Summary: Eight in a 12 part series examining THE most important week in all of history: The Passion Week, when Jesus fulfilled Mark 10:45. The Servant Suffers - He Is Condemned. Pilate's condemnation of Jesus stands as a stark warning to our country & churches.
The Passion Week of Christ: A Study from the Book of Mark
Week 8: The Servant Suffers - He Is Condemned
A. A Southern Baptist pastor was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about 12 boys, all of them between 10 & 12 years of age. The group had surrounded a dog. Concerned they were hurting the dog, he went over and asked "What are you doing with that dog?" One of the boys replied, "This dog is just an old stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we've decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog." Of course, the pastor was appalled. "You boys shouldn't be having a contest telling lies!" he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, "Don't you boys know it's a sin to lie," and ending with, "Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie." There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the pastor was beginning to think he'd gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, "All right, give him the dog."
B. We live in a society in which, even amongst God's people, truth is not valued. In fact, one could say that it is on trial. When asked "Is there absolute truth," defined as "truth that is true across all times and cultures for all people," 62% of American adults, and 72% of those 18-25yo, say there is NO SUCH thing! Yet, this is true even in Christian circles...70% of Evangelicals affirm absolute truth; yet only 42% of born again Christians and 25% of non-born again Christians affirm absolute truth. Many in our society today continue to struggle with the same question Pontius Pilate did 2000 yrs ago.
C. On April 7, 30 AD, as Jesus stood befor him, Pontius Pilate asked perhaps one of the greatest questions in the history of man "What is truth?" As Pilate would soon discover, truth was standing right in front of his own eyes! After examining Jesus thoroughly and hearing the evidence, 12x Pilate of his own accord identified Jesus as truth - "I find no grounds for charging this man," "Clearly, he has done nothing wrong." Yet, in the end, he condemned Jesus, truth, to die a death accursed by God, hung on a tree. Pilate literally killed Truth. And his actions that Good Friday continue to serve as a stark warning to our country, our churches and our own individual lives today, Sunday March 23rd, 2014, when once again truth stands on trial.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Stand with me to honor the reading of God's Word. Read Mark 15:1-20.
B. Pray - Father, truth once again is on trial in our world. Unlike Pilate, help us to stand firm in our convictions of absolute truth as embodied in Your Son and as revealed in Your Word.
III. Context, Context, Context
A. There was no love loss between Pilate and the Jewish people. In fact, they had great disdain for each other, thanks largely to the fact that Pilate was extremely offensive, cruel and corrupt and deliberately annoyed the Jews. One incident helps set the background: Philo describes an incident in which Pilate was chastened by Emperor Tiberius after antagonizing the Jews by setting up gold-coated shields in Herod's Palace in Jerusalem. The shields were to honor Tiberius. Yet, Philo writes that the shields were set up "not so much to honour Tiberius as to annoy the multitude." The Jews protested at first to Pilate, and then, when he declined to remove them, by writing to Tiberius. Philo reports that upon reading the letters, Tiberius "wrote to Pilate with a host of reproaches and rebukes for his audacious violation of precedent and bade him at once take down the shields and have them transferred from the capital to Caesarea." Philo further writes that Pilate feared a delegation that the Jews might send to Tiberius protesting the gold-coated shields, because "if they actually sent an embassy they would also expose the rest of his conduct as governor by stating in full the briberies, the insults, the robberies, the outrages and wanton injuries, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty."