The Scripture.

Grace to you from God beloved. And greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today we are going to worship God in His holy word. Please open your Bibles to Mark. Hear the perfect word of our perfect God.

Mark 15:1. Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate.  2 Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “It is as you say.”  3 The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly.  4 Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!”  5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.  6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested.  7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection.  8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. 9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.  11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead.  12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!”  14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!”  15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Mt.27:1-2, Mt.27:11-26, Lk.23:1-25)

I think perhaps it might be helpful to read this account found in John’s gospel. READ: John 18:28-40, 19:1-16.

The unction.

Beloved let’s pray. God helps us to see our sins apart from you. Help us to see ourselves in Christ. Help us to have a holy fear and reverence for You. Increase our hatred of sin. Increase our love of Christ. Amen.

The method.

As we did with the sermon on Christ before the Sanhedrin, we will look at this text (more) thematically.  I will save unpacking some of the details for another sermon.  

The doctrine.

Today beloved we are going to see that God has recorded in His word the day that the church and the state condemned His beloved Son to die. (Jn.1:10)

God records the people involved in the murder of the Son of His love; Jews and Gentiles. (Mt.3:16-17, 17:5)

God records the lies told to condemn His innocent Christ. He teaches the people not to pay taxes to Caesar. Churchmen giving a political lie to politicians to save their church. A politician washing his hands with water and absolving himself from the murder he orders. There is nothing new under the sun beloved. (Eccles.1:9, Ps.12:8, Prov.28:15, Rev.17:12)

God records the secret reasons why men chose a murderer Barabbas over Jesus – Life come in the Flesh, the One who gives eternal life. Envy – heart murder. And cowardice, fear of the crowds, and pragmatism. (I Sam.16:7, Heb.4:12-13, Ps.139:4)

We should never forget that God is. God knows all. God is everywhere. God records every sin we commit against Him. One day this condemned One will Judge every man, woman, boy, and girl in truth and in righteousness. (Acts 17:31, Rev.20:12, 2 Cor.5:10, James 5:9, Acts 10:42)

Everyone will give an account of their sins to God. Unless we find forgiveness in Christ in the day of grace (Heb.8:12, 10:17) that day will be a day of strict judgment without mercy. (2 Cor.5:10, Rom.14:12, Mt.12:36, James 2:13)

He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Mt.11:15, 13:9, Rev.2:7, 2:29)

The outline.

Today we are looking at Man putting God on trial again. In this we see the true nature of man. Man as God’s sees him. And not man as man deceives himself to be. (Jer.17:9, Ps.10:11, 94:7)

I hope to show that we also see the justice of God if we have saving faith to see.

But preeminently, in this horrible scene, we see the love of God in Christ Jesus on display. God is kind and gracious and merciful to ungrateful and evil men – in Christ. The Lamb of God submits to be slaughtered by men that through His death we might have life. (Lk.3:35, Jn.3:16, Rom.5:8-10, Eph.4:32, I Jn.4:19) Glory to God. 

The nature of Man

Man puts Christ on trial.

The setting for today is another trial. Jesus Christ on trial again. The Innocent One on trial before sinners. Stunning. Who but our God would willing endure this? What humiliation Christ embraced for us. Amazing Grace. 

You remember we said two weeks ago that Jesus Christ has two general types of trials. The church puts Christ on trial. The leaders of the Jews put Christ on trial. Then the state put Christ on trial. The leaders of the Gentiles put Christ on trial.  Christ was taken to the Jew first. What think ye of Christ? Their verdict: death. Then Christ was taken to the Gentile. What think ye of Christ? Their verdict: death. (Mt.22:42, Jn.1:10-13, Rom. 2:8-9, Rom.3:1-18)

John 1:10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

Romans 3:9. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom.3:23, 6:23) Unregenerate natural man has the same fallen, evil, God-hating, Christ-rejecting, sin-loving, and Satan-serving nature no matter what size or shape or color or station or any other created distinction they may have.

Think of it. The Jews hated the Romans. The Romans hated the Jews. But they show that they are morally one or religiously the same by their mutual hatred of Christ. (Lk.23:12)

Not to put too fine a point on this, but in this account what people do you see that are most blood thirsty?  Jews? Or Gentiles?  Unconverted church people join forces with the world to condemn Christ because unconverted church people are the world.  Unconverted church people are often the worst kind of unbeliever. And beware of churchmen that court politicians, they have Caiaphas as their example and likely they will find a Pilate as their ‘benefactor’. (2 Tim.2:4) Birds of a feather flock together.

Man condemns Christ.

And to prove this we only have to look at those that judge Jesus Christ as worthy of death.

Judas, a Jew, a disciple of Christ condemns Christ to die. Caiaphas, the elders and the scribes, all Jews, all leaders, they condemn Christ to die. The Jewish laity cry for His death. Herod an Edomite a pretend king condemns Christ. Pontius Pilate a Gentile along with his Gentile guards all consign Christ to the Cross. This is unconverted man.

The Bible teaches us that there is no moral difference for unconverted people, they are all united against God.  All unconverted men judge God.  And this is especially seen when God comes down to Man in the form of a man.

And especially the kind of Man that Christ came as, a humble servant. (Phil.2:1-11) Natural man disdains meekness as weakness. Wolfish Man sees no danger in attacking the Lamb of God. Oh the eternal danger of living by sight and not by faith.

I Corinthians 2:14. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.  (Rom.8:7, Eph.2:1-3)

We also see both the leaders and the laity or the governor and the governed equally joining in condemning Christ. This is significant because it is a common scheme of Satan to deceive the masses of men that they are better than their leaders and therefore it is well with their souls.

And as long as a man looks at another man for his moral standard, he or she is sure to be safe in his own eyes. Oh, look at those priests, lazy gluttons, hypocrites, always fleecing the flock. Oh, look at that Pilate, ordering us common soldiers to do his dirty work. Glad I am not lying coward judge like him! 

Ah beloved, but the test of Christ is applied to all, high and low. What think ye of Christ?

Unconverted rich and poor alike cry crucify!  Unregenerate minister and congregant cry, away with Him. In unison the governor and the citizen condemn Christ to death. Why this intense hatred of Jesus Christ?

Man hates authority.

You see beloved, the great reason why Christ is on trial before the Jews and before the Gentiles is that natural man hates God because he hates the authority of God. Unconverted man has an authority problem. All unconverted people hate the authority of God.

They hate the authority of God in marriage. Husband the head of the wife. They hate the authority of God in the family, the father and mother (married and married before they have children) now over their children. They hate the authority of God in the church and in the state.

But all these are just the various venues where the authority of God is expressed.  Think. When children rebel against parents it is ultimately God they rebel against.  The apostle Paul says the same thing for the state. Citizens rebel against God when we do not honor our leaders because God says they are His ministers. (Rom.13:1, I Tim.2:2, Titus 3:1) No! cries man that is no right! But it is right. God says so.

Unconverted man is a rebel.  Look at this courtroom scene. Look at our nation. Rebels all.

Fallen men is captive to the lie of the devil. Fallen man believes that they are the little lords of their own lives. (Gen.3:1-8) Every man does what is right in his or her own eyes. (Jg.17:6, 21:25, Prov.21:2) They are the standard for right in wrong, what they think, what they feel, what they want – that is right. (Isa.5:20) And woe to anyone that claims the God of the Bible alone is the Lord and His word alone is our standard. (Job 4:1-8)

Ezekiel 18:25. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?

Some openly hate His authority like we have in these trials. And some covertly so. But even the covert haters of God’s authority when they gather in a group, a mob, then you will see their true nature come out. Crucify Christ!  We will not have this Man reign over us! We have no king but Caesar! (Lk.19:14, Jn.19:15)

Even cowards hate Christ, they just need to hide in a group to say what is really in their heart.

Man serves tyranny.

And what is strange is that fallen man is both a rebel and a willing slave. Look at the Jewish laity. Once their leaders say to them, jump! They jump. Cry for Christ’s death! Cry out for the One that a few days prior you cried Hosanna in the Highest Save now – say crucify now! They say as willing lackies on cue, crucify.

And clearly the soldiers know they have the approval of their superior to abuse Christ. They shed innocent blood to please their wicked master. Rebel stooges.

Oh how sin has brought man so low.

Man hates holiness.

Not only does unconverted man hate authority but fallen man hates holiness.  The trials show us man’s unvarnished hatred of moral purity.

Man is judging Jesus Christ as worthy of death. I want to say that again, man who deserves death judges Jesus as deserving death.

Christ is the spotless lamb of God. He went around doing good. And nothing but good.  Good to Jew and Gentile alike. He never had one sinful thought.  Never had a sinful emotion. Never spoke a sinful word. His words were always pure and seasoned with holy grace. (Col.4:6, Jn.8:29) He never committed a sinful deed.  Jesus was and is the perfect Man. He is the perfect God-Man.

This trial if I can even say the word, this sentence, is vile and unjust.  This is not right. It is wickedly wrong.  It is a travesty of real justice. It is a horrible, pitiful, hypocritical mockery of justice.

Do you see, beloved, how sinful man responds to a perfectly holy Man?  Do you see how fallen man responds to Holy God come in the flesh?  It is pure hatred. Why? What is wrong with these people?

Oh beloved, most normal people recoil at the murder of men, the looting, the raping, the robbing, the destroying, the insanity that is our world today.  Normal people do not do these despicable things to their fellow man.  Do they?

May I say something that may shock you?  It was ‘normal people’ that cried for Christ’s blood. High priest, scribes, elders, church leaders, church-people, synagogue people, a local civil governor, a local politician, soldiers – normal people. Apart from Christ normal regular everyday people think their normal everyday work-a-day life looks good or at least ok therefore they are good people.

But when Christ appears, next to holy Christ our life, our thoughts, our words and our deeds look as black as the bottomless pit. (Rev.9:11, 20:1-3) So Christ must go if we are to keep our sin.

Or we must leave our sin and come to Christ. It is an all-or-nothing proposition beloved. Either you will serve your sin. Or you will serve your Christ.

Unconverted Man hates Christ because Christ testifies to them that their deeds are evil. They are the sons and the daughters of Cain who killed his brother Abel because Abel was righteous and they were not. (Jn.3:17-21, I Jn.3:11-12, Heb.4:1-4, Gen.4:1-16)

Man idolizes self.

You may say to me, well Pontius Pilate tried to free Jesus. He kept taking Jesus back to the Jews. He tried. He really did not want to kill Jesus. Beloved, men do what men are. Men do what men really want to do. His desired above all else to preserve his own life from death.

Of course this was the not so subtle threat of the Jews. Either kill Christ or we will tell Caesar that you are faithless to his cause and Caesar will kill you! (Jn.19:12-13)

Pilate murdered Jesus Christ just as sure as He drove the nails into His hands and His feet.

You see fallen man reasons, I will kill God my Creator the Giver of my life, I will kill Christ my only Savior, who alone can give eternal life, all to save my own precious, precious life. Beloved that is idolatry when we love our physical life more than we love God even to the extent that men would kill God to preserve their life.  

How different is the man or the woman born again by the Holy Spirit.

Along with holy Job we say…

Job 13:15.  Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. (Acts 20:24)

Job 19:25. As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  26 “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;  27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!

Job 14:14. All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes. 

The apostle John heard this on the Isle of Patmos…

Revelation 12:10. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 

Oh beloved there is a lawful love of self. There is a lawful preservation of life. But there is an unlawful idolatrous love of self. There is an unlawful preservation of life.

To choose our life over Christ’s life is to choose death. Such is the power of sin. 

Remember all of Christ’s judges had their reasons for condemning Christ to death.

Idolater.  Judas wanted the 30 pieces of silver. He never got to spend it. It went to buy the field of blood.  (Mt.27:1-10)

Idolaters.  Caiaphas and the Jews wanted their religious power and the money and the pleasures it brought them.  Call me Rabbi. Give me the best seats of honor in the synagogue.  God took it all away from them. (Jn.11:46-53, Jn.18:12-14, Mt.23:1-8, James 2:1-10, Mt.21:33-46)

Idolater.  Pilate wanted his civil power. A ruler in mighty Rome.  Soldiers and servants jumping and running to his beck and call. Real power over men. The power of the sword. Very heady. God took everything away from him.

Eusebius the early church historian tells us that Pilate died Judas-like while being called to give an account of himself to Caesar. A wolf terrified to fall into the hands of a wolf, but with no fear of God before his eyes. That is man. Afraid to die. Afraid of man. But not afraid of God. (Rom.3:18)

I read a quote the other that said this, “Those least afraid of God have reason to be most afraid of God”.

Beloved listen to Jesus.

Luke 12:4. I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Mark 8:34. And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” 

Beloved, the fear of man brings a snare. But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. (Prov.29:25) 

The justice of God.

You may ask, how then can I also say that this is an expression of justice? Am I making a sick joke? No. I am not.

Listen to what God says concerning the death of Christ, unjust by man, just by God.

Acts 2:22. Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–  23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

Christ on trial has no defense attorney. The Innocent One is guilty by imputation. Divine justice must be served.

God has His Son judged righteously as a criminal, the worst of criminals, bearing the sins of the world.  This is what Isaiah 53 is all about. This is what Leviticus 16 is all about. The sins of the people are imputed to the scapegoat.

Beloved I am afraid that even we who are true Believers in Jesus that we still have such small views of the holiness of God. Therefore we still have small views on the sinfulness of sin. God’s holiness cannot – cannot abide with sin. God’s holy justice must be satisfied for every breach of His law. The divine wage must be paid.

For breaking one law, for eating one piece of fruit, for committing one sin (containing all sins) – God cursed man and all things with death.

Jesus Christ is condemned to die by God as a criminal for us. What we see, what we feel, Christ is doing for us.  The Father requires it.  We deserved to be put on trial for our sins. We deserve to hear the awful sentence – ‘guilty’ ‘death’. Our sins cry out to God for our blood. God’s curse and His wrath for our sins must be satisfied.

The Father sends the Son – satisfy My justice for your people and they will live. The Son leaves glory for this. He satisfies divine wrath and justice. For us. In our place. (Jn.17:1-17, Gal.3:1-14, Rom.3:23, Ezek.18:20, WCF 8.5, 11.3, WLC 52, 71)

Beloved, what we see being done to Christ is what our sins deserve against us. Thoughts, words, and deeds. Read Matthew chapter five. One lustful look – death. One derisive thought of our neighbor, fool – death.

We deserve to be bound for our lies, our envy, and our love of money. We deserve to lose our freedom for our lusts, saying no to our authorities when we should say yes; saying yes to them when we ought to say no.  We deserve to stand on trial for our lack of love of God and Man and our idolatry of self. (WCF 3.7, 8.5, 11.3, WLC 38, 52)

We deserve to hear crucify!

And not by man, but by God! (I Cor.6:9-11, Exod.20:1-21, Mt.22:35-40)

The love of Christ.

But Beloved, the Bible is not primarily a book about what we deserve. The Bible primarily is a book about the love and the mercy of God in Christ – about not having what we deserve.

Christ stands condemned so we will never stand condemned. The holy innocent King dies so sinners might live. (Dan.9:26, Rom.5:8, Jn.3:16, Gal.2:20, Heb.12:2, I Pt.2:24-25, Eph.2:16)

Beloved, it was love that brought Christ into the world. It was love that made Christ stand before Pilate and hear, ‘crucify’ by both Jew and Gentile. Love brought Christ to the cross. (I Jn.4:10)  There is a hymn with a stanza that says this…

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

What a Savior. Beloved, may we believe in Christ for the salvation of our souls. May we live for Him who died for us. (I Pt.2:20-21)


Study Questions.

  1. What people that condemn His Son does God record in our passage? What lies they told does He record? What sins they commit does He record? What sinful reasons for their condemnation of Christ does He record? What lessons do we learn about the nature of God by His record of these things? How should we then live? (Mt.27:1-2, Mt.27:11-26, Lk.23:1-25, Jn.18:28-40, 19:1-16, Mt.3:16-17, 17:5, Eccles.1:9, Ps.12:8, Prov.28:15, Rev.17:12, I Sam.16:7, Heb.4:12-13, Ps.139:4, Acts 17:31, Rev.20:12, 2 Cor.5:10, James 5:9, Acts 10:42, Heb.8:12, 10:17, 2 Cor.5:10, Rom.14:12, Mt.12:36, James 2:13, Mt.11:15, 13:9, Rev.2:7, 2:29, WCF 2.1-2)
  1. Describe some of the ways that men make distinctions among men. E.g. rich and poor. In what two ways are these different people morally or religiously the same? What do we learn by this? (Mt.22:42, Jn.1:10-13, Rom. 2:8-9, Rom.3:1-18, Jn.1:10-13, Rom.3:23, 6:23, Gal.3:8-29)
  1. Unconverted man hates God because he hates the authority of God. How is fallen man a rebel against the authority of God in: marriage, the family, the state, and in church? Who is fallen man’s authority? Who and what are a Believer’s authority? (Rom.13:1, I Tim.2:2, Titus 3:1, Gen.3:1-8, Jg.17:6, 21:25, Prov.21:2, Isa.5:20, Job 4:1-8, Ezek.18:25, Lk.19:14, Jn.19:15, 2 Tim.3:14-17)
  1. Fallen man hates the holiness of God. Why does the holiness of Christ anger unconverted man? What does this prove about the moral nature of unconverted man? (Col.4:6, Jn.8:29, Rev.9:11, 20:1-3, Rom.3:8-18, Jn.3:17-21, I Jn.3:11-12, Heb.4:1-4, Gen.4:1-16, Eph.2:1-3)
  1. Give examples of a proper estimation and desire for money and contrast it with Judas’ idolatrous desire for money? Pilate wanted to preserve his own life from death unlawfully. Describe a proper self-love versus an idolatrous self-love. Describe a lawful preservation of our life versus an unlawful preservation of our life. (Jn.19:12-13, Acts 16:28, Gen. 9:6, Numb.35:31-33, Mt.25:42-43, I John 3:15, Lev. 19:17, Rom. 12:19, Eph. 4:31, Mt.6:31-34)
  1. How should a Christian think of his life and death? (Job 13:15, Acts 20:24, Job 14:14, Job 19:25-27, Rev.12:10-11, Phil.1:21)
  1. Will God allow the unconverted to continuously reject Him and keep their idols? Did Judas enjoy his silver? Did the Jews keep their nation? Did Pilate preserve his power? What do we learn by this? (Mt.27:1-10, Jn.11:46-53, Jn.18:12-14, Mt.23:1-8, James 2:1-10, Mt.21:33-46, Rom.3:18, Lk.12:4-5, Mk.8:34-38, Prov.29:25)
  1. How do we see the justice of God in the trials of Christ? What is God teaching us about Christ condemned in court as a criminal-sinner unto to death? (Acts 2:22-24, Isa.53:1-12, Lev.16:1-34, Gal.3:1-14, Rom.3:23, Ezek.18:20, WCF 8.5, 11.3, WLC 52, 71, WCF 3.7, 8.5, 11.3, WLC 38, 52, I Cor.6:9-11, Exod.20:1-21, Mt.22:35-40)
  1. How does our low view of God’s holiness and of His law affect our view of Christ’s gospel? How does a right view of God’s holiness and holy law help us have higher view of Jesus? How does a Biblical view of man help with our sharing the Gospel of Christ?
  1. How do we see the love of Christ to His Father and for His Bride on display in His trials before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate? How should we live because of this? (Dan.9:26, Rom.5:1-10, Jn.3:16, Gal.2:20, Heb.12:2, I Pt.2:24-25, Eph.2:16, I Jn.4:10, I Pt.2:20-21, Eph.2:1-10, Mt.22:35-40)





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