Matthew What to do with Jesus?

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1 Matthew What to do with Jesus? Sermon introduction: On Friday January 20 th at noon Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45 th president of the United States. He will take the oath of office by repeating these 35 words: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." What should we do with Donald Trump? Some love him, some hate him, others ignore him, some gave him campaign money, others want his money, some think he is a crook, others think his is a philander, others think he is going to start WWIII, some think he is Democracy s savior, most of us are still trying to figure out how a guy with that much money can have such odd hair. Although we must respect the office of President, ultimately it does not matter what we do with Donald Trump. Because what we do with Donald Trump will not affect our well-being in ten million years. For that matter, what we do with any human being will not ultimately matter it does not ultimately matter what you do with Taylor Swift, Russell Wilson, Kim Kardashian, Newt Gingrich, George Lucas, or the mayor of Spokane. But what we do with Jesus Christ will affect us for all eternity. Among the estimated 107 billion human beings who have ever existed he is totally unique. What will you do with Jesus Christ??? This brings us to Matt. 27:11-16 the key is verse 22. Matthew 27:22 (ESV) 22 Pilate said to them, Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said, Let him be crucified! All of us must ask and answer the question of Pilate. This is the most important question you could ever ask yourself. What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? Have you ever asked yourself this question? This morning you can To help us understand what to do with Jesus we will look at what the three groups in this story did with Jesus. We will look at what Pilate, the crowds, and Barabbas did with Jesus. Pilate The Crowds Barabbas First, Pilate What does Pilate do with Jesus? Pilate choses an idol instead of Jesus! Matthew 27:11 14 (ESV) 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus said, You have said so.

2 Why is Jesus before Pontus Pilate, the Roman governor of the region? Since the Jews don t have power to kill Jesus they want Pilate to do it for them. So, they tell Pilate that Jesus claims to be a king, hoping that he will convict him of treason, a capital crime. So Pilate asks Jesus.. are you the king of the Jews? Jesus says, you have said so. In other words, Yes, Pilate, I am a king, you just said so yourself. But we know from other parts of the gospels that Jesus kingdom is not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom. 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, Do you not hear how many things they testify against you? 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Jesus knew that defending himself was pointless. His accusers were not interested in truth and he came to suffer and die for the citizens of his spiritual kingdom. Then in verse 14 we read that Pilate was greatly amazed by Jesus silence. Pilate says, Did you not hear the chargers??? You may die??? Don t you care??? Why don t you defend yourself? Pilate is perplexed by Jesus. Maybe this describes some of you this morning You find Jesus perplexing but you don t understand him. Let me encourage you to keep investigating his claims. Although Pilate is perplexed he eventually choses his idol over Jesus. Matthew 27:15 24 (ESV) 15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 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. 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, Which of the two do you want me to release for you? And they said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate said to them, Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said, Let him be crucified! 23 And he said, Why? What evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, Let him be crucified! 24 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 am innocent of this man s blood; see to it yourselves. Pilate knows Jesus is innocent here is the proof In verse 18, Pilate knows that the real reason the crowd wants Jesus dead is not because he broke a law or because he is a threat to Rome but because they (Jewish leaders) are envious of Jesus. (27:18) Furthermore, as the result of a dream Pilate s wife tells him in verse 19 to have nothing to do with condemning Jesus because he is a righteous man. (27:19) Plus, Pilate asks the crowd twice if they want Barabbas instead.

3 Then in verse 23 Pilate clearly says that Jesus has done nothing wrong Finally, in verse 24, Pilate washes his hands symbolizing that he is not guilty for condemning an innocent man. If Pilate knows that Jesus was innocent, why does he let Jesus be crucified? Because he refused to let go of the idol of political power. This was his true God. He knew that if he freed Jesus he may lose control of the region, meaning he may lose his job. In the parallel passage, when Pilate threatens to free Jesus the Jews threaten to report him to Caesar. John 19:12 (ESV) 12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, If you release this man, you are not Caesar s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar. One Scholar writes, Political power was Pilate s God not only did it make him weak it also made him a coward, for he was afraid to do anything that might risk the loss of his precious god. This is true of all false gods; they do not make us strong, they make us weak, by enslaving us to the fear of losing them. (Doriani, 485) What does Pilate do with Jesus? He chooses the idol of political power over Jesus! Illustration: An idol is anything we look to for ultimate happiness and meaning. When I was in high school. I had many idols but one stood out it was the idol of Tennis. Explain I chose the idol of tennis over Jesus. Application: We are not that different than Pilate What God s do we choose over Jesus? The god of money, sex, sports, family, control, things, alcohol, exercise, food We know when something is an idol when we are devastated at the thought of losing it. Furthermore, idols cause us to compromise the will of God. We spend so much time on x that we don t have time for the things that God has called us to. Furthermore, idols never satisfy they only leave us empty and broken. In addition, Idols cause us to be indecisive One scholar writes, He (Pilate) is snared in the web of his own indecisiveness. V. 22 Seeing the superior pleasure of Jesus severs the root of idolatry!!! What should we do when caught in the vortex of idolatry? Repent and look to Jesus. First, what did Pilate do with Jesus? He chose an idol over Jesus. Second, the crowd

4 What does the crowd do with Jesus? They want him crucified! Matthew 27:20 23 (ESV) 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, Which of the two do you want me to release for you? And they said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate said to them, Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said, Let him be crucified! 23 And he said, Why? What evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, Let him be crucified! Matthew 27:26 (ESV) 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. The crowd, led by the religious leaders, wanted to crucify Jesus. It was not enough to kill him, they wanted him scourged and crucified. I need to describe these two things so that you hear this passage the way the original audience heard it. Before someone was scourged their clothes were ripped off their backs and their hands were tied to a pole. Then a Roman soldier whipped them with a large whip that had chunks of bone and metal tied to leather strands. The bone and metal were designed to rip the skin off the victims back. Scourging was often deadly. All this was done to ensure that the victim would die quickly once he was crucified. That brings us to crucifixion. Crucifixion was horrific. If we walked outside this morning and saw someone hanging on a cross naked in the parking lot after being scourged, we would probably throw up. It was designed to inflict as much pain and humiliation as physically possible. The word excruciating comes from the word for cross. One scholar calls it the cruelest instrument of execution ever devised. (Odonnell, 837) Have you ever wondered why the Jewish leaders insisted on crucifixion? Why didn t they send Jesus to prison for life, or force him to drink poison, or hang him, or stone him and leave him for dead? The text in Matthew makes it very clear that they wanted him crucified because they hated him!!! Why did they hate him? For many reasons but the primary reason they hated Jesus was because he made exclusive truth claims about his identity, sin, judgment, and salvation. Things have not changed much People still hate Jesus. Really, I don t know anyone who hates Jesus. If you said what Jesus said on a college campus, in a high school classroom, or on CNBC you would be hated, at least by some. Jesus said that he is the only way to God implying that all other ways led to hell. Jesus said that any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong. Jesus said that people are going to hell forever that don t trust him. Some of you may be thinking, Dave, what Jesus said is so narrow minded and exclusive. In fact, it is these types of exclusive truth claims that lead to violence in the world. Let me first say this I understand why you would think that in today s culture.

5 But consider this everyone makes exclusive truth claims. As soon as you say, All religions are the same, or all religions are false, or there are no absolutes, or Jesus is not the only way, or there is no God you are making an exclusive truth claim. In fact, you are being just as exclusive as Jesus. You are saying that your view of reality is better than his view of reality. More specifically you are saying that your view of reality is more enlightened and superior than his view of reality. We are all guilty of making exclusive truth claims. The real question is this, which view of reality creates more loving, kind, and open minded people??? The answer is the Christian view of reality. At the heart of the Christian view of reality is Jesus who suffered on a cross for his enemies. This means that Christians are not just called to be tolerant towards their enemies they are called to love their enemies. Furthermore, Christianity is the most open minded view of reality because the kingdom of God is open to all kinds of people; rich, poor, black, white, male, female, young, old, democrats, and republicans Jesus made exclusive truth claims and they got him killed. Here is my point no one can avoid making exclusive truth claims. If you would like to talk more about this over Coffee I will buy. What does Pilate do with Jesus? He chooses an idol over Jesus. What does the crowd do with Jesus? They crucify him. This brings us to our third character Third, Barabbas What does Barabbas do with Jesus? The text does not tell us. But we do know what Jesus does with Barabbas. What Jesus does with Barabbas? He sets him free! Matthew 27:15 18 (ESV) 15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Every year at the Passover feast the governor let a prisoner go free to build rap ore with the people. This prisoner was named Barabbas. The parallel passages inform us that he was an insurrectionist and a murderer (Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19). He was captured with two others. Most historians believe that the two others were the ones crucified next to Jesus. In other words, the plan was to crucify all three of these men together. Matthew 27:20 21 (ESV) 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, Which of the two do you want me to release for you? And they said, Barabbas. Matthew 27:26 (ESV) 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Barabbas was a bad man! He was a murder! He deserved to be crucified. Instead Jesus is crucified in his place. The guilty is pardoned and the innocent is punished. Does this sound familiar?

6 This is a beautiful picture of the gospel. We, like Barabbas deserve to be punished for our sins because when we sin we break God s laws. But instead of punishing us God punishes his son in our place. Why? Because he loves us. What does Jesus do with Barabbas? He sets him free from the penalty of his crimes! What does Jesus do for us? He sets us free! Jesus frees us from the penalty and power of sin. We are just like Pilate mentioned above. We get easily enslaved to idols. Jesus has the power to set us free, like he set Barabbas free. Illustration: In 1776, just weeks after the Continental Congress declared America s independence, four hundred British ships and tens of thousands of soldiers gathered for an assault on New York City, as the first step in forcing the Americans to submit to British authority. As they rested on Staten Island before the invasion, British soldiers marveled at the wealth of food the land produced. When they invaded the mainland, they marveled again as they marched through orchards laden with fruit, past clean, comfortable, and well-furnished farmhouses. Their eyes told them what historians later confirmed: in 1776, the Americans enjoyed the world s highest standard of living. They wondered why people who had so much, living on their own land, would rebel against England and its king. They rebelled because they cared about something more than the standard of living. They sought to live as free men and that goal gave them courage. (Doriani, 477-8) Don t you long to be freed from the power of sin? Do you want to be free from the enslaving power of lust, anxiety, money, entertainment, and the praise of men? Do you have the courage to trust Jesus? Jesus offers everyone present freedom. He freed Barabbas from the penalty of his crimes. He can free us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin but we must repent and follow him. Conclusion: What will you do with Jesus this morning? What did Pilate do with Jesus? He rejected Jesus for an idol. What did the crowds do with Jesus? They crucified him. What did Barabbas do with Jesus? We don t know

7 More importantly what will you do with Jesus? Will you let him set you free??? This is the most important question you can ever ask. Jesus wants to set you free from the power and the penalty of sin. Lets pray

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