Sermon: In My Place Condemned He Stood (Luke 23:13-25)

In My Place Condemned He Stood

Luke 23:13-25

Introduction

Pilate finds himself up against a rock and a hard place.  Part of him wants to do the right thing and serve as a just judge over Jesus, yet he knows that he also must keep the peace.  It was an easy job, simply keep the peace.

Pilate, however, had made some bad choices so far in his rule over the Jews.  When he entered Jerusalem the first time he came with an attitude that he would show them who was boss.  He came with the full pomp and splendor of a Roman Ruler with banners with Roman symbols and mottos.  One such motto was Hail Caesar another was Hail Caesar God.  He specifically rubbed the Jew’s noses in it and from the beginning they did not like Pilate.

He even had the arrogance to place Roman banners in the Temple.  This act caused the Jewish leadership to go to the Emperor and complain.  Tiberius, after hearing the Jew’s complaints made Pilate remove the banners from the Temple.  This act gave the Jews the idea that if they scream loud enough and threaten Pilate, they could get their way.

On one occasion it is reported that Pilate even spent money that belonged to the Temple treasuring for one of his building projects.  Then there was the event reported in Luke 13 when Pilate massacred Jews right inside the Temple.  These acts also caused the Jewish leadership to go to Tiberius and demand that something be done about Pilate. 

It was an easy gig, all Pilate has to do is keep the peace and yet, it seemed to Tiberius that he was actually adding to the problem by his arrogance and lack of leadership.  One more uprising and Pilate may be looking for another job.

So, you have the Pilate factor…a weak politician jockeying for position.

You also have the religious leadership who knows that if they press Pilate enough they will get they’re way.

So, you have the Jewish factor…stubborn works oriented religious leaders.

I also want you to notice the people factor…they were so easily manipulated.

Primary Claim

The crucifixion of Christ, the great exchange, was planned by God and carried out by sinful man.

Human Condition

We have the need to fully believe that all events in life are intended to accomplish God’s will.  When evil seems to be having the upper hand, never forget God’s will is being accomplished.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.[1]

When we endure hardship be encouraged because in it God is working amazing blessings for you His child.

We also have another great need.  We stand condemned before God as guilty.  We must have a Substitute.  Jesus Christ died the death that we should have died.  We should have been on the cross.  We are the guilty ones, not Him.  Oh the mercy God shows humans at the cross.

Hear God’s Word for GCC today…

Luke 23:13-25

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

1.  Pilate’s Will

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

Pilate’s will is very clearly to release Jesus.

This is the first time the people are mentioned in this trial.  The people would, in fact, play a very big role in the crucifixion of Jesus.  We’re not sure why at this point the people were also summoned.  Perhaps Pilate thought they might listen to reason.  He was wrong.

Pilate and Herod never agreed on anything before.  Both men, as wicked and crooked as they were, declared Jesus to be innocent.  And yet, here stands Pilate just about to condemn an innocent Man to please the people.

Pilate tried declaring Jesus innocent, that didn’t work.  He tried sending Jesus to King Herod, that didn’t work.  He tried to declare Him innocent again and again even telling the people that Herod agreed, that didn’t work.  Finally, he said that he would punish Jesus and release Him and that didn’t work.  Do you realize how corrupt Pilate is?  He says, he will punish Jesus (an innocent Man), just to get the people to get off his back and leave him alone.

Pilate was beginning to see that Jesus’ enemies were interested in justice.  So, the only way out of this mess, he thought, was to punish an innocent man.  He would soon find out that even this was not enough, they wanted Jesus dead.

The crucifixion of Christ, the great exchange, was planned by God and carried out by sinful man.

2.  The People’s Will

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

Pilate’s will was to release Jesus.  The people guided by the Jewish leadership desired to see Jesus crucified.

Verse 18 explains that there is solidarity between the Jewish leadership and the residence of Jerusalem.  The Sanhedrin, The Scribes, Elders, Pharisees, and all the people together cry out for Jesus’ blood.  The Greek word here is mampleythei (In complete agreement).  This is getting dangerous for Pilate.  A rebellion is just about to break out.

He has one more idea…

There was a tradition that Pilate observed.  Every Passover, he would release one prisoner, whomever the Jews selected.  This was Pilate’s way of keeping with the spirit of Passover, where sinners were set free.  He thought, surly this will get me out of this tight spot.

Mark 15:6-15

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. [2]

Can we see the complete turn around and hypocrisy here?

The Jews handed Jesus over to Pilate and the false charges among other things against Jesus were, insurrection.  Pilate and Herod declared Jesus innocent of insurrection.

All the Gospel writers make the point that the man being released was actually guilty of the very crime Jesus was accused of, namely, insurrection.

Do you find it very intriguing that Jesus was put to death in the place of a sinner?  The innocent for the guilty.  So much so, that Barabbas was to be crucified between two of his friends.  The thieves were part of the band of thieves and murderers who Barabbas led.  Jesus took his place and Barabbas went free.

Mark 15:7

And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.

Bar- Son of…Abba…literally, son of the father.  So Jesus, Son of the Father went to die in the place of another son of the father.

24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

The crucifixion of Christ, the great exchange, was planned by God and carried out by sinful man.

3. God’s Will

All that Pilate tried and all the leadership tried and all that the people were doing fell perfectly into the divine will of God.  Jesus would not have been crucified if it were not for the plan of God.  Way too many factors involved and timing issues for this event to just happen.

We must see that this is God’s divine plan being orchestrated.

Isaiah 53:10

10          Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; [3]

When Pilate caved and handed Jesus over to be crucified, Luke tells us this was the will of the people.

he delivered Jesus over to their will.

Peter’s claim…

Acts 2:22-23

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. [4]

Evil men crucified Christ but it was God’s glorious plan they were carrying out.

Primary claim refocused

Primary Claim

The crucifixion of Christ was planned by God and carried out by sinful man.

Human condition changed or Human need met

Because of the cross, we have experienced a wonderful exchange…

There is a dramatic illustration of this Gospel truth in the trial of our Lord.  The account of Barabbas, who Luke describes as one thrown into prison because of murder and insurrection.  Barabbas was in prison for sins actually committed.  There was no mistake, Barabbas was guilty.

An old theologian from 1856, F W Krummacher, captures wonderfully this exchange…

Barabbas does not stand before us a merely an individual.  He represents, at the same time, the human race in its present condition—as fallen from God—in a state of rebellion against divine majesty—bound in fetters of the curse of the law till the Day of Judgment.[5]

When you think of Barabbas in all his murderous sinful actions, please understand Barabbas is us.  Luke makes a point to prove Barabbas is guilty of the very crime Jesus was accused of.  Here, Jesus took the place of Barabbas and us.

The old theologian goes on,

Barabbas and Jesus change places.  The murderer’s bonds, curse, disgrace and mortal agony are transferred to the righteous Jesus; while the liberty, innocence, safety, and well-being of the immaculate Nazarene become the lot of the murderer.  Barabbas is installed in all the rights and privileges of Jesus Christ; while the latter enters upon all infamy and horror of the rebel’s position.  Both mutually inherit each other’s situation and what they possess: the delinquent’s guilt and cross become the lot of the Just One, and all the civil rights and immunities of the latter are the property of the delinquent.[6]

I’m not suggesting Barabbas ever became a follower of Christ, but that his pardon is a picture of the grace God has for us in Jesus Christ.

Just like in the case of Barabbas, Jesus took our place as well.

When it came to the most wicked sin ever committed, namely, crucifying the pure and holy Son of God, that act also produced the greatest good the world has ever seen.

The crucifixion of Christ, the great exchange, was planned by God and carried out by sinful man.

Exhortation in godly living

Think what would be going through your mind as you sat in you prison cell waiting to die of crucifixion like Barabbas.  You’ve been there a few days waiting.  You can’t sleep because your nightmares only intensify your fear.  You know that time is passing and to hour of your death is drawing near.

Then, without warning, the prison guard enters with the key.  Rather than leading you away for the scourging and crucifixion, he unlocks your shackles and tells you that you are free to go.

Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ today, you have been set free.  May we love, honor, and obey our Savior Jesus Christ.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ro 8:28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Mk 15:6–15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Is 53:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ac 2:22–23). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] Quoted in Ryken’s Commentary on Luke Vol 2 page 566

[6] ibid 567

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