All right, let’s get into our passage for the week.
As a church we are studying the book of Luke in the Bible
Luke is 1 of 4 books in the Bible about the life, teachings, death & resurrection of Jesus.
And we are currently in chapter 23, which is the day of Jesus’ crucifixion…Good Friday.
But before he’s crucified Jesus endures 6 very fast “trials” if we can even call them that…
In fact, I love charts, you love charts, so we made you another chart this week.
(6 Trials of Jesus)
Here are the 6 “trials” Jesus endures after he’s arrested Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Go ahead and take a picture of this if you want it for your records or notes.
Jesus is first sent to Annas, the former high priest of the Jerusalem temple
And Annas questions Jesus and then sends him off to his son-in-law, and current high priest, Ciaphas
This 2nd trial is where Peter denies Jesus outside in the courtyard and Jesus is mocked and beaten for the first time.
Then, at daybreak on Friday morning, Jesus is brought in front of the Sanhedrin (basically the Jewish High Council) for his 3rd trial.
The Sanhedrin claims that Jesus is “guilty,” so they quickly bring him over to Pilate, the Roman Governor, which is the passage we studied last week
You’ll notice that the first 3 trials are Jewish trials, and the last 3 are Romans trials.
The Jewish leaders have to bring Jesus to the Roman Governor Pilate for the 4th trial because while the Sanhedrin can do just about anything they want, only the Romans, their occupiers, can enforce the death penalty…
But Pilate doesn’t think Jesus is deserving of death, so he sends him to King Herod for the 5th trial (Herod was King over the land Jesus came from (Galilee))
But Herod doesn’t think Jesus is guilty either, so he sends him back to Pilate.
And THAT’S where we are today…on the SIXTH trial of Jesus.
So, everybody grab a Bible
(Page 721) - Luke 23
As I said last week, we’re not putting the main passage on the screen anymore, as we want 100% of you to have a Bible in front of you so we can study God’s Word together
Okay, Jesus has been sent back to Pilate, but this is still early on Friday morning.
It’s not even 9:00am yet.
(Luke 23:13-16) – NIV
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
And we’ll see in a few minutes that actually isn’t going to work.
(Barabbas – Title Screen)
But what’s happening here?
Herod has sent Jesus back to Pilate.
And Pilate has regathered all of the Jewish leadership, and even the crowd that was lingering
And Pilate is going to render a verdict.
It’s like at the end of a trial today when the judge comes back in the courtroom and the bailiff says one more time: “All Rise.”
And Pilate, for the 2nd time that morning declares Jesus as “not guilty” of anything deserving death
BUT, Pilate knows that those listening to him aren’t going to like that verdict, so he tries a compromise.
He says, “Not guilty, BUT (v. 16) I will punish him and release him”
In other words, Pilate is going to have Jesus brutally flogged…as apparently a deterrent for Jesus to change his ways
And Pilate is hoping that the crowd will say, “Okay, well, we wanted him killed, but I guess we can be satisfied with a flogging”
But Pilate’s plan doesn’t work.
Not at all.
Let’s keep reading.
(Luke 23:18-19) - NIV
18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
The crowd is not having Pilate’s compromise.
They shout, “Away with…this man!”
They won’t even say his name…his holy, powerful name.
And suddenly the crowd starts chanting for the release of a prisoner named Barabbas
Now, the Gospel author Luke leaves out a detail that the other 3 Gospel writers include.
Perhaps Luke just thought this fact was well known to his readers
But here’s what the other writers tell us:
(Matthew 27:15) – NIV
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
So, every Passover, Pontius Pilate would let the crowd pick one prisoner to be released
And Pilate, who’s extremely frustrated that the Jewish Leaders want Jesus killed, sees yet another opportunity to save Jesus here.
He can’t believe that they didn’t take his compromise to have Jesus flogged and released, so he now tries a SECOND compromise.
In fact, John tells us that it was Pilate who first recommended that Jesus be released as part of the annual “Passover Release a Prisoner Program”
(John 18:39-40) – NIV
39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!”
(Barabbas – Title Screen)
Pilate had to have been shell shocked here
He’s probably thinking, “Okay, if Jesus is who these guys say he is, and even 20% hostile to Rome, the crowd will love him and want him released!”
“And why would they Barabbas released anyway?”
The Gospel Author Mark even tells us that Barabbas was “NOTORIUS”
He’s an insurrectionist
Today, we would actually probably use the world terrorist.
Someone who’s inciting violence so they can get power.
And Barabbas is also most likely condemned to be crucified by the way.
In Jewish law, murder received the death penalty, and Barabbas had already been handed over to the Romans, so his own crucifixion was likely imminent (remember Jesus is crucified next to robbers, a far lesser crime than murder)
So there’s going to be no way that the crowd is going to choose this notorious, death-row terrorist (who had incited violent acts in their very city) over this meek, almost silent Jesus, right? Right? RIGHT?!?
And yet slowly, and shockingly, they begin to chant for Barabbas
Matthew lets us in on how that happened:
(Matthew 27:20) – NIV
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
The leaders are inspiring the mob, and the mob is taking over reason now.
Pilate is starting to lose his battle.
(Barabbas – Title Screen)
Pilate has underestimated how evil religion can be when it’s run by rules, greed, and hate, and not love, truth, and grace.
Let’s keep reading
(Luke 23:20-25) – NIV
20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
And Jesus is going to be led out to be crucified now
The bloodthirsty crowd has gotten their way.
I remember, a number of years ago, after reading this passage for the 10th time or so, the Word of God seemed to just leap off the page.
Does that ever happen to you when you read?
It’s God’s Word…it’s alive and active.
The truth of this passage just hit me in the face.
My discovery wasn’t really a novel concept…it’s actually the right reading of the text (it’s basically in every Bible commentary out there), but I just had never seen it before.
And here’s what I realized:
Jesus Christ, the lover of souls, the healer of the sick, friend of sinners, the one who never sinned, …is going to be killed.
And Barabbas, the sinner, the one was guilty, who had committed wrong after wrong, evil after evil, is going to be set free.
And as I was reading my Bible, shaking my head at that sinner Barabbas…it hit me…so hard…
That’s the whole point of God sovereignly involving him in this story
I am a sinner…a messed up one…who deserves death and God’s justice for my sins.
And yet, Jesus, who never sinned, died in my place…when it was supposed to be me that died.
I was released, set free from the prison of sin and death, while an innocent man went to the cross in my place.
And so are you.
Can you see it?
Can you see Barabbas in jail, on death row…getting ready to be crucified?
He’s sitting on a cold bench, rubbing his hands together.
Imagining what it’s going to feel like to have nails go through them.
And then he hears the crowd, down the road screaming, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Oh no,” he thinks. “My time has come.”
The tears start to fall down his face.
He wishes he could go back in time and do things differently.
But he can’t save himself now.
Just then, the soldiers show up at his door
The hair on the back of his neck stands up, and he knows it’s time to die.
But to his shock, the soldier would have said, “You’re free.
“Uh, another man, Jesus of Nazareth…is going to die in your place. You’ve been traded. You’ve been released. Set free.”
Can you see Barabbas an hour later, wandering through the streets of Jerusalem?
Still in shock that this is even happening to him.
And as he’s going toward the edge of the city, maybe he saw a crowd.
And he sees Jesus of Nazareth struggling to carry a cross.
What would you think if you were Barabbas?
Surely he at least knew about Jesus’ death…the whole sky turned dark in the middle of his crucifixion a few hours later!
Barabbas would have thought, “That’s my death he’s dying…on my cross”
I should have died.
This Jesus died in my place
That’s the Gospel. The Good news of Christianity my friends.
And it’s not just that Jesus died.
It’s Jesus died instead of me.
And God beautifully portrays it in our passage this week.
And you’re Barabbas.
And Jesus traded places with you and me.
And the trade goes both ways, right?
ON the cross, Jesus is bearing Barabbas’ guilt and shame…the disgrace and death that Barabbas deserved.
And Barabbas receives the release, the freedom, and the life that Jesus deserved.
And when we believed in Jesus Christ…
He gets our guilt and shame and sin on the cross.
And we get set free.
Free from the penalty of sin and death.
And free from the iron chains of sin that used to always hold us down.
And in our freedom, God treats us like we never did all of the things we all did.
And I hope his forgiveness of you, or his offer of it, feels as unfathomable to you, as it would have felt to a shocked and confused Barabbas who went from getting ready to die, but is now walking around free and released.
Because it is unfathomable.
It’s Jesus in the place of…Barabbas
It’s Jesus, dying for sinners like David Sorn.
It’s Jesus dying for you…even though he knows all of your secrets that no one else knows…
And it’s that kind of love and forgiveness that changes the world.
This is why the angry leaders and mob want to choose Barabbas over Jesus.
Sure, they know Barabbas is dangerous.
But we know how to stop people like Barabbas, right?
Just a bigger army, more weapons, and more force.
But how do you stop Jesus?
How do you stop someone who has no money, no home, no weapons, no army, and no political power whatsoever, and yet is changing the hearts & minds of everyone, everywhere he goes?
They’re not afraid of Barabbas…
They can control Barabbas.
But Jesus was starting something they were terrified they couldn’t control.
So they think, “We have to kill him! We’ll bury him! And that’s the last we’ll ever hear from Jesus. It’s over. It’s finished!”
But they do nothing but just play right into God’s hand.
God has them trade for Barabbas, so He could show us his unfathomable grace.
And God even lets them sacrifice his son.
As a payment for our sins.
But no grave can hold the son of God.
And three days later, HE rises in victory.
Proving that his death really can pay for your sins.
And have you accepted that payment?
That is the great question in front of every human being.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, died, was crucified in your place.
While you, even though it should have been you, can be set free from the payment of your sin.
You don’t have to go to hell, you don’t have to stay stuck, magnetized to a life of continual sin.
God can set you free.
He can forgive you and come into your life and change you.
But it starts with you saying, “I believe.”
I believe you died in my place.
I believe you died when it should have been me.
And so if you died for me, I will live for you.
It is that simple, yet enormous decision of faith that will save you, make you right with God, and bring Him into your life.
And if you’ve never made that decision before, I want to give you a chance to do so right now.
Let’s just have everyone bow their head and close their eyes.
If you want to believe that Jesus died in your place, and let him set you free and forgive you…
You can do that today.
God will send His Spirit into your life and change you from the inside out.
And He will save you from your sins.
If you need to make that decision today, as a way to symbolically receive Him in, I want you to raise your hand up to Him.
For those of you with your hands raise, we want to pray with you.
Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you with your hands raised, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.
You won’t walk out there alone.
There are others standing with you, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you, and they will meet you immediately as you walk out the door
Then myself and our team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member has their hand up, PLEASE come out there with them.
All right, you can all go now.
As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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