Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon What Shall I Do With Jesus Who is Called Christ? ]

Lonnie Branam

Matthew 27:15-26

Matthew 27:21,22 says, “The governor answered and said to them, `Which of the two do you want me to release to you? They said Barabbas. Pilate said to them, What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said to him, Let him be crucified.” These words of Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders are among the most unforgettable words in the Bible. It is the most extraordinary scene ever witnessed in human history. The one who created the universe is standing before a Roman judge in a court of judgment, and this scene will be reversed on the day of judgment when this same Roman judge will stand before Jesus in a judgment situation. Pontius Pilate is one of the most famous men who has ever lived, and his name has become a household word in the homes of Christians for two thousand years. Moreover, I am inclined to think that most people in the world have heard of this famous man. The man has been dead for two thousand years, but the human race cannot forget him. He is gone, but his name lives on in infamy. How shall we account for such undying fame? His name lives on because one day in his life he met Jesus and had a conversation with him. The world would never have remembered that Pilate ever lived except for his encounter with Christ. He was called on to decide whether Christ should live or die. After careful examination he decided that Christ was not only innocent, but he was also a righteous man. When the Jewish leaders demanded that Jesus be crucified, Pilate said, “Why, what evil has He done? I find no fault in Him.” He even took water and washed his hands before the multitude and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. But when he saw that he could not prevai, that a tumult was arising and was threatened to be reported to Caesar, he delivered him to be crucified. For the way He treated Jesus we cannot forget him. Because of the relationship he had with Jesus, his name has been immortalized. He is famous only because of Jesus. On the day of judgment, I am inclined to think that Pilate will feel worse than anyone else. He didn't know Jesus was the divine Son of God and even the Jewish leaders did not believe in Him. Nevertheless, he missed his opportunity. Millions of people on that day will be able say, “I did not know who you were.” The world would never have remembered that a Roman Governor named Pilate lived except for this encounter with Christ.
Pilate is not only one of the most famous men who has ever lived, but he has given to the world perhaps the most famous question that a human being can ask. He coined this famous question after he had made one more desperate attempt to save Jesus. It was the custom at the Passover to release a criminal from prison chosen by the Jews. This was permitted to secure popularity with Jews and give importance to the visit which Pilate made to Jerusalem. Jews held in high esteem political prisoners who opposed Rome, and to release one of them was most pleasing to te Jews. Pilate thought he might be able to save Jesus by giving the Jews a choice between a notable prisoner called Barabbas and Jesus. Barabbas was involved in a rebellion against Rome and in the confusion had committed murder. Pilate thought surely they would let Jesus go free instead of murderer, but it wasn't to be so. They screamed out to let Barabbas go free and have Jesus crucified. They chose a murderer over Jesus, and Peter reminded the Jews on the Day of Pentecost of that sinful choice.
When the multitude demanded the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus, Pilate then presented this question to Jewish leaders and all the people, “What shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? But the importance of this question to us is, “What shall each one of us do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate's place in history was achieved because he asked that question. Pilate was asking a question larger than himself, larger than his time. As long as men live, Pilate will be remembered as the man through whom life's most important l question was issued. This is a question relevant to all people in every century since the first century, relevant to every generation and all age groups who are old enough to know right from wrong. Each and every person must answer this question for himself or herself, and no one can answer it for us. “What will I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate answered that question y turning Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified. That is the question of all questions, whatever may be man's race, color, religion, or creed. That is the question all people must answer in their lifetime: Jewish people, Arabic people, Hindu people, and all other people regardless of their religious belief. In a real sense the entire human race is on trial; they must decide whether Jesus will live or die, and how they answer that question will determine their eternal destiny. Someone might say,”You are making a big deal over this question of Pilate. Is it really so important?”
The reason this question is so relevant in the 21 st century is that Jesus Christ is our contemporary. Someone who is a contemporary is one who lives when we live. Please notice the question comes with the first pronoun “I”. What will I do with Jesus.” Some things about life are inescapable, and Christ is one of them. For over two thousand years Christ has been the central character of human history. Pilate is dead, but Christ is alive, and in a real sense He stands before us all, and we all have to answer Pilate's question as did Israel of old. It is an inescapable question. Jesus is the inescapable Christ. No one can get away from Jesus or get around Him. He is a living reality. Before He left this world He said this to His disciples, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”(Matthew 28:20). Christ's biography closes with these words. In some sense Jesus remains in the world, and it is as though
He never left. Explain it as you will, but He said I am with you always. He is among us and in the world. He said of Christians who assemble to worship God and observe the Lord's Supper,”Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." He made us, and He is a person every human being must deal with. Because He is at the heart of all human existence, He is on the agenda of every person's life. Jesus said to John on the Isle of Patmos, “I am He who lives, and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of hades and death.” The most obvious truth about Christ is that He cannot be ignored. Across the centuries man has answered the question of Pilate with contempt, scorn, astonishment, and some with undying love. Others have answered with indifference. Those who are indifferent to this question in effect say, “Let Him be crucified.” But all, mind you, have answered.
this question in one way or another. It is an inescapable question.
My friends, the world must accept the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is alive. He is not the Hero of some vague fairy tale or a superstitious person invented by Hjs distraught disciples. He is not the memorable character of a sentimental old out of date book. called the Bible. He is much more that the world's greatest teacher or the outstanding founder of the world's greatest religion. He lives!. Though He preexisted before He came to earth, He is as much at home in Los Angeles as in Capernaum. The word of God says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever”(Hebrews 13:8). There is no way anyone can intelligently answer this great question of life if one is not convinced that Jesus is alive. The question as to whether Christ will live or die must be answered within the heart of every person. The basic issues that were involved in the crucifixion are at stake today. Christ was not put to death by a group of rabble rousers. They were, for the most part, ordinary citizens. Among there were the most religious people of the day. Today we stand where they stood. While the details of time and place are different, the basic decisions which they faced are the very ones at issue in our lives today. The cross of Christ is inescapable. It raises unchanging choices which must be faced anew by each generation. .
Finally, this passage of scripture has raised many conflicting views on who bears the most responsibility and guilt for the crucifixion of Christ. Who is to be blamed for this terrible crime of the first century? Shall we put all the blame on Pilate?. No, we can't put all the blame on this poor Roman ruler. He was a victim of circumstances. He did make several attempts to set Jesus free. The poor man did not know who Jesus was, and the leaders of the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as an imposter. However, we cannot excuse his conduct. He killed an innocent man. He sent a man to the cross whom he believed to be a righteous man. Certainly, Pilate bears some of the guilt for the crucifixion. Furthermore, the religious world has been deliberating for years about te level guilt which the Jewish race should bear for the first century crime. Christendom, in gerneral, places most of the blam on the Jewish nation. However, the Jews as a nation should not soley be held accountable, or Jesus was more than a matter of concern for thse Jerusalem Sanhedrein. I agree with those who believe that Jesus Christ cannot be made the exclusive business of any age or place. No one doubts that a lot of blame belongs to the Jewish nation in rejecting Christ as their heaven-appointed Messiah, and God did hold them accountable by destroying the city of Jerusalem, by destroying their Temple, and by sending them into Roman captivity in 70 A.D. By crucifying Christ, they themselves brought the Jewish religion to an end forever, for Jesus nailed their religion to the cross. The Jewish religion died when Jesus died. It was indeed the crowning sin of Israel to crucify their Messiah. However, we cannot place all the blame on Israel for tshe crucifixion of Christ. The one really important question--whether Christ should live or die– was not settled by one passing generation of Jews, occupying a tiny, insignificant corner of the world two thousand years ago. There was more to the death of Christ than the unbelief of a handful of Jewish people in the small nation of Israel two thousand years ago.
Let's place the major blame for the death of Christ on the people to whom it rightly belongs. Most of the blame for the death Christ falls on on the entire human race. It was the sinfulness of mankind from the time of Adam to the time of Christ that sent Christ to the cross. We all crucified Him. The supreme explanation for the death of Christ given in the book of Isaiah 53:4-6: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We have turned, everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” God laid on Jesus the iniquity of all mankind. God allowed all this to happen to Christ that He might offer reconciliation and eternal life to all mankind. The crucifixion of Christ was the crowning sin of the human race. The Bible says Christ tasted death for every man. Christians sing hymns in which they give to themselves a share of the guilt of our Lord's death. One Christian hymn says: “Alas and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree.” Another hymn says: "Shall Icrucify the Savior, When for me He bore such loss? Shall I put to shame my Savior? Can I nail Him to the cross?
Twas my sins that crucified Him: Shall they crucify Him yet? Shall I crucify my Savior? Crucify my Lod again? Once O once I crucified Him: Shall I crucify again?" In this hymn we learn that Christians have crucified Him once, and it is possible for Christians to crucify Him a second time. The answer to all the questions in that hymn are, “Yes, its possible.” That hymn is based on a teaching in the book of Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, (it is impossible) to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame.” We must understand that statement in the light of the context. Because of the Jewish persecution those Jewish Christians were about to give up the Christian religion and go back the Jewish religion. That would not be an ordinary sin which can be forgiven by repentance and prayer. This sin would be the sin of apostasy, a complete departure from the Christian religion for another religion , a complete break with Christ as their Savior. That would be about the same treatment the people gave Him when He was before Pontius Pilate. Christians can willingly reject Christ who forgave them of a lifetime of sin, but such a sin assault on Christ puts Him to an open shame before the world. If a Christian does that, there is no way back to Christ. As long as a Christian believes in Christ as God's Son and the Savior of the world, any sin he commits may be forgiven, but to forsake Him and lose all faith in Him as Lord and Savior, there is nothing that can be done for that person. He is gone. The reason given for the doom of such a person is, “It is impossible to renew him to repenatance.” May that never happen ot any of us We all have crucifed Him once by the way we lived before we became Christians, and that's enough. Peter taught the same truth about the sin of apostasy in 2 Peter 2:20, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment given to them.”

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