Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Matthew 27:1-31 Sermon

Matthew 27:1-31
Sermon Notes
Judas and Pontius Pilate
June 25, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         We have been making our way through Matthew for some time now. We finally come to this difficult chapter of the trial, torture and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The chapter is loaded with bad guys. Bad guys seem to rule the day, from Judas to the chief priests and elders, to Pontius Pilate, to the maddened crowd and even Barabbas.
         The kings and rulers are gathered together against our Lord and His Christ to do whatsoever they please to Him. It is a colossal travesty in every way. The innocent is persecuted and
the wicked have their day.
         When we make our way through this chapter we find ourselves thinking, “No this cannot be happening” at every juncture. The false witnesses, the envy of the elders, the spineless Pilate, the crowd turned from cheers to jeers, the murderer Barabbas walking free in place of the Lord hanging on a tree.
         And yet in all of this horrible nightmare of injustice, wickedness, betrayal, fickle friends, and guilty men going free is the center of the gospel.
         Man meant this all for evil but God meant it all for good.
Doctrine: Jesus is our substitutionary atonement.

Q. 84. What does every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

Q. 25. How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

         God poured His wrath out on the innocent Jesus so that all the guilty could go free. We see this truth clearly displayed to us in the freedom of Barabbas. He was guilty. He deserved death. He was an insurrectionist. He was a murderer. And yet, he walks away because it was expedient that one man die for the people and that one man is Jesus.
         The gospel is that Jesus died for our sins. He died, being made sin in our behalf that the wrath of God would be poured out on Him instead of on Barabbas and all those, like Barabbas, who deserve death but receive an open prison cell instead, able to walk out scot free.
         It looks like everything that is happening in this passage is bad news but we have to get a more heavenly perspective. By His wounds we are healed. By His death, we die to sin. By His death, we are made alive.
         This is why we can sing that old hymn, “I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown.”
         Of course, the gospel of Jesus is not complete without the Resurrection, Ascension and Rule of Jesus. And those are all full of hope and life and future glory. We should linger long on all of those truths as we live out lives before the Lord.
         But we cannot skip by the death of our Lord too quickly. In it we see the need for our own deaths to sin, the need for the repentance of sins, the utter inability for any man to save himself apart from the work of Jesus on the cross. If we skip the cross, we miss the gospel altogether.

When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Bad Guys: Chief Priests, Elders, Pontius Pilate, Judas

3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
Jesus regretted but did not repent. The chief priests and elders response was an admission of blood guilt. They tried to keep themselves from the blood guilt by refusing to receive the return of the money but that damned spot could not be removed.
Judas admits the sin and names it specifically but it still does not lead him to repentance.

5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Judas’s end is a sad one. He could not deal with his own guilt. Only Jesus could do that and Judas was unwilling to look to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Take note of the power of greed and worldliness. I doubt the disciples had much money. Judas was in the habit of pilfering from the bag and no doubt hoped for a huge pay day when Jesus took over in Jerusalem. Since that was all seemingly ending, he got what he could, thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. Judas could not deal with any of this, was unwilling to humble himself before Jesus or the other disciples and so committed suicide.
This is not an uncommon response today. A certain self-loathing manifests itself in many ways, cutting, acting out, mental illness. But the only way to deal with our sinful selves is not through positive thinking, good body image, or building personal self-esteem. The reason these methods do not work very well is because the adherents know that it is really an attempt to deceive oneself. When we work so hard to tell someone that they are so good, or so special or of so much worth, it falls on deaf ears. Why? Well, because the person being thus encouraged knows what wicked thoughts they think. They know what sins they would commit if they could get away with it, they know what they actually do when parents, or spouse, or pastor is not watching. And this tortures a soul.
What is the only true remedy? The actual sins, the sinful thoughts, words, deeds, even the sense of worthlessness, this all has to be dealt with. It is better to admit these sins and thoughts and look to Jesus to pay for them. Instead, we try to convince ourselves that we are basically good, that everyone does such things and since we haven’t killed anyone or stolen the church money, we must be decent. That is a lie.
If any of that were true, then Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross. All have been shut up by sin. We all sin, regularly. Sometimes, our sins seem more vile. Sometimes they seem more perverted. Sometimes, we are so weak we don’t hardly know how to get victory. Sometimes we get along really well for a while and then do something so stupid, or so vile, that we are utterly ashamed of ourselves. Sometimes, we are doing so well that we are enormously proud of ourselves. And that pride rises up, like Satan, and thrashes our hopes in the cross.
What is the answer? It is not our goodness or our badness that matters most. It is the work of Jesus. Judas was a traitor and disdained the Lord. The Pharisees were proud religious men and disdained the Lord. Sin runs in in all shapes and sizes. But the way to deal with sin is on the cross. The death of Judas did not forgive any sins. His sin is still in the world of colossal regrets. Had he repented, like Peter, then we would even have a place in our hearts to love Judas. But he didn’t.
         2 Cor. 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.
The chief priest are really consistent hypocrites. They had scruples about receiving blood money even though they did not have scruples about a rigged trial and a legal murder.
Matthew Henry reminds us that the ancients taught the symbolism of this act. The field of blood was the place of rest for Gentiles. Though they find no rest on this earth, the price of the blood of Jesus shall purchase eternal rest for them.

Matt. 27:11   And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
It makes little difference to Pilate if Jesus is the King of the Jews. He wanted to know the answer to the question but a Jewish King is not that big of a threat to him. The people are subject to their Roman overlords and this includes the leaders. We see this even here where the Jewish leaders could not even execute justice without permission from the Roman leaders.
Pilate marvels at Jesus. He knows that the chief priests and elders have delivered up Jesus because of envy. That being true, it makes sense that Jesus could have defended himself against the charges laid against Him. Jesus chooses not to defend Himself in order to be set free. Something in His manner and demeanor caused Pilate to marvel, a  show of respect for this condemned man.
In John, Pilate says, “What is truth”. If it was an honest question, we might think more highly of Pilate. It appears it was not an honest question. He was not asking what the truth was. He was saying that the truth did not matter. The only truth he knew was the power to grant or take life. That is what mattered to him.

15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
Pilate determined to set Jesus free as a gift to the Jews. He presented the choice of Barabbas or Jesus. Pilate did not know the people very well. Barabbas was a malefactor, an insurrectionist, a murderer. Certainly the people could not have respect for such a man? It surprises Pilate that they prefer Barabbas over Jesus. This reveals their need for a true Savior.

19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
Pilate’s wife wanted Pilate to free Jesus. She had suffered in a dream. There is an historic tradition that Pilate’s wife became a Christian and served the church for many years. Pilate should have listened to her.

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
Pilate feared the unruly people more than the wrath of his wife.
The people cannot answer the question as to Jesus’s guilt. They cannot say what evil He had done. Instead of an argument, they shout louder. Crucify Him! Let Him be crucified!

24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Jesus said that those who delivered him to Pilate had the greater guilt. That is true but that truth does not absolve Pilate from guilt. He tried to wash his hands of the guilt but the only agent strong enough to wash that kind of guilt is the blood of Jesus.
The crowd is glad to pour out the blood of Jesus, not for the cleansing of sins but rather that the judgment and wrath stored up by God could fall upon them and their children. It most certainly does. Jerusalem is destroyed as God pours out His wrath on the guilty.

Matt. 27:26   Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Barabbas is released. He walks away, wondering what happened. No doubt, as he thought about what happened, this had some tremendous impact on him. None can be forgiven sin in the place of wrath and walk away unmoved.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
The soldiers play the role of wicked men, as well. A centurion believes at the cross but here they are full of mockery and cruelty.

29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
They put a crown of thorns on Him and beat the thorns into His scalp. They gave him a reed for a scepter. They bowed in mock worship, even proclaim Hail, King of the Jews!

30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
They spit on him, they struck in the face, the smote him on the head and they led Him off to die.
These are horrid facts and we should not overlook them. Our Lord Jesus suffered all of this for us. He could have instantly killed everyone that was abusing Him. He could have done more amazing miracles that would have converted His tormentors. But He does not do so. For your sakes, He endured the humiliation of wicked men.

         Good News- What is the good news? What is the gospel? That Jesus was delivered for our offenses.
         This story of Jesus breaks our hearts. We see the wickedness and injustice of the Chief Priests, elders, Pontius, and Judas. We see a crowd turned on Jesus, the One innocent in the midst of a great travesty. We see a bewildered Barabbas, hell-bent on insurrection, elated at the prospect of getting off scot free.
         The whole affair seems to be a tragic comedy. What are we to make of it? Well, first of all, it has all come to pass exactly as was determined by our Father in Heaven before the foundation of the world. Wicked men meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
         The men really are wicked. The trial really is a joke. The leaders really have failed in every conceivable way. Judas really is a traitor of the highest order. Barabbas is a bad guy with a good break. The fickle crowd is easily manipulated.
         But God who is writing the story and directing the stage is working it out to a glorious finish. The result of all of this wickedness is good news. Our  Father meant our Jesus to die for the remission of sins. He had to be innocent in the midst of so much wickedness for this to take its full effect. The contrasts are stark.
         Who are we in the story? Pharisees who resist Jesus for envy’s sake. Judas, who sold His Lord for thirty pieces of silver? The fickle crowd, embracing the prophecies one day and chucking them the next? The soldiers, full of unbelief, who mock the true King as a fake king?
         Or, can you relate to Barabbas? He is a bad guy but look at the break he is catching. The disciples have been with Jesus for years. They are convinced He is the Messiah although wavering in unbelief during these events. But Barabbas has been languishing in jail, as a zealot, trying to stir up an insurrection, the very thing that the apostles were likely hoping for. Barabbas was a murderer, thus a son of the devil. He could not make the claim of a being a righteous Pharisee, an elder, a Roman soldier, or even one in the crowd, free to come and go as he pleased. Barabbas had chosen his path, followed it through to its fateful end and is in the process of receiving his just due, imprisonment and finally execution.
         If we are honest with ourselves, that is all of us. We want our way. We want it now. And waiting on the Lord gets in the way. We can solve our own problems, scoff at God’s plan, make ourselves out to be something more than we are. Barabbas. Guilty as charged.
         And what of this Barabbas, guilty as charged? What is his end? You are free to go. Why? Because Jesus took his place.
Q. 85. What doth God require of us that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.


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