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CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. Last Sunday I pointed out to you that all 4 of the gospel writers told about Jesus being brought by the chief priests & rulers to stand trial before Pilate, the Roman Governor. And they demanded that he sentence Jesus to die.
We particularly looked at the account in the Gospel of Matthew, & considered carefully what he had written. Today, I want us to turn to the Gospel of Luke & once again view that scene as Pilate tries to release Jesus. Please listen as I read Luke 23:13-24.
"Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers & the people, & said to them, `You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined Him in your presence & have found no basis for your charges against Him. Neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; as you can see, He has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish Him & then release Him.’
"With one voice they cried out, ’Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’ (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, & for murder.)
"Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, `Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’
"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 & then release Him.’
"But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, & their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection & murder, the one they asked for, & surrendered Jesus to their will" [Luke 23:13-24].
B. A poet once wrote, "Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, `It might have been.’" If that is true, then one of the most tragic words in human language must be the word "almost."
"Almost" speaks of aborted opportunities & missed chances. And I’m sure that as long as this world exists, "almosts" will dot the pages of human history. "I almost climbed the mountain." "We almost reached our goal." "I almost closed the deal." "We almost got there in time." We’ve all had those "almost" experiences, haven’t we?
C. I suppose that the most infamous "almoster" in history would have to be Pilate because he almost released Jesus. He almost lowered the gavel & said, "Not guilty." He almost said, "I dismiss all the charges because this man is innocent." He almost set Him free.
What a change that would have made in our perception of Pilate. Why, we might be calling him "St. Pilate" today. He almost did it, you see. But he didn’t. Yet he could have, & that is his tragedy.
He had the authority to do it. He wore the signet ring that said he had the power to do it. All he had to do was speak the word decisively, & Jesus would have been set free. And he did it, almost.
D. Verse 23 says, "But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, & their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand." He listened to their voices. We could even say, I suppose, that he listened to the voices of evil, to the voice of Satan.
We’ve heard the voices, too, haven’t we, voices saying,
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