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Jesus Before Pilate

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
June 27, 2022 10:49 am

Jesus Before Pilate

The Verdict / John Munro

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June 27, 2022 10:49 am

Dr. John H. Munro June 26, 2022 Matthew 27:1-26

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In our study of Matthew, we have considered the Jewish trial. A few weeks ago, we witnessed the glaring injustice of it all, the blatant bias of the judges, the Roman judges. We heard the contradictory witnesses. We observed the illegal evidence and procedures, and we stood amazed at the decision of the Sanhedrin.

What was their decision? He deserves death. The Messiah deserves death. Now, because the Jewish court doesn't have the authority to put the Lord Jesus to death, they quickly remit the case to a man called Pontius Pilate.

He is the Roman procurator. And as we see our magnificent Lord before the Jewish judges, before Pontius Pilate, Matthew doesn't record it, but he also appeared before Herod. We are reminded of the fulfillment of Psalm 2, about how the nations rage against the Lord's Messiah. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers of the earth take counsel against the Lord and His anointed.

Here are the rulers of the world, the then known world, taking counsel against the Lord and His anointed. Today, I want you to see, now yourself first of all, I want you to see our magnificent Lord Jesus. He's the Messiah. He's the Son of God. He's the Savior of the world. And as we see Him, as we'll read in a minute, we see that He is bound.

The very creatures that He has made take Him and they bind Him. And He's standing today before a judge, a Gentile judge, a Roman judge, Pontius Pilate. And of course, as we read the text, we very quickly realize it's not so much Jesus who's on trial as it is Pilate.

Pilate is going to give the most important verdict of his life. What is he going to do with Jesus the Christ? What do you do with Jesus the Christ? Let's open our Bibles to Matthew chapter 27. Matthew is writing in the first century to persecuted Christians, people who are followers of Jesus. What can they learn about Jesus?

What can we learn about Him? Listen to Matthew as he records this, in Matthew 27 verse 1. He stood before the Sanhedrin now, chapter 26, now chapter 27 verse 1, when morning came, all of the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.

That's their verdict, death. And they bound Him and led Him away and delivered Him over to Pilate, the governor. Now look down to verse 11. We thought previously of Judas in this section from verse 3 through 10. So now verse 11. Jesus stood before the governor and the governor asked him, are you the king of the Jews?

Jesus said, you've said so. And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, do you not hear how many things they testify against you?

But he gave them no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now at the feast, the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas or Jesus who's called Christ.

For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered Him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream. Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

You see how the religious people are working behind the scenes like some kind of terrible and scrupulous politician, whipping up the crowd. Verse 21, the governor again said to them, which of the two do you want me to release for you? And they said, Barabbas. Pilate said to them, then what shall I do with Jesus who's called Christ? They all said, let him be crucified. And he said, why?

What evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, let him be crucified. So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd saying, I'm innocent of this man's blood.

See to it yourselves. And all the people answered, his blood be on us and on our children. Verse 26, then he released for them Barabbas and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. What amazing verses. Jesus before Pilate. I want to say, as we think of Matthew's writing, that Matthew is saying that Jesus Christ demands allegiance from his followers.

I want you to understand that. Jesus Christ demands allegiance for his, from his followers. Now as we come to this passage, we see our Lord Jesus, who Isaiah had said was a man of sorrows. And here he is suffering.

Do you see him? The sinless Christ is falsely accused and he makes no answer to the many false charges against him. He only makes one reply, recorded in verse 11, which is the last recorded words in Matthew, which our Lord says prior to the crucifixion, he confirms that he is king of the Jews. You have said so, verse 11. So here is our Lord before Pilate. And Pilate understands that the Sanhedrin's charge of blasphemy is irrelevant to him. That's some internal religious dispute among the Jews. The Roman governor, he's not concerned with these minor issues of blasphemy, but he is concerned if there is a political charge against the prisoner.

If this man, Jesus, is claiming to be the king, the king of the Jews, that does get his attention. Pilate is a military man. He's the governor of Israel from 26 to 36 AD. He's in charge of the Roman army. He's responsible for public order. He's responsible for the collecting of taxes, for maintaining the Roman occupation. He's the supreme judge in matters relating to Rome. And Roman law was a very sophisticated system of jurisprudence. The Romans prided themselves on fair laws, on justice, and so Pilate is incumbent on him. He is the supreme judge. Literally, he can condemn a man to death or free him. He's got great power.

And it seems, at least initially, he takes this very seriously as he should. Normally, Pilate resides in Caesarea by the sea, by the coast, a little cooler there. That's where he has his headquarters. But today, he's in Jerusalem. It's the time of the Passover, and the time of the Passover there's always some kind of skirmishes, and so he wants to be right there.

He has the sole authority to order a criminal's execution. And the claim by this man Jesus to be the king of the Jews was potentially treasonable. Of course, in their midst stands not only the one who's the king of the Jews, but the king of kings and Lord of lords. Did you notice as I read in verse 18 that Pilate knew it was out of envy? That's the Jews. It was out of envy that they had delivered him.

They had no just charge against him. They were envious of his miracles, of his teaching, because he taught not like the authority, but not like the scribes and Pharisees. He taught with authority.

This is the one who could walk on water. This is the one that the crowds loved to hear. And so it was out of envy that they delivered Jesus to Pilate. And he pronounces, I find no guilt in him.

John makes that very clear in John 18, verse 38. Now here's a judge. He's got a man in front of him, and he pronounces, I find no guilt in him. But in spite of that finding, he's condemned to death. He's lashed. He's ridiculed. Verse 26, he's delivered to be crucified.

What kind of justice is this? And Pilate faces the most important question of his life. And this is our most important question. What then shall I do with Jesus who's called the Christ? Matthew's answer to that in the writing of his gospel is, this one demands absolute allegiance. Here is the most profound penetrating question.

All of life, all of eternity, your life, how you live your life, where you will spend eternity depends on your personal response to this question, what will I do with Jesus who's called the Christ? Because our Lord Jesus demands a personal verdict. Did you notice how Pilate tries to get out of making a judgment? He doesn't want to pass a verdict. There are judges like this. They never want to come to a decision. They can't decide. They want to remit the case.

They want to get rid of it, dismiss it, delay it, do anything but make a decision. Pilate is one of these kind of judges. He's already said, I find no guilt in him. Well, the case is over, Pilate. The prisoner's got to be released. Pilate receives the right answers to his questions, doesn't he? But he makes the wrong verdict. The issue at the trial is the innocence or guilt of Jesus. Pilate, the judge, is certain of the innocence of Jesus. He asks, verse 23, what evil has he done? He's giving another opportunity for people to present the case against Jesus.

What evil has he done? In Luke 23, in the parallel accounts several times, Pilate says, I find no guilt in this man. Now, we have to say, it's obvious that Pilate wants to do the right thing. He wants to release Jesus. He's Roman. He's got a sense of justice. He understands the law. You don't send a man to be crucified if he's done nothing wrong. And he thinks, now I've got a way out. There's the custom at the Passover that the crowd decide which prisoner is going to be released.

This is their custom. And so Pilate, in order to avoid making the decision himself, thinks here is my way out. I'm going to give the crowd a choice. They have the right to demand the release of one prisoner at Passover. There is this man Barabbas. Everyone knows him. He's a notorious man. We would call him a terrorist. He's a murderer.

He's a nasty man. And it's obvious to everyone what kind of person he is. On the other hand, here is Jesus, the one who took the children in his arms, the one who healed the leper, the one who taught about the love of God.

These are totally different. One is totally innocent. I find no guilt in him.

The other one is obviously guilty. He's Barabbas. And so, the crowd will obviously choose Jesus, who would want a terrorist released. But he can't get out of it.

The crowd, to surprise. And you can see his wife is telling him, listen, there's something different about this man. I've had this terrible dream about him. And he releases Barabbas.

Reaches the right questions, receives the right answers, makes the wrong decision. And even after he pronounces his innocence, he lashes him or arranges for Jesus to be lashed and sent for crucifixion. Think of the lashing. The prisoner is tied to a post and a cruel whip, producing, consisting of leather, pieces of bone, and lead, and metal put into the leather. And the strong soldier then comes and looks at the bare back of the prisoner.

And lash upon lash upon lash. But Pilate, you're a Roman. You've said he's innocent and you're allowing him to be lashed. But Pilate doesn't know he's fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy. Our Lord bears the cruel scourge in meek and lowly grace.

Do you see your Savior? They put a crown of thorns on his head. And even in that, he is submissive. They spit at him.

They ridicule him. They tie him up. And then they deliver him to be crucified. Now death by crucifixion was not for Roman citizens.

It was for common criminals. And while Pilate wanted to dispense justice, he wanted to do the right thing. When it came to it, he had higher priorities. He had higher priorities than personal integrity and fairness and truth and justice. When it came right down to it, Pilate, you are a moral coward. You're playing to the crowd like a petty politician. And when it comes to it, you're more concerned with your career.

You're more concerned with holding on to your considerable power rather than doing the right thing. John records, John 19 verse 12, from then on Pilate sought to release him. He wanted to release him. But the Jews cried out.

Can you hear the cynical cry? Pilate is vacillating. He's looking for a way out. And then someone says, if you release this man, you're not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.

Oh, there's one. And Pilate thinks, yes, yes. He's on the horns of a dilemma. If he orders Jesus to be released, the Jewish authorities are going to be angry. He had already would know from the local history that he'd already offended the Jews.

He didn't want to risk that happening again. Also, if he didn't put Jesus to death, the Roman emperor might be insulted. After all, here's a man claiming to be a king in the emperor's territory and you, Pilate, have released him. On the other hand, if he allows him to be crucified, he's consenting to the death of an innocent man. He's sending an innocent man to his death.

Roman law was known for its justice and its fairness. So, he's placed in a very awkward moral dilemma. Should he do the right thing and release an innocent man and risk possible harm to his career or should he do the wrong thing and live with a guilty conscience? What is he going to do with Jesus who's called to Christ? For a moment, can you put yourself in the place of Pilate?

Oh, I think you're not going to find that too difficult. Which one of us has not faced moral decisions? I don't mean one of this magnitude. You ever face a moral dilemma at work, advancing of your career, doing something you know is wrong, but if you stood up for righteousness, you might get fired or you might not get that promotion or your friends might not think too much about you. Have you ever been in that situation?

Weak, vacillating, cowardly, doing the expedient, doing the popular thing, fitting in with the surrounding culture rather than standing out for truth, rather than saying, no, I cannot do that, that is wrong. Now, I remember a friend of mine who was a very effective salesman selling some high-powered electrical equipment, which I don't understand and don't ever want to understand, but he was making a lot of money selling this. And he was brought in, as all of the salesmen there, from all over the country for a review. Now, he was one of the top salesmen. And to surprise the boss said to him, you know, you need to do better. And I mean, that's always the case, isn't it?

You can always sell more. And my friend said, well, yes. But he said, I think I've done quite well. He said, well, no, he said, I hear you're not entertaining the clients very well. My friend said, what do you mean? He said, apparently, you've got some hang up about not taking them to certain clubs. Do you know the kind of clubs, the clubs that some men want to go when they're out of town away from their wives? And my friend said, no. He said, I don't go to these clubs.

And I'm not going to go to them. He took a stand. And for that, not only was he demoted, in a short time he lost his job. I admire men like that. I admire men and women who stand for what is right. That's what it means to have your allegiance to Christ, isn't it? There can be no higher allegiance than Christ. And I'm wondering this morning if some of you are still not sure about your relationship to Jesus Christ. Now, you don't need more information.

You've had your questions answered and it's decision time. Because I began by saying the real person on trial was not Jesus, it's Pilate. We know who Jesus is. He's the Son of God. He's the Messiah. He's the King of Kings. He's the King of the universe.

The person on trial was Pilate. And in a sense, you and I are on pilot, are on trial. What will we do with Jesus, who's called the Christ? Our eternal destiny hinges on our response. And so, I have to ask you, as I ask myself, are there any higher priorities in your life than your allegiance to Jesus?

Your family, your career, your lifestyle, your hobby, your pleasures, your ambitions. When it comes to it, you're quite willing to be a follower of Jesus, but only to a point. And that's the problem, isn't it? You can't patronize Jesus. You can't just pay lip service to Him.

You can't marginalize Jesus to an hour or two on a Sunday. Are you really going to insult the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to only coming to Him in the emergencies of life? Now our allegiance to the Lord Jesus, Matthew is telling us time and time again, as he talks about the kingdom of God, that we are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

To seek it first. That's the first commandment, you'll have no other gods before me. If there is a God and there is, and if the Lord Jesus is the Son of God as He is, there can be no higher authority.

No one else competing for first place. Our total allegiance is to be Christ. You say that's extreme.

Perhaps it is, but that's what it is to be a follower of Jesus. Think of the extreme positions of people in our society over other issues. Think how extreme they are. Think how radical they are. And yet so often, we relegate our Lord Jesus to second or third place in our lives.

No. Seek Him first. Love Him first. Allegiance to Jesus is to be our first priority. You know, those who speak truth, God's truth. I saw someone the other day with someone, something on their t-shirt, truth is not on an agenda or something. And I wanted to speak to the woman, but she moved on and I thought, I hope you're saying that truth is absolute.

It's not something that we manipulate for our own purposes. No, God's truth stands forever. I began the service by reminding us that God is from everlasting to everlasting, and His truth is everlasting.

It's always wrong, for example, to kill an unborn child. That was true 2,000 years ago. It will be true 2,000 years from now if our Lord Jesus Christ doesn't come. Truth always stands, and we are people of truth. Never, ever be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of standing for Jesus. Don't look to get out of it. Don't be crass. Don't shout. Don't be full of hate.

No. Love and speak truth. Jesus demands allegiance from His followers. Today I'm saying to you, don't allow anyone to stop you from receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Some of you are still on the fence. Make this today the day you receive Christ. Don't allow anyone to stop you from following Jesus Christ. Please, hear me.

You know Jesus Christ can be trusted. Don't be like Pilate. Don't follow the crowd, please. Don't go back and forward in your mind. Do the right thing.

Pilate knew what the right thing was to do. And in your circumstance in life, as you're faced, as I'm faced with these moral dilemmas, you know the right thing to do. Do it. Be strong. Be courageous.

God will help you. God will honor you. The crowd chose Barabbas, as I say, whipped up like manipulative politicians. As the religious leaders were politicians, they whipped up the crowd to get what they wanted.

And they chose a terrorist over Jesus. The wonderful thing is that Jesus died in the place of Barabbas. Nice substitution. One person taking the place of another. And the Lord Jesus Christ comes in a very real sense to take my place. He dies as my substitute.

He dies in my place. God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Sin is man substituting Himself for God. Salvation is God substituting Himself for man. But Barabbas deserved to die. He was a murderer, awaiting death by crucifixion, getting what he deserved. But he could say, I was set free because Jesus died in my place.

Now, I'm not suggesting any of us are terrorists, although sometimes we may have hate against people in our hearts. But I am saying that all of us are sinners and that Christ comes to die in my place. You want to make yourself king in your life?

Don't do that. Put Christ first. He comes and sacrifices Himself for us. He dies in my place.

There were those who made the wrong decision. Matthew tells us of some, first of all Pilate. What are you going to do with Jesus who is the Christ? Crucified. Judas, what are you going to do with Jesus who is the Christ?

Oh, I'm going to betray Him for 30 pieces of silver. Here's a rich young ruler, Matthew tells us about. He comes to Jesus, and he's a very righteous man.

He's a very good man. But Jesus faces him with His own idolatry and says, you want to follow me? Go sell all that you have. Take up your cross and follow me. We can hear the swish of these expensive robes as the young man turns his back on the man Jesus and walks away. And the Bible says that Jesus loved him, but this man loved his possessions more than Christ. Wrong decisions.

Think of three who made the right decisions. John the Baptist, what do you think of Jesus the Christ? He's a lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Peter, who is Jesus?

He is the Christ, the son of the living God. Here's an endless woman that we read recently of who comes with her alabaster vase and breaks it and pours it out on Jesus. Surrenders her all. What do you think of Jesus? Her actions tell us. She's surrendering everything at the feet of Jesus.

What about you? Follow Christ. Follow Him truly. Follow Him boldly. Follow Him courageously. Follow Him with love.

Follow Him with humility. And think of the difference you can make in your world, in our crazy world, as we shine with the beauty of Christ. Father, we thank You for this passage.

We're faced with our own selfishness. We realize we're very different from Pilate and yet we also have to respond to Jesus. And I pray even now there'll be those whose hearts are being opened as they turn from their sin and embrace Christ.

Many here are followers of Christ and sometimes we're very ambivalent. We need strength. We need courage. We need wisdom. Grant us that, Father, that we will be known as people of love and truth. We ask it in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 09:18:57 / 2023-03-29 09:28:53 / 10

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