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THE REJECTION OF THE KING
Intro: This passage brings us one step closer to the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary. He has been arrested by His enemies. He has been tried by the religious authorities and condemned. His condemnation was based on the testimony of false witnesses and erroneous accusations. The Jews have sentenced Jesus to death, and that is where we are headed as this narrative unfolds.
In this passage, we will see Jesus rejected by the religious authorities in Israel. We will see Him rejected by the civil authority of Rome. Ultimately, we will see Him rejected by the common man as well.
This text reveals the very heart of human nature. This text proves that man, in his natural state, is a totally depraved sinner, capable of intense hatred and evil. This text proves that man, in his natural state, is God’s enemy, just as Romans 8:7 says he is. This text is a mirror for the human heart, fully revealing its character and condition.
Once an African chief happened to visit a mission station. Hanging outside the missionary’s hut on a tree was a little mirror. The chief happened to look into the mirror and saw his reflection, complete with terrifying paint and threatening features. He gazed at his own frightening countenance and started back in horror, exclaiming, Who is that horrible-looking person inside that tree?”
Oh,” the missionary said, “it is not in the tree. The glass is reflecting your own face.
The African would not believe it until he held the mirror in his hand. He said, I must have the glass. How much will you sell it for?”
Oh,” said the missionary, “I don’t want to sell it.
But the chief begged until he capitulated, thinking it might be best to sell it to avoid trouble.
So he named a price and he took the mirror. Exclaiming, “I will never have it making faces at me again,” he threw it down and broke it to pieces.
This is precisely what the religious establishment did to Jesus. They would dash this mirror of their souls! So they nailed him to a cross, only to find that this magnified the reflection. [i]
This text is a mirror of our own souls. When we look at Jesus and what the people did to Him that day, we can see ourselves. We either see that we are walking with our faith in Jesus. Or, we see that we are guilty of rejecting the King.
I want to preach about The Rejection Of The King. I want you to see that The King Is Rejected By The Priests; The King Is Rejected By Pilate; and The King is Rejected By The People. The main thing I want you to see is what you have done with Jesus. Everyone in our text rejected Jesus. Be sure that the same isn’t true of you. Let’s consider these challenging truths together today.
I. v. 1 THE KING IS REJECTED
BY THE PRIESTS
· The language of verse 1 suggests that these events occurred very early in the morning, just as the sun was rising. The word “morning translates a word that refers to the time between 3 AM and 6 AM, or the fourth watch of the night.
So, as soon as dawn begins to break, the chief priests convene all the rulers of Israel together to legitimize the decisions they reached during the night. Verses 55-65 tell us that, after Jesus was arrested, He was subjected to an illegal trial before the chief priest. During this trial, Jesus was accused of blasphemy and condemned to death. He was then beaten and mistreated by the religious leaders and the temple police. This early morning meeting was held for just one purpose; these men wanted to add a sense of legitimacy to the illegal decision they had made during the night.
During this phase of the trial, the Jews asked Jesus the same question they had asked Him during the night. Luke 22:66-71 tells us that they once again asked Jesus if He was the Son of God. Once again, Jesus answered that indeed He was the Son of God. To the Jews, this confirmed Him as a blasphemer, and they reaffirmed the sentence of death.
· Israel was under Roman domination. they were allowed a great measure of freedom to try cases and pronounce sentences, but they were not allowed to hand down a sentence of death. This right belonged to the Roman governor alone. The Jews had condemned Jesus to death, but they lacked the authority to carry out the sentence, so they bound Jesus like a common criminal and led Him away to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.
· When the Jews came before Pilate, they knew they could not accuse Jesus of blaspheme. they knew that Pilate would never intervene in a Jewish religious argument. So, when they brought Jesus to Pilate, they changed the charges against Him. Luke 23:2 says, “And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. These wicked men knew that this would get Pilates attention and help them accomplish their evil agenda of seeing Jesus crucified.
· The actions of these religious men teach us a very important truth. That truth is this: religious has no place for Jesus Christ. The Jewish religious rulers had a good thing going. As far as daily life in Israel was concerned, they held all the power over the people. They were making vast amounts of money through the buying and selling that went on at the Temple. They were rich. They were powerful. They believed that they were right with God. These men thought they were justified in all their actions. They believed their religion was enough! The Jews rejected Jesus because religion has no room for Jesus Christ.
· The fact is, no religious system has room for Jesus. Religion is all about human involvement and human activity. Religion is always based in external works. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, is always based in faith. Religion seeks to approach God on the basis of what man can do. Biblical Christianity seeks to approach God on the basis of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. There is a vast difference between the two!
The Bible is crystal clear on this issue: no one is saved by works, even religious works, Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:20; Titus 3:3-5. It is also crystal clear that salvation is based on faith in Christ alone, John 1:12; 3:15-16, 36; 6:40, 47; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9; Mark 16:16; Rom. 5:1-5; 1 John 5:10-13. Salvation is never about what man can do; it is always about what Jesus has already done. The Gospel is a very clear and straight forward message. It can be summed up in these verses: Rom. 4:25 and 1 Cor. 15:1-4. What really matters are these simple questions: Have you believed the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection? Are you trusting Jesus and Jesus alone for your soul’s salvation?
· Things like giving, praying, good works, baptism, church attendance, etc., are all good things, but none of them has the power to save the soul. Religion has the power to make people respectable and decent, but it does not have the power to make anyone right with God.
On the other hand, biblical redemption has the power to make people holy. It has the power to save the soul, secure the soul and alter one’s eternal destiny. Seeking God man’s way will always result in eternal damnation in Hell. Coming to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will always result the soul’s salvation and eternal glory in Heaven!
· So, are you saved? Or, are you lost?
I. The King Is Rejected By The Priests
II. v. 2-5 THE KING IS REJECTED
· When Jesus arrives before Pilate, the governor asks Jesus about the accusation that He is the King of the Jews. The answer Jesus gives Pilate is somewhat different from the answer He gave the Jews. When the Jews asked Jesus about His identity as the Son of God and the Messiah, Jesus simply said, “I Am! When Pilate asks Jesus if He is the King of the Jews, Jesus responds by saying Thou sayest it.”
This statement has three possible interpretations. First, Jesus could be saying, “You got it just right! That’s Who I am., Second, Jesus could be saying, That’s for you to decide. Third, Jesus could be saying, I am the King of the Jews, but I am not a king in any way you would understand. My kingdom is not of this world. My authority comes from above and not from you or the men who have accused Me. This latter interpretation is, I think, the correct one. It is confirmed by what John records in John 18:33-36.
· Why the difference? Why was Jesus so clear with the Jews and why was He not so clear with Pilate? The Jews had every reason to believe that Jesus was Who He claimed to be. They had the Old Testament with its laws and prophecies that predicted the coming of the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled every one of them to the letter. He proved He was their Messiah. In fact, he even exceeded the ancient prophecies, Ill. Isa. 35:4-6; Matt. 11:4-6.
Pilate did not have this information. He was a Gentile and he did not know Who Jesus was. He had not seen the miracles, nor had he heard His words. On that morning, Pilate was brought face to face with Jesus, and when he was, he had a decision to make. Pilate was given the opportunity to meet Jesus in a personal, faith relationship, and he failed!
· Before we go deeper into this meeting between Jesus and Pilate, we need to know a little more about this powerful man who allowed the Lord of Glory to be crucified.
Ψ Little is known about the life and career of Pontius Pilate before he was appointed governor of Palestine. It is likely that he held a series of political and military positions as he climbed the Roman political ladder.
Ψ The Bible and other ancient historical accounts of Pilate’s life and actions paint him as being incompetent and heavy-handed.
Ψ Pilate was the governor of Palestine from 26-36 AD.
Ψ According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Pilate was responsible for much of the turmoil that marked his career as governor of Palestine. On one occasion, he permitted his soldiers to enter Jerusalem with flags bearing the image of Caesar. This insulted the Jews and nearly led to a bloody rebellion. On another occasion, he confiscated the “Corban treasury of the Temple to pay for an aqueduct he was building. The Corban treasury was to be used for Gods service alone. Jews who objected to this insult were severely beaten by plain clothed soldiers. According to Luke 13:1, Pilate killed some Galileans as they offered their sacrifices.
Ψ Pilate lost his position when he ordered his cavalry to attack some Samaritans who had gathered at Mount Gerizim as part of a religious quest.
Ψ Pilate was a man who was motivated by a lust for power. He was driven by an insatiable thirst for political power. He seemed to live for status and celebrity. He placed his career before everyone and everything. He lived to exalt himself. His whole life was about Pilate.
Ψ After being deposed as governor, Pilate was exiled to northern Europe, where tradition says that he committed suicide. When he lost his power, his position and his pride, he had nothing for which to live.
Ψ This is the petty, self-centered man Jesus faced in that early morning trial.
· Having learned a little more about Pilate, let’s look at his encounter with Jesus.
Ψ Verse 3 tells us that the Jews made all manner of accusations against Jesus, but the Lord stood there in absolute silence. He refused to defend Himself against their lies. He was just as Isaiah said He would be, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth, Isa. 53:7.
Ψ In verses 4 and 5 Pilate attempted to get Jesus to defend Himself. Again, Jesus simply stood there in regal silence. His refusal to answer left Pilate amazed. Pilate was amazed, but he was convinced that Jesus was innocent of the charges being leveled against Him.
· That is all the detail Mark gives us of Pilate’s encounter with Jesus, but the other Gospel writers fill in the gaps for us.
Ψ Luke tells us that Pilate sent Jesus to Kind Herod, Luke 23:6-12. Herod questioned Jesus and his soldiers mocked Jesus, but Jesus refused to answer Herod. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Herod was also convinced of Christ’s innocence, Luke 23:15.
Ψ John tells us that Pilate then took Jesus into his palace to question Him privately, John 18:33-37. Jesus answered Pilate’s questions saying, “My kingdom is not of this world... After examining Jesus, Pilate sees the accusations of the Jews for what they are, nothing but pure hatred and envy, Mark 15:10. He knows that Jesus is innocent, John 18:38, and he takes steps to see that Jesus is released.
· This whole encounter between Jesus and Pilate comes down to what is said in John 18:37-38. In verse 37, Jesus plainly declares His identity and offers to teach Pilate the truth. In verse 38, Pilate flippantly says, “What is truth? and walks out on Jesus, turning his back on truth and salvation. Ultimately, Pilate would allow the Jews to take Jesus away and crucify Him.
Pilate ignored what he knew to be the truth. He ignored a clear warning from his wife, Matt. 27:19. He ignored the fact that the Jews were lying and just wanted Jesus dead for their own purposes. Pilate ignore the truth because he wanted to hold on to his position with Rome and his power over the people.
Pilate was a weak, cowardly man who was more concerned with maintaining his position and his power than he was with knowing the truth. He was more concerned with keeping the Jews happy than he was in protecting an innocent man. Pilate was a coward who placed his position, his prosperity, his pride and his person before his soul. Pilate could have been saved, but he was too much of a coward to bow before Jesus and believe in Him for salvation. Pilate rejected Jesus because cowardice has no room for Christ.
· I am afraid there are many people like Pilate in our world today. Not too many possess the position or power that Pilate enjoyed, but many are confronted with the truth of Who Jesus Christ is. Many are confronted with the sure knowledge that He is the only way to get to Heaven, John 14:6; Acts 4:12. They come face to face with the truth, but they are too afraid to commit to a life of following Jesus. Instead, they cling to their sins, their empty lives and their tragic eternities.
Some reject Jesus because they are afraid they cannot live for Him. Some reject Jesus because they are afraid of what others will say about them. Some reject Jesus because they love their sin more than they love the truth. At the end of the day, all those who reject Jesus do so for the very same reasons Pilate rejected Him. They reject Him because they are cowards. They reject Jesus because they are afraid!
· It takes courage to come to Jesus! It takes courage to admit that you are a sinner. It takes courage to admit that you are helpless to save yourself. It takes courage to admit that you need the Lord Jesus Christ. It takes courage to bow before Him and call on Him for salvation. It takes courage to stand against the world and live for Him. It takes courage to be different in a world that demands that everyone behave the same way. It takes great bravery to live for God in a world controlled by the devil!
People look at Christians and say that we are week and that Jesus is a crutch. Well, let me state for the record that I am a spiritual cripple and I cannot walk without Him. I am a spiritual cripple and I need a crutch to lean on. I need help! I cannot support myself!
· I salute every believer today who is living for Jesus Christ. To everyone who has the courage to live for Jesus, you have my respect. I salute my brothers and my sisters who are living as lights in this dark world.
There are plenty of folk who claim to love Jesus, but they really are just like Pilate, they live to please themselves. They live by their own rules; they do as they please; they serve God when it fits within their schedule. For the most part, they are no different than the world around them. Church, the Bible, prayer, witnessing, giving, are all things other people do. They are spiritual takers and they give little to nothing back to the Lord they claim to serve. They are the cowards. They are the empty pretenders. They are the people who, like Pilate, will walk away from the truth and drop off into a Christless eternity. (Ill. Matt. 7:21-23; John 6:40 - Believing on Jesus takes real courage!)
I. The King Is Rejected By The Priests
II. The King Is Rejected By Pilate
III. v. 6-15 THE KING IS REJECTED
BY THE PEOPLE
· Pilate has examined Jesus and is convinced that He is innocent. So, Pilate takes a gamble to try and free Jesus without any political backlash. According to verse 6, it was Pilate’s custom to release to the crowds a prisoner of their own choosing. He has, in his custody, a prisoner named Barabbas, v. 7.
· Barabbas was a political prisoner. He had been arrested for “insurrection and murder. Barabbas was a revolutionary. He was trying to over throw the Roman government. He has been caught and now he was headed for death on a Roman cross.
Pilate offers the crowd a choice between Jesus Christ and Barabbas, vv. 8-10. He thinks the people will choose the peace-loving Jesus over the violent Barabbas. He believes the people will choose the One Who had ever done good and right over the one who had only done evil.
Pilate was wrong! Pilate rolled the dice and he lost. The Jewish leaders stirred up the crowds and caused them to choose Barabbas over Jesus, v. 11. When they made their choice Pilate asks them what he should do with Jesus, v. 12. They cry out that He should be crucified, v. 13. Pilate again states his belief in Christ’s innocence and asks the crowds why, v. 14. The people have been whipped into a state of near frenzy and they call for the death of Jesus by crucifixion, v. 14. They even called down a curse upon themselves, Matt. 7:25. Pilate gives in to the will of the people allows them to have their way with Jesus, v. 15.
· A lot of preaching has been done about this crowd and their choice of Barabbas. I have heard it said, and have even said it myself, that some of these same people were the ones crying “Hosanna just a week earlier. That probably isnt true.
This crowd was there because they knew that Barabbas was about to die. As a revolutionary, who was trying to defeat Rome, Barabbas was probably a popular figure with the common man. He was like a folk hero to these people. The supporters of Jesus did not know that He had been arrested yet, so they had no time to assemble themselves in His defense.
The crowd that day did not care about Jesus; they wanted Barabbas. They did not believe in Jesus. He did not seem like the kind of Messiah they were looking for. Barabbas, on the other hand, was more of what they thought a Messiah should be. So, they rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas out of sheer unbelief. The crowds rejected Jesus because unbelief has no room for Jesus Christ.
· History says that Barabbas’ full name was “Jesus Bar-Abbas. This name means Jesus the Son of the Fathers. On this day the crowds had a choice between Jesus the Son of the Fathers or Jesus the Son of God. Had they been acting in faith, the choice would have gone the other way, but being blinded by unbelief, they chose the way of the world over the Way to God.
· Many in our world are just like the crowd that condemned Jesus. All around are people who choose the world over the Lord every day. We see it in our elections. We see it in the actions of our government. We see it in our choices of entertainment. We see it in the way people live their lives every day.
The majority is not always right! The majority rejected Jesus. The majority condemned Him to death. The majority stood against Him and the majority was wrong.
The majority is still against Jesus today! The world, as a whole rejects Him through sheer unbelief. The world ignores the Word of God. It ignores the changed lives of the redeemed. It ignores God’s free offer of salvation. The lost multitude chooses its sin over God’s salvation. The lost multitude chooses Hell over Heaven. The lost multitude refuses to believe in Jesus. (Ill. Matt. 7:13-14)
· Just as it was the day Jesus was crucified, the majority refuses to believe in Him. This refusal is what condemns the lost sinner, John 8:24. This refusal to believe in Jesus is what sends people to Hell, John 3:18, 36.
Just because the multitude refuses to come to Jesus, does not mean that you have to follow them. You can go against the grain. You can receive Jesus, you can be saved and miss Hell. You do not have to follow the crowd over the cliff. You can be saved, if you have the courage to be different!
Conc: The King came to Israel just like the prophets said He would. He fulfilled every prophecy. He accomplished everything God said the Messiah would accomplished. Jesus was exactly Who He claimed to be.
This King came to His people and He was rejected by them. John 1:11. Because they rejected Him, they were condemned by God. Their nation was destroyed. Their souls were sentenced to Hell.
Don’t reject Jesus! If He is reaching out to you, calling you to come to Him, please don’t deny His call. Come while He calls; come and be saved!
[i] Adapted from Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark : Jesus, servant and savior. Preaching the Word (190). Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.