Summary: Part two of the series.
Lessons Learned From The Easter Story Part 2
Scriptures: Luke 23:13-55; 24:1-8; Matt. 27:28-30
Last week I covered the lessons pertaining to our natural life and how we interact with others. This morning I will focus on the lessons learned from Jesus’ trial, crucifixion death and burial. Next week I will close this series with the lessons learned from His resurrection. Let’s begin with His trial.
I. Jesus’ Trial
After Pilate and Herod and sent Jesus’ back and forth, the decision was left in Pilate’s hands as to the fate of Jesus. Pilate, having been warned by his wife not to have anything to do with killing Jesus, tried to find a way to free Him. Verse 20 in Luke chapter 23 says “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.” The chief priests did not want Jesus released because He could ruin their status and the benefits they received from being priests. They wanted Him dead and encouraged the people to cry out against Him. The crowd, starting to act like a mob, followed the chief priest’s recommendation calling for his death. Remember, some in this crowd were also praising Jesus at the beginning of the week when He made His entrance into the city. Pilate offered them a choice between Jesus and a murderer. Some believe he did this to get the people to choose Jesus’ release versus that of a dangerous criminal. However, the people being worked up by the priests, wanted blood. Pilate, after three times of trying to find a way to release Jesus, gave in to the demands of the people and handed Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified. Lesson One: It is a good thing in certain situations for a man to listen to his wife over the crowd. Had Pilate listened to his wife instead of the crowd, He would have released Jesus. Lesson Two: Leaders must stand and do what is right even though many may try to persuade them to do otherwise. Pilate had the authority to override the people’s will and free Jesus. He did not have to give in to the people, but for some reason he thought it would be in his best interest to do so. Sometimes we must stand for what is right even if we find ourselves standing alone.
II. Jesus’ Crucifixion
I learned several lessons from the actual crucifixion. Let me start with the soldiers. When Jesus was handed over to the soldiers, they had a lot of fun with Him. Matthew 27:28-30 records “They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” The soldiers were very pleased to torment someone who was not a Roman citizen. What is interesting is that they did not necessarily know Jesus or had anything against Him. They were just doing their jobs and what was “normal” for them. In their minds He was no different from anyone else that they had crucified, including the others who were being crucified with Him. Through all of this, Jesus did not say anything in His defense, nor did He call on His Father to send a legion of angels to deliver Him. He understood what He had to do and that is what He focused on. Lesson Learned: When your enemies have the upper hand, do not forget whose hands you are in. Know what your purpose is and do not forsake your purpose in order to save your life. I can’t help but imagine that if I had a legion of angels standing beside me what chances I would be willing to take for the gospel – truly walking with no fear or consideration of my life. Although Jesus had them available to Him, He chose to fulfill His mission instead.
After they completed their mocking of Him, they led Him away to be crucified. They had beaten Him so badly that He could barely carry His cross. After Jesus fell, they forced a man named Simon from Cyrene to carry His cross. Luke 23:26 says “As they led Him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Cyrene was in North Africa so Simon was an African who just happened to be in the city at the same time as the crucifixion was taking place. He was one of many who was in the crowd watching Jesus attempt to carry His own cross. Lesson Learned: Always be ready for service. Although you may be on the “side-lines” now, you can be called into service at any time. I am sure when Simon started on his trip home he was not thinking about having an interaction with Jesus. But after carrying His cross, I am sure he watched the remaining parts of the crucifixion. We can only imagine the change that came over him from this interaction.