There was no legal basis for their accusations. Nor any moral imperative that merited their rage and indignation. And, if the Roman governor had been versed in such things, he would have found that even their theological charges against Him were ridiculous. More than that, if Pilate had known the Hebrew Scriptures, he may very well have concluded that the Man from Nazareth was telling the truth. That the events of the past three years, as it concerned Jesus, were in fact pointing to Him as the prophesied King of the Jews. No, it was less about justice and law–Roman or otherwise–that incited the religious leaders to stir up the crowd against Jesus. Pilate knew that “it was out of envy” that they had delivered Jesus up to him (Matt. 27:18).
Familiar story. Oh, but that it would never become too familiar.
I know how it turns out. Jesus wins! But may I never cease to wonder that Jesus willingly subjected Himself to such shame. Never lose the awe that He disregarded the humiliation and willingly endured the cross and all that led up to it. Never stop being amazed at the love of the Creator that He would so suffer for the sake of His creation.
And this morning it’s two words, highlighted I think by the Spirit, that cause me to pause and consider afresh the insanity that led to my Lord’s crucifixion.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” . . . Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
(Matthew 27:15-17, 20 ESV)
Destroy Jesus. Two words that have no place being placed side-by-side. A verb and a noun which should never be associated together. And yet, that’s what the religious leaders incited within the crowd–a determination to destroy Jesus.
Blinded by envy, they failed to recognize the King of eternity. Driven by their own self-preservation, they disregarded Christ’s self-proclamation. Having given themselves over to “all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (1John 2:16), they refused to hear all that was spoken by the living Word–the delight of the Father, testified to by the Sprit, come to give life and life to the full.
Destroy Jesus. It is still the cry of the spirit of our age, the spirit of antichrist. The demand of those who refuse to acknowledge the Creator. Those who will have no king over themselves but themselves. Those so blinded by self, sin, and Satan that absurdly they demand the death of the Author of Life (Acts 3:15). Those, however, for whom Jesus died. Those for whom Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
But death has no power over the Author of Life. Far from death destroying Jesus, Jesus through death destroyed “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” and delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14). And that, through “the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16). The empty tomb bearing witness that there is no destroying Jesus.
“Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
(Revelation 1:17-18 ESV)
He is the Living One.
The death He died not because of some mob’s insanity, but because God so loved the world that He sent His Son. Not destroyed by men, but delivered up by God. Not to satisfy their sinful jealousy, but to atone for it. And then, raised in power on the third day that all who have died with Him might also live with Him (2Tim. 2:11).
O what a Savior!
Such amazing grace! To Him be all the glory!