Faithlife Sermons

What To Do With Jesus (Luke 23:1-25)

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Procrastinators unite....tomorrow.
Do we have any procrastinators in here. I’m assuming a few more of you are but you’ll just raise your hand a little later.
I have this tooth that I need to get looked at. It’s going to have to come out. It needed to a couple months ago. But now it’s starting to hurt. But you know it’s not at a level 10 yet. When a tooth gets there…it HAS to come out.
No more procrastinating. No more putting it off until tomorrow. That’s no longer an option. Our bodies have a way of shutting down and saying okay, I’ve let you put this off long enough, we’re going to deal with this.
Now, I’m not sure that I want to compare Jesus to a bad tooth…but I think we can treat Jesus in a similar fashion.
I’ll look at that stuff later. I’ll deal with Jesus a bit later. I’ve got some stuff I need to do first. Jesus is calling you to address that particular sin in your life, or to get your marriage right, or to finally obey Him in that area of ministry, or calling you to work on that relationship. I’ll do that a bit later.
Or maybe it’s none of that. Perhaps it is initial faith. You’re kind of on the fence. Standing on holy ground but still having one shoe on, type of thing. You’re intrigued but you’re not about to give him everything. I’ll put that off a little longer.
Well, today we have tooth pain cranked up to an 11 for the religious leaders, Pilate, Herod, and even the crowd. What will they do with Jesus? We will see in our text three responses to Jesus.
Luke 23:1–25 ESV
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. 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.” 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. 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.
Sermon Introduction:
Nobody in this part of the story wants anything to do with Jesus. But their strategy for avoiding Jesus is different.
It’s really ironic what is happening here. The religious leaders cannot simply crucify Jesus. They don’t have the authority to do this, because they are governed by Rome. They aren’t independent. So if they want to get rid of Jesus they will need the help of Rome.
And that’s ironic because the One who is supposed to overturn Roman rule, the Messiah, is the very one that they are trying to kill by the hands of Rome.
Their charges against Jesus are junk charges. And look at how they shift based upon the audience. For their Jewish audience they say, “This man is guilty of blasphemy”....but Rome doesn’t care about that.
Jesus needs to do die so we can be faithful to God. The holiness of God demands the death of this blasphemer. That’s their logic w/their Jewish audience…but not with Rome.
They have to turn the charges political.
“We found this man misleading our nation”.
“Forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar”
“And saying that he himself is Christ, a king”.
He’s not faithful to Caesar. He’s creating an uprising. He is claiming to be a king. He’s a challenge to the throne of Rome.
Now, that is something that Rome would listen to. It’s not true, of course. He certainly didn’t forbid them to give tribute to Caesar. And his kingdom is entirely different.
Their strategy to not have to deal with the claims of Jesus is to kill him. He’s threatening their life. He’s taking away all the things they hold dear—all the power, all the prestige, etc. If Jesus is listened to it’ll mess up the whole system. It’ll spoil the racket they’ve got going.
So, they are going to maintain a religious exterior, pretend like they are doing this for the people, continue to pretend like they are the good guys—protecting others from this deceiver named Jesus—but in reality they are just protecting themselves.
Would we ever do that? Maintain a religious exterior, play the game well, convince everyone we’re on the side of good and righteous but inwardly denying Jesus?
That’s their strategy but Pilate doesn’t seem all that interested. Look at verse 3.
I. The disinterest of Pilate
Pilate picks up that “king of the Jews” statement. Jesus doesn’t deny it—because it’s kind of true—but also he doesn’t agree to it because it means something entirely different. He once again puts the ball back in Pilate’s court.
This is Jesus asking Pilate the same question he asked Peter and the other disciples so many months ago, “who do you say that I am”. Am I king of the Jews, Pilate. You decide...
Pilate’s not interested, though. He doesn’t find any guilt in Jesus, but he doesn’t care about this whole thing.
Then they mention Galilee...
“From Galilee”....oh, whew that’s my out....I can pass the buck…I can push Jesus on down the line.
And that’s one strategy for dealing with Jesus, or rather NOT dealing with Jesus. To distract ourselves, to push it on down the line, push it out, change the subject....
We even have some religious looking options to avoid Jesus. We can get really busy with ministry—fill up our calendars so that we don’t have a moment of silence. Give our whole lives to talking ABOUT Jesus but never actually meeting with Jesus.
And of course there are less religious options. We can get involved in social things, politics, change the subject to the latest outrage of the day. That’s what so much of what we see on the news and such is actually doing—it’s just a great ploy to keep us from looking at what really matters—the Lord Jesus.
And we can also distract ourselves with entertainment, pleasures, drugs, alcohol, numbing through other means, getting wrapped up in our own internal world and our own victimhood.
So many strategies…just pass Jesus on down the line and get back to running your kingdom. That’s what Pilate did.
Now here is Jesus before Herod.
II. The mocking of Herod
Herod has heard of Jesus. This isn’t the same dude who tried to kill Jesus when he was a baby. Different Herod. This one views Jesus as kind of a carnival sideshow.
Oh, this sounds fun.
What is his posture? He’s in control. He’s analyzing Jesus…he’s the one who will determine. He’s not in the hands of Jesus…Jesus is in his hands…it’s a delusion.
Alright…I’m ready to deal with Jesus…except it’s really not dealing with Jesus because you’re viewing him on your own terms.
This is when you come to the claims of Jesus with a preconceived idea. You aren’t actually open to Jesus—just pretending to be. It’s cynicism. It’s mocking.
But it’s another escape strategy. You array Jesus in your own clothes and then mock him. But you’ve never actually dealt with the claims of Jesus.
Oh, I’ve read the Bible. Oh, I’ve done all that Jesus stuff. But have you…really? Or did you just stand over him and analyze without an ounce of honest curiosity, without a moment of actually weighing his claims.
Herod sends him back to Pilate. And a little side note here…Herod and Pilate becoming friends. That usually happens doesn’t it, co-conspirators in evil. People that you never thought would get along, join forces for evil. Evil can make friends of enemies.
III. Back to Pilate
Now Pilate once again has to deal with Jesus. You aren’t going to pass the buck that easy...
Oh, the grace of God here for Pilate. And you can feel that God is pressing in on him. He’s going to have to make a decision about Jesus.
And he turns a little angry. He’s angry at the people for forcing his hand. That’s something we like to do as well…we turn angry at people who aren’t actually the issue. We turn opportunities for ministry and connection into moments for anger and rage.
Notice too what Pilate is saying. I found this man innocent. That’s saying one thing…but it’s also saying another. Pilate is saying, “he’s innocent” of your charges but he’s still not asking the most important question…well, then, who is this Jesus?
He IS the King of the Jews. And so Pilate isn’t actually pressing into the claims of Jesus. He’s not curious either. He remains disinterested. He’s not going to actively oppose Jesus, he doesn’t join the mob, but that doesn’t make him a friend of Jesus.
It’s a little like what MLK said, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” You aren’t on the side of good if you remain silent when you could do something about it.
It’s Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. We could politicize this and make it all about some culture war, or we could simply make the point—when I have life in front of me, when I have saving and protecting a life, what do I do? Do I remain silent? Do I pass the buck? Do I try to make it somebody else’s problem? Or do I do something about it?
Pilate had the precious life of Jesus in his hands, he kept trying to release him, but he was still—at the end of the day—a politician at heart. He’s going to keep his position, even if it means the life of Jesus.
And now we see the anger of the priests and the people.
IV. The anger of priests and people
“cried together” finally united. They have finally stirred up the people against Jesus. It’s an angry mob and the idea is that they are just taken away with the course of the world.
We already looked at this strategy at the beginning. It’s anger. It’s when you get to that spot where Jesus has pinned you down—you must deal with this—and rather than surrender you kick and claw and scream, and try to remove him.
And this is a big and dangerous and scary move. To silence him in your life. To respond with anger and rage and ultimately silence Jesus.
He’ll die. Not me.
The way of Jesus is opposite. I’ll die, not them.
And we see this in Barabbas. So much irony here. He actually is guilty of many of the things they are charging Jesus with. He, it seems from these words here, was leading people astray, creating an uprising, etc. He was a murderous social agitator.
But they want Barabbas.
Barabbas, the guilty one. The one who actually has done all the bad things said about him, and probably even more.
Barabbas, deserving of death.
Jesus, the only innocent human to ever live. He’s done nothing but good. Nothing but perfectly loving God and humanity.
Jesus, not deserving death.
But Jesus will take the place of Barabbas. Anger, murderous, criminal, guilty Barabbas.
Jesus will willingly die and save the life of Barabbas. Yes, we are Barabbas.
But we’re also the priests, the crowd, Pilate, and Herod.
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There was a little statement from Isaiah 53 that struck me this week. “He has borne our griefs...”
I thought of this for many things, but I also thought of this with the text. What grief is Jesus bearing here.
You ever feel like you don’t matter, you can’t get their attention, you just keep being passed on down the line, you’re not important enough to get someone’s attention—and he’s frustrated when he finally has to deal with you.
Well, Jesus has borne that grief.
You ever been mocked. Turned into nothing but an object of scorn and ridicule. Nobody taking you seriously. You feel like just a big joke.
Well, Jesus has borne that grief.
You been on the receiving end of anger? Religious anger?
Well, Jesus has borne that grief.
Or maybe you are Barabbas. Guilty. He has stood in your place. We don’t have Barabbas’ response…but do we have yours?
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It’s decision time. What are you going to do with Jesus?
Maybe for the first time, we’re talking initial faith. Initial trust in Jesus.
Or maybe it’s finally time to deal with that thing, that cloud that is covering everything, that sin that is entangling you, that obedience that you’re running from.
Don’t have the response of Pilate, Herod, the religious leaders, or the crowd.
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