
Matthew 27:45, 50-55
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[f] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
I. The Most Important Exhale
It was Friday afternoon. Almost 2000 years ago. The people were doing one of the things they did for fun back then. No, they weren’t checking Instagram. No, they weren’t sampling their favorite sushi. No, they weren’t leaving work early to get on I—440 before it got hectic.
They were watching a crucifixion.
It was a larger commotion than normal. Three men were being executed. Two of them were fairly routine culprits — everyday thieves. But the third was of intrigue:
His name was Jesus. He was famous in the land of Israel. He had had quite a following and it was reported that he had done many miracles. And he wasn’t being killed for any of those. He was being crucified because he claimed to be the Son of God.
Now that is a strange claim, agreed? We’re getting used to strange claims though. Politicians make them all the time. “I’ll save you billions.” “You’ll never have to pay taxes again.” “I’ll fix America in a few months.”
But as outlandish as some of their claims are, I don’t think any of them have claimed to be the Son of God. If they did, we could go on Factchecker.com just to confirm, it ain’t true.
Here’s what’s interesting though – the fact surrounding Jesus seemed to point to the fact that it was true! He was reported as making the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear. He walked on water, stopped storms and changed water into wine. He healed the sick, drove out demons, and raised the dead.
Even his death had some strange, significant events surrounding it.
Around the 6th hour (which in Jewish time was about noon. 6 am was the first light and was therefore the first hour…making the 6th hour, 6 + 6 = 12 noon)…around the 6th hour darkness covered the earth. (Matthew 27:45) That word “darkness” there doesn’t refer to slightly overcast day. It’s a word used to describe the much thicker darkness of nighttime.
Nighttime darkness at noon? Strange.
Still the crucifixion continued as planned. In the darkness each one of the condemned slowly crept closer to death. Until in a loud voice, Jesus cried out “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Then, he exhaled.
And His followers watched.
They held their breath.
Nothing. His chest didn’t move. His mouth made no sound. His breath didn’t return.
But then, something.
Matthew 27:51 says, “The Curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Notes on that curtain. (Cause if we don’t talk about it, it isn’t that impressive.) It wasn’t made from silk. It wasn’t made from Kleenex. It wasn’t made from those hippie beads that you can hang from the ceiling and tear in half with a wave of your hand. It was a long, woven veil. 60 feet long, 30 feet wide and 1 inch thick. It was heavy. In fact, it was so massive that it the Israelites used hundreds of priests to manipulate it. That’s not something that’s torn easily. Probably not torn without heavy machinery.
The fact that it was torn, completely half at the time of Jesus’ death? Strange.
But that’s not it. Matthew continues, “At that moment…the earth shook and the rocks split and the tombs broke open.” This wasn’t just a tremor. It was large enough on the Richter scale to split through large rocks that were used to mark the graves of the people. Also strange.
Now maybe if one of those three things happened the day Jesus died – the darkness at noon, the earthquake, or the curtain ripped in half, I’d say: It’s a coincidence. Even two? I can understand. Three…that might be pushing it, but not impossible.
But then a fourth thing happened that would be impossible if it happened all alone. Let alone in conjunction with the other things we have already mentioned. “The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the city and appeared to many people.”
Pastor, you don’t believe that! That’s impossible! It could never happen. Dead people don’t come back to life. That would be a miracle!
Um…isn’t that the point?
And notice that these resurrected people appeared to many people. It wasn’t just one guy saying, “I think I saw Aunt Edna last night.” It was a whole city that awoke to unexplained sightings. It wasn’t just the crazy guy down on the corner of Fayetteville St. It was real, everyday, respectable people. They all had seen these incredible thing!
Understand what the Bible is. It’s a record of some fairly incredible things. True. But it was written down at the same time that the people who saw these things had lived. It was written down, shared, made public, and approved by hundreds of people who saw the very things that Matthew wrote down happened.
That means that these incredible things aren’t a myth.
They weren’t an accident.
They weren’t a coincidence.
They were signs.
And just like you can head to the mall after church and find signs everywhere that say, “Meet Easter Bunny Here!” “1/2 OFF Easter dresses there” “Egg Hunt POSTPONED." These incredible signs were telling the people that something incredible just happened. Today these incredible signs are telling you – when Jesus breathed his last – something incredible happened.
What incredible thing happened? Take a look at Romans 4:25, “He was delivered over to death for our sins,” “on behalf of our sins,” or "because of our sins.”
Why? Because...God hates sin.
Like drunk driving. Does drunk driving make you angry? If you’ve ever been affected by it or lost a loved one, I bet it does. In fact, that message has gotten out there enough that – I imagine almost all of us – Republicans and Democrats are Independents – are against drunk driving. Mothers can belong to a group dedicated to prosecuting offenders (MADD). Even Budweiser ran a Super Bowl ad against it. So…when someone is caught drunk driving – there is punishment. We get it. We are ok with punishing that sin because that sin makes us angry.
Get this: That sin makes God angry, too. Actually, all sin makes God angry. Not just big sins like murder, theft, and adultery, but smallers sins: like a grabbing a few dollars from your co-worker's wallet, taking a quick peek down the secretary’s shirt, or making a tiny racist remark about your friend from another culture.
God hates those things. He hates it because they hurt others. These things hurt his children.
So he prosecutes sin.
He threatens to punish all sinners.
If you’re a sinner, he threatens to punish you. If you don’t like to hear that, tough. God will not be stopped.
But if you’re hearing me, if you’re convicted, if you know your sin and you know you deserve punishment, hear this: God doesn’t want to punish you. He never did. That’s why he died.
He was delivered over to death for your sins. To save you from sin’s consequence!
Which is a nice thought. But, how do you we know this worked? He died. How do we know this whole thing isn’t just one big made up, pretend thing that we celebrate at Easter to make the day a little sweeter?
II. The Most Important Inhale
Enter the inhale.
Same week. Three days later. Early in the morning a group of women were on their way to the graveyard. They brought with them some spices and special herbs. Traditionally these were things they would use to honor their dead – kinda like grabbing a bouquet of flowers to take and place on Grandpa’s tomb.
And as the crisp morning air awakened their senses, the tears started flowing. They missed him. He was their dear friend. He had shown them love when no other man had. He had rescued them from dark places. He had given them hope…and a future.
When he died, that hope had been ripped away. It felt like her heart was gone. They had killed him. They had killed her hope.
But their sadness was interrupted.
2 There was a violent earthquake. And an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Have you seen pictures of these stones? Jesus had been buried in a standing tomb. It was a rich person's tomb. And rich people won’t be buried in the ground with a tiny little grave marker. No. They had these big, cut out of a cliff walk-in tombs – with enough space for a small dinner party – if you wanted to have a small dinner party in a tomb.
For a door? They would use giant rocks to withstand grave robbers. I don’t know the exact size and weight of these rocks. But…I think it’s safe to say that rocks the size of a door are pretty heavy. I could probably do about a dozen bicep curls with these. And it isn’t even close to door sized.
Tomb door rocks were so big that they needed to be moved in place by a soiree of heavy duty Roman soldiers. In fact, this was such a problem that the women were even discussing amongst themselves whether they had made a mistake in coming out there in the first place. Who was gonna move the stone? There were guards in front of the tomb, but were there enough?
Turns out…they didn’t need to worry. An angel moved it out of place like Arnold Schwarzenegger moving a pair of 2&1/2 pound ankle weights.
If the earthquake and opened tomb wasn’t enough to stir up some excitement, the angel did! 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. In other words – he was glowing. Long before the days of face paint and special effects. There isn’t a pyro guy off in the corner trying to trick the women. It isn’t David Copperfield using the illusion of the camera to throw the ladies off guard.
In fact, the women weren’t the only ones to see the angels. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The big, tough, I’ll get killed if I screw up my job, Roman guards – fainted!
5 The angel held up a hand. He calmed them. He spoke gently to them. “Don’t be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
Process that for a moment. Jesus – the guy who died in front of hundreds – whose death was confirmed by the Roman soldiers at the cross, the Roman soldiers who took him down, his followers who left with tears, his buriers who took his body, the Roman governor who allowed them to take his body, and the Roman soldiers who had closed the rock door over Jesus’ dead body – that Jesus – who had really died….
…was alive again.
And just in case the women didn’t believe the angel, he let them see it for themselves. Go ahead. Look! He’s gone. He should be here; he died. But he’s not here. Miraculous? Yes! Impossible? Not with God.
This brings us back to Romans 4. He was delivered over to death for our sins, but raised to life for our justification. Justification is a courtroom term. It’s the opposite of condemnation. If we are guilty we are condemned; if we are innocent, we are justified. Condemnation bad. Justification good.
Jesus’ resurrection is proof that we are justified! It was God’s almighty, Divine declaration about you and your life. Listen to it: Hear the rumbling of the earthquake, listen to the cracking of the rocks, and the shrieks of the guards and the voice of your LORD:
You are justified.
You have been declared innocent.
By faith in Jesus Christ, you are saved.
This is why the inhale is so important. If Jesus doesn’t take that breath in the grave on Easter Sunday morning, then you and I are still in our sins. Jesus’ death didn’t work. His promise of forgiveness didn’t mean a thing. You and I have to face God standing in the filthy, disgusting cesspool of all our awful sins.
In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:14 takes it a step farther. “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” In other words, if Jesus doesn’t take that breath in that tomb, then the Christian faith, is one big useless, irrelevant, irreverent, cruel joke! And I’m a big old fool for teaching it to you.
But…if Christ does take that breath, if his lungs do move again, if blood starts to circulate in his veins and brain activity returns to his nervous system. Then…there is no moment more important.
That breath means you are forgiven.
That breath means you are at peace.
That breath means that all will be well.
That breath means that God did what he said he’d do.
That breath means that God was victorious.
That breath means that you are victorious.
That breath means that God rose from the dead.
That breath means that you will rise from the dead.
Treasure it. Celebrate it. Take a breath…breathe out with joy! Jesus has inhaled. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!
A Devotion Based on Luke 22:19-20
19 And Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
John pulled his tunic over his nose. It was a bit chilly outside the city. No walls to cover the wind and no trees to block its bitterness.
Well…not any living trees.
Before John stood a tree that had been transformed into a torture device. It was an instrument of execution. A terrifying spectacle that no one in the ancient Roman world wanted anything to do with.
On that cross hung someone very dear to John. Someone John looked up to. Someone John learned from. It was his mentor, his teacher, his friend.
It was Jesus.
John stood there in agony. With Jesus’ own mother, Mary clinging to his side. How awful it must be for her! His Lord was Mary’s Son. The One that she had brought into the world was leaving the world before her very eyes.
And in a cruel way! His body was broken. His skull had been broken open by the thorn. His hands were broken by a nail. His feet were broken by another nail. His lungs were breaking as his strength withered. Soon his heart would break and all that would be left was a broken, defeated, body.
And his Blood was poured out. It was pouring out of those holes in his head, pouring out of the holes in his right hand, pouring out of the hole in his left hand, pouring down the back of the cross from the wounds covering the back of Jesus…pouring from his feet and pouring from his mouth as his body began to shut down.
His poor friend. Jesus was broken. Jesus was poured out.
Wait…John had heard that somewhere before.
The night before John had joined the other disciples and Jesus for a traditional Passover meal. They had traditional bitter herbs to remember the bitter herbs of slavery in Egypt that their ancestors endured. They ate traditional unleavened bread as their ancestors had so they were ready to leave Egypt at a moment’s notice. They served traditional lamb as a reminder of the blood of a lamb that caused the angel of death to Passover those Israelites houses that night in Egypt.
It was a traditional meal, until Jesus did something untraditional.
Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk. 22:19)
Strange. That wasn’t a normal part of the meal. That wasn’t a part of any Passover memory.
Then, Jesus took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Lk. 22:20)
Stranger. This definitely wasn’t a part of the meal. Sure, they drank some traditional wine. Sure, the wine had some meaning, but that meaning reached back thousands of years to the Old Testament. The Passover was a remembrance of what happened in the past...not a glimpse ahead into the future?
And how could it be his body? His body was handing him the bread, not in the bread.
And how could it be his blood? Unless he had a blister from the rubbing of his sandals, there wasn’t a drop of blood on him.
This didn’t make any sense.
At least not then. But now…now as John stared at Jesus’ broken body and his dripping blood – the truth could not escape him. Jesus was right. His body was broken. His blood was shed. Jesus was the embodiment of that meal.
Which meant that they had been wrong about the Passover meal for thousands of years. It wasn’t just a link to the past, but for thousands of years it had been a predictor of the future. John the Baptist was right – Jesus was truly True Lamb of God.
Jesus was right, he had truly given up his body. He had truly shed his blood.
But if Jesus was right about that, maybe he was right about something else he said last night.
“This is my body…given for you. This is my blood….poured out for you.”
For you. For you.
John found it hard to believe; yet he was convinced that he needed it. John’s life had been filled with pride. He had even had the audacity to ask for a position at Jesus’ right hand. And he had been known to be argumentative, a Son of Thunder, selfishly attacking his fellow disciples.
And last night? Last night he had let Jesus get arrested. He had abandoned him. Sure, he had been at the trial. Sure he was there at the cross, but he was also doing nothing of consequence to stop what was happening to his friend.
He had sinned. He knew what the Old Testament sacrifices had taught. Sin deserved death. There was no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.
That truth did not escape him, he deserved sin’s consequence. He deserved to have his body broken. He deserved to have his blood shed. He deserved to die!
But Jesus…Jesus had said…Given for you. Poured out for you.
He had been right about it’s happening. Could he be right about it’s effect?
Friends, we’ve got the benefit of seeing what happens after his body is broken and laid to rest. We get the benefit of seeing what happens after all his blood is shed.
Jesus returns to life.
It is nothing less than proof that what Jesus said on the first Maundy Thursday was indefinitely, completely, and absolutely true.
Do you have sin just like John? Maybe you’ve got sin that burdens your conscience. Perhaps you’ve got guilt that bothers you to the core. Maybe you’ve got the unshakeable feeling that you can’t be forgiven.
Listen to Jesus’ words: My body broken for you. My blood shed for you.
Those words were recorded.
Those words contain eternal truth.
Those words don’t just talk about John.
They talk about you.
It means you have sin. You deserve death. You need a Savior.
It means Jesus took your sins. It means Jesus died. It means Jesus is your Savior.
In a moment, we will receive the Lord’s Supper. When you receive that Lord’s Supper, you will be receiving his body which was broken on the cross for you. You will be receiving his blood which was shed on the cross for you. You will be receiving true and complete forgiveness.
See Jesus. Trust Jesus. Believe Jesus. Amen.
35 They brought the donkey to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Jesus stumbled to the ground.
His eyes were heavy with sadness. Tears and blood dripped to the ground.
Things had changed.
Five days ago he had entered Jerusalem. Five days ago the people had been thrilled to see him. Five days ago, crowds lined the streets and spilled out of the second story windows. People got up on the rooftops to see him. Excitement filled the air!
People threw their coats on the ground -- a red carpet without the red carpet -- so that his donkey didn’t have to get its hooves dirty. They picked up giant palm branches to wave in unison as he rode into town. The shouted with joy as he passed by them: “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus clenched his eyelids shut through the next strikes.
That time had filled him with joy. He saw God’s people acknowledging Him as the Savior. They understood what he came to do. They were speaking as if they understood his Work of salvation. That crowd sounded like his disciples!
But now…now things had changed. Jesus winced as the fourteenth strike raked his already raw flesh.
Instead of waving palms, the crowd was waving rude gestures in his directions. Instead of throwing their coats on the ground, the were hurling insults at him. Instead of a few pats on the back, he was about to get 30 lashes with a 7 strapped leather whip – tipped with a sharp, triangular ending. Instead of shouting Hosanna – the crowd was shouting for his death!
Hosanna…Crucify Him...Hosanna…Crucify Him...Save Us…Die!
Good Friday and Palm Sunday. Two different days. Two different crowds. Today as we look at the next step in Jesus’ journey to the cross we will examine one very important question:
I. Which Crowd are You in?
It’s kind of like high school. There are a lot of different crowds in high school – Which one were you? The popular kids. The unpopular kids. There’s the jocks and the chess club. The gamers & the computer nerds. The academic stars and the slackers. The band geeks. The cool rockers. The drama club. The drama between boyfriend and girlfriend club.
It’s interesting how we flock to certain groups of people because they fit our interests. It still happens only the groups are a bit different: Soccer moms. Stay-at-home daddies. TurboTax users. Lawn care specialists.
And…Spiritual crowds. That one is more important. Which spiritual crowd do you fit into?
1) The Not-with-Jesus Crowd
This is fairly simple. This crowd consists of all those who don’t want anything to do with Jesus.
Like the Pharisees. They hated Jesus and they were fairly clear about it. They mocked him. They challenged him. The rebuked him. They were the ones who led Jesus to the Roman governor’s palace seeking his crucifixion. In fact, they had been planning his death for over a year!
They were unapologetically against Jesus. In spite of having met hundreds of people he healed, in spite of having seen a lame man made to walk, in spite having heard God the Father’s voice identify him as his Son, in spite of having spoken personally with Jairus, whose daughter had died and Jesus made alive, in spite of having seen with their own eyes… Lazarus who had died and whom Jesus had made alive again. They were unapologetically against Jesus.
If this is you, be careful. Careful, because sometimes people in this crowd aren’t there upon their own accord. Look at what the Pharisees did. The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask…to have Jesus executed. (Matthew 27:20) Suddenly, the Good Friday crowd is chanting for Jesus’ death simply because that’s what everyone else was doing.
I don’t think Christianity is the cool thing these days.
I don’t think it’s what everyone else is doing.
As a result, I do think many are a part of this group without even learning who Jesus is and what his main message is.
If that’s you, would you be willing to rethink your stance?
2) The Undecided
Of course, you might not feel like you fit into a group. You might think: Pastor, that’s a really big question. There are a lot of different opinions. I don’t really know if I’ve come to any concluding thoughts on Jesus. He seems influential enough not to immediately discount him, but strange enough that I don’t know if I buy it.
That’s Pilate’s crowd – the Roman governor.. He didn’t really have an opinion on Jesus. He didn’t think he was worthy of death, but he definitely wouldn’t have considered himself a follower of Jesus. It seems safe to stay undecided, but…
Ever had one of those messages pop up on your computer that says, “Changes needed. Restart NOW? Or delay 15 minutes?” Those make a person panic. “What should I do? Do I want to make that change? Will I mess everything up? Do I have the time to download that?”
Of course, if you select delay over and over and over again – eventually it just does it for you. Usually – when you’re right in the middle of a promotion considering, PowerPoint presentation at work.
If you haven’t decided on Jesus yet – know that the time is coming when it decided for you. If you aren’t on any side at that time, it means you aren’t on his side either.
3) The Palm Sunday Crowd (at least on Palm Sunday)
Some of you might be in the Palm Sunday crowd. A really easy answer when you are at church on Palm Sunday.
I just lifted up a Palm branch. I just sang God’s praises. I just said “Hosanna – whatever that means.”
But….if you’re in the Palm Sunday crowd – where are you the other days of the year?
Think about it -- Where was Original Palm Sunday crowd on Good Friday? Scripture doesn’t say. Some may have been in the Good Friday crowd chanting for his death. But others were nowhere to be found.
In fact, there isn’t a single record of anyone standing up for Jesus to try and stop Jesus’ crucifixion except for Pilate -- who didn’t even believe in Him!
Just when Jesus needed his people the most – none of them were anywhere to be found. That still happens today – just when Jesus needs us the most – we retreat and aren’t anywhere to be found.
I’m on Jesus’ side…except at work because people don’t like me to talk about faith there.
I’m on Jesus’ side…except with my family, because they get annoyed with me fairly easily.
I’m on Jesus’ side…except when Pastor tells me to invite my unbelieving friends to Easter…That’ll be awkward.
If you aren’t on Jesus’ side all the time, are you really on Jesus’ side?
Take a look at this parable from Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. But while they were in the net, no one could tell what fish were good to eat and which were bed. Which were delicious salmon? And which were disgusting dogfish? When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.
II. Why It Matters
Of course, you might be wondering, "Why does any of this matter?" It’s like picking your NCAA Tournament winners. Some teams you pick to go all the way (UNC & Duke) and it matters if they win or not. Other games, 8 versus 9 – you think – they’ll only last one round it won’t be a big deal who I pick.
Or it's kind of like the romantic female version of the tournament – The Bachelor! Does it really matter if you’re team JoJo or Team Lauren B? In the end, he’ll break up with whoever he picks.
Take at what Pilate did though. He understood the ramifications of what killing Jesus might mean. He understood – especially when they told him it was the Son of God. Pilate washed his hands and he said “I am innocent of this man’s blood!" As if that would somehow wash away the fact that he was the Roman governor, that he had the final say on legal executions and that he had the Roman soldiers to back up any decision he made.
But the Jews? Look at their response – “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” Hold us personally responsible for Jesus’ death. We’ll sign our names on that petition. We’ll take the credit.
But…did they really want the credit?
Have you ever had to babysit someone else’s pet? It’s a big deal. You want to take good care of them so nothing bad happens to them. Pet the dogs so they’re happy; leave the cats alone so they’re happy; feed the fish…so they’re happy.
Because if you forget to feed the fish, they die! If these fish are your friends, you don’t want to disappoint them. Who wants to say to a friend – “Sorry, I forgot to feed your fish. I have goldfish blood on my hands!"
How do you think God will react when you kill his Son? Because if you are against him or not for him or not standing up for him – you’ve got blood on your hands!
I’ll tell you from personal experience – that blood can’t be hidden. It screams at me – You didn’t stand up for Jesus. You didn’t care about him. He died for your sins and that means it’s your fault he’s hanging on the cross. He knows. He knows that you’re guilty.
But…when the devil gets a bit loud and the guilt is heavy, remember this: Jesus’ blood is on you!
Wait? Isn’t that the exact same thing? Did you make an error? Did you just copy and paste pastor?
I did, yes; but it wasn’t an error. Look at 1 John it says, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sins." Look at what it says: ALL SINS. NOT most sins. NOT some sins. Not the little tiny sins – all sins!
Because Jesus’ blood is like Purell. It cleans; it disinfect; it destroys 100% of sins it comes into contact with. It isn’t like Febreeze where it just takes care of the stank. Julianna tells me that doesn’t actually work, I have to wash my clothing. Jesus’ blood does so much more. It completely and absolutely removes sins.
You come into contact with Jesus' blood by faith. By believing in Him – your soul has been disinfected. Even if you’ve been on the wrong side of the crowd for your whole life, Jesus’ blood is that powerful. It cleanses from all sins. It cleanses you from all your sins.
You are forgiven. Jesus wants you in his crowd.
III. What Now?
If you are on Jesus’ side and you want to stay there, three important Scriptural truths to keep us in his crowd.
1) P4 (Partake in Positive Peer Pressure).
What happens if you exercise alone? It’s very, very hard to keep exercising. You need a buddy. Someone to text you for the next workout. Someone to try and keep up with. Someone to encourage you when it gets hard. Someone to send you a sad emoji when you don’t workout.
The same thing is true spiritually. You need a crowd – someone to keep you in check. Someone to keep you in God’s Word. Someone to keep you on Jesus’ side; someone to lovingly rebuke you when you get off the path and someone to pray for you when you need encouragement.
THIS IS A SHAMELESS PLUG: I know of such a place. It’s here.
If you aren’t a part of our church, I’d love to have you. I really want you to be a part of our family. I want you to join us in sharing in this incredible message of Jesus.
Because this is a place where we partake in the words of Palm Sunday:
Blessed is the King who comes! And He comes every Sunday – to speak of his loving rules for us!
Peace in heaven! – Because you have been forgiven from all of your sins
Glory in the highest – Because Jesus has added to his crowd of followers – someone he loves dearly….
2) P42 (Provide Positive Peer Pressure)
Once you have that peer pressure affecting you, it’s contagious. You’ll want to share the love of Jesus and you’ll want to encourage others in it. In fact, it’s Jesus’ command to us! He says, “Go and make disciples…” Go and tell others about the incredible benefits of following Jesus!
What’s positive peer pressure sound like? Like this:
“Let’s go to church today. I can’t wait to be filled up with God’s love.”
“Did you want to join me for a Bible study? I could use a faith strengthening.”
“Easter is coming up. I really want you to join me for this event.”
That ain’t hard to do. Simple phrases like that will encourage people to seek the true peace, joy, and love that only Jesus brings.
3) Be #AlwaysRepping
In this year’s NCAA tournament, a lot of the teams have this on their team shirt. “AlwaysRepping.” I didn’t know what it meant so I researched it. It means “Always Representing.” It’s a reminder that every time they step foot on the floor they are representing their school. That means they will work hard, they will play hard, they will be good sports – they will do the things that embodies what it is to play for that school.
Same thing for you. If you’re in Jesus’ Crowd, remember you’re #AlwaysRepping.
There is nothing that kills Jesus’ momentum more than one of his followers being a jerk. Saying rude comments. Calling political people awful names. Letting racism and hatred get the best of them.
Don’t. Don’t because that’s not what Jesus represents.
Be #AlwaysRepping. Show love. Stand for truth.
And remember what Jesus went through for you to be in this crowd ---
His body fell into a heap. The thirtieth lash had connected with his blood stained back. He was faint. He was dizzy. He only heard jeers and mockery in the background.
But…he forced a faint smile. It was all worth it. Worth it because this was the only way his friends could be a permanent part of his crowd. Worth it because it was the only way he could be with you.
May the love which brought us into his crowd, keep us in his crowd until we hang out with his crowd in heaven. Amen.
This Sermon is based on Matthew 26:15-18, 20-22
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!
Pilate slipped into the tub & let the bubbles cover his body until they tickled his nose.
This was so much better.
Earlier that day he had averted disaster. An angry mob had been awaiting him at dawn. They had demanded the blood of this guy named Jesus. Pilate had interviewed him and, found him to be a bit crazy, but unworthy of the death sentence these Jewish people wanted to inflict upon him. Pilate had tried to release him, but the people would have none of it. They wanted blood and they weren’t leaving until they got it.
So…Pilate shirked his responsibility. He sent Jesus to his friend Herod. Herod was the one who was supposed to be in charge of the Jews anyways. Plus – Pilate didn’t like him that much. It made him smile to think of Herod dealing with all those awful people while he was letting the warmth of the tub soothe his muscles.
“Enter.” He told one of his servants as he lifted a glass of wine to his lips.
Umm…sir. They’re back. The Jews. With Jesus.
The wine came flying out of his mouth. Him?
I. The People’s Choice
After Pilate had re-robed, he made his way out toward the angry crowd.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
Similar to the Presidential pardoning of turkey, only instead of a turkey, each year the governor would pardon a criminal. He wouldn’t choose just any criminal. He wouldn’t choose one that was advantageous to him. He would let the people decide. It was a show of goodwill. A way to endear him to his people. A way to settle down the crowds.
So…The people chose the man to release, but he would choose the options.
16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So… Pilate asked the crowd, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas or Jesus…the Messiah?”
A little bit about Jesus Barabbas. John 18:40 calls him an “insurrectionist.” That means he had revolted against the government. He had caused civil unrest. He hated the current politics. And Mark 15:11 says he had “Committed murder.” That’s probably the actual charge that had gotten him thrown into prison. Murder. Probably during the insurrection.
Murder done in the name of politics.
Kinda sounds like a terrorist, huh?
In essence, this is the choice before the people. Do you want me to release Jesus the Terrorist OR Jesus the Savior of the world? Granted, Pilate didn’t view Jesus as the Savior. He viewed it more like Jesus the Terrorist versus Jesus the mild mannered, slightly off his rock, theologian.
Still…the choice was obvious wasn’t it?
For a moment, Pilate stood with his arms crossed. For a moment, he smiled a smug smile. For a moment, he outsmarted those pesky Jews. For a moment, he had saved an innocent man. For a moment, he had hopes of a relaxing luncheon. For a moment…
…then the crowd made their choice.
21b “Give us Barabbas!”
Pilate was in shock. “Are you serious? You want the terrorist? You want the murderer? You don’t mind that your families won’t be safe and the marketplace might be filled with discord. You don’t have a problem with another possible attack in the future? You’d rather get rid of this Jesus guy simply because you don’t want to have to deal with your sins?"
22 What do you want me to do with Jesus?
The answer was simple…and disgusting, “Crucify Him!”
II. Your Choice
Sometimes they make bad choices on the Oscars. Do you agree?
I remember a few years ago trying to watch every Oscar nominated film. Films that were described as “artsy;” "compelling” and “thought provoking.” After I had seen them, if anyone had asked me for a description of the film I would have used the adjectives: “boring, actionless & mind-numbing.”
Of course -- you’re talking to a guy who still doesn’t understand why Minions didn’t even get nominated, but…Do you get my point?
As bad a choice as they sometimes make in the Oscars, how much worse of a choice did that crowd make outside Pilate's palace!
Instead of someone who gives life, they chose someone who ended it.
Instead of someone who promotes peace, they chose someone who disrupted it.
Instead of someone who provides a heavenly kingdom, they chose someone who broke down earthly kingdoms.
But enough about them.
What about you?
Who did you choose?
Pastor, what are you talking about? I’m not 2,000 years old. I wasn’t there at the palace...I haven’t even been to Israel. I’ve never seen the Roman palace.
True. Your choice was probably not presented by a first century Roman governor.
Maybe it was presented by a friend…
…by an internet link.
...by a guy you met at the bar.
…by the group that likes to complain after church.
Who did you choose?
Jesus? Not always. Barabbas? No. Perhaps someone else. Someone with…
A name like PORN.
A name like GREED.
A name like RACISM.
A name like RAGE.
Names like ADDICTION, SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE, HOMOSEXUALITY, COMPLAINING, PRIDE, LUST, VITRIOL, DOUBT and SELFISHNESS.
Here’s the deal. We know how bad these things are. We know that PORN ruins families. We know that GREED ruins marriages. We know that COMPLAINING destroys the work of the church. We know that ADDICTIONS destroy the body. We know that IMMORALITY ruins our self worth. We know that PRIDE is intolerable to God.
And we know that Jesus is the Savior. He brings forgiveness. He brings eternal life. He brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Yet we still find ourselves struggling to choose Him!?!
Hebrews 6:4-6 says this, “Those who fall…are crucifying the Son of God all over again!” You are driving a nail into his hands. You are swinging the hammer with all their might. You are joining your voice with the crowd.
You are NOT choosing Jesus.
III. God’s Choice
I’ll tell you what:
My arms are tired. I’ve been swinging the hammer so often lately. I’ve been choosing my sins over Jesus. I’ve done wrong.
I…I…I am Barabbas.
I deserve punishment.
I deserve death.
I deserve the cross.
But…God won’t bring it. God provided a substitute.
Do you remember our Old Testament lesson? It was that section that talked about animal sacrifices. For those who are living in downtown Raleigh and are convinced that meat comes from a plastic wrapper at a local McDonalds – this sounds a bit disturbing. If you have ever lived on a farm, then you might understand the sacrifice that animals need to make for you to feed your belly and live.
But here’s where this section is still strange. The goat in the section we were talking about – was not to be eaten. It wasn’t being turned into a burger. It wouldn’t become a delicious slice of goat jerky. It would be killed. It’s blood collected and it was sprinkled…on the altar, on the ground, and on the people. Disturbing? It should be! Because that’s how disturbing our sinful choices are to God! Remember: “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
But look at why the animal was killed: "Sacrifice the Goat for a sin offering.” In other words – it would die in the place of the people. It would die for the people’s sins.
UNDERSTAND THIS: These animals didn’t actually take away the sins of the people; they were simply an illustration of one who would die and would take away the sins of the people.
Another substitute. An eternal one.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin…” That’s Jesus! He lived a perfect life. He chose God every chance he could. He never chose wrong. He never chose sin.
Then, God chose to sacrifice Him.
As bad as it might be picture an innocent animal dying, how much greater when the one dying is God’s eternal, perfect, Son?
But look at why it happened: God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us! Jesus was our substitute. God chose him to suffer. He chose you to live. It wasn’t just Barabbas who got to live because Jesus died.
It’s you. Grasp that.
It’s kind of like having the choice to get a new 2016 Lexus with chrome plating, auto driving capabilities, bluetooth hook up and even a mini bar in the back seat...AND a 1987 Chevy Lumina minivan – with exhaust problems, a missing tire, and a busted radio.
God chose the broken down minivan! He chose you.
Because He chose Jesus, because Jesus died for you, because Jesus rose again three days later conquering sin and death, God chooses to say to you, “You are forgiven. Believe me. Be saved.”
IV. What Now?
1. Relish God’s Choice.
Today is selection Sunday. Basketball teams across the nation will be waiting to see if they make the big 64 team tournament. Some are locks. Some are pretty sure and some are on the bubble.
For those on the bubble, when they find out that they are in, they’ll celebrate! They’ll take a moment and take it all in – to enjoy the confetti, try on tournament shirts and ball caps, and tweet to all their friends how excited they are.
You. Take the day. Take today. Take today and relish this: God chose you!
Because there are plenty of times that we aren’t chosen. Someone else is chosen for the job. Someone else is chosen for the date. Someone else is chosen for the promotion. Someone else is chosen for the part in the school play. Someone else is chosen first for the kickball team at recess…in fact, everyone else might be chosen first.
But today we are reminded that God chose you. He chose you over his Son. He gave up his perfect Son Jesus for you. I need you to write that down. “God chose me.” Write it down and place it somewhere you will read it. Hang it on your fridge. Place it on the dash in your car. Label an alarm on your phone to come up and remind you of that truth everyday!
This will give you strength to follow our section action point…
2) Choose Jesus.
As soon as the worship songs stop, as soon as I shake your hands and wish you a good week, as soon as you get out those doors, the devil will strike. “Choose complaining -- that person is cutting you off in the parking lot!” “Choose bitterness – those kids are running in the hallway.” "Choose gossip – Because it looks like that one lady has information about that other lady.”
Be ready for it. Be ready and choose something different.
Choosing Jesus is choosing to love.
It’s choosing to honor your wife.
It’s choosing to love your kids.
It’s choosing to obey your parents.
It’s choosing to do what it is Jesus did, when he chose us and gave his life up for us!
Choose Jesus and…
3) Avoid the Voter’s Booth Mentality
You aren’t supposed to talk politics with each other. As North Carolina has its primaries, you might be nervous to tell others who you voted for. You may just simply say “mm hmm," to whoever they ask if you vote for. It’d be a great way to avoid confrontation.
If you want to do that with politics, fine. I will. But when it comes to Jesus, don’t hide it. Don’t keep your choice to yourself. Make it obvious. Make it loud. Tell your coworkers your plans to worship Jesus this Easter. Tell your friends what an awesome message from God you heard today. Pass it on via Facebook. Pass it on via Twitter. Take an Easter invite – don’t throw it away – and (gasp) INVITE SOMEONE!
Let the fact that God chose you empower your choosing of him. To the Lord be glory forever and ever! Amen.
Ever heard of the Truth campaign?
It’s a group that’s become well known in the early 2000s for exposing the “Truth” about cigaretts. They ran ads on radio, TV and publications about the dangers of tobacco. They exposed the “Truth” that it contained poison and showed the “Truth about what it can do to you.
It’s safe to say that the campaign worked. I’m not sure too many Americans would tell you that smoking is healthy. (At least we don’t hold it to the same level as an apple.)
It kind of makes you wonder what people used to think about smoking. What kind of misconceptions did they have in order to make this campaign necessary?
Try this. Google: CIGARETTE ADS. I found a couple from the 30s and 40s that are pretty interesting.
There’s one showcasing a young model that says, “Smoking…makes you sleek and slender.” (That’s an interesting way to burn calories.)
Another shows a smiling dentists that simple says, “Dentists approve!”
My favorite has a doctor…smoking & a caption above his head that reads “20,679 physicians say smoking Luckies is less irritating!” -- Why such a specific number? I’m not sure.
It’s one thing to have a misconception about smoking. It’s another thing to have a misconception about spiritual Truth.
Today, we’re taking a look at the next step in our walk with Jesus to the cross. We’ll meet a man named Pilate who has a few misconceptions about Truth. Our goal is to learn about 3 common misconceptions, examine ourselves to prevent them from overtaking us, and turn to Jesus for the truth about the Truth.
I. Pilate’s All Too Common Misconceptions on Truth
Take a look at John 18:28. It says, “28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning.”
I can just picture the scene. Pilate has just woken up from a long stressful day of being the Roman governor. He tossed and turned all night after dealing with very political issues. He’s doing morning stretches. He’s drinking his morning coffee, “Roman Empire Blend.” He’s still got his cozy slippers on when --
-- a violently loud mob starts screaming outside of his window.
Can you imagine what that’s like? I have never had to wake up to violent protestors outside my apartment window. You? It’s one of the reasons I would never, ever, ever want to be President of the U.S.
So I picture Pilate being very grumpy. Sighing as he puts on his governor clothes. Gritting his teeth as he walks the cold, long hallways to the reception area. Thinking, “What in the world do these people want!?!”
1) Misconception: Eternal Truth Isn’t My Responsibility
Pilate makes his wait out to the steps of the praetorium. He sees a man chained up, bruises on his face, and swelling on his right eye. He motions for the crowd to quiet down. He raises his voice (because he didn’t have a microphone) and shouts – “What charges do you have against this man!?!”
“If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you,” the crowd replied. In other words, “Dude, there’s a reason we came to you. We wouldn’t have bugged you, if we didn’t have a need to. This guy says that he’s a king. We don’t think he is. We need your help getting to the TRUTH!”
Pilate’s response is very interesting. “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own laws,” What does this have to do with me? Why do you think it’s my responsibility? You want to know; you figure out the truth on your own.
It’s here that Pilate exhibits the first very common misconception about the truth: “The truth isn’t my responsibility.” That’s still a misconception that’s around today.
Sounds a lot like Pilate.
But that response didn’t get Pilate very far. Look at what the people reminded him of, 32“We have no right to execute anyone.” You do Pilate. We don’t have the authority. It’d be similar to a room monitor trying to expel one of his classmates – he doesn’t have the authority. He has to go to the teacher – even the principal to make it happen.
Figuring out the truth about Jesus was Pilate’s literal job. Caesar was paying him to do this. He couldn’t shirk his responsibility.
Here’s the thing – Determining eternal truth is your responsibility too.
Ever been to the book of Ecclesiastes? It’s not just an awesome word for a biblical spelling bee. It’s an interesting 12, chapter book written by King Solomon. Solomon was very wise. He’s one of the wisest men to ever live. In Ecclesiastes, he retrospectively looks at his life and he writes about what the meaning of life is all about. Check out his conclusion in 12:13 “Fear God and keep His commands; this is the responsibility of all mankind.”
In other words – Discover the truth. Learn about the truth. Live by the Truth.
It’s your responsibility, because God said so.
And if you don't?
Well, what happens when your car is making a funny noise. Your spouse tells you to take it in to get looked at--twice. Your coworker says you should get it looked at. Your friends says, "Bud, what's wrong with your car." The guy at the McDonald's drive thru says, "That sounds funny. You should get it looked at!"
Whose fault is it when you find yourself on the side of I-540 with a smoking engine?
And whose fault is it when you appear before God and he asks if you've fulfilled your responsibility in finding out the truth about Him?
(Hint: They both have the same answer.)
2) Misconception: Eternal Truth Doesn't Affect Me.
After Pilate realized it was his job, no matter how much he didn’t want it to be, he told his guards to bring Jesus to a quieter room. They entered into the palace and they both sat down. Pilate in all of his gubernatorial grandeur. Jesus in sweat & blood.\
Pilate got to the point. “Are you a King?” Because of all the charges against Jesus, this is the one that was most concerning. If he was a king, he might lead a revolt. If he led a revolt, pilate might not see it coming. If Pilate didn’t see it coming, he might lose control of his province. If he lost control of his province, he would upset Caesar. If he upset Caesar, Caesar would fire him –
Or kill him.
Jesus answered Pilate’s question with a question. “Is that your own idea? Or did others talk to you about me?”
Pilate’s response is a bit defensive. 35 “Am I a Jew? Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me.” I’m a Roman. This truth isn’t important to me. It doesn’t pertain to me. Why would I care?
Maybe you feel that way. “Pastor – I know this seems important to you, but that’s because you’re a pastor. Eternal truth just isn’t really my thing. I’m not theological. I’m not religious. This stuff is for people like that. Jesus is important, but his truth doesn’t pertain to me.”
But that’d be like saying “I’m not a weather man, so this week’s weather doesn’t pertain to me,” or “I’m not a dentist so the cavity in my mouth doesn’t pertain to me.”
The weather does.
The cavity does.
Eternal truth does too.
In fact, look at Jesus’ response in verse 36 “My kingdom is not of this world…. ” In other words, you’re right. This isn’t a truth for the Roman people. But it also isn’t a truth for the Jewish people.
It’s not geographical. It’s not racial. It’s not cultural. “…my kingdom is not from this world.”
It’s spiritual. It’s eternal. It’s divine.
Truth does not bypass you because you don’t think it pertains to you. That’d be like telling the cop who caught you going into the restaurant without a shirt AND without shoes that you didn’t realize the sign on the front of the door that says ,”No shirt, no shoes, no service” actually pertained to you.
It does. Even if you don’t think it does, it does.
It’s the same with eternal truth. What you believe about eternal truth matters…
3) Misconception: Truth Can be Whatever you Want it to Be
After Jesus’ response, Pilate seems to let the phrases about his kingdom being out this world completely fly over his head. Remember: He wants to get this investigation over with. He fixates on one word: ‘You are a king then!” That’s his Eureka moment! His “Elementary my dear Watson!” You are king and we can get this trial over with. Pilate gets up and he starts shuffling his papers. He pulls Jesus up by the underarm, because he can’t wait to go tell the crowd his findings and send him away.
But Jesus slowed him down: “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
That must have struck Pilate. It was a divisive statement. Jesus was claiming to be a king of truth. He was claiming that all who were on the side of truth were on his side and everyone who wasn’t on his side wasn’t on the side of truth.
Pilate scoffed. “What is truth?”
This is the third and most dangerous misconception about truth. “Truth can’t be discovered.” It's really common here in American too.
Have you ever heard of the phrase: "You do You?" It's a Hashtag that's used to demonstrate the differences in people.
You like Coke; I drink Pepsi. You do You and I'll do me.
You like Monopology? You do you. I'll play Chutes & Ladders.
It works pretty well when describing likes, dislikes, and inanimate objects.
But here's the problem: We use the same kind of thinking when it comes to religion.
You're Buddhist? You do you.
You worship Allah? Cool. You do you.
You don't believe in God at all. You do you. We'll all end up in the same place anyway.
But is that really how it works? Is eternal truth whatever you want it to be?
Do ya’ll see this. (holding up a red hymnal) This a rhinoceros. Right?
You’re all thinking, “What’s wrong with Pastor? Someone needs to check the coffee. Because that’s not a rhinoceros. It’s not big. It’s not grey. It doesn’t have a giant horns coming out of its face. In fact, it doesn’t have a face. It’s a Confessional Lutheran hymnal.”
My response is: “Nope. I think it’s a rhino. That’s my truth. Your truth can be that’s it’s a hymnal, but my truth is equally as true as yours because I believe it to be so. You don’t have the right to tell me I’m wrong.”
Does that make any sense at all?
Does it make any sense when it comes to religious things?
NO! God only meant one thing. No matter how strongly you feel something is the truth, that doesn't make it the truth.
What the Truth is makes the Truth the Truth!
Believing that truth can be whatever you want -- as long as you believe it hard enough is a misconception! Such a misconception of truth maintains that the only TRUTH is that there is no TRUTH…except that TRUTH by it’s very definition is not TRUE.
Brothers and sistesr, this is wrong. It’s mind numbing & wrong.
II. The Truth about the Truth
Since Pilate is so filled with misconceptions about truth, maybe we shouldn’t listen to him. Besides, He didn’t make deaf people hear. He didn’t make blind people see. He didn’t make lame people walk. He didn’t stop storms, cast out demons, and heal the sick. He didn’t die and then three days later come back to life.
Pilate’s truth would have been that all those things were impossible. But Jesus did those things. Jesus knew truth lots better than he did.
In fact, if Pilate would have calmed down. If he would have relaxed for a moment. If he would have put in some effort, he could have heard Jesus answer Pilate’s question – the same way he had much earlier in his ministry.
Matthew 14:16 “I am the Truth.”
The truth that exposes your sins.
The truth that exposes your guilt.
The truth that exposes your condemnation.
The truth that loves you dearly.
The truth that died for your.
The truth that rose for you.
The truth that makes “you are forgiven” true.
The truth that makes “you are at peace” true.
The truth that makes “you will live forever” true.
The truth is Jesus. The truth is that only Jesus will make these things true.
So…listen to him!“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” I doubt anyone is going to raise their hands and say, “I want to be on the side of falsehood!” We want to be on the side of truth. Therefore, listen to Jesus.
Don’t listen to false teachers.
Don’t listen to false preachers.
Don’t listen to a world with ideas and teachings that are contradictory to what Jesus said.
There can be only one truth! Jesus is that truth.
Pilate did. “ish”. He came out and said there was no reason to put Jesus to death. He didn’t say he believed in Jesus. He didn’t say he didn’t. He simply said, I believe he doesn’t deserve to die. When the people protested, Pilate had enough and he sent them to another governor named Herod. Pilate wiped off his hands. Breahted a sigh of relief and got his royal bubble bath ready.
But…remember Pilate…He isn’t done in this story yet. We’ll talk about him more next week when the crowd comes raucously back to the palace.
Don’t wait for God to give you another opportunity. Follow the truth now. Learn from the truth now.
Get on the side of truth. Now! Amen.