Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.
If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the dilemma Pontius Pilate faced in the trial of Jesus. For Pilate, Jesus was like a political hot potato. He heard the voice of his wife who told him, have nothing to do with Jesus. The voice of the bloodthirsty multitudes who cried out, crucify him. The voice of his own conscience, no doubt, attesting to the innocence of Christ.
And then he heard the voice of Jesus himself. What's he going to do? We've all been in a pickle, a bind, a jam, a quandary, a real fix, a tight spot. What do you do when you're between a rock and a hard place?
Clowns to the left of you, jokers to the right. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the tough decision faced by Pontius Pilate. A man stood before him ready for sentencing. The crowd wanted his death. Pilate thought he may be innocent, and his superiors were monitoring the outcome from Rome.
What will he do? In a rare moment historically, God and Satan were moving in the same direction, but with different objectives. Satan wanted Jesus dead, and so he marshaled his forces and played his wicked hand, infiltrating the ranks of our Lord, entering the heart of Judas Iscariot. Satan felt if he could have Christ put to death, that would be the end of him. Of course, the Father also was at work in this because Scripture said that Messiah would be crucified, and he would rise again from the dead three days later.
So the Father was at work. That is why it's a big mistake to try to place the blame of the death of Jesus on a particular group of people. Some will say, well, the Jews killed Jesus.
Well, that's really, in one sense, there's truth to it. There's also truth that the Romans killed Jesus. But if you really want to know the biblical theological truth, here it is, the Father killed Jesus.
Well, what? The Father didn't do it, but the Father allowed it to accomplish his purposes because the Bible says it pleased the Father to bruise him. It didn't please the Father in heaven to see his son suffer and die, but it pleased the Father to see his righteous requirements met and the sacrifice of his son, who is a fulfillment of all of those Old Testament pictures and types. So the Lord was at work in this as well. And by the way, Christ laid his own life down. No one took his life from him. He voluntarily went to the cross.
And one other thing, you want to put the blame on someone, blame me. My sins put Jesus on the cross. Your sins put Jesus on the cross.
So this is a very unusual situation that's all a part of God's big plan. So let's read some verses together. John 18, starting at verse 28. Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium.
And it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, What accusation do you bring against this man?
And as though their dignity is being impugned, they respond, Well, we wouldn't have handed him over to you if he weren't a criminal. Well, Pilate says, then judge him according to your law. He just gave them permission to put Jesus to death if they wanted to. And by the way, they did put people to death. They did it by stoning. They stoned Stephen, you remember, the first martyr of the church. So they did have the authority, especially in this situation, to execute Jesus. But the Bible doesn't say that Messiah would die by stoning. The prophecies say that he will die by crucifixion. Psalm 22 says, They pierced my hands and my feet. In the Old Testament we read the people asking him, Where did you receive these wounds in your hands?
And he says, I received them in the house of my friends. So Scripture is very specific how Messiah would die. I don't think even they understood what they were doing. But in their mad rush to have Jesus killed, they were fulfilling prophecy to a T by specifically wanting Pilate to do it. And that is because the Romans were experts in crucifixion. And by the way, Jesus himself said this is how he would die. Over in Matthew 20 he said, When we get to Jerusalem, the Son of Man is going to be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They'll sentence him to die. They'll hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, whipped, and crucified.
And on the third day he'll be raised from the dead. So look at verse 31 of John 18. Then Pilate said to them, You take him and judge him according to your law. The Jews said, Oh, it's unlawful for us to put anyone to death.
At the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which he spoke, signifying by what kind of death he would die. Then Pilate entered the praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to him, Are you the king of the Jews? Jesus answered, Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew, your own nation, and that she priests have delivered you to me?
What have you done? Jesus answers, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to him, Well, are you a king then? Jesus said, You rightly said I am a king. For this cause I was born. For this cause I've come into the world. And I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. Pilate said to him, What is truth? And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, I find no fault in this man.
We'll stop there. Wow, powerful story. Pilate heartlessly asks Christ, Are you the king of the Jews? Let me help you understand the scene. Jesus has been severely beaten at this point. They've hit him in the face with their fist. Have you ever been hit in the face with a fist? It's not like it is in the movies, right? You don't smile.
You know, like in the movies they make it look like it's fun. Oh, we're gonna have a big brawl and hit everyone in the face. No, he was hit in the face with a closed fist multiple times. His beard was ripped from his face.
Imagine how painful that would be. He was slapped. He was hit all over the body. So he's really beaten up. So he's standing there, a very beaten man. And Pilate looks at him as if kind of like, Are you the king of the Jews?
You? So it's very demeaning the way that Christ is addressed by Pontius Pilate. Are you the king of the Jews? Jesus says, Well, it is as you say. Pilate had pretty much seen it all. All criminal penalties in Judea were subject to Pilate's ultimate approval or veto.
Basically, if you were sent to death, it had to be okayed by Pilate. And all of them, of course, protested their innocence. Oh, I'm innocent. I didn't do it.
And Jesus is not doing that. And everybody does that when they're caught by cops, right? I wasn't speeding. You know, I was just talking to one of the police officers that fellowships here with us. And I say, What's the craziest thing that a person has ever said to you when you pulled him over for speeding? He said, A lady, I pulled her over and she had her Chihuahua in the car. She said, Sorry, officer, my dog ate chocolate and I'm rushing him to the hospital. He gave her a ticket because he said that wasn't a dog. That was some kind of a rat or something.
I don't know what. But you know, cops have heard it all. You know, when a police officer pulls you over and you're sarcastic or rude, you're almost going to get a ticket for sure, right? Don't say things to a cop like, Oh, don't you have some real criminals to arrest?
Or do you need directions to the donut shop? Don't say stuff like that to police officers. Have some respect. Sorry, officer. I now realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in. Don't say that to a cop. If you're speeding, here's what you say to a cop. Officer, I'm sorry. I was speeding. I shouldn't have done that. And then he might let you off. Maybe. Good chance he won't either.
Depends how fast you were going. But just be honest. They've heard it all. And Pilate had heard it all. Every lie, every excuse, but not from Jesus.
Why? Because Christ was innocent. In fact, Pilate was unnerved at the calmness of Jesus and the face of his own death. And Jesus talks about truth to the man who did not believe in truth. He says in verse 37, I've come to bring truth to the world and all who love the truth recognize that what I say is true. Pilate callously responds, what is truth? Now, we don't know how he said it. Did he say it this way? Oh, what is truth?
Like, reveal it to me. Or did he say it more like, what is truth? You say truth.
Is there really truth? And I tend to think that was the way he said it. He's like a lot of people today. A moral relativist.
I read recently that 67% of Americans say there is no such thing as absolute truth. And that was Pilate. He probably didn't believe in absolute truth. He was a pagan Roman man. Yet truth incarnate was standing before him. All he wanted to do was get Jesus out of his chambers.
He wanted to get out of this situation. And there are people like this that we encounter. We start talking to them about Christ. And it's just like, I want to change the subject. I had a perpetual conversation with my mother for 35 years minimum about her spiritual state. And every time I brought the subject of my faith up or the Bible or anything related to it, my mom's automatic response was, I don't want to talk about it. And finally, we had a conversation shortly before she died. And thankfully she committed her life to Christ.
But there are people that don't want to talk about it. That was Pontius Pilate. He did not want to enter into this conversation. It's not that he disliked Jesus in particular.
Maybe he even admired him a little bit. But for Pilate, this was all about his political career. Hey, I don't want to conflict. Because if I let you go, if I spring you, then they're going to get mad at me, these religious leaders. There's going to be some kind of a riot. Rome is going to discipline me, maybe even execute me. I don't know.
But all I know is I've got to get out of this situation. Because for Pilate, Jesus was like a political hot potato. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey, I don't know if you know about this, but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home, exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world. Listen to this. We even have Harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the Word of God.
So join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well, today, Pastor Greg is helping us focus on the trial of Jesus and the quandary faced by Pontius Pilate. What would he do with this man called Jesus? OK, so now we have an interesting insight from another gospel, Luke.
Luke tells us that he said to the leaders, I find no basis for a charge against this man. And they responded by saying he stirs up the people all around Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.
Boom. Ah, he found a way out. Galilee. Oh, that's not my jurisdiction. You're telling me this guy's from Galilee? Oh, that is a jurisdiction of my enemy, Herod.
And I can't think of something I'd rather do than dump this on his doorstep. So Pilate says, I'll tell you what, this is not my turf, that you have to take him to Herod. So immediately he washed his hands, symbolically speaking, of this whole situation. So Jesus is taking to Herod. And here's King Herod, who rules over Galilee, and he has all kinds of questions for Jesus. Peppers Christ with question after question, asked if Jesus will do a trick. Dazzle me, Jesus. I've heard you're the miracle worker.
Do something to impress me. Not only did Jesus not do a miracle for Herod, Jesus didn't say a single word to him. And I find that very interesting because Jesus had a lot to say to a lot of people. If you don't believe me, get a red letter Bible and read the New Testament.
Look at those gospels. All the things Christ said. He had long conversations.
Said a lot to so many. But to Herod, he did not speak a single word. He was the man who never heard God's voice. So he sent Jesus packing back to Pontius Pilate. Pilate thinks he's over this.
This is not a problem anymore. He's dealt with it. And now Jesus is brought before him again. And someone says, hey, Jesus is back. By the way, Herod sends his love.
Oh. Here's Jesus again. His heart sank. What's he gonna do? Pilate has another idea. He remembers that there's a custom among the Jews to release a prisoner at Passover.
Says, I'll just go out to the crowds and I'll say, oh, who do you want me to release? Jesus the miracle worker. Jesus the one who feeds your empty stomachs.
Jesus the one with this wonderful teachings. Or this total creep Barabbas. Barabbas was an insurrectionist. Which is another way of saying he was sort of like a terrorist.
He had dedicated his life to the violent overthrow of Rome. No doubt Barabbas had killed many people and that's why he was going to be sent to a cross. So Pilate figures, I'll put, you know, Jesus out there and Barabbas out there. For sure the people are gonna say, free Jesus.
And then I can just say, sorry. But the will of the people, religious leaders. There was nothing I could do. But of course the religious leaders infiltrated the crowds and stirred them all up and said, no, call for Barabbas to be released. I'm sure Barabbas was really shocked that day when they said, release Barabbas.
And that's exactly what happened. So over there in Matthew 27 we read these words that the people said, let him be crucified. You know Luke's gospel tells us with loud shouts they insistently demanded that Christ be crucified and their shouts prevail. That could literally be translated, they screamed, they screamed it. Let him be crucified.
And let his blood be upon us and upon our children, they said. Now what is Pilate gonna do? So he's trying to get out of this thing. He tries to hand him off to Herod, that doesn't work. He tries to get him freed and they choose Barabbas over Jesus. And now to add to his misery, his wife shows up. She says, honey, I had a dream about Jesus.
Have nothing to do with this just man. That's a very interesting twist in the story. What was this dream? This pagan Roman woman who did not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
She believed in the many gods of Rome which they really just swiped from the Greeks with all their god and goddess worship. And so here's a woman who has some kind of a dream. It sounds like it was from heaven perhaps. But the reality is instead of saying have nothing to do with this just man, she should have said have everything to do with this just man. In fact, call out to this just man and have him forgive you of your sins. But Jesus says, no, steer clear of this guy Jesus. He's bad news.
Have nothing to do with him. So Pilate was hearing a lot of voices on this day. He heard the voice of his wife who told him have nothing to do with Jesus. The voice of the bloodthirsty multitude who cried out crucify him.
The voice of his own conscience no doubt. Attesting to the innocence of Christ. And then he heard the voice of Jesus himself. And Jesus says to Pilate, everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. So what did Pilate do next? Over in Matthew 27 is the answer. Verse 24, Pilate saw he wasn't getting anywhere. And a riot was developing so he sent for a bowl of water. And he washed his hands before the crowd. And he said I am innocent of this man's blood.
The responsibility is yours. And the people responded let his blood be on us and on our children. That's like a lot of people again today. They just you know they want to put it off. They don't want to deal with it. And that's what Pilate was doing.
I am not going to deal with this issue. And that ended up damning his soul. He shared a responsibility and the worst crime in human history. You might say but wait Greg you said that it was God's plan. So in a way wasn't Pilate doing what God wanted him to do?
No actually not. Yes it's true. Scripture said Messiah would die by crucifixion. But woe to the man that crucifies him. Woe to the man who betrays him.
In fact Peter as he preached the gospel after the resurrection said this is what happened in this city for Herod. Antipas, Pontius, Pilate, the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus. So Pilate was culpable and he was called out. And so he shared responsibility in this horrible crime.
He hardened his heart to the very voice of God despite the fact that he knew that Jesus was innocent. We're beginning to get a clear picture of the situation surrounding the trial of Jesus. And there's much more to come as Pastor Greg Laurie continues his message here on A New Beginning, a study called Indecision. Well Pastor Greg we're excited about your new book called Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus, subtitled The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll. The title lists Jesus among some seemingly dissimilar names. You know Bob Dillon, John Lennon, Alice Cooper.
It's almost like a civil service exam. You know pick the one that doesn't belong. Yes. Well go to the Bible and look at Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus and Zacchaeus, Jesus and the woman at the well, Jesus and the woman caught in the act of adultery. It fits because my point is take these iconic people and I want to tell you about their spiritual journeys. That's a spiritual biography of rock and roll and it has some surprising revelations about maybe your favorite pop or rock star.
Things you did not know about them specifically in the area of their search for God. For instance take John Lennon. Of course we all remember his famous statement when he said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
Let me just address that for a moment. To a generation of people at that moment in time there was some truth to that and I would include myself as a young person because I knew nothing of Jesus but I knew everything about the Beatles and Lennon went on to try to explain it saying well if I would have said television is more popular than Jesus there wouldn't have been this controversy or uproar. But things changed in the life of John Lennon after he made that statement and we explore those things in the book. Now I'm not suggesting John Lennon was a Christian at the end of his life but I have to point this out. There is a moment in time when John Lennon made a profession of faith to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Not only that he recorded two gospel songs that you can find online if you search for them. Now it was not a long-lasting thing but it was very big to him. He wrote about it extensively in his diary but then he seemed to fall away from that but in some ways toward the end of his life which was a very tragic end you see that he mentioned some of those things again.
So here's my point. John Lennon made a profession of faith earlier in his life. He was tragically gunned down in New York City by Mark David Chapman. He was conscious after he was shot. He was being driven to the hospital and the police officer driving him said do you know who you are and Lennon replied yes I do. If he was conscious and aware if John Lennon called out to Jesus Christ in the final moments of this life would his prayer have been heard?
The answer is yes. We think of the thief on the cross who said to Jesus Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom and Jesus said truly truly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise. I wrote this book to give encouragement and hope to people out there who will read it who have a loved one that is not a Christian. They don't seem like they would ever become a Christian. It might be your husband or wife or your mom or your dad or your son or your daughter or a co-worker or a friend and you will see in this book as you explore the lives of those who have been there done that bought the t-shirt and in many cases been the t-shirt that they climbed to the top of the mountain and there was nothing there. So should it surprise us that these people are searching for a deeper meaning in life?
You see when you are thinking if only I was rich if only I was famous if only I had a record or if only I filled a you know a stadium with a bunch of people chanting my name I would be happy. These people have experienced it. They know that's not the answer so many of them have gone on a deep search for God. So there's a lot here that may surprise you. Yeah that's right it's a fascinating read and we want to make it available to you to thank you for your partnership in this ministry. A New Beginning and Harvest Ministries are dedicated to helping people find the real answers to the big questions of life to look beyond the lures of this culture in this world and find what their soul is longing for and you know in the last couple of years more than 220,000 people have made professions of faith in Christ and if you can partner with us to reach even more we'd like to thank you by sending this new book Lennon, Dillon, Alice and Jesus. Just give us a call at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime that's 1-800-821-3300 or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time more from our study of pilots quandary in the message called Indecision. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.
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