Sermons

Summary: How the officials accused Jesus of deserving to die for breaking the law - and how the law ended up stating that very thing - but a different law.

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March 17, 2004 John 19:4-7

Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 7 The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

Have you been following the Terry Nichols case at all? Every time I see coverage of it, it seems kind of strange to me, because the guy looks like a banker. He doesn’t seem like the type of guy that they’d be talking about putting on death row. Yet they’re walking him around in this strange looking padded suit with twenty armed guards around him, like he’s going to go Ninja on them and escape or something.

When I compare him to that guy down in Florida who abducted the teenage girl and was caught on TV - now that guy looks dangerous. Or how about the released sexual molestor who abducted the girl up in South Dakota? I would venture to bet that if you surveyed the country - a majority of Americans would find much more satisfaction in the death of those two murderers who murdered two people - than in the death of Terry Nichols who - if guilty - is responsible for the death of over a hundred people.

Why is that? We base our decisions on not just how many people died - but on how the murder occurred and also on who did it as well. Terry Nichols looks like a nice guy, the other two didn’t. The other two were sexual offenders - Terry Nichols wasn’t. Terry Nichols committed his crime several years ago, whereas the abductors committed their crime just recently. These are all factors that come into play on our judgments.

But should they be? When you get into the who and the why of crime - it seems to muddy things up more than help things out. Today it seems that the psychology of crime has become way too involved - when they talk about why someone killed - too many people get away with what becomes more or less a justification of crime. Defense attorneys play up on that stuff way too much in trying to sway a jury one way or another. When judging on whether someone should die or not, you need to look beyond emotions, looks or what you think is right - and get down to the facts. First of all, was the law broken or not? Second of all, does the law say the crime deserves death? That should be it.

When the Sanhedrin brought Jesus before Pilate - the governor had this concept down rather well. When they kept on demanding Jesus’ death, Pilate kept on coming back to the law - “what crime has this man committed?” So the Sanhedrin - mainly the officials - the experts in the law - had to then attempt to use the law to condemn Jesus. Inadvertently, in doing so, they ended up -

Speaking the Legal Truth

The Sanhedrin had a rich history of laws and punishments to draw from in the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, the Old Testament also has a rich history on the death penalty. Look at some of the things that were worthy of death in the Old Testament -

Exodus 21:15 Anyone who attacks a his father or his mother must be put to death.

Exodus 21:16 Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

Exodus 21:17 “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

Exodus 21:29 If the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.

Exodus 22:19 Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

Exodus 31:14 Anyone who desecrates (the Sabbath) must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.

Leviticus 20:10 ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:13 ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

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