Summary: This sermon reviews the trial of Jesus before Pilate. Who is guilty for the death of our Christ? You might be surprised by the answer.
This is the third week of our journey through lent and we are focusing on the Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate. We remember that Pontius Pilate was a Roman official assigned to govern over all Judea. He would be a man quickly forgotten if not for one man in particular that he condemned to die… that is Jesus our Lord. Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, put on trial, and here… in our scripture today… the people are making their plea for Jesus to be sentenced to death by crucifixion. The leaders of the church didn’t have the authority… only the Roman government did… so there they stand… before Pilate… shouting for Jesus’ blood. Pilate was unimpressed with the charges and made his plea for Jesus’ to be released and cleared of all charges.
But, Pilate wanted it done without upsetting the Jewish leadership under his rule. He didn’t want an uprising… didn’t want the conflict… didn’t want the trouble. Pilate, wanting to satisfy them, offered up a loophole… convict Jesus sure, but release him with pardon because of the tradition of the feast going on. They rejected his offer, and… with his hands tied… Pilate sentenced Jesus to his death… claiming, this blood is not on my hands.
Yet, Pilate will forever be remembered for the part he played… he will be remembered because he was not strong enough to stand up for what was right… he was not strong enough to do what was right… he gave in to the pressures surrounding him and Jesus bore the brunt of his failure. Let’s go to the scriptures now and here this story recounted:
Mark 15:1-15 NIV
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate. "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, "Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of." 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. 6 Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked them. 13 "Crucify him!" they shouted. 14 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
How many of you remember the movie, “The Passion.” How many of you wept like babies? Some people didn’t like the movie… some loved it. One thing, I think we can all agree on is that it was graphic! It was powerful… it put us into that moment and for me at least it was overwhelming. Alyssa and I went to this movie for a “date night.” Usually you go to a movie theater, and usually when you leave a movie theatre… you are surrounded my laughing… talking… smiling… it’s like you are part of a huge event… like going to a football game or something. But after “The Passion” it was somber… it was dead quiet… everyone left the theatre in silence. Alyssa and I drove home in absolute silence… walked into our townhome in absolute silence… and didn’t speak for almost a full hour, because this movie evoked so much emotion in us.
This event, portrayed on the big screen was such a powerful experience that one could not be affected by it. Not surprisingly… following quickly behind this movie was outrage from some Christians reigniting the blame and finger pointing of who was responsible for this? Who is to blame? Who killed my Christ? WHO KILLED my Christ? We want to find someone to blame. We want someone to carry that burden… so we are going to have some fun with that today… as we play a little game called the blame game.
Let’s go back to our scriptures today… and help me out… name someone who is to blame for the crucifixion of Christ: