Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. When you face a dilemma, listen to the quiet voice of integrity, not the shout of the majority. The majority is seldom right. Do not take your cues from the majority. Think biblically and theologically.
Stay with that. That will help you build a life of integrity. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll replays this epic scene portrayed in Matthew's Gospel. This first century courtroom demands from every member of the jury a personal verdict. Chuck titled today's message, The Strangest of Foursomes, and we begin with prayer. We confess to you, our Father, we have never seen a scene like this. We have never witnessed a crucifixion.
We have never even known of anyone who has gone through such mistreatment, such brutality, such illegalities back to back, hour after hour, and then put to death, though absolutely innocent. But here we find your Son, our Savior, the object of your affection and love, the one who has borne our sin in his own body on the tree, put to death on our behalf. Thank you that you so loved this world, that you gave your one and only Son, that whoever would believe in him would never perish but have eternal life. As we witness all that he withstood, give us an even deeper appreciation and respect for what he withstood on our behalf, how grateful we are for him, how grateful. These things we pray and these gifts we give in the name of Christ, who because of his grace bore it all for us. And everyone said, Amen. Welcome to Matthew with Chuck Swindoll.
Be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. We're in Matthew chapter 27. Chuck titled his message, The Strangest of Foursomes. It was the governor's custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd, anyone they wanted. We read in this text, this year there was a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. Barabbas would be given name. His first name, believe it or not, quite likely was Jesus. 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? Notice the identification. He amplifies Jesus by adding the one who is called the Messiah.
Doesn't do it just once. Look at verse 22. Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah? There is one Jesus who is known as Barabbas, there's another called Christ. One is Barabbas, the other one is Messiah.
Which do you want released? It's as if he's distinguishing one from the other. Though this is speculation, nothing revealed here in Holy Scripture, but it's worth the thought.
Let me go further and get a little more dramatic. We said Barabbas is probably being held in the fortress of Antonia. When you get a map and you need one for the city of Jerusalem, you can locate the fortress of Antonia and also notice where Pilate did his work on the pavement as it is called. Far enough away for Barabbas not to be able to hear the thin voice of one man, namely Pilate, and yet he could easily hear the roar of a crowd. Just as you can a half mile away from a stadium hear the roar of a crowd at a football game.
You can even make out what they're yelling if they're chanting or yelling in unison with one another. Barabbas is there, alone, in chains, awaiting his cross. Pilate is here with Jesus of Nazareth on trial.
Now look at the text and imagine the scene. Pilate is talking now not to Jesus, but the crowd, and he says to the crowd, verse 21, Which of these two do you want me to release to you? Barabbas could not hear that in the fortress of Antonia. He's too far away. It's only one voice. But now observe the crowd shouted back, Barabbas.
Help me out here. Shout the name Barabbas. Here we go. He would hear that. You can do better than that, by the way.
I'll surprise you. Do it again. Here we go. That's what he would hear. So he's in the cell and he hears his name.
Keep reading. So Pilate responded. Then what should I do with Jesus? Call the Messiah, which Barabbas would not hear.
And notice the crowd shouted back. Here we go again. Crucify him. Once again.
Why? Pilate demanded. What crime is he committed? Barabbas wouldn't hear that. That was said by one man to the crowd.
But the mob roared even louder. Here we go. Once again. Crucify him. He hears Barabbas. Crucify him. Crucify him.
And then I notice a little later it appears again. Pilate saw verse 24. He wasn't getting anywhere with the riot. And so he says to the people, I'm innocent of the man's blood. And all the people yelled back, we will take responsibility for his death.
So we heard that as well. So as if crucify him isn't enough, he hears the crowd saying we'll take responsibility for his death. I'm telling you, he's nervous as a witch in church sitting over here in the temple of Antonia, listening to his name, listening to the screams, knowing he's next. By the way, we know the end of the story because we've read it. When those Roman soldiers are marching there toward the fortress of Antonia, can you imagine Barabbas hearing the cell door open, seeing them grab him from his cell, drag him out, knowing that he's headed for the cross. And by the way, for whatever it's worth, I'm convinced Jesus died on a cross prepared for Barabbas.
No one ever could say, like Barabbas, he died in my place, as Barabbas could see it. So Barabbas comes out of his cell a free man. Where does he go? He doesn't run to the hills. He's free. He's nothing to be afraid of. He's pardoned.
I think he stayed. I think he watched the flogging and the nailing and the crucifying of the one who took his place, literally, on his cross. But there's something more here. Go back to the earlier passage, verse 18, where we just read that he knew very well the religious leaders had brought Jesus to him out of envy. So Pilate is now sitting with this dilemma. Do I please this mob who are yelling only out of prejudice and because they're being pushed in that direction by their leaders?
Or do I obey what I know to be true, and that is that he is innocent and I stand against the crowd? While he's sitting there, verse 19 reads, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, there's the word bema. Same word, by the way, as we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
The word is in the Greek, bema. His wife sent him this message. This is such an unusual intrusion. In the middle of this criminal case, with a man's life hanging in the balance, Pilate gets a tap on the shoulder and is handed a note. He knows the handwriting and he looks closely at this note. I wish I could read it to you as it appears in the original language.
It's fascinating. I can tell you this, the very first word is not have nothing to do with this man. It is the word nothing is placed in the front of the sentence to emphasize it. She wanted him to take hands off. Don't touch this.
Do whatever you have to do, but move him out of your court. Don't be responsible for this innocent man. Why would she say that? Well, she tells him, I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night. And that's all we know. Now, you won't be surprised to hear that all kinds of speculation has been recorded regarding this nightmare. We don't know. One source even says that God gave her this dream. We don't know that. But we know that it appealed to Pilate's superstition.
And those led by dreams are superstitious people. And he's troubled by what troubles her. A.T. Robertson, who's a Baptist scholar who taught at Southern Seminary in Louisville for years, wrote a very thick grammar on the New Testament. But what I find helpful from his pen is the word pictures of the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation.
Wonderful work and often rendering many things as are as appear in the original. A.T. Robertson writes this of this note. Poor Pilate was getting more entangled every moment as he hesitated to set Jesus free, whom he knew to be free of any crime against Caesar. His wife sent a message about her dream concerning Jesus. She calls Jesus that righteous man and her psychical sufferings increased Pilate's superstitious fears. It's a great statement. Her psychical sufferings increased Pilate's superstitious fears.
It was enough to unnerve the weak Pilate as he sat on the judgment seat. Let me pause and interject. Those of us who were married sometime here, our mates tell of of a nightmare they've had. And some of them, which aren't nightmares, they're just dreams. Some of them are hilarious and some of them are fantastic. Some of them are really weird, really. Cindy and I decided years ago to stop telling each other what we have dreamed, because it would always cause the other one to go, I wonder what that means.
I wonder what that's about, as if we would ever be led by a dream, which we're not. But here in this case is a wife who says to her husband, I won't tell you the details. I'll only say he's a righteous man.
Hands off. Have nothing to do with it. So now Pilate not only has the mob yelling against Jesus, not only has his own depraved conscience to deal with.
Now he has a note from his wife saying, don't go there. Don't have anything to do with condemning this man. He's innocent. Look at how Pilate handles it.
And this is classic, classic depravity. In the moment when he could have stood fast. And I'm sure letting him go would create a revolution and he's done for politically, which he couldn't stand. But in the moment when he could have taken a stand, he refuses.
There's an old saying that is neutrality that curses one in the hour of decision. This is his hour of decision. His next sentence is worth it all. And he waffles.
In fact, he brings in a bowl of water. And he washes his hands and says to them, I'm innocent of the man's blood. The responsibility is yours. No, it isn't. No matter what you say, Pilate, it's yours. Oh, it's theirs indirectly, of course, but you are the one in the moment of decision.
Man up. But he doesn't. All the people yell back, we'll take responsibility, and so will our children. So Pilate releases Barabbas to them and orders Jesus to be flogged. And turns him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. What a foursome, brought together in a relatively brief period of time, playing such a significant role in the trials and ultimately the decision related to Jesus' death.
I could end it all right here and say we finished and we'll all go home, but I don't want to do that. That doesn't serve anyone well. I think there are lessons to learn from each of these four in the foursome.
Please listen to them. We learned from Jesus in this scene. When you know you were right, stand firm with few words and do not waver.
I had a man stop me following the first morning's service and without getting into the details. He is under intense pressure at the place where he works because he has decided to stand for what is right. And he's surrounded by a group of politically correct people in leadership who are determined to please politically correct thinking people around them. And he has become a marked man. And he said, choking back the tears, it is a very lonely place to be.
His wife standing by him with her baby in the little baby carriage. And I looked into their eyes and I could see the pain of standing alone when you know you are right and being hated by those who want to do what is wrong. Men and women don't care how many hours of church services you sit through, or how many sermons you hear, or the books you read, or how many times you've read through the scriptures. You will come to moments in your life when you must stand for what is right. Stand firm. Don't waffle.
Few words. Don't waver. I learned that from the model of Jesus. Second from Pilate, hear this, when you face a dilemma, listen to the quiet voice of integrity, not the shout of the majority. The majority is seldom right. Do not take your cues from the majority.
Think biblically and theologically and stay with that. That will help you build a life of integrity. Your popularity will not grow, but your reputation will be respected by those who love to witness a model of someone with that kind of courage. Pilate lacked it.
When you face a dilemma, listen to the quiet voice of integrity, not the shout of the majority. Now, Barabbas, when you got what you did not deserve, call it grace, not luck. It was a sad day when the word luck entered into our English language.
There is no such thing. Your life is not guided by luck, good or bad. We have a sovereign God who watches over our lives. What occurs in our lives is not the result of bad luck.
It's the result of God's sovereign hand at work to teach us through pain and through pleasure what he would have us know and learn. Barabbas got what he did not deserve. No man at that era in all of that time in which people live could have stood on the grace of God more firmly than Barabbas.
He literally saw a man on his cross. Fourth, Mrs. Pilate. What on earth do we learn from her? When you sound a warning, base it on seasoned wisdom, not on superstitious dreams. If it follows your lot to warn someone of some impending situation they need to be warned about, don't base it on dreams.
It's not because you had a dream that makes the warning significant. Base it on seasoned wisdom. How great it would have been if Pilate and his wife both had stood for what was right.
That would have been a first, but he failed there as well. By the way, where are you in this? What is your verdict? Let's bow our heads together. Please sit quietly before the Lord. The Lord Jesus went through all of this for you. He died that you might live. He bore the brunt of sin that you wouldn't have to. He took your cross.
The one you and I deserved, he took it for us. And the one man in all of time who did not deserve any cross bore our crosses. And as a result, by trusting in him, we can know a life that we would never otherwise become acquainted with.
What a disappointment it would be for you to simply hear the story of a scene out of the Bible and leave it at that without responding to it. If you've never trusted in the Lord Jesus, I plead with you not to let this day pass until you do. He who has the Son has the life.
He who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. This invitation is extended to all who've never trusted in Christ that you trust in him now. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, rescued, delivered from your sins.
Believe on him now. Thank you, Father, for ministering to us in this emotional scene. Thank you for giving us your Son and for his blessed life graciously and even here in this scene silently standing for what is right. Teach us through all of this, our Father, to model that kind of integrity even in a world that we'll never understand. Dismiss us with the reminder, Father, that every day could be our last. Therefore, we entrust ourselves to you by faith, to your Son Jesus. In his name we pray, everyone say, amen. Amen.
The verdict is out and the decision is yours. This is Insight for Living with your Bible teacher, pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. He titled today's study in Matthew 27 the strangest of foursomes. And to learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, it's possible that you're listening to this program alone in your car, alone at home, or perhaps you're listening to the podcast by yourself with headphones.
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That's 1-800-772-8888. Remember, when you give, you're the one God is using to amplify the message of Insight for Living. We truly couldn't do this work without friends like you who give. So thank you very much for your generous support. Once again, you'll find us at Insight.org. Join us when Chuck Swindoll presents a sobering message about the final hours of Jesus' life, Friday 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.
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