Summary: A sermon about overcoming fear.
“24 Hours that Changed the World: Condemned by the Righteous”
One day a bus driver was driving along his usual route.
He didn’t have any problems for the first few stops; a few people got on and got off, and things went pretty smooth.
At one stop, however, a big hulk of a man got on.
He was 6’8” tall, built like a wrestler, and his arms seemed to hang down to the ground.
He glared at the bus driver and told him, “Big John doesn’t pay!”
Then he sat down at the back of the bus.
The driver was 5’3” tall, thin, and very meek…so he didn’t argue with Big John.
But, of course, he wasn’t happy about it.
The next day, the same thing happened.
Big John got on again, made a big show of refusing to pay, and sat down.
It happened the next day, and again the day after that.
The bus driver started to lose sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him.
Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore.
He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and a class on finding your self-esteem.
By the end of the summer, the bus driver had become quite strong and felt really good about himself.
The next Monday, Big John got on the bus again and declared: “Big John doesn’t pay!”
Enraged, the bus driver stood up, glared back at Big John, and bellowed, “And why not?!”
With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, “Big John has a bus pass.”
Fear can cause us to do silly things.
It can cause us to see danger where there is none.
It can paralyze us from doing what we know is right.
It can also cause us to do horrible, atrocious things.
In his book Fearless, Max Lucado writes about the power fear has to turn us into beastly people:
“[Fear] turns us into control freaks…[for]…fear, at its center, is a perceived loss of control.
When life spins wildly, we grab for a component of life we can manage: our diet, the tidiness of our home, the armrest of a plane, or, in many cases, people.
The more insecure we feel, the meaner we become.
We growl and bare our fangs.
Because we are bad?
But also because we feel cornered.”
The guards that had arrested Jesus took Him to the “high priest, and all the chief priests, elders, and legal experts gathered.”
Meanwhile, Peter had mustered enough courage to follow at a distance, hiding in the shadows, distraught and afraid.
We are told that “the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death…”
The Sanhedrin was a council made up of 71 of the wisest and most religious men of the time.
In Jesus’ day, the Sanhedrin ruled over all things religious just like the Romans ruled over their political lives.
The Sanhedrin had control of the Temple and the religious courts.
They were men who devoted themselves to God, and their high priest was the leading religious figure of his time.
We are told that all these religious folk condemned Jesus to die.
“Some began to spit on him. Some covered his face and hit him, saying, ‘Prophesy!’ Then the guards took him and beat him.”
These are some horrible things.
Especially when we realize that Jesus is God Who walked in human flesh on this earth as an itinerant preacher, teacher, carpenter, healer—and pauper.
He came as one of us.
He healed the sick, forgave sinners, showed compassion to the lost, and taught people what God was really like.
Given these facts, isn’t it ironic that those who condemned Jesus to death were not gangsters, or criminals or mentally deranged serial killers…
…they were the most pious and religious people on the face of the earth!!!
The God they claimed to serve walked among them in the flesh, and they couldn’t see Him.
The people who would be most expected to recognize and worship Jesus instead arrested Him in darkness and brought Him to trial.
And I think the question we must ask is “How could this happen?”
How could 71 righteous men, dedicated to God, do what these men did?
Why did they condemn an innocent man to death?
And even if they thought He was a false Messiah, why would these “pillars of the community” spit on Him?
Why would they blindfold, mock and hit Him?
Why would they act like playground bullies?
The answer, or at least part of the answer, I believe, is fear!
These men saw Jesus as a threat to their way of life, their positions of authority, their status, their jobs, their lives.
Have you ever been afraid of Jesus, of what might happen to some of the “unconverted corners” of your life if you were to give yourself completely over to Him?