Sunday, February 16, 2020

“Jesus Stood Before the Governor” [Matt's Messages]

“Jesus Stood Before the Governor”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
February 16, 2020 :: Matthew 27:11-26

We’ve followed Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew from before His birth now to the day of His death.

We’ve been concentrating on the events of that last week and that last night and now that last day.

We’ve said that time has slowed down as Matthew has shared the terrible details about that awful time.

And it just gets worse.

It just gets worse.

Jesus shared a last Passover with His disciples and predicted Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, and all of disciples’ desertion.

Jesus has prayed facedown in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading with His Father to take away the cup of suffering if at all possible.

But He also said, “Your will be done.”

“Your will be done.”

And then they came arrested our Lord.

Judas betrayed Him with kiss.

They laid their hands on Him and took Him away to face a travesty of a trial.

The Sanhedrin met at night and cooked up some unjust proceedings.

False witnesses and a false verdict.

But a true confession. The Lord Jesus confessed to being the Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man, and that He is!

But they said, “He is worthy of death.

And they spit on Him.
And they mocked Him and they toyed with Him.
And they struck Him with their fists.

They beat Him!

And then Peter disowned Him.
And Judas committed suicide over Him without repenting.

And the chief priests and the elders of the people condemned Him.

They bound Him.

They led Him away and they handed Him over to Pilate, the Roman governor.

And it just gets worse.

The title of this message comes out of our first verse, Matthew 27, verse 11.

“Jesus Stood Before the Governor.”

This section recounts the Roman phase of Jesus’ trial.

The first major phase was the Jewish phase, and that was bad enough.

But now our Lord stands before the Roman governor [and that word “governor” keeps getting repeated (v.2, v.11, v.14, v.21)].

And the governor sits there and judges our Lord.

This should not be.

Everything about this story is wrong.

This governor should not be Jesus’ governor.

Jesus is the governor of Pilate!

Jesus is the judge of Pilate.

Jesus should be sitting and Pilate standing.

And yet, at this moment, their roles are reversed.

Jesus stands before the governor who sits in judgment on Him.

The Jews have obviously told Pilate the charges against Jesus.

They have not emphasized that Jesus has, in their opinion, blasphemed.

Blasphemy is what they said Jesus had done.

He had claimed to be worthy of sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds as the Son of Man to judge the world.

That’s what caused them to tear their robes.

But what they told the Roman governor was that Jesus claimed to be a king.

And that meant that Jesus might be a threat.

He doesn’t look like a threat.

He hasn’t mounted a rebellion.
He hasn’t fomented a revolution.
He hasn’t armed an army.

The people have loved Him, that’s for sure.

But He mostly acts like a teacher or a debater. More like a prophet than a king.

He’s caused a bit of a ruckus in the temple this week, but nothing much for Rome to be concerned about.

And yet here He is standing before the governor on trial for His life.

So Pilate asks Him a question.

What do you think the question is going to be?

Let me give you a hint. This is the Gospel of Matthew.

Keep your eye on the ball. The question is going to be about the identity of Jesus.

Who is this man?

Matthew 27:11

“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.”

Or the Greek could be translated, “You say so.” or “You said it.”

We might say today, “You are not wrong.”

Jesus must say that because it’s true. Though He is not a king of the Jews the way Pilate fears He is. At least not primarily. Jesus has bigger things in His sights than kicking Rome out of Palestine!

But He is the King of the Jews.

Yes, He is.

But that’s all He’s going to say. V.12

“When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, ‘Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge–to the great amazement of the governor.”

I have three points I want to make this morning. Here’s number one.

Jesus stood before the governor:

#1. IN PERFECT CONTROL.

We’ve seen this again and again in chapters 26 and 27.

The Passion of Jesus Christ is not accident.

And it is not just something that others choose for Him.

Jesus chooses it for Himself.

You look at Him here, and He is completely in control of Himself.

Perfect self-control.

They’ve spit on Him and beat Him and played “who hit you?” at Him, and He is so calm and so cool and so collected.

He is regal, isn’t He?

He is majestic and dignified.

Remember, He could call down 72,000 flaming angel soldiers to bring justice to this moment, but instead He chooses to be silent.

“To the great amazement of the governor.”

Pilate doesn’t know what to make of Him.

“Don’t you hear what these guys are saying about you?”

“Aren’t you going to defend yourself?”

“Are you saying that you’re guilty?”

I’m not sure if Pilate respects Jesus or is frustrated by His silence. Probably both.

He’s probably mystified that Jesus would not open His mouth. (I was helped by Grant Osborne with these adjectives.)

Why didn’t He open His mouth?

You know it. Matthew knows it.

Jesus is fulfilling Isaiah 53.

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (v.7).

That was written over 700 years before Jesus was born.

But here He is living it out!

With perfect self control.

Astounding!

Jesus is choosing all of this. He is choosing to be the ransom for many.

He is choosing to be the lamb being led to slaughter.

He is choosing to not open His mouth.

Our very salvation depends upon it.

If Jesus bleats–if Jesus protests and defends and stops all of this–we are not saved.

Our salvation is on the line here.

But our Lord is more than suited to the task! V.14 again.

“But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge–to the great amazement of the governor.”

Praise God for His self control!

Praise God for His willingness to fulfill Isaiah 53.

Can you imagine choosing to be the guy who lives out Isaiah 53?

I’m so thankful that I am not called to be the fulfillment Isaiah 53!

We would all be doomed.

Because I so often lack self-control, and I certainly can’t control all of the events swirling around me.

But praise God, Jesus stood before the governing in perfect control!

Of Himself and of the situation.

Of course, Pilate thinks that he’s in control.

And he wants to maintain that control.

And he thinks he knows a way out of this predicament.

Because Pilate is in a predicament.

To Pilate, Jesus is obviously not a threat to Rome.

There is something else going on here.

But Pilate can’t just let Jesus go. He has to try to balance everybody’s competing interests.

He’s got to keep the Sanhedrin happy because he needs a good relationship with them.

And he’s got to keep Tiberius Caesar happy because that his boss, and he can get fired or killed or both.

And he’s also got to worry about the people that he’s governing.

So he gets an idea.

It’s a reality TV show kind of idea:

Let’s vote somebody off of the island!

Let’s have a contest.

Let’s put it up for popular vote.

Let’s make it a show. “Crowd’s Choice!” v.15

“Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. [Yeah, let’s use that!] At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. [Which literally means, “Son of the Father.”] So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’  For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.”

Pilate knows the score.

The Sanhedrin hate Jesus because He’s so popular!

Is he right?

Of course, he’s right.

It’s envy, plain and simple. It’s more than that, but it’s not less.

So Pilate thinks, “This Jesus guy is popular. He’s got great ratings. I heard what happened on Sunday when He rode into town on a little donkey. ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!’” That was just Sunday. This is Friday morning of the same week.

Of course, the crowd is going to vote for Jesus.

Barabbas was a “notorious prisoner.”

The other gospels tell us that he was violent and a murderer and probably an rebel insurrectionist.

Barabbas was one bad hombre.

Who would want that guy to be released?!

Nobody is going to want that?!

By the way, some of the earliest manuscripts indicate that Barabbas had the first name of Jesus.

He was Jesus Barabbas. Jesus the Son of the Father.

What a coincidence?!

So that Pilate gives the crowd the choice between two Jesus:

“‘Which one do you want me to release to you: [Jesus] Barabbas, or Jesus who is called [Messiah]?’”

This should be a no-brainer.

But this story just gets worse. Verse 19.

“While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat [He’s seated. Jesus is standing.], his wife sent him this message: ‘Don't have anything to do with that innocent man [that righteous man], for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.’”

Oh man, is that interesting!

I’d like to know more about that. There are no more details than that in the Bible.

It means at least one thing, “Guys, listen to your wives!”

I’m serious, actually.  The women in the Gospel of Matthew are much wiser than most of the men.

And this is a Gentile woman! A Roman woman!

And she knows the score.

I wonder if we’ll meet her in heaven?!

If only Pilate had listened to her!

If only the crowd had listened to her.

But instead, they listened to Jesus’ enemies.

They listened to the fakes and the snakes. V.20

“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ asked the governor [He’s not leading. He’s following.]. ‘Barabbas,’ they answered.

“What?!

That’s not what I expected.”

Pilate has misjudged the crowd.

Perhaps because Barabbas was popular. Maybe he was seen as a Robin Hood type person who was anti-Rome, and the Jews liked that.

Or maybe it didn’t have much to do with Barabbas at all.

Maybe they had just come to hate Jesus.

Verse 22. “‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked. They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’”

It just gets worse.

Crucify Him?

Do you know what that means?

Don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball.

Notice that it’s all about the identity of Jesus.

“Jesus WHO IS CALLED CHRIST.”

Is Jesus Who He says He is?

The leaders say, “No.”

And the crowd says, “No. Crucify Him.”

They act like He is guilty, but that’s as far from the truth as possible.

Jesus stood before the governor:

#2. IN PERFECT INNOCENCE.

Pilate’s wife was right. He is “innocent man.”

And Pilate knows it, too. V.23

“‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. [None!] But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’”

Pilate has lost control.

He’s not governing anything.

This is mob justice.

Which is perfect IN-justice.

“Why? What crime has he committed?”

It is we who have committed the crimes.

And Jesus is innocent of them.

He is not just silent like a lamb going to the slaughter.

He is innocent like a lamb going to the slaughter.

He is blameless like a lamb going to the slaughter.

And He still doesn’t open His mouth.

Pilate is afraid of a riot.

But he is a consummate showman. So he calls for a bowl of water and motions for the crowd to hush. V.24

“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man's blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’”

I think there are two things going on there at once.

One is that he is mocking the Sanhedrin, especially the Pharisees.

They have these elaborate hand-washing rituals. Remember that from chapter 15?

“Look at me. I’m washing my hands. Which is what you guys are all about!”

He might have even known that they hated Jesus for what the Lord had said about their handwashings

But the other thing he’s doing so dramatically is trying to get out of responsibility for what is about to happen.

This is where we get our phrase, “washing our hands of it.”

“I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your responsibility!”

Which, of course, is not true.

Nice try, Pilate!

You can’t wiggle out of this responsibility so easily.

Notice that Pilate is actually worse than Judas.

Judas at least took responsibility for the blood of this innocent man.

Pilate tries to beg off the responsibility for what he is about to do. It doesn’t work.

“I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your responsibility!”

And then it gets worse! V.25

“All the people answered, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children!’”

They take the responsibility.

It’s like they want to be held responsible for killing the Messiah.

And it’s just like Jesus said it would be.

Think about all of His parables. 

He told this one earlier in the week:

“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.  Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said.

But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’

He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,’ they replied, ‘and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.’"

And now the crowd says, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”

And within a generation, Jerusalem would be left desolate and the temple destroyed (cf. 23:29-39).

Because Jesus is innocent.

But they were not.

They were responsible.
Pilate was responsible.
And you and I are responsible.

Jesus is innocent.

But we...we are sinful.

We are the reason why Jesus is staying silent.

Because He is going to take our place.

He stood before the human governor so that we could, one day, stand before the divine governor.

Because He was standing in perfect control and because He was standing in perfect innocence, He could be our perfect sacrifice.

#3. OUR PERFECT SACRIFICE.

Our perfect substitute.

The Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.

Right before that sentence in Isaiah 53 about the Lamb that did not open His mouth is this sentence:

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Think about Barabbas.

He was also supposed to stand before the governor.

And he was as guilty as sin.

He should have been crucified for his crimes.

But that day Jesus took his place, and Barabbas walked away free.

Jesus was his perfect substitute.

It was a complete injustice, but it was all grace to Barabbas.

The same is true for us, isn’t it?

We deserved what Jesus went through.

He went through it for us!

V.26  “Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

It just gets worse.

That word “flogged” doesn’t sound so bad, until you hear what it really means.

It means they took a whip with shards of metal or bone on the end of it, and they scourged the back of our Lord.

The whip tore His flesh.

They would strip him down to the waist and tie Him to a pillar or a pole and whip Him.

And whip Him.

And whip Him.

There would be no mercy.

He has been judged guilty.

You could get flogged before your sentence to get the truth out of you.

But they go easy on you then.

This is after the sentence.

He is condemned by Israel and by Rome.

He is guilty and is going to die.

Many prisoners did not survive the floggings.

They would tear at the flesh until sometimes the skeleton and the internal organs would be revealed.

This helped to make sure that the crucifixions didn’t last too long.

And there was no anesthesia.

There was no kindness.

There was only suffering.

There was only sacrifice.

It just gets worse.

But He stood before the governor like this for you and me.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"
71. "This Very Night"
72. "It Must Happen in this Way"
73. "He Is Worthy"
74. Disowned and Condemned

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