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Summary: It’s the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead......

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Firstly, I want to welcome everyone here this morning. Today is a very special day for Christians, probably THE day that is the single most important to our faith. Yes, all the events in the life of Jesus were important...the conception, the baptism, the ministry, the miracles, and yes, even Jesus’ death are major events for us Christians. But as I pondered this week, I believe that even those events, as important as they were, would really be meaningless to us today if it were not for the fact that our Saviour arose! The tomb of Jesus is empty, and contrary to what the world would have you to believe, there are not even bones there for HE has risen and defeated death for you and me!

As I began to study the Bible and search the scriptures for the message this AM, I realized that just one small bit of text will not suffice, so today we will be reading quite a bit of scripture.....so keep your Bibles handy! Open with me to MAT 27:15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.19While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." 20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. 22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.They all answered, "Crucify him!" 23"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" 24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man’s blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" 25All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" 26Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (PRAYER)

I would like to go over this text and point out a few things to you. Firstly, we know that the whole reason for Jesus being in Jerusalem was because it was what week? The week of Passover, where the Jews celebrated their release from Egyptian slavery. They still celebrate it today.....but we Christians are celebrating something different than they are. We are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. Unfortunately, the Jews are still waiting for their Messiah....even though He is right there for them! They even rejected Jesus in this text, didn’t they? Pilate would have set Jesus free, but they chose Barabbas, a convicted murderer!

It wasn’t the first time Christ was rejected, and to this day people are still rejecting Him. What bothers me the most I think, is that these Jews weren’t convinced that Jesus actually WAS the Son of God. Today, there are people who KNOW who Christ is and yet still reject Him. Even Christ prayed to God during the crucifixion "Father, forgive them....they know not what they do....". I read that 75% of people who aren’t born-again actually DO believe in the resurrection of Jesus. How can they believe in the resurrection and yet still not accept Jesus into their lives? It makes me pray "Father, forgive them......even though they KNOW what they do!"

And by the way, it ain’t as easy as washing your hands of it like Pilate tried to do. Today, we KNOW who Jesus is and we will answer for either accepting Him (eternal life) or rejecting Him (eternal torment). These Jews in vs 25 actually put a curse on themselves, didn’t they? "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" And the Jews have certainly had a hard time ever since, haven’t they? Listen, if you reject Jesus, expect a hard time in your life, too! Let’s move on, I have a lot to get to this morning......

MAT 27:35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" 41In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42"He saved others," they said, "but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ’I am the Son of God.’ " 44In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. Some of your Bibles even say the "reviled" Him. I want to tell you this morning that there are a lot of people heaping insults and reviling Jesus! The persecution of Christians even in this very great country of ours is relentless. Certain groups and false religions do everything they can to dis-credit and discount the importance of Jesus Christ....to the point of "reviling" His holy name....showing nothing but contempt for the love of our Saviour. They are questioning Jesus..."hey, why don’t you do something if you’re who you say you are?" These same people had heard of the miracles that Christ performed, and I’m sure some of them had even witnessed some of them! Today people are questioning Him as well.....even though everybody that I know of has personally seen a miracle either in their lives or in a loved ones life. They KNOW that God did something special, yet continue like the thief on the cross AND the ones mentioned in vs 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. Mockers of Jesus! And He is still being mocked today! In the next verse they say Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. Tempting God, taunting the Saviour. People are doing that today, too. Making deals with God....GAL 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

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