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Summary: I suppose the most infamous "almoster" in history would be Pilate who almost released Jesus. He wore the signet ring that proclaimed he had the power to do it. All he had to do was speak decisively, & Jesus would have been free. (Powerpoints Available - #402)

MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER

RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK

(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at mnewland@sstelco.com and request #402.)

TEXT: Luke 23:13-24; John 12:12-29

ILL. On the southern border of the Persian empire of Cyrus the Great, who had already conquered the Babylonians, there lived a powerful chieftain named Cagular who had defeated every attempt by Cyrus to subdue him.

Finally Cyrus amassed a mighty army, marched South, surrounded & over-whelmed Cagular's forces, capturing Cagular & his wife, & brought them back to his capitol for execution.

On the day set for their execution, Cagular & his wife were brought into Cyrus’ throne room. Cagular was a magnificent specimen of a man more than 6 feet tall with a noble manner about him.

Cyrus was so impressed with Cagular’s appearance that he said to him, "What would you do should I spare your life?"

"Your Majesty, if you spared my life, I would return to my home & remain your obedient servant as long as I lived."

"What would you do if I spared the life of your wife?"

"Your Majesty, if you spared the life of my wife, I would die for you."

So moved was Cyrus by Cagular's words & attitude that he freed them both & returned Cagular to his homeland to serve as its governor under Cyrus.

Upon arriving home, Cagular reminisced about the experience with his wife. "Did you notice the marble at the entrance of his palace? Did you see the tapestry on the walls as we went down the corridor into the throne room? And did you see the throne on which he sat? It must have been made of pure gold."

His wife replied: "I really don’t remember any of that."

"Well," said Cagular in amazement, "What do you remember?"

His wife looked at him & said, "I remember only the face of the man who said he would die for me."

(Adapted from the sermon "The Love of God" by John Redpath, Abingdon Press, 1979)

And this morning I want to talk to you about the one who did die for us.

A. Today is celebrated throughout Christianity as "Palm Sunday," the day on which Jesus' made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

John 12:12-13 tells us that a "great crowd" came out to meet Him, waving palm branches, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!" Oh, it was a spectacular day!

His arrival set off such a celebration that the leading Pharisees of Jerusalem exclaimed, "Look how the whole world has gone after him!" (John 12:19)

Because of this, for the next few days the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, & the chief priests tried again & again to trap Jesus with trick questions hoping to turn the people against Him. But failing to do that, they decided that Jesus had to die.

Bribing Judas to betray Him, late at night he led the Temple Guards to the Garden at Gethsemane where Jesus had gone to pray. Offering no resistance, Jesus surrendered Himself to them & was taken first to the house of Annas, the old High Priest, & then to the home of Caiaphas, the new High Priest, where members of the Sanhedrin had gathered to put Jesus on trial.

Despite the fact that holding a trial at night was illegal under Jewish law, for the rest of that night Jesus had to endure scorn & abuse heaped upon Him during the illegal trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin.

The false witnesses testifying against Jesus didn't agree, but Caiaphas, the High Priest, was so full of hatred that he declared they didn’t need witnesses because Jesus had incriminated himself by calling himself the Son of God.

But since only Roman authorities could order the death penalty, shortly after daybreak they took Him to the Roman governor, Pilate, accusing Jesus of seeking to incite the people to rebellion. But Pilate wasn’t fooled by their accusations.

B. Luke 23:13 24 tells us: "Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers & the people, & said to them, 'You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebel¬lion. I have examined Him in your presence & have found no basis for your charges against Him.

“Neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; as you can see, He has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish Him & then release Him.'

"With one voice they cried out, 'Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!' (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, & for murder.)

"Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, 'Crucify Him! Crucify Him!'

"For the third time he spoke to them: 'Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have Him punished & then release Him.'

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