Share This Episode
Insight for Living Chuck Swindoll Logo

The Strangest of Foursomes, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 3, 2021 7:05 am

The Strangest of Foursomes, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 856 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

November 3, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Commission: A Study of Matthew 21–28

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

Imagine the audacity of dragging our sinless Savior before a judge on false charges. That's exactly what happened the week before his crucifixion. Traders, connivers, and saboteurs worked in harmony in an all-out effort to silence Jesus and ultimately to kill him. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll guides us in a study of Matthew's account, taking time to notice the nuances and to pay respect to the depth of pain Jesus suffered on our behalf. Referring to the major players on the theatrical stage of Matthew 27, Chuck titled today's message, The Strangest of Four Sims. As I was poring over these verses we're looking at today in the last number of hours this past week, it occurred to me that I am thinking through and we are today thinking through the darkest day in the history of the world.

Humanly speaking, there was none any darker. When he who knew no sin was made sin on our behalf, that we, by the grace of God, might be made the righteousness of God in him. God's plan included the suffering and of course the death of Jesus on our behalf. So behind the scenes is the sovereign hand of God at work, even in the midst of what we would call a human tragedy, where the most innocent person who has ever lived is treated in beastly brutality. Mistreated, misunderstood, maligned, and ultimately condemned to die. If we keep in mind that he did this for us, it helps change our perspective and if we remember that none of it occurred accidentally or coincidentally it will help because it pleased the Father to bruise him and by his strike we are healed. We're looking together at Matthew 27, 11 through 26, which is the scene just before Jesus is turned over to the authorities as he drags the cross beam along the Via Dolorosa to the place of the skull called Golgotha where he was nailed to a cross and died for the sins of the world.

So what occurs here is a significant scene that is difficult to visit but it is also, and I don't mean to be shallow in this statement, it is also intriguing how it unfolds, as you will see. Find, if you will, Matthew 27 verse 11. I'll be reading from the New Living Translation.

Maybe a little different from the version you read but it'll be very similar. Follow along through verse 26. Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor.

Are you the king of the Jews? The governor asked him. Jesus replied, you have said it. But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent.

Don't you hear all their charges they are bringing against you? Pilate demanded. Jesus made no response to any of the charges much to the governor's surprise. Now it was the governor's custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd, anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate's house that morning, he asked them, which one do you want me to release to you?

Barabbas? Or Jesus who was called the Messiah? He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy. Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message, leave that innocent man alone.

I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night. Meanwhile the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, which of these two do you want me to release to you? The crowd shouted back, Barabbas. Pilate responded, then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah? They shouted back, crucify him.

Why? Pilate demanded, what crime has he committed? But the mob roared even louder, crucify him. Pilate saw that he was getting, he wasn't getting anywhere and that a riot was developing, so he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd saying, I am innocent of this man's blood, the responsibility is yours. And all the people yelled back, we will take responsibility for his death, we and our children. So Pilate released Barabbas. To them, he ordered Jesus flogged with a lead tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled the strangest of foursomes. When I think back to my high school years, I smile, not because all the classrooms were that great, but because of two particular men who made my life, it seemed complete. First was the man who taught us our musical instruments as I played in the band and orchestra, and he was a musical wizard, I would call him. His name was Eugene Seastrand, still remember it, and he could play every instrument in the band or orchestra, and interestingly, he was left-handed, so he played them all left-handed. His love for music was contagious, so that when you were around him, that infection sort of grew in you as well. Such delightful hours were spent in the band and orchestra under the leadership of Eugene Seastrand. And then we had Richard Niemi, who interestingly had such a love for teaching that he left a lucrative career on Broadway as an actor and gave himself to teaching high school students, and how blessed we were that he chose our school, how to act, how to handle themselves on a stage. And again, he just he just dripped with talent in live stage plays and how we loved that whole art and passed that love off to all of us. By the time we reached our senior year, we who had been in the dramatic arts program during our years in school just were sure we would win state with our little one-act play called The Pot Boiler, which was a farce of a comedy put together by a cast of characters that were, well, it was all so overdrawn, this melodrama. For example, we had a villain who was Mr. Inkwell, dark, dark hair, dark around the eyes, and then we had a hero hero named Mr.

Ruler. That was me, believe it or not. And then we had a damsel in distress, Miss Ivory, nice and white, 99, 44, 100 percent pure. And then we had Mr. Suds, who did his best to scrub us up and keep us clean unsuccessfully, but he was a wonderful actor. What a group we were. We thought we would knock them dead when we went to state finals. The problem was we were up against another school that did A Streetcar Named Desire. Well, if you know anything about that play, it is magnificent, and if it's done well, it's a showstopper.

And as we sat in the audience watching them do that, we thought, well, it's not bad being second place. Their leading actor could have been a stand-in for Marlon Brando. It was outstanding.

Our leading actor could have been a stand-in for Don Knotts, but that gives you an idea of the difference in the two kind of plays. We were quite a foursome. I used to think of us as the the cross-eyed discus thrower.

He didn't set many records, but he kept the crowd awake, and we were like that. We had such fun, and it was such a delight to this day. Remember some of the lines, and I will spare you, but looking back, I remember it was the foursome that made it so interesting. You're not going to believe this, but when I began to do an in-depth study of Matthew 27, 11 through 26, I remembered our foursome because I came across the strangest of foursomes in these verses of Scripture. Now you must move from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the completely secular to the absolutely sacred scene before us. There's nothing funny at all about what happens in these verses among these four, but what is interesting is how they are all drawn together.

The world would say it's as if their stars were aligned, and on this one day in all the history of time, they're drawn together never to be drawn together again. Only on this one day did Jesus, the innocent captive, and Pilate, the vacillating judge, and Barabbas, the notorious criminal, and Mrs. Pilate, the troubled wife, come together for this scene. When you see it in that light, it would make a magnificent stage play.

It would make a magnificent stage play. You forget when Jesus comes on the scene of verse 11, he has already been beaten. You see, this is not the first trial, it's the fourth. In fact, though there were six, Matthew wraps up the last three and one and describes it in verses 11 through 26, but what I want you to remember is that Jesus has already stood before Annas, the former high priest who mistreated him. He was then turned over in the second trial to Caiaphas, the current high priest, son-in-law of Annas, who seriously mistreated him and beat him. Then he was turned over to the Sanhedrin, called in the text the council.

These would be the official body of the people of the Jews, like our Supreme Court, but this court met illegally and allowed illegal brutality to happen. So severely is the brutal activity that Isaiah writes 700 years earlier prophesying what would occur, his face was marred more than that of a man, meaning so swollen, so lacerated, so beaten, he hardly resembled facial features of a man. So the robe Jesus is wearing is blood splattered.

You can't see it on the page of Scripture, but you can in your mind and you must. So Pilate knew when he was dealing with a man, he was dealing with one who has been mistreated already. Philip Keller, in his fascinating work Rabboni, writes this, to celebrate they decide to indulge in a ghastly game of terrible torture. Here were men who were supposed to protect the interests of their people, subjecting an innocent person to appalling abuse. They pummeled his weary body, they spat in his face, they blindfolded him, then jeered at him, challenging him to prophesy, who just struck him a stinging blow. They slashed and smashed his face until it was purple and swollen with great welts. That's the Jesus who stands before Pilate.

You can't see him unless you take the time to remember where he's been and what he's endured. Pilate knows that he is not guilty. Let me clarify something. Even though Pilate is corrupt and already in trouble with the Roman government for letting things get out of hand, Pilate is not stupid. His main job was to watch out for revolutions and to put down even the beginning of mob violence. So he had his informants.

You know he did. Had there ever been even a hint that Jesus was a revolutionary, he would have already been arrested by Pilate and brought before him. He knew he was no revolutionary. He also knew the Jewish leaders, having governed them for some time. In fact, it says in verse 18, Pilate knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy. He knew the charges were trumped up. He knew Jesus was not guilty. So he was impaled on the horns of a dilemma between what he knew to be true in his own conscience, depraved though it was, and the pressure of the people forcing him to do what was wrong. That's where character counts, and that's what Pilate lacked. He's the vacillating judge. He has the power to set Jesus free, but he does not.

How it unfolds is truly intriguing. Jesus is standing before Pilate, verse 11, and Pilate asks him directly, are you the king of the Jews? Jesus' answer is, like we would use the words, you said it. In other words, I am.

I am. Before those words could finish the echo in the chamber, we read that the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him. They didn't want those words to linger, so they accused Jesus.

Jesus remained silent. Pilate's never seen anything like this. He's held many people on trial.

No one has remained silent when falsely accused until now. So Pilate asks, don't you hear all these charges they're bringing against you? It's as if Pilate is saying, I need information.

I need evidence I can use to defend you before them. But Jesus doesn't cooperate. In fact, it says he made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor's surprise.

He's never seen anyone like this. He's sitting on what is called the bema, the judgment seat, in a place, an area known as the pavement near his own house. He lived in Caesarea by the sea, a beautiful place, but he came to Jerusalem to keep law and order during Passover because the crowds would swell into the millions during Passover season. Pilate's already in hot water with the Roman government, and Tiberius is watching him carefully, knowing that if another riot breaks out, Pilate's gone. Pilate knew he was hanging on the thin thread of that background, where he must prove himself faithful to the emperor.

So that also adds to the pressure. And Jesus makes no response to any of the charges, much to the governor's surprise. So what does he do? We've seen Jesus as a part of the foursome. We've met Pilate. We'll come back to him in a few moments. But now we meet a man who appears only here in all the biblical text, here in the other gospels. Let's study him.

I'm intrigued by him. Verse 15. It was the governor's custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd, anyone they wanted. So the Jews had this understanding that he was free to offer them any criminal that they may wish to have released.

So he thought, who could I offer as a bargaining chip that they would much prefer to see put to death so that I could set Jesus free? So he brings up a name that is notorious. In fact, we read in this text, this year, there was a notorious prisoner named Barabbas.

Let me pause here and help you understand notorious. According to Luke 23, 25, and John 18, 40, Barabbas is guilty of robbery, leading a revolution, and murder. So he's awaiting trial, most likely in the fortress of Antonia, some distance away.

I'll come to that again in a minute. He's awaiting trial. His death will be by crucifixion, which is how Romans carried out capital punishment. He was waiting for the death punishment. He was waiting for his cross, which had been prepared.

Perhaps it would be that day Pollard would hear that case as well. So knowing that the case was coming, knowing the kind of man Barabbas is, he brings his name to their attention. Let's pause here and think about Barabbas.

Several things stand out to me. One, his name, Bar Abbas. You've heard us refer to Peter as Bar Jonah. The word Bar means son in the original language. In this case, Abbas means father, son of the father.

Sounds strange until you know that in those days, revered and respected rabbis were often called father. Could it be that Bar Abbas, the son of the father, had strayed from his upbringing, run amok ethically and morally, gotten involved with criminal activity and into the world of crime he moved, much to the chagrin of his rabbi father, and now of all things he's being held for murder? Bar Abbas.

Let me go further. There's the near certainty that his first name isn't Bar. Bar Abbas would be a given name. His first name, believe it or not, quite likely was Jesus. If you carry the New Living Translation, you'll notice in the footnote, some manuscripts read Jesus Barabbas. Jesus, by the way, was a very common name. Yeshua, our word today, our name today is Joshua.

Common name. Mothers would name their children Joshua or Yeshua or Jesus. His name was Jesus Barabbas, I suggest. The Syriac and the Armenian versions of the New Testament, in fact, refer to him as Jesus Barabbas. I find it curious that twice, Pilate, when referring to both Barabbas and Jesus, identifies Jesus in a different way.

Look for yourself. Verse 17, which one do you want me to release to you? Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah? Chuck Swindoll has set the stage for powerful application. He's teaching from Matthew 27, chapter 27. We urge you to keep listening because the dramatic showdown between Pilate and Jesus isn't finished. You're listening to Insight for Living.

Chuck titled today's message, The Strangest of Foursomes. To learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at There are only 12 more programs remaining in this one-year study through the Gospel According to Matthew that started in January. If you haven't already, be sure to request your copy of the commentary Chuck Swindoll wrote that complements this teaching series. It's called Swindoll's Living Insights on Matthew, and it comes in two volumes. Many commentaries are scholarly but hard to comprehend. Chuck wrote this commentary in the easy-to-understand style you've come to expect, and it's woven with opportunities for personal application. To purchase your copy of the commentary called Swindoll's Living Insights on Matthew, go to slash offer or call us.

If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. Thousands of your fellow listeners from around the world are searching the Scriptures in this way. For instance, someone left this encouraging comment.

She said, I am far away in Singapore, but you've been my distant mentor and teacher for many decades, and I've read almost all your books. Thank you. Well, in many respects, her thank you note belongs to our monthly companions and all those who step forward with voluntary donations. When you give to this non-profit ministry, you're the one who's touching a life with God's grace, not only here at home, but all around the world. Toward that end, we invite you to give today.

The need is urgent, and the opportunities for proclaiming the cross are wide open. To give a donation online today, go to or call us. If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888.

That's 1-800-772-8888. Or, once again, find us online at Join us again when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe what he calls the strangest of foursomes. That's Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Strangest of Foursomes, was copyrighted in 2018 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-28 17:40:44 / 2023-07-28 17:48:58 / 8

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime