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The People on the Road to the Cross

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 2, 2022 9:00 am

The People on the Road to the Cross

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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February 2, 2022 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. takes us along the road to the cross, where we will meet a handful of different people—each of whom has a different response to Jesus’ sacrifice.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. What if all your life you've been asking the wrong questions? All your life you've been taught to focus on how to get ahead, how to find that perfect marriage partner, how to be happy and healthy and financially secure, but what if the most important reality is not any of those things?

It's who God is. What if you took all of your questions and you just put them aside for a few minutes and you said, Jesus, forget my questions. Who are you?

What do you want? Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Today on the program, Pastor J.D. takes us on a journey down the road to the cross where we will meet a handful of different people along the way, each of whom has a different response to Jesus' sacrifice. Luke doesn't just record their stories because these people were there. He records their stories because in them we see ourselves. You see, their stories are our stories and they prompt the inevitable question, how will you respond to Jesus? Now, if you missed any part of this study that we began a few weeks ago called In Step, remember you can always catch up online at But right now, let's meet these people on the road to the cross.

Here's Pastor J.D. Well, Luke chapter 23, if you have your Bible this morning, and I hope that you have your Bible. Luke 23, if you've ever driven along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you might have seen a little sign that just says Eastern Continental Divide. It is the divide that marks the eastward and the westward slopes of our continent. Everything on the eastern side of the divide flows down into the Atlantic, the eastern seaboard toward us.

Everything on the western side of that divide flows toward the Gulf of Mexico. And that means that two little raindrop friends that are falling together casually from the sky, just chatting it up, the very best of friends on the way down, they land one centimeter apart on opposite sides of that divide and they end up on opposite sides of the planet. I share that because Luke 23 is the dividing line of eternity. In Luke 23, we're going to meet several people, individuals or groups of people whose different responses to the cross literally divide them for eternity. How they handle the events of Luke 23 is going to separate them. Luke records their stories for us.

I want to show you this. Not just because they were part of the historical record and not just because they help us understand what was taking place in Jesus's life here, but Luke records their stories because their stories are emblematic of how people in all places, at all times, in all cultures respond to Jesus. In fact, I'm going to tell you that if you listen closely this morning, if you listen closely, you're going to see yourself in one of these groups.

I'm going to take the first five of them today and then we're going to cover two more next week. I want you to think about your life in light of these stories. Which of these individuals, which of these groups best depicts how you respond to Jesus, how you have responded, how you are responding? Because just like those two raindrops I told you about, we got two people who exist side by side in this life.

Maybe you share the same cubicle, maybe you're part of the same family, maybe you're even part of the same small group, or maybe you're even sitting next to each other in church this morning and you're going to end up eternities apart because of which side of these events that you are on. Here we go, Luke chapter 23 verse 1, and their whole assembly rose up and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him and to say, we found this man misleading our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar and saying that he himself is the Messiah, he is the king. And so Pilate asked him, are you really the king of the Jews? Person of interest number one, if you're taking notes, is Pilate. We're going to call Pilate the preoccupied. Pilate the preoccupied. Pilate is too preoccupied with other matters to give serious consideration to who Jesus actually is.

In asking the question, are you the king of the Jews? You see, Pilate's concern is not whether or not Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah. His concern is not whether Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecies and if he's brought salvation. His concern is whether or not Jesus is a political threat to him and to Caesar. And so his question in verse three is a response to what the Jewish leaders say in verse two.

Did you catch that? In verse two, they were like, hey, Pilate, you know, Jesus, what he's trying to do, he's trying to pull people away from your and Caesar's political program and trying to get people engaged in his own. And so Jesus in response gives Pilate a deliberately evasive answer. In verse three, he says simply, you say so, you say so. Now, what exactly does that mean? Literally in Greek, it's just two words. You say, you say. Some translations like the NIV, if you have an NIV Bible in front of you, they will interpret those two words positively as if Jesus was saying, it is as you say, right?

Jesus is this true? It is as you say, that's positive. Others are going to interpret it negatively. Well, that's what you say as if he's giving a negative answer. So which is it? Is it positive response or is it a negative response? And the answer is neither.

It is deliberately slippery. Why? Because Jesus is in essence saying wrong question. He had not come for earthly political reasons one way or the other. And so to answer Pilate's question would be to concede that the question had merit. I think about it this way. If I were to ask you, have you stopped kicking your cat? Answering either yes or no implies that you have been kicking your cat.

But if you do not own a cat because you don't like to have things in your house that reminds you of the devil, then you will not give to me a direct answer because the question has no relevance for you. And so by answering this way, Jesus was saying, Pilate, you're asking the wrong question. Well, see, that's going to lead to a lengthy back and forth, which concludes with Pilate saying, verse four, I find no grounds for charging this man. A statement that he's going to repeat three different times in this chapter. He's going to say it again in verse 14. He'll repeat it again in verse 15 and then a final time in verse 22. And so from those four repetitions, you can conclude that Pilate is absolutely convinced of Jesus's innocence. And yet, and yet in verse 23, he's going to consent to Jesus's execution anyway. Why?

Why? It is because Pilate is more concerned with appeasing the crowd than he is doing right by Jesus. You see, historians tell us that by this point in Pilate's career, Pilate was on pretty thin ice. Jerusalem had undergone several riots under his watch. And so Caesar had told him, Pilate, one more blow up, right?

One more revolt and you're finished. In fact, we know, we know that Pilate just a few years after this incident is going to lose his position because he mishandles another disturbance in Samaria. And as punishment, and as punishment, Caesar is going to banish him to Gaul, where according to Eusebius, he commits suicide. The point is that Pilate is so preoccupied with keeping his job that he just doesn't have time to consider a question like, is Jesus actually who he says he is? Or what is he teaching about God?

And is it true? Pilate just wants to know if Jesus can help or hurt him politically. To him, that's all that really matters about Jesus. In fact, in John, the gospel of John's account of this trial, there's a particularly revealing moment. John 18, when Jesus tells Pilate that he was sent here to testify to the truth about God, Pilate shrugs his shoulders and says, what is truth?

What is truth? In other words, I don't have time to think about that. I got a province to run. I got political pressures you would not believe. I don't have the luxury to think about these kinds of questions. They're just not that relevant to me. That's why I call him Pilate the preoccupied. Pilate is not so much a rejection of Jesus as it is indifference to Jesus.

Friend, listen to this. Distraction sends far more people to hell than disbelief ever did. Distraction sends far more people to hell, especially in a place like ours, than disbelief ever has. Pilate represents the person who is too distracted by their circumstances, too engulfed in the cares of this life to really consider what Jesus is claiming and then to make a bold decision on him one way or the other.

You see, their whole lives, they've been laser focused on how to get the right career, how to get married, how to have a happy family, how to make these kids turn out right, how to be wealthy and financially secure. And so this morning, when you come to think about Jesus, you're like, can Jesus help me in these things or not? Like Pilate, you're asking the wrong question about Jesus. You're saying, Jesus, can you fix my family? Jesus, can you give me a happy life? Can you provide me with a husband and with kids?

Can you give me fulfillment in my career? And Jesus says, you say, you say, he's not saying he can't, just like he wouldn't tell him, Pilate, that he'd never be King of the Jews. He's saying wrong question right now. What if Jesus was here to testify to reality that was so important that all those other questions that you've been obsessed with all your life paled in comparison to that reality? What if all your life you've been asking the wrong questions? All your life you've been taught to focus on how to get ahead, how to find that perfect marriage partner, how to be happy and healthy and financially secure. But what if the most important reality is not any of those things? It's who God is. And if you know him, and if you are prepared to meet him, and if you are living out his plan, what if you took all of your questions and you just put them aside for a few minutes and you said, Jesus, forget my questions. Who are you? What do you want? The preoccupied.

Is that you this weekend? Again, distraction sends far more people to hell than disbelief ever did. Let's keep reading because we're about to meet person of interest number two. Verse five, but they kept insisting he stirs up the people teaching throughout all Judea from Galilee where he started even to here. Now real quick, by bringing up Galilee, the religious leaders think they're being shrewd. A stroke of political genius they presume. Galilee you see was a hotbed of dissension.

Think Ferguson or the south side of LA. By bringing up Galilee, they're hoping Pilate's going to respond with panic, but it backfires. Verse six, when Pilate heard this, he asked if the man was a Galilean. Finding that the matter was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days.

Pilate was like, oh Galilee, that's not even under my jurisdiction. This is my lucky day. That's Herod. Do you understand? I've got to recuse myself.

It's not my problem. Let's send you to Herod and let him deal with you. You see, Herod was the Jewish puppet king that Rome had placed over the rural parts of Israel. And he's person of interest number two, Herod. We're going to call him the superficial.

The superficial. Verse eight, Herod was very glad. Herod was very glad to see Jesus because for a long time he had wanted to see him because he'd heard about him and was hoping to see some miracle performed by him.

So he kept asking him questions that Jesus did not answer him. Now this Herod is an interesting guy who has a long history in the New Testament. And a lot of people get him confused because there's more than one person in your Bible named Herod. This is Herod Antipas, or think of him as Herod number two. He's the son of Herod the Great, Herod number one. The Herod number one, Herod the Great was the Herod that had had all the babies younger than two years old killed when Jesus was born. Herod Antipas, his son, was the Herod that was confronted by John the Baptist for having an affair with his brother's wife. If you remember that story, his brother's wife, Herodias was her name, had been so offended by being called out in her sin that she demanded John the Baptist's head on a platter and Herod Antipas complied. Well Matthew, the Gospel writer Matthew tells us, Matthew 14, that Herod had been guilt ridden over this, so guilt ridden that he thought that John the Baptist just might be, I mean, excuse me, he thought Jesus just might be John the Baptist raised from the dead, come back to haunt him. Here in this chapter we find Herod curious about Jesus. He wants to see Jesus do some magic trick, essentially, to show off his power, but here's the key, he doesn't want to press in too much to who Jesus is because that would require reckoning with his messy and painful history and so he keeps Jesus at arm's length. He dabbles in Jesus, he is curious about Jesus, but only on a superficial level. You say superficial, that sounds like an SAT word. You're like, how do you know if you're superficial or just a little official, like regular official, normal official.

Superficial just means shallow in case you're, you know, whatever you don't know the word, but Herod represents the person today that comes to church but never really gets serious about Jesus because getting serious about Jesus would just cost way too much. You feel like to really deal with the mess that you've made out of your life, to really come clean with Jesus and to acknowledge the wrongs that you've done, to seek restitution, to really repent, would just be way too embarrassing, way too costly, way too messy. In fact, maybe just like Herod here, you feel like your sin has painted you into a corner.

Here's like, look, I had an affair and then I murdered an innocent man to cover it up. There's no going back now. Maybe you're sitting there thinking, pastor, I got mistakes, built upon mistakes and lies that are covering lies and there's just no way I can come clean now. Listen, I got good news for you this morning.

It's hard news, but it's good news. The good news, Jesus can forgive every sin. He can break every chain through the power of the resurrection.

He can reverse every curse. Do you hear, do you hear King David testifying from the old Testament? Herod, Herod, I did the same thing.

I did the same thing. I had an affair and then I killed a man to cover it up and God forgave me and he cleansed me. He washed me, he washed me, Psalm 51, with hyssop and made me white as snow. He restored to me the joy of my salvation and he reestablished me on my throne.

Herod, he can do this for you also. You know, one of my favorite old Testament verses is from the book of Joel, where God says to Israel, after God had sent swarms of locusts into Israel to punish Israel for their persistent sin. And Joel said, God says through Joel, Joel 225, I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts have eaten. The locusts had destroyed their crops and devastated their country economically. But God said to them, if you repent, not only, not only can I make the locusts stop, I can actually restore to you the years of crops and those years of wasted harvest that those locusts destroyed.

Friend, let that sink in for a minute. You may think that your sins have so destroyed and so disqualified your life that there's no returning, but you're wrong. This is the God who resurrects the dead. This is the God who spoke into a dark chaotic mess in the world and created the land and the continents and the skies and the seas. The seas, he's the God who calms the storms and stills the seas, who God who says behold, I may call things new. The God who says call unto me and I will answer you and I will show you great and mighty things that you don't know yet. The God who says come now and let us reason together says the Lord that your sins are like scarlet.

I'll make them as white as snow. Friend, you can never overestimate his power to forgive. You can never overestimate his willingness to forgive.

You can never overestimate his power to heal and to restore. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who will receive it regardless of the circumstances and the mess that they bring into the situation. The point is not what kind of sinner you are. The point is how powerful the savior he is and that's the good news.

The hard news is that to get that you got to come to him on his terms and that's the place where it breaks down for many of you. It's there. Power is there. Power to forgive, power to heal, power to restore, but to come to him on his terms means honesty, transparency, humility, surrender, real repentance, surrender.

No more games. I'm telling you there is more grace and love and power waiting on you than you could ever imagine, but it is only available to those who come into the light and surrender. Listen, I beg you, I beg you, some of you are being tempted right now to just retreat farther and farther into sin. It was a Herod-like curiosity that brought you here. It is a superficial interest into Jesus and now you're being tempted to just keep hiding, to let shame keep you in the shadows.

Don't do it. There is grace for you. If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and able to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Listen, I know that road to repentance.

I know the humility that is required to open yourself up and admit mistakes and come clean. I know it may seem difficult, but I'm telling you, the path of hiding is even more difficult. And let me warn you, continuing on in sin deadens you. It's like a dark cloud that chokes out your spiritual life. The Bible talks about your conscience, how it can become hardened, calloused, seared through unconfessed sins. You just say no to the Holy Spirit so many times that you start to lose the capacity even to feel conviction of sin anymore. My mom, my mom used to always tell me, son, whatever you do, do not deaden your conscience. Do not sear your conscience. If you sear your conscience, you're going to lose your capacity even to hear God.

Secret sins, unconfessed sins, they corrupt you and they deaden you. What beautiful advice. Don't let that happen to you today. Today, you're listening to me.

That means there's still a glimmer of hope. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit yet again. Don't silence him. Listen, you may never have another chance like the one I'm giving you today. In your arrogance, you think, well, there'll always be tomorrow.

And I'm telling you, that's not true. You may never have another chance like the moment I'm about to give you. Right now, you're sitting here thinking, I feel like he's talking right to me. I am. If you're thinking that, that is 100% correct.

It's not me. In fact, the Holy Spirit is talking to you. No matter where you are, he opens his arms to you and tells you to come home right now. He can rebuild what sin has destroyed. He can restore the years for you that the locust have eaten. Come to him. That right now, right now, I believe, I really do, that the Holy Spirit is arresting some of you right at this very moment.

Look back up here at me, if you would. Look how Herod's story ends. Verse 11. Then Herod, with his soldiers, treated Jesus with contempt, mocked him, dressed him in bright clothing, and sent him back to Pilate. That very moment in that very day, Herod and Pilate became friends.

Previously, you see, they'd been enemies. When Jesus would not satisfy Pilate's curiosity, I mean, it should be Herod's curiosity, which Jesus never will, by the way, for those who aren't seriously seeking him, Herod's interest, you catch this, turns into mockery. That is where this refusal to come clean always ends. If you are not seriously seeking Jesus, if you have unconfessed sin, you will find, I don't care how much you know about the Bible, you will find that you begin to mock those who do seek Jesus sincerely. It is your guilty conscience that is fueling that mockery.

You better be careful. Galatians says, do not be deceived. God will not be mocked. If you do not deal with your sin, that's going to lead you to the most extreme hostility toward Jesus. That's why verse 12 says, on that day, Herod actually became best friends with Pilate. Previously, they'd been enemies.

Now they're friends. Deadening the voice of your conscience ends up making you friends with Jesus' worst enemies. It leads you to a place you do not want to go. And I'm just saying, don't do it.

Don't do it. Have you been thinking about your life in light of these stories? Which one so far best depicts how you've responded to Jesus? You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. Today's message is titled The People on the Road to the Cross, and tomorrow we'll be introduced to a couple more of these people. If you missed any of our previous teaching, or if you want to study the transcripts, you can find them free of charge at While you're on the website, you can find a whole host of resources, including a weekly podcast called Ask Me Anything. J.D., can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yeah. This has been a great new resource. I've wanted to do it for a long time. And just the way God wired me, thinking about trying to give short answers to really difficult questions. Some of these I get asked on college campuses. Some of them I get asked at coffee shops. Sometimes they come in the form of email. Sometimes it's one of my kids that are asking me these questions.

And just over, I guess, a lifetime trying to figure out how to take complex biblical answers or what we call apologetic answers for the Christian faith and to put them in bite-sized chunks and to put the cookies on the bottom shelf, so to speak. So we started this podcast a while ago, and it's really seemed to connect with people. I think you'll find quite an array of answers there.

I think that could be helpful. A lot of times listeners will tell us they'll listen to one and pass it on to somebody that they knew asked that question. Dad was telling me the other day, I answered a question about like, hey, how should Christians think about dating? And he said, man, it was so helpful. I passed it on to my 15-year-old daughter and just said, hey, here's a short, mercifully short eight to 10-minute answer on the biblical essentials of dating. So that and a lot of others, if you'll go to our website,, or just go to your favorite podcasting app and you can find it there called Ask Me Anything with J.D.

Greer. If it helps you, leave us a rating there in the app or share it with somebody else or reach out to us here at Or if you have your own question, just submit it to us because it might make something other people enjoy hearing an answer to as well. In roughly 10 to 12 minutes, Pastor J.D. tackles some sticky questions from listeners like you, such as, is it okay to get divorced?

Or if a child wanders from the faith, is it the parent's fault? Check it out at And while you're checking out the site, you can also preview our latest resource. One of our goals is to equip everyone who listens to Summit Life to be disciple-making disciples. And developing healthy spiritual disciplines is an important part of that.

It's important to know that the discipline itself doesn't necessarily make you more spiritual, but the change that these disciplines bring to our life can certainly draw us nearer to Christ. So we've created a pack of 50 memory verse cards for you to carry or display throughout this next year, helping you to remember God's promises, memorize them, and recall them along your spiritual journey of faith. We'd love to get you a set of these cards today, and they come with our thanks when you donate to support this program. Give today and remember to ask for your set of the Rejoice Always scripture memory cards. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can donate and request the set online at I'm Molly Vidovitch, inviting you to join us again Thursday when Pastor J.D. introduces us to more people along the road to the cross. Listen Thursday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-13 19:30:21 / 2023-06-13 19:40:52 / 11

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