Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The stone was rolled away from the tomb of Jesus, and it can be rolled away from whatever has you bound.

The Stone Has Been Rolled Away

By Pastor Jim May

On Thursday evening Jesus gathered with his disciples for the last meal that he would eat with them. Jesus, the very Son of God, God in human form, had come down from the glory of Heaven for one single great purpose – to shed his blood for the sins of man. And now the hour of his sacrifice was getting close. It was at this final meal that Jesus taught us to observe the Communion Supper.

Everything that happened was according to God’s preset plan. Sitting among these men who had become Jesus’ closest friends, was one who he already knew would betray him. Judas Iscariot, the man who carried the money for the group, would soon run from the room in shame, straight to the High Priest in the temple and sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Immediately after the meal was over Jesus and the remaining disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would agonize in prayer for the rest of the night. The man called Jesus didn’t want to suffer and die anymore than you or I would want to, but He had never surrendered to the desires of the flesh. Jesus, the Son of God, had come to die and there was no stopping now. The price of not going to the cross was too great.

God had created man in the beginning and then lost man to the power of sin and death when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. In the mind of God a plan of redemption had already been formulated. Nothing catches God by surprise so he set his plan in motion and the central focus of God’s plan for redeeming the eternal souls of men was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his only son, upon a cross for the whole world to see.

In the early morning hours of Friday, Jesus knew that the time had come. He stood from the altar of prayer, woke up the sleeping disciples and began walking toward Jerusalem – walking willfully into the trap set by Judas.

Matthew 26:47-53, "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"

Jesus knew that he had to die, but he also had the choice not to die. At any moment Jesus could have called down the angels of Heaven and destroyed the entire human race if he had chosen to do so. There was no power on earth that could hold him, no governor, king, emperor, military power or priest that could touch him without his consent. The puny powers of men were allowed to run their course as the Almighty God took upon himself the punishment for our sin – all because God loved you and me more than he loved Heaven itself.

During those early hours, before daylight, from 3 AM to around 6 AM, Jesus was tried in a kangaroo court, appearing before the High Priest of Israel and the priests of the temple. He was already judged as guilty and deserving to die before he was arrested. This trial was only a formality to give the appearance of following the law. False accusers were brought in, one after another, chosen from the criminal element and paid to lie against Jesus. Of course the verdict was guilty and the sentence was death.

But they could not carry out the sentence of death, so around 6 AM Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Roman governor for sentencing. I can just imagine that the Roman ruler didn’t appreciate these pesky Jews coming at such an early hour. Pilate questioned Jesus but when he learned that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent him on to the ruler of that area, to a man named Herod.

Herod was really glad to see Jesus. He had heard of all the miracles and the works that Jesus had done and Herod wanted to see a miracle, but this wasn’t the time for a miracle like Herod expected. Little did Herod know that he was witnessing the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performed – the redemption of the souls of men. After being disappointed, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate for sentencing.

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