Summary: Many in the Church, and everyone in the world still cry, "Give us Barabbas!" Christ has no place in their hearts.
Give us Barabbas
Sunday, August 08, 2010
By Pastor James May
To any student of the Bible, the story that I have to tell you today is one that you have heard many times before. Though we continuously celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and we preach on the power of the cross of Christ unceasingly, some of the events and circumstances that surround the crucifixion are generally spoken of mostly at Easter each Spring. I propose nothing new to you this morning; nothing that you have not heard before; and yet I feel compelled to speak to you concerning the condition of the hearts of men during that great moment in history.
1) I want us to look at the condition of the hearts of those who were of the world; who knew not Jesus and who cared little that he had come into this world to be their Savior.
2) I want to examine the condition of the hearts of the religious leaders of the day; the High Priest and the members of the Sanhedrin Council.
3) Lastly, I want to examine the condition of the hearts of those who knew Jesus best and who had the greatest understanding of who Jesus was; those who had a personal relationship with him.
In the process of these examinations, I believe that we will find ourselves. We will identify with someone, and in so doing, we will discover just where we fit into the plan of God and whether we are truly ready to see Jesus come again.
Jesus himself, spoke a warning to anyone who would contemplate the condition of his/her heart in these last days, just prior to His return. It is a chilling warning and one that every one of us must be careful not to forget; for in this warning Jesus is speaking to those who thought they were ready; people who considered themselves to be the Children of God; people who were working for the Lord. Their only problem was that their hearts were not right with God, even though they were doing some wonderful things.
If ever there was a scripture that proves that more than good works is required for salvation, this passage is the one. Listen to the warning that Jesus gives:
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I shudder to think of what the judgment will be like for these people who thought that everything was all right between them and God. To be called before the Lord, expecting to hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”, and to instead hear God say that He never knew you, would be the ultimate in disappointment. To believe that your own heart has deceived you so badly, and to realize that every preacher who had told you that you were okay and had nothing to fear, only to find out that you were living a lie would bring a feeling of desperation, despair, fear and dread beyond anything that we could imagine.
I suppose that the closest thing to that feeling that I could imagine in this life is to think that you have someone in your life that truly loves you; someone that you believe will always be there and that there is no indication whatsoever of trouble. Then one day you come home and they are gone; left with someone else and cast you aside like a piece of trash. This has a devastating effect on you heart and soul, and you will forever carry the wounds in your heart from that day. Some of you here have faced that feeling and though you have tried to move on, you will never feel that same trust and security again, and you have a hard time really opening your heart to anyone that way. It’s a part of your self preservation to try to prevent that from happening again.
Yet this great wounding of the heart pales in comparison to the grief and sorrow that will be felt by those who are rejected at the judgment. They have depended upon good works, even great spiritual works, and they have not prepared their heart by having a right relationship with Jesus.
These scriptures tell us that it is possible to do great works for the kingdom of God, even casting out demons, teaching and giving prophecies, and still lose out with God. Notice that the scriptures never deny the reality of these good works. The Bible even calls them “wonderful works” meaning they were not only good and useful, but they were truly wonders that could only be accomplished by God working among them.