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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sermon 03132013 Wednesday in Lent 4

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!   Lord Jesus Christ, You stood in front of Pilate and answered his questions with the truth of Who You are, who would hear Your voice and Pilate tried to free You.  But in order for the plan of salvation to be fulfilled Barabbas was set free.  For in Your innocent death all of mankind is set free from sin, death and the devil, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel on our Lenten Pilgrimage to the Cross.  AMEN.

In the hands of one man the fate of a nation hung.  It isn’t the ‘normal’ story that we are apt to hear about, but when the Cuban Missile Crisis was at the verge of war between Fidel Castro and President John F. Kennedy, one man made the choice to avert the destruction of mankind, and it wasn’t either of the leaders.  You see, a Fleet Admiral who was patrolling the waters off of the Florida and Cuba coasts had a nuclear tipped missile that was to be used against the United States Navy that was circling over-head.  During this escalation this Admiral made the faithful decision that changed the course of history and prevented World War 3.  Without his clear thinking, understanding the ramifications of his actions and thinking of the bigger picture, our world today would not be what we have.

So to this morning/evening, in our series of People and Places of Lent we heard about Pilate, whose sole intention was to set Jesus Christ free.  In Pilate’s hands it appeared that the fate of the salvation of mankind rested. 

[Hear again from John 18 (John 18:28-40)
28 Then they *led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.29 Therefore Pilate went out to them and *said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”30 They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31 So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32 to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.
33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”
And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and *said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40 So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.]

This question and answer between Jesus and Pilate is not your classic interrogation that we think of from our 21st Century Media culture or police dramas.  Instead Jesus is dialoging with Pilate for three goals. To test him, teach him and leverage the truth of the outcome for all of mankind.

Jesus first tests Pilate to help Pilate understand Who he is dealing with.  Knowing the answer to the question, before asking, Jesus is trying to help Pilate discover that He, Jesus Christ is not some common criminal that stands before him, but one Who was turned over because of an agenda by the Pharisees and Saducees.  Truly the stories had circulated throughout the kingdom, even to Pilate’s ears of His miracles, ministry and acts of mercy.  Yet, Pilate clearly did not understand the real reason for Jesus being handed over to him, for the salvation of all mankind.

Hence, Jesus response to Pilate’s second question, “what have you done?” was an attempt to teach Pilate the reality that He, Jesus Christ is King.  For Jesus Kingdom is not of this world.  For Jesus Christ as creator, could call down His servants to fight for Him, but the reality is that in order for the plan of salvation to be fulfilled, Jesus had to suffer what was about to occur and even Pilate could not change the fate or destiny of Jesus Christ.

For Jesus Christ knew the truth that He would suffer and die, just as He had told His disciples throughout His earthly ministry.  Jesus Christ knew that He had been born into this role and for this He came into the world in order to set the world free from the sins of all of mankind.  This was Jesus destination, the Cross of Calvary and Pilate, who questioned Him, was only one stop in the journey to Golgotha.  The truth was even Pilate could not change Jesus Christ destiny, for Jesus destiny and destination had been known from the Garden of Eden to Mount Sinai where the Law was given to the Praetorium and the Synagogue where Jesus had stood trial.  The truth is that Jesus Christ came to live, to die to fulfill the Law given on Mount Sinai and to rise again so we who hear the Gospel message today are be set free from our sins.  Even Pilate could not change the destiny of the Savior to die for the sins of all of mankind.  Pilate could not change Jesus destiny and Pilate cannot change the destiny we fulfill this morning/evening of hearing the Gospel message.

For the Gospel is clear, Jesus Christ came into this world, lived, walked among us and calls us by name to set us free from the bonds of sin and death that began in the Garden of Eden with His death on Calvary.  Jesus Christ walked and taught His disciples the complete plan of salvation and today/tonight we hear how Pilate entered into the Gospel drama.  We heard the questions, but the reality is even Pilate, leader who sat upon a throne could not change the destiny of Jesus Christ to die on Calvary for mankind.  But hearing Pilate’s conversation enables us to understand more fully that Jesus Christ came for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel during our Lenten Pilgrimage.  AMEN.
//trial script