Summary: Various influences that surrounded the first Easter concluding with the influences Christ has had on history, humanity and our own personal lives.
If we were to take the time to count the number of things or people who have influenced us just today, no doubt we would be here for a while. We are influenced by everything from the weather, to our personal preferences, to the clock on the wall; we are influenced by how hard or soft a chair is and we are influenced by the opinions of other people.
One of the nation’s foremost authorities on leadership, John Maxwell, has said that Leadership is Influence. If that is so, then all kinds of things and people lead us in one form or another.
When we read of the events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we are made very aware that many were the influences surrounding these events. So many people were influenced, and the influences of Easter continue to this day.
Let’s notice a few of the influences of Easter. There is no way that we can address all the influences of Easter but maybe we can take a peek at some of those most influential.
I. The Influence of Guilt on Judas that Led Him to Suicide.
A. Some have said that Judas had noble intentions in betraying Jesus; he thought he could speed up His political ascension to the throne of Israel.
1. Some say that Judas really loved Jesus and was as much a victim as Jesus.
2. I don’t know about all that; what I do know is that Jesus referred to Judas as "the son of perdition." Basically that means, "son of the devil."
B. Most people are aware of how Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
1. After doing so, a powerful influencer began to move on Judas - the influencer of GUILT.
2. Guilt is a good thing. God’s Holy Spirit uses a feeling of guilt to move us toward Jesus Christ to find forgiveness for our wrongdoings.
3. The same guilt influenced Judas and Peter. No doubt Peter felt a sense of guilt after he had denied even knowing Jesus.
4. However, these two men responded to the influence of guilt in two opposite ways.
a. Judas went out and hanged himself.
b. Peter found forgiveness from the resurrected Jesus.
C. I encourage you, let the influencer of guilt do the work that God intended; to show you the need for a Savior and Redeemer.
II. The Influence of Tradition that led Pilate to Release Barabbas. V.15-18
A. Here we find another powerful influencer - TRADITION
B. Tradition can be a wonderful thing. Psalm 16:6 says "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage."
1. It is good to reflect upon the past and let nostalgia sweep through memory from time to time.
2. Tradition serves as an anchor. It reminds us of the mighty hand of God throughout history and how God has blessed us beyond measure.
C. For Pilate, the tradition of releasing a prisoner at Passover became a great influencer. He, of course, eventually gave the crowd the option of releasing Barabbas or Jesus; they chose Barabbas.
III. The Influence of Pilate’s Wife
A. Any man that says his wife does not influence him is either a liar or a fool.
1. Since the Garden of Eden, men have been influenced by their wives, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.
2. It is understandable that Pilate’s wife influenced him.
B. Matthew 27:19 "When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him."
1. It is interesting to note here that Pilate tried to please everyone.
2. I believe what his wife told him was just confirmation of what he already felt; he saw nothing that Jesus had done wrong to warrant the death penalty.
IV. The Influence of the Jewish Leaders on the Multitude.
A. Were it not for the influence that the chief priests and elders had on the crowd, they likely could not have had Jesus crucified.
B. The religious leaders knew nothing of a genuine relationship with God; theirs was only a "form of godliness" that denied the power thereof. (2 Tim. 3:5).
C. The Jewish leaders influenced the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus because they were jealous of His popularity. The more popular Jesus was threatening their control of the people.
V. The Influence of the Crowd on Pilate.
A. Here we have a purely political influence and response.
B. Pilate was more concerned about his reputation than doing the right thing.
1. He didn’t want a Jewish uprising, especially with so many Jews in Jerusalem for the Passover.