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Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
April 30, 2023 7:00 pm


Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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April 30, 2023 7:00 pm

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We have your Bibles with you today. Please turn with me if you would to Mark chapter 15.

We're going to start with verses one through six. I've got a lot of sick people to pray for this morning, so stick with me and bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Father, I do pray for our sick this morning.

We have many that I want to lift up to you. Jeremy Carriker recovering from a stroke. Larry Cranford who will be having surgery Tuesday.

Jim Belk, Elsie Camaro, Gerard Michard. Pray Lord for him as he has heart surgery coming up. Renda Torrance who's in the hospital right now and Lance Walker who is recovering from knee surgery. Continue to pray for Nicole Lohse and Esther Carroll. Pray for Jonathan Shepherd as he is in need of your touch and feeling rough this morning. Pray for Teresa Naylor's mom who is not expected to live and would ask Father that you help her in these days. Pray for Gail Bailey and the loss of her mother last week and pray that you'd comfort her and her family. Pray for Elizabeth Zemullen who's just suffering right now and healing from a fractured leg and pray that she'd heal quickly. Pray for Walter Carrillo. Lord, we thank you for the healing that he's experienced and pray that you continue to help him to be completely well.

And for little Rexford Robinson who is having a trach taken out of his throat this week. Pray that you'd minister to him in healing. Heavenly Father as we study Peter's dilemma today, we ask that you help us to see why he caved in. Help us to understand why he capitulated to the crowd.

Pilate was concerned about his reputation and his career and his political position. He knew what was right but he didn't have the courage to stand for truth. He gave in to those who pushed him and he sent the Son of God to his death on the cross. Father we know that Jesus' death on the cross was predestined, was assured to happen but that in no way lessens Pilate's guilt or makes him a victim. He did what he did because he thought he had too much to lose.

He did what he did because he had no godly character and no true integrity. Lord use Pilate's example today to convict us and to shame us if necessary into standing before a lost culture and proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. Use the word of God to draw us close to the heart of Jesus for it is in the precious name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. This morning we confessed our faith by confessing the Apostles' Creed. In the Apostles' Creed we learn about the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are also told about two people in the Apostles' Creed. The first is Mary and that's pretty understandable where Mary was the virgin who gave birth to the Son of God. But the second person that's mentioned is Pontius Pilate.

We are told that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate. Now think for a minute about the people that the Apostles' Creed could have mentioned. I think of Peter who denied Jesus three times and then Jesus forgave Peter and restored him and Peter went on on the day of Pentecost to preach the great sermon and 3,000 people were saved. Peter shared the Gospel of Cornelius and the Gospel ministry went out to the Gentile world. I think of the Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, Revelation and was a pastor at the church at Ephesus. I think of the Apostle Paul who was converted on the road to Damascus as he met with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul went on to take the Gospel into the Gentile world and he wrote just about half of the New Testament. I think of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ and Caiaphas who orchestrated the illegal trial for Jesus. And yet not using any of those people, the Apostles' Creed used Pontius Pilate.

I want you to know that that was not by accident. Pontius Pilate was one of the most powerful men politically in all of Israel. What he said stood. The common people in Israel feared Pilate. The Roman soldiers obeyed Pilate. The Jewish religious leaders trembled before or respected Pilate and the people in prison trembled before Pilate. Jesus did none of that. Jesus did not shake, tremble, obey or fear Pilate. For Jesus knew that Pontius Pilate was just a tool in the hand of a sovereign God who would have him nailed to the cross to purchase our redemption.

He would have him nailed to the cross in order that every child of God from Adam all the way to that last person who comes to know Christ before Jesus returns, he would redeem them through what he would do for them on the cross by shedding his blood. I have six points that I want to share with you today from this passage and I'm going to go back to Luke to kind of help us see some of the fuller picture and some of these points. But the first point that I want to mention is the pointed question. Look with me at verses one through five again. And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, are you the king of the Jews? And he answered him, you have said so. Chief priests accused him of many things and Pilate again asked him, have you no answer to make?

See how many charges they bring against you? But Jesus made no further answer so that Pilate was amazed. The Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Pilate and arrogantly demand that Pilate have Jesus executed. Pilate said to Jesus, are you the king of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, you have said so. Pilate was shocked. And some of the Jewish religious leaders began to make horrible accusations against him. And finally, Pilate said, Jesus, are you not going to say anything?

Are you not going to defend yourself? And Jesus was completely silent. The scripture says that Pilate was amazed. Pilate began to think, how am I going to get out of this?

And it hit him. Jesus was from Galilee. And the Galilee was the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas. And so Herod Antipas just happened to be in town. So he said, that's what I'll do.

I'll send him to Herod and I won't have to worry about him anymore. So Pilate says to the group, I believe that Jesus is innocent. And the group of religious leaders went nuts.

They said, how in the world can you say that? He's deceiving the nation. He's trying to cut taxation. He's calling himself a king.

You can't do that. You have got to execute Jesus. Then Pilate's wife comes in.

Tears are streaming down her cheeks. And she said, listen, have nothing to do with this just man, Jesus. For I've had a dream tonight about him.

And in my dream, I have dreamed that if you do anything to harm him, then there are going to be dire consequences. So Pilate knows that Jesus is from Herod's jurisdiction. And so Pilate sends Jesus to Herod. Herod begins to question him. And he questions him.

He finds nothing that he's not guilty of anything either. And so the scripture says that Herod mocked him. He treated him with contempt. Then he sent him back to Pilate. Can't you just imagine Pilate looking out the window, seeing these soldiers dragging Jesus back to him.

And I can imagine him just kicking a chair all the way across the room, spitting on the floor and just cursing. Oh no, why won't these religious leaders leave me alone? I don't want to have to deal with this religious struggle.

This is awful. I don't want to have to deal with it. Sick of these religious leaders.

I don't want to have to deal with their problems. Pilate knows what he should do. He ought to free Jesus and he ought to arrest these religious leaders for perjury and lying.

But he doesn't want to have to deal with the fallout. So his question is this. What is Jesus going to cost me? Now let me ask you something. What is Jesus going to cost you?

It's a great question to ask, isn't it? If you surrender to Christ, that means repentance. So that might mean you might lose some friends. If you come to Christ and you repent, you might not get that promotion at work. You might have to break off an immoral relationship.

You might have to give up pornography that is giving you so much pleasure, at least you think. You say, can't I just believe in Jesus? Can I just believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead? Can I just have a head belief and that should be enough? Do I really have to fear God? Do I really have to fear what God can do to me? Do I really have to surrender to Christ?

Do I really have to treasure Jesus? I want you to listen to what John Piper said. He said, we are surrounded by unconverted people who think they do believe in Jesus. Drunks on the street say they believe. Unmarried couples sleeping together say they believe. Elderly people who haven't sought worship or fellowship for 40 years say they believe. All kinds of lukewarm, world-loving church attenders say they believe. The world abounds with millions of unconverted people who say they believe in Jesus. It does no good to tell these people to believe in the Lord Jesus.

The phrase is empty. My responsibility as a preacher of the gospel and a teacher in the church is not to preserve and repeat cherished biblical sentences but to pierce the heart with biblical truth. In my neighborhood, every drunk on the street believes in Jesus. Drug dealers believe in Jesus. Panhandlers who haven't been to church in 40 years believe in Jesus.

So I use different words to unpack what believe means. In recent years I have asked, do you receive Jesus as your treasure? Not just savior, everybody wants out of hell but not to be with Jesus. Not just Lord, they might submit begrudgingly.

The key is, do you treasure him more than everything? Converts to Christ say with Paul, I count everything as lost because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen? All right, second point, and I'm going to Luke's gospel for this, but the second point is Pilate's problem. Luke 23 verse 13 through 15. Pilate then called together the chief priest and the rulers and the people and said to them, you brought me this man as one who is misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.

Look, nothing deserving death has been done to him. So there stands Jesus before Pilate a second time. Pilate thought he'd seen him for the last time, that he wouldn't have to deal with it any longer, but Herod sent him back and there Jesus stands again. But now the group has multiplied in number.

For it was mostly just religious leaders and chief priests, but now there's a plethora of common people that are there. And Pilate shouts out to the group, listen, I find no fault in this man, Jesus, and Herod didn't either. I can imagine him saying, listen, we were, Herod and I were not in cahoots about this. We've never agreed on anything before, but we agree on this, that Jesus is innocent.

We find nothing in him that is deserving of death. But the problem is this. These wicked religious leaders want Jesus dead. And they are saying, Jesus is limiting their, their influence. He is hurting their pocketbook.

He's costing them, costing them money. So how can they manipulate Pilate? How can they manipulate him to get what they want to get their way?

And they're doing it through intimidation. They will say to Pilate, you're an enemy of Caesar. If you were siding with one who calls himself king. All right, that takes us to point three Pilate's compromise. Luke 23 verses 16. I will therefore punish and release him. The punishment that Pilate was suggesting here was not near as strong as scourging. Scourging sometimes would kill a person.

This was just a beating. And Pilate says, I think I can do this. And then that might satisfy the Jewish religious leaders, and I won't have to kill Jesus, and everything will be fine. The angry mob could smell Pilate's weakness.

And with each compromised Pilate made, they knew they were getting a little closer to what they wanted. And that was Jesus' execution. Folks, as God's people, we can learn from this. We are called to be flexible on non-essential things. We are called to show mercy and grace. Some things are just a matter of preference. Some things are just a personal opinion.

And those are heels that you don't want to die on. It was Paul who said, I have become all things to all people so that I might win some. That's flexibility, but it's not compromise. But in this situation, Pilate is compromising. He is violating his conscience to appease men. Pilate should have manned up and said, Jesus is not guilty. He's innocent. And if you do anything to harass him, you're the one that's going to prison. That's what he should have said.

But for expedience's sake, to save face, to please people, he stepped on his conscience and he destroyed his soul. I was in Bruce Brown's church a couple of years ago, and Bruce used an illustration that I'm going to use here. Bruce probably said it a whole lot better than I will. And Bruce is here this morning. Didn't know he was coming.

But I love this illustration. Back in the early 1950s, the Brooklyn Dodgers were playing the Philadelphia Phillies. And the guy named player for Philly hit a ball way out in left field, and he went around first base, was headed to second base trying to stretch a single into a double. Left fielder threw it to the second baseman, Pee Wee Reese. Pee Wee Reese reached down to tag him out. And the umpire, Beenz Reardon, said, he's safe. But instead of going like this, he threw up his hand in an out sign. Granny Hammer's laying down the ground looking up to him.

What is it? Am I safe or am I out? And Beenz Reardon said to him, well, there is only three people who heard me say he's safe, but there's 50,000 people out here who saw me throw up the out sign. So he said, I'd rather offend three people than 50,000.

You're out. Folks, that's what Pilate did. He compromised what he knew to be right in order to get approval from the religious crowd.

As I said, he stepped on his conscience and he destroyed his soul. The book of Revelation breaks up the population of the world into two people. We could say Christians and unbelievers, but the book of Revelation says it differently. It calls it overcomers and earth dwellers. What are overcomers?

Overcomers refuse to compromise. Overcomers are bold. Overcomers believe that Jesus is the pearl of great price.

Overcomers believe that Jesus is the treasure in the field. Overcomers say we love him. We treasure him. We serve him. We honor him. We will stand for him.

Come hell or high water. And if we perish, where does that come from? It comes from grace. Marvelous, wonderful, amazing grace. Pilate's compromise made a statement. He was saying, I'm an earth dweller. My love is for this world.

My desire is to please the flesh and I cannot treasure Jesus because this life is all I've got. Steve Willette sent me an article this week. I wanted to share the last, last paragraph with you.

I thought it was great. He said, God may or may not choose to extend mercy and grace to our nation. And if he doesn't, that's his prerogative. God does not need America, nor does he promise to restore her as a nation. What he does promise is to save his people, his bride, the ones whom he died on the cross for. As for America, ultimately, she will perish along with all who reject the name of Christ as their savior.

But the church will live forever escaping the eternal judgment of God. It is he alone who we should fear and he alone who has the power to judge us or save us. May we as a people have the courage and conviction to turn our eyes heavenward, seeking the divine intervention that alone can save us from the precipice of judgment. That's a call to be an overcomer and not an earth dweller.

All right, point four, the deceitfulness of the human heart. Mark 15, verse six through 11. Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them saying, do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews? For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priest had delivered him up. But the chief priest stirred up the crowd to have him released for them Barabbas instead. Every time Pontius Pilate suggested a way to deal with this problem, the crowd shouted him down.

And then all of a sudden it hit him. It was customary for the governor to release a prisoner during Passover. This was just a nice gesture to the Jewish people.

And it was symbolic of the Jews being released from their bondage in Egypt back at the time of the first Passover. Pilate would free whoever the people demanded. Pilate hoped that these folks would have some compassion. They would have some semblance of right and wrong. He hoped that they would cry out for the innocent Jesus to be released. Then his problem would be settled.

But the people would have none of that. Pilate brings Jesus forth. Jesus stands there looking out at the crowd.

His eyes are almost swollen completely shut because the temple guards had beat him in the face. And in the Gospel of John, the scripture says that Pilate shouts out and says, Behold your king. Behold your king. Would you want me to release Jesus of Nazareth to you? And the people shouted, No, no, away with him. We have no king but Caesar.

Release to us instead Barabbas. You can picture their faces in the crowd, contorted with anger and resentment and bitterness coming out of their lips as venom and rage, venom and rage. What did Jesus do to them to make them so angry?

It's a huge crowd there. You have to think that there may be people in that crowd who Jesus had healed. Maybe a blind man who has his sight. Maybe a deaf man now who has his hearing.

Maybe a man who is lame and now he's able to walk. Maybe a man who was tormented by demons and now he's been delivered and set free. Some of them have heard the truth that Jesus taught. Jesus taught the parable of the prodigal son. And when he got to that point where the prodigal son had left and gone away from home and the father goes out to the gate every day and he waits for him and every day he goes out hoping that he'll come back. Finally, he sees the repentant son coming back and he throws the gate open and he runs to meet him.

He picks him up in his arms and he hugs him. Man, don't you know that that gave hope to some of the people who heard that great story? There were Samaritans possibly there who had heard Jesus tell the parable of the good Samaritan and that gave them great and wonderful hope. Now you would think surely people had experienced Jesus' touch who had been healed or delivered, who had been touched by the truth of Jesus' preaching, that they would have just wanted to do everything they could to do right by Jesus, to keep him from being executed. But no, they turned their backs on Jesus. They once had felt love and compassion and respect for Jesus and now they cry out, crucify him and release to us Barabbas.

Could that really happen? Oh yeah, it happened to Judas, it happened to Demas and it's happening to all kinds of people in our society in the United States today. How many young people have experienced God's goodness when they were children? They were taken to church, they heard the songs, they heard the teaching of God's Word, they heard the creeds, they felt the love of God's people there and then they grew up to teenagers and they went off to college. And they hear atheistic professors mock their faith and ridicule their morality. The professors laugh at these stupid naive Christians who believe in this fable of Jesus dying on the cross and being resurrected from the dead. They laugh at the idea that we should have a fear of God. They laugh at the idea that there's going to be an eternal judgment.

And then the professors challenge their morality. What are you waiting on, young people? This is the time to enjoy your sexuality. You're a grown up now, you can do what you want to do. Enjoy as many partners as you can. Experiment with homosexuality. Don't have to worry about disease or babies or guilt or damaged relationships. And this is your time to go and just do what you want to do, live like you want to live. It just doesn't matter.

Why not? Hey, we have penicillin for disease. We have abortion for unwanted babies. We have antidepressants for guilt.

We have counselors for damaged relationships. So have at it. Do what you want to do. If it feels good, do it. Throw that oppression of Christianity off your shoulders and live like you want to live. How many young people who used to sing the songs of Christ, who used to listen to the stories of Jesus, who felt the love of the church turn their back and essentially say crucify Jesus and give us Barabbas?

I talked to a young couple not too long ago who came to Christ several years ago and decided that they were going to wait for sexual intimacy after marriage and not before. And they did that. And you know what? That couple's been married for a few years now and they don't have all the baggage and the junk that so many couples have to drag in to that marriage. Do you think they are sad because they waited? Oh no, they're not sad. Do you think they felt like Jesus was taking away their fun?

Oh no. They trusted Christ through it and their marriage has been absolutely wonderful. Folks, the human heart is deceitful.

It was deceitful back in Jesus' day and it's deceitful today. So they cried out to Pilate, crucify Jesus and release Barabbas. Who was Barabbas? Barabbas was the insurrectionist.

We would call him a terrorist today. Belonged to a group called the Sicarii. The Sicarii carried a knife with them.

It was a curved knife, had a razor sharp blade. And the Sicarii would wait for a Roman soldier, a Roman politician to be off by himself in a crowd. They'd go up behind him.

They'd take his head, lift it up, take that knife, slit his throat and they'd sliver back through the crowd unnoticed. The Sicarii were the most hated enemies of Rome. They were the ones that the Romans were really deeply concerned about.

They murdered and they terrorized with absolutely no conscience. And the crowd cried out, crucify Jesus, give us Barabbas. All right, point five is Pilate's conscience. Look at verse 12 and 13. Pilate again said to them, then what shall I do with this man you call the king of the Jews? And they cried out again, crucifying. Pilate's conscience has still bothered him.

In his mind and in his ear, he can still hear his wife's words ringing in his ears. Pilate had nothing to do with this just man. I've had a dream about him tonight. And if you do anything to him to harm him, there will be grave consequences. And besides that, the last person that Pilate would have wanted to let loose was a man like Barabbas. That would be like somebody in our society letting loose a man like Jack the Ripper. Now finally, after he's killed all these people, we get him in prison and you're just going to let him loose, go back out on the street.

That's how Pilate was looking at this. So he dresses the crowd again. And he says, you can just hear him, people, what's wrong with you? You're asking me to arrest and execute a innocent man, and then to let a guilty man go free. And yet the crowd gets even louder, crucifying, crucifying, mob mentality. That's what's going on here. Get a mob riled up, common sense goes out the window.

Emotions rule the day. A mob mentality will strike fear into the heart, and fear will often silence the conscience. Proverbs chapter 29 and verse 25, the scripture says, the fear of man is a snare. The word for snare there in the Hebrew means a ring in the nose. Farmers back in that day used to take a ring when a pig was just born and put the ring in that pig's nose. So when the pig got big and was hard to move around, get him to where you wanted him, they would take a stick with a hook in it, and they'd stick it in that ring in his nose and they could pull him anywhere he wanted to go. That pig had no choice but to go where the hook would lead him. Folks fear, the fear of man will sear the conscience. I like point six, whose will? Proverbs 15 verse 14 through 15, and Pilate said to them, why?

What evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, shame. So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scurred Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Luke 23, 25 says that Pilate delivered Jesus over to their will.

And that's true, isn't it? It was their will. That's what they wanted. They wanted Jesus executed. They want Jesus dead. They wanted Jesus out of their life so they wouldn't have to deal with him anymore.

But we must never forget this. First and foremost, this was God the Father's will. Peter spoke of that in the great sermon he preached on in Acts chapter two and verse 23 says this, him being delivered by the determinant counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.

The wicked religious leaders thought that they were calling the shots. But no, this was God's preordained plan before the foundation of the earth. This was like Joseph talking to his brothers and said to his brothers, you meant this for evil, but God meant this for good. Satan meant the cross for evil. God meant the cross for good. This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians chapter two verse nine when he said this, if the princes of this world had known what they were doing, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. Acts 2 23 that I just read, Luke explains the two wheels and I wanted to share what Philip Ryken said and I'll close with this. Peter said to the Jews, you with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross, but he also said this man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge.

This strikes just the right balance. Jesus was put to death by real human beings, an unholy alliance of Jews and Gentiles. Ultimately, this was Satan's idea because he was the one who entered Judas before his betrayal. Nevertheless, it was all part of God's preordained plan.

Isaiah foretold this in his ancient prophecy. It was the will of the Lord to crush him. When the people said crucify him, they were confirming a divine decree as if God himself were saying crucify him. Long before it was the will of the people for Jesus to die on the cross, it was the will of the father and the son for our salvation. That eternal plan does not exonerate these people.

They were still guilty before God for the infinite injustice of murdering his son, but it proves that God knew what he was doing. He always does. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we were reminded today that the fear of man is a snare.

It's like a hook in the nose. When it happens, Satan leads us around like a pig. Oh dear God, give us a love so deep for Jesus that we would fear nothing but God. Father, help us to stand solidly on Paul's words in Romans 8 when he said, for I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And it's in Jesus' precious and holy name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-30 12:31:45 / 2023-04-30 12:43:36 / 12

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