Message: ‘Saying NO to Jesus’ Text: Luke 23:13-25
Introduction: Pastor Melvin Newland tells the following story:
• On the southern border of the empire of Cyrus, there lived a great chieftain named Cagular who defeated the various detachments of Cyrus’ army sent to subdue him. Finally the emperor, amassing his whole army, marched down, surrounded & overwhelmed Cagular’sforces, captured him & his wife, & brought them to the capital for execution.
• On the scheduled day for their execution, he & his wife were brought to the judgment chamber. So impressed was Cyrus with Cagular’sappearance, that he said to him: “What would you do should I spare your life?”
• “Your Majesty, if you spared my life, I would return to my home & remain your obedient servant as long as I lived.”
• “What would you do if I spared the life of your wife?”
“Your Majesty, if you spared the life of my wife, I would die for you.”
• So moved was the emperor by Cagular’s words & attitude that he freed them both & returned Cagular to his homeland to serve as its governor.
• Upon arriving home, Cagularreminisced about the trip with his wife. “Did you notice the marble at the entrance of the palace? Did you see the tapestry on the walls as we went down the corridor into the throne room? And did you see the throne on which the emperor sat? It must have been carved from one lump of pure gold.” His wife replied: “I really don’t remember any of that.” “Well,” said Cagular in amazement, “What do you remember?”
• His wife looked at him & said, “I remember only the face of the man who said he would die for me.” (Adapted from the sermon “The Love of God” by John Redpath, Abingdon Press, 1979)
Today, I want to talk about a man who did die for us… Jesus. But, before I do, I want to talk a bit about the US Jesus died for.
As people, we’re generally known by our successes and our failures… most often brought on by our choices… both good or bad.
Decisions we have made have contributed to who we are today. Throughout history, people have made some very bad decisions.
• PP: Alexander Graham Bell made an appointment with Western Union to sell them on the idea of something called a telephone. Western Union’s president gave his answer: “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”
• PP: A banker advised Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the new motor car company, saying “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty.” (adapted from Steven Cole)
PP: Next Slide
Today, we’ll look at some people in the Bible that made a really bad decision, that forever changed not only history, but perhaps even their own eternal destiny. Their decision was to say NO to Jesus…
• To say NO to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness for their sin.
• To say NO to Jesus’ offer to become children of God.
And, in our text we’ll find that there’s more than one way to say NO to Jesus… it can be polite and well meaning, or an in your face, no!
But… both have the same end result: separation from God here on earth and there in heaven.
Folks, be assured, there is a great danger in saying NO to Jesus.. no matter how you say it.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 23:13.
1. Luke 23:13-16 Not Guilty
PP: Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was 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 by Him. I will therefore punish and release Him.”
Our text this morning closes the day of trials Jesus underwent prior to His execution on the cross.
• ‘Case closed’… ‘Release the prisoner’… should have been what Pilate said… but he chose not to.
It’s absolutely clear that Pilate found Jesus not guilty of any crime. And to make that clear to everyone, not just the religious leaders, note that Pilate called the chief priests and the rulers AND the people to his hearing.
• You see, Pilate knew the religious leaders we jealous of Jesus and wanted Him dead.
• You see, he knew about the other trials that were held against Jewish law, at nightso the people wouldn’t know what they were doing.
• Pilate also knew the kind of reception the people gave Jesus when He entered Jerusalem on that 1st Palm Sunday.
Pilate knew all that. It was his job to know all of that as Governor of the region.
• So Pilate believed if the people were there, they might take Jesus’ side.
• But… he’ll soon find he was wrong.
Pilate seems to be doing the right thing, making the right decision.
• We know from John’s Gospel that Pilate and Jesus had a long, private conversation and he was convinced Jesus was not guilty.
• We know from John’s Gospel that Pilate’s wife had a dream about Jesus saying Pilate should have nothing to do with Him. (In other words, don’t try this case, He’s innocent)
• We know from this text that Pilate didn’t want to convict Jesus, or have Him crucified.
Which is why he said he would punish Jesus (have Him roughed up) as a way to placate the angry crowd thinking it will be enough and he can release Jesus.
Pilate seems to have all the right intentions.
• He’s not a believer, but he’s not a hater either.
• He still rejects Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, to be God in the flesh… but, He’s doing it politely.
2. Luke 23:17-19 Give us Barabbas
PP: But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.
Sidebar: If you are using an ESV Bible you’ll notice there is no verse 17 in chapter 23. But, there is a footnote that says ‘some manuscripts add verse 17 Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the festival.
• It’s believed this was not original to Luke but, it is found in all the other Gospels.
It seems promising to have Jesus beaten didn’t work. So once again, Pilates attempts to give the people the chance to do the right thing, to make the right decision, and choose Jesus to be released rather than Barabbas.
• PP: There is an old movie titled ‘Barabbas’ that shows him eventually feeling guiltyfor being released rather thanJesus and at the end of the move he came to faith in Jesus.
PP: Next Slide
All of that is pure fiction because all we know of Barabbas is what we find here in our text. We don’t know if he made a decision to receive Christ or not. I hope he did.
But we do know that Barabbas was a bad guy.
• He was found guilty of insurrection and murder. In John’s Gospel we also he was also a robber. Very serious crimes.
But… While we don’t know much about him, Barabbas is important to the Gospel story. Let’s look at some parallels to each one of us today. And there we’ll see the One who died for us.
1. Barabbas deserved to die: He was guilty of all charges against him.
• PP: In Romans 3:23 we read All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
• In Romans 6:23 we find Thewages of sin is death.
• Our sin against God may not be so grievous but it’s sin none the less. And all sin, any sin, deserves God’s judgment, and eternal death.
• We too deserve to die.
2. Barabbas did nothing to deserve his pardon.
• He wasn’t released for good behavior. He didn’t make any promises to be better after he was released.
• All he did was accept the pardon.
• PP: In Romans 6:23 it saysthe free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
• And in John 1:12 we read Butto all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
• We too don’t have to jump through any hoops or make promises we can’t keep in order to be forgiven by God.
3. Jesus died in Barabbas’ place.
• This was literally true for Barabbas. And it can be spiritually true for you as well.
• PP: In Mark 10:45 we find For even the Son of Man came…to give His life as a ransom for many.
• In Romans 5:8 Paul wrote God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
• We are all guilty before God for our sin, But, Jesus take upon Himself our punishment.
4. Jesus’ death resulted in Barabbas’ freedom
• Barabbas was release, free from any and all punishment for his crimes.
• PP: Jesus, in John 8:36 said So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
• In Romans 8:1 Paul wrote There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
• When we place our faith in Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive our sin, Jesus frees us from the punishment for our sin. We may not know much about Barabbas, but his entrance into Scripture reveals much about us and our relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
3. Luke 23:20-25 We Don’t Want Jesus
PP: Two slides
Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify Him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has He done? I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release Him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
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Do you see the two kinds of rejection here?
• Pilate is still trying to set Jesus free. He doesn’t believe Jesus is who He says He is..but he’s being nice about it, polite.
• The religious leaders and now even the people don’t want Jesus placed in jail, they want Him brutally executed…Crucify Him! Crucify Him!They shouted.
But remember… both are still saying NO to Jesus.
Pilate asks the crowd What evil has He done? I have fond no guilt deserving death. Therefore, I will punish and release Him.
• The crowd continues to shot Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
PP: In John 19 we get a bit more information: Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:14–15)
Wow.. do you see it.
• They were rejecting Jesus’ kingship and replaced Him with a human king, Caesar.
• Just as their forefathers had rejected God’s kingship over them and demanded a human king.
They were saying NO to Jesus, NO to God, NO to God’s rule over them and NO to the Kingdom of God.
• Their sin was indeed deep.
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Pilate finally gives in to their hate of Jesus. He releases Barabbas and sends Jesus to be crucified.
• Pilate allowed the voice of the people to drown out God’s voice.
• He was more afraid of the people than of God.
Think about it… does that ever happen in your life?
That one single bad decision forever changed Pilates life.
• When all this was over he was sent back to Rome and was disgraced.
• It’s said that he later committed suicide.
Pilate almost did the right thing. He almost made the right decision.
• But friends, almost… is never enough when it comes to your eternal destination.
And the Jewish people?
• Less than 30 years later, they later revolted against Rome and hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered and those who survived were scattered from Israel.
• The temple and the city of Jerusalem were totally destroyed.
Listen closely… Whether you politely reject Jesus or raise and angry fist to Him, rejecting Jesus, saying NO to Jesus, always results in judgment, in condemnation, in Hell……..Always!
Conclusion: Saying No ToJesus
A poet once wrote ‘Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these ‘It might have been.’
If that’s true then the most tragic word in the English language…is ‘almost’.
• Almost speaks of opportunities never accomplished, of missed chances.
Don’t be like Pilate who was almost a Christian by politely rejecting Jesus.
Listen, there is no almost withGod.
• You are either saved by His grace or you are not.
• You either say YES to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and are forever saved.
• or you say NO to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and are forever lost.
We saw in our text that Jesus did in fact, die for Barabbas.. He took his place on the cross. Barabbas should have died, he was guilty. He should have been crucified.
• But… he wasn’t. Jesus, who was not guilty, took Barabbas’ place on the cross.
The only thing we know for sure is that Jesus did that physically for Barabbas…
• But for all who do receive Him, who do believe in His name, Jesus died for them, He takes their place.
In John 20:27 Jesus told Thomas stop doubting and believe
Friends, if you already haven’t done so, stop saying NO to Jesus and believe… Start saying YES!
PP: I understand that the ladies from our Women’s Walk small group are committing to saying‘Yes Lord’ in 2020.
• What a wonderful thing to do.
• Will you join them?
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