Summary: Illustrated sermon using a table decorated for a party (representing an empty life of religion) and a cross (representing a life given to Christ in relationship).
They led Jesus therefore from Caiphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.
Give brief history of Passover and why it was instituted.
Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
’Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
Passover was undoubtedly observed during the time of Samuel and in the reigns of David and Solomon, and occasionally after the united kingdom divided; on the whole, however, the Word of God was not in the Israelites during most of that period, so they were not seeking to follow God’s commandments concerning Passover or anything else. But then their hearts were stirred by revival.
The writer of 2 Chronicles tells of two such revivals and the Passover celebrations that immediately followed. One happened in the reign of King Hezekiah and the other during the reign of King Josiah.
II Kings 23:22 (quickview)  records that after Joshua’s death, from the time of the Judges until the time of the several reforms in the kingdom of Judah, there had not been such a great Passover observance. The people, who once had heard God’s thundering voice from the holy mountain, had listened to the voice of temptation and had fallen into idolatry.
Throughout the history of the children of Israel, the Passover celebration, or the neglect of it, stood out as a thermometer indicating the Jewish community’s spiritual condition.
PASSOVER IN THE TIME OF CHRIST
Devout Jews poured in from distant corners of the world to worship Jehovah in the mountain of His holiness.
Local Jews came 3 times a year: Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Booths. But for many who lived very far from Jerusalem, the lengthy pilgrimage at Passover was the fulfillment of a once-in-a-lifetime dream.
Weeks before the holiday, trickles began--and soon the stream became a river. “as the deer panteth after the water brooks, so my souls panteth after thee. (Ps. 42:1)
Permanent residents in the Jerusalem that Jesus knew = 600,000.
A conservative estimate of the vast multitude of Passover pilgrims is about 2,000,000 who swelled the city’s pop. to almost 4 x’s its normal size!!
They would clean their homes inside and out. They even prepared the cemetaries by white washing the tombs. Thus we get the meaning to Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:27-28 (quickview) )
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
TRANSITION: How can we get to the point that we, like the Pharisees, miss what God wants to do in our lives?