Where Christ is Exalted!
We’re looking up who delivered Jesus up to die
26 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children! 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives
Heavenly Father, we see Jesus here gathered with his disciples as we are gathered here today. Father the central thing that Jesus wanted his disciples to remember and not just remember at that time but as they gathered to connect with and celebrate the Lord’s Supper was the reminder of his death. Now Father help us to understand that central to the Christian message is the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. And without the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross there is no gospel. Father help us, for your word says that we are to live our lives in light of the cross of Jesus Christ. We oftentimes sing that hymn, Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone, no there’s a cross for everyone. There’s a cross for me and there’s a cross for you. Father, help us to understand as we look at who handed Jesus over for death that Father, there was a human-working but there was also a divine-working, working through the humans. ‘Cause you are always sovereign. Now Father this is one of the greatest reminders that you can bring good out of what man intends for evil for in Jesus name we pray amen.
You may be seated and I hope you will keep your Bibles open to that.
Again we see that Jesus wanted to be remembered for his death. It was to be a memorial service–which we are going to celebrate here in just a moment–of his vicarious, substitionary, satisfying, sufficient, atoning death on the cross.
Again the cross is central to Christianity.
Loved ones, There is no Christianity without the cross. 1 Corinthians 1:18-30 in verse 23, Paul says, “We preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Now loved ones I’ll just be honest, sometimes I wonder.
In a very popular radio show they took a survey of what was the most popular sermon that was heard and it was on marriage.
That says something, doesn’t it?
The most essential message is why Jesus went to the cross.
The centrality of the cross.
You know I was looking at our hymnbook, have you ever noticed all the hymns on the cross? It’s interesting. They’re also pretty much located in the center of the Bible. But if you begin to just look under Jesus Christ the Cross there’s just At the Cross at Calvary, Beneath the Cross, At Jesus’ Cross, Blessed Redeemer and it just goes on and on, obviously the cross is to be central.
Now listen to what William Booth said,
The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the holy spirit, Christianity without Christ that means a Crossless Christianity, forgiveness without repentance, how many of you know there is no forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration there is no salvation unless a person is born again into the kingdom. Listen to this one, politics without God, loved ones we’re there. And heaven without hell, we’re there.
Listen to Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34 this is after he told his disciples the first time that he was going to go to Jerusalem and that he would be arrested there, that they would kill him and three days rise again. Remember how Peter protested about that and Jesus rebuked him. But then he spoke to all the disciples as well as the crowd who was with him, and said, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up the cross and follow me, for whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Now I want you to look in verse 35, there’s a choice in verse 35, is there not?
Whoever wants to save his life, keep it for himself, in the end is going to lose it. But whoever loses his life, gives their life to Jesus, surrenders their life to him, for him and for the gospel will save it. So that’s the choice. You either keep your life or you give your life to Jesus. There’s no other choice.
And he goes on to say “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul? Or what can man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Listen to Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 as he applied the cross of Christ personally to his own life. Now you need to listen, if you have not applied the cross of Christ personally to your own life you are not one of God’s children. It’s just as when we take the Lord’s Supper, you have to partake of the Lord’s Supper, you have to personally partake of it and, loved ones, when Jesus’ disciples first took of the Lord’s Supper they understood what was going on.
You have to personally respond to Jesus Christ. Just having a general knowledge that Jesus died on the cross for sins in general will do you absolutely no good when you stand before God in the judgment. You have to personally appropriate the cross of Jesus Christ, you have to respond.
Well Paul did in Galatians 2:20 he says, “I’ve been crucified with Christ.” In other words he says When Jesus was crucified I was there with him. I no longer live, good riddance. Good riddance to that I, that selfish I in our life. That needs to be put to death. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
You see there’s a radical difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. Because as Jesus said, “No one can come after me unless he denies himself and takes up his cross and follows me. (Matthew 16:24)
Ephesians 4:32 and then 5:2, Paul’s giving instructions to the Ephesians says, “Be kind and compassion to one another forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God as dearly loved children, live a life of love just as Christ loved us,” listen, “and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering of sacrifice to God.”
Now briefly I just want to fly through the context.
In Matthew 21 Jesus rides into Jerusalem, all the fanfare, they were proclaiming, “Here comes the king of Israel! He’s the messiah!” Jesus goes in and cleans out the temple which was known as Caiaphas’ and Ananias’ bazaar. They had turned it not from a house of prayer into a bazaar where all sorts of things were going on that were displeasing to God.
In Matthew 22 the religious leaders questioned Jesus about paying taxes, about the resurrection about the greatest commandment. Of course Jesus then turns around and questions them and they can’t answer Jesus questions.
Matthew 23 is one of the most scathing denunciations of the religious leaders recorded in the Gospel. He calls them hypocrites and he says they are like white washed tombs. “You travel over land and sea to make converts like yourself and you make them twice as much a sons of hell as you.” (v. 15)
Listen, now you need to understand this. The religious leaders hated Jesus’ guts for what he said. He spoke the truth. So don’t think if you speak the truth you’re going to be loved. Jesus said, “If they persecuted me they will persecute you.” (John 15:20)
We don’t need to be mean when we speak to people, we need to speak the truth in love. But there are going to be people who hate you because you take a stand for the truth.
Matthew 24, Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple and the sign of his coming and the end of the age and the necessity of remaining watchful. Loved ones, I want to encourage you to remain watchful today because things are happening not only in our society but in the world over that are pointing right to the last day.
Then in Matthew 25, Jesus tells about the final judgment and that brings us to where we are today and what we’re going to look at with the time we have.
First of all Jesus’ statement to his disciples in Matthew 26:1&2, He says the Son of Man will be handed over and be crucified. So the question comes, Who handed Jesus over? Well there are two aspects. The man-ward aspect and the God-ward aspect. So let’s just consider very quickly the man-ward aspect. And we read in Matthew 26, these words and I have read them to you, in Matthew 26, let me find it. All right here we go, Matthew 26 verse 1
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
now notice in verse 3,
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.
Notice they wanted to do it in some sly way and kill him but not during the feast or there may be a riot among the people. They feared the people so they wanted to do it in a sly way. So leading the men who wanted to put Jesus on the cross were the religious leaders. Now you need to listen, if Jesus came back today he would say things that the religious people would hate him for. In fact some of you might hate what he might say. Who did Jesus have the most difficulty with when he began his ministry? The religious leaders, it’s obvious. It was the religious leaders. They came to the point where they hated him.
As you go through Scripture it’s obvious in John 5, remember he healed the lame man by the pool, remember that? And it was on the Sabbath. They didn’t like people doing things on the Sabbath because it didn’t fit in with the little rules they had made. Now you need to realize when we make rules that are not in God’s word we are holding God’s name in contempt. And they were putting burdens on people that they never should have put on people. Jesus healed that lame man and they clearly saw that Jesus had the power to heal that lame man but all they were interested in was that He wasn’t keeping their little old Sabbath. And then when they went to question him about it he said, “My Father is always at work to this very day and I too am working.” (John 5:17) And OH they didn’t like that because they said, “That’s blasphemy, you’re claiming to be God.” Now you need to understand there’s two reasons that the religious leaders wanted Jesus put to death. Main ones: he was breaking the Sabbath and he claimed to be God.
John 8, Jesus is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders as well as the Jews and he says, “Anyone who sins is a captive to sin.”
And they say, “We’ve never been captive to anyone how can you say, You shall set us free?”
He says, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin and if the son sets you free you will be free indeed.”
But he goes on to say, “I know you guys aren’t gonna listen to me because you’re plotting to kill me.”
And they said, “We’re Abraham’s sons.”
“No you’re not Abraham’s sons. If you were you would do what Abraham was doing, you listen to God.”
And then they said, “But God is our father.”
And he said, “No God is not your father.” He said, “Your father’s the devil.”
Loved ones do you understand, they hated Jesus because he told them the truth?
They thought they were in good stead with God and Jesus said, “Guys you’re on the wrong side. You’re on the wrong team. You need to change your team.”
You know when Jesus stood trial before Pilate, listen to what it says in Matthew 27:18
You know Pilate was a sharp old dude, he was a politician, he could evaluate people pretty quick and it says, “He knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.”
Religious leaders didn’t like all the attention Jesus was getting. They wanted it.
You remember earlier in Matthew 5 and 6? Jesus said, “When the religious leaders go up to pray they do it in such a way to receive praise from men not praise from God.”
Now this is the truth from Scripture, by the time Jesus came on the scene the priests and the priesthood were absolutely corrupt. They were blind guides leading others blind, they were hypocrites. That’s why the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Because the leaders rejected Christ but also the people rejected Christ.
You know what Jesus said?
“How I have longed to gather you together as a hen would gather her chicks but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37) You know why people go to hell? Because they’re not willing to come to Jesus Christ. Now listen to what Jesus told them, “You will not see me again until you say, blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” They were going to have to make a complete turnaround weren’t they?
The religious leaders hated him and I’ll just give ya this: go through the Gospels. The religious leaders broke every one of the Ten Commandments. And yet they were the religious leaders. Isn’t that why James says, “Be careful being a leader. Be careful being a teacher.” Because you’re going to be held to a greater judgment. And Jesus did hold them to a great judgment. Because they were misleading the people.
I want to tell you something, I would never not tell you the truth.
That’s why I stick to God’s word.
God’s word is truth.
Then, we see Judas.
Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples.
We get an indication as early as John 6 Jesus knew who the betrayer was going to be.
Judas goes to the religious leaders and he says, “What will you give me if I hand Jesus over to you?”
And they said, “Well, we’ll make a deal. How about thirty pieces of silver?”
So Judas struck a deal and it says he began to look for an opportunity to turn Jesus over. Because he knew where Jesus was at at particular times. Seems that Judas had a love for money and this comes out in John 12.
John records when Mary was washing the feet of Jesus with that beautiful perfume and it says in one of the other Gospels that the disciples objected. Well it tells us in John who particularly objected. It was Judas. And it says he was a lover of money because he oftentimes took money from the bag that the apostles had.
“What’re you willing to give me,” that’s what he asked them. “What’re you willing to give me if I soften the message of Jesus Christ on the cross?”
“I’ll give you fifty thousand dollars a year to be our pastor.”
I don’t care how much money you give me, I’ll never soften the message of Jesus Christ. We preach the Cross.
Paul said, I preach the cross and him what? Crucified.
Loved ones, we who are disciples worship a crucified savior and we are called to live a crucified life.
Judas was in it for the money. You know what’s amazing? None of the other disciples, even at the Lord’s Supper, when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me,” they didn’t all say and point, “It’s him!”
They were questioning whether it was them.
And we know what Judas did. He did go out and betray Jesus and Jesus said, “It would be better if you had not been born.” And we know that ultimately Judas hung himself. And you remember when Jesus was arrested, they took him to Pilate.
In Mark 15:1-15 verse 15 it says, “Pilate although he knew Jesus was innocent,” and he pronounced Jesus innocent I believe on three different occasions. He knew. Listen to what he said, he knew they had delivered him up because of their envy but wanting to satisfy the crowd…There ya go.
That’s how he made his decisions. He wanted to satisfy people so he could continue his ambitious political climb. And out of fear of the people, and for political expedience and for political correctness—that’s how he made his decisions.
Let me ask you loved one, how do you make your choices in life?
Do you go by what other people tell you or do you get in God’s word and find out what God wants you to do?
I want to thank you, those that came out to Rachel’s birthday party. For the third try. We had a wonderful time. She got a lot of soda. Diet Doctor Pepper.
But Chris had a little game that was very entertaining. She had questions 1 through 10 and she had Rachel answer those questions and then she gave everybody else in the room a copy of one through ten and they had to think like Rachel thinks…which really stretches ya, doesn’t it? So, but one of the questions was this, “What’s my favorite thing to do?”
You know what I put down for that? “Aggravate her daddy.”
You know what she put down for that?
“Obey my dad.”
Now you need to listen, you know what your favorite thing should be as a Christian to do?
Obey your dad.
Obey God the Father.
That was Jesus’ favorite thing to do. He said, “My will is to do, my whole purpose in life is to do the will of Him who sent me.”
So Pilate did that which was politically expedient. You remember how he tried to wash his hands at the end?
Jesus did say, “Hey, the religious leaders are gonna be held more accountable than you,” but he didn’t say that Pilate wouldn’t be held accountable.
And you with the help of wicked men by nailing him to the cross
In other words Peter told them, You know all of this was just part of God’s plan.
You know what’s amazing as I read through God’s word is how often God uses wicked evil men to achieve His sovereign purpose. He did it in the life of Joseph, didn’t he?
So God the Father from all eternity had planned this so, it wasn’t just man doing it. It was God working His purpose through even evil men. But how about God the Son’s part in it?
Well in John 10:11-18, just verses 17 and 18, Jesus says, he had said, “I am the Good Shepherd who lays down his–” what? “Life for the sheep.” But he goes on to say, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I receive from my Father.”
You know, as you read through the Gospel of John, Jesus is continually saying, “My time has not yet come. It’s not my hour.”
But then finally in John 12:20-33, Jesus says, “The hour has come.” And he says, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains a single seed. But if it falls to the ground and dies it will produce many seeds.” And he was picturing his death on the cross. You see Jesus’ death was absolutely necessary for the salvation of his sheep.
So who delivered Jesus up to die?
Well the religious leaders definitely had their blame and guilt in it. Judas was guilty. Pilate was guilty. And also God and Jesus were working out their divine purpose in that. It’s interesting how many times in the New Testament you read this: Jesus gave himself up for us. No one took Jesus’ life from him until it was that hour.
But it wasn’t just Judas’ love for money, wasn’t just the religious leaders’ envy, and it wasn’t Pilate’s ambition, loved ones. Those were just symbols of what put Jesus on the cross and it was sin.
You remember, Jesus always tried to help the religious leaders understand that it wasn’t just about outward conformity but man has a problem in his heart. And he said, “Out of the heart comes all this evil, all this sin.”
You know, in Colossians 3 there’s directions and instructions to Christians. Do you know what it says? “Put to death whatever belongs to your evil nature. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. Because of these the wrath of God is coming.” And he goes, “You used to live in these ways, in the life you once lived but now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, and filthy language from your lips.”
When we consider who delivered Jesus up to die, truth is, Pharisees did it, Judas did it, Pilate did it, it was in the Father’s will and Jesus’ desire to fulfill the Father’s will—in actuality, you and I did it. I did it. My sins sent Jesus to the cross. And Jesus did it. His love took Him there.
Now you need to listen very carefully, before a person can begin to see the cross as something done for us, which leads us to faith in repentance, we have to see it as something done by us.
Only the man or woman who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in the grace. There’s that song, Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Yes. Your sin was there.
I want to finish by reading from John Stott’s book It’s All About the Cross. Close to 300 pages on the cross. Wonderful book. He says:
The Cross enforces three truths about ourselves, about God
and about Jesus Christ.
First, our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals
the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ
there was neither the greed of Judas nor the envy of the priests,
nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate but our own greed, envy,
cowardice and other sins and Christ’s resolve and love and mercy
to bear their judgment and so put them away. It’s impossible
for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed
of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere
in the world except at the cross of Jesus Christ.
There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. They are seen for the tatty,
poisonous things they are for if there was no way by which the
righteous God could mercifully forgive our unrighteousness, except that
he should bear it in Christ – it must be serious indeed.
It is only when we see this that stripped of our self-righteousness and self-
satisfaction we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior
we urgently need.
And then he says:
Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension.
And it is, isn’t it?
But loved ones, you need to understand, what happened on the cross God’s love and holiness meant. Don’t ever forget there’s only one attribute of God that’s brought to the third dimension. It’s in Isaiah 6: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory.
Loved ones, God’s word plainly says that if you don’t understand that God is holy you don’t understand who God is. You got the wrong god. God’s holiness includes His righteousness and His justice. He must punish sin. His eyes are too pure. We can’t even imagine a being whose eyes are too pure to behold sin because we behold so much each and every day. I can’t walk out of the WalMart, with the aisle, with the magazine rack, without beholding it. Now Chris tries to help me, “Eyes forward! Eyes forward!”
Loved one, if you love God it’s because God first loved you.
Now you need to listen, don’t let anyone talk about love in a flimsy way when it comes to Christianity.
If they say, “God is love,” you know what I want you to do?
There’s a question, the next question, what do you think I’m gonna ask you to do?
How has God loved you?
You know what the Scripture says? This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice.
Loved ones, the love of God can never be separated from what God did for us in Jesus Christ.
Yet you’ll hear many people do that.
Well just think about this very flimsy, oozy kind of love. Read an article the other day, written by some homosexual people pushing their agenda. They go, “God is love and love is God.” And I say, “Not the kind of love you’re talking about, folks.”
And this is important,
Christ’s salvation must be a free gift.
You know this morning in Bible study we studied Islam. You know how those people are trying to get to heaven? It’s a balance. I heard one Muslim say, “My daddy always used to say at the end of the day, Have you done more good things than bad things?” You know what they don’t understand? Even the things they think are good are as filthy rags in God’s sight. And I think how tragic that is. You see, salvation has to be free. And it’s freely offered to us in Jesus Christ.
He purchased it for us at the high price of his own lifeblood.
So there’s nothing left to pay. Christ died for sins once for all. The righteous for the unrighteous. (1 Peter 3:18) Why? To bring us to God.
Do you know there’s no other way to come to God except through Jesus Christ?
And then he goes on and this is important,
Not of course that we now who are Christians have a license to sin
and can always count on God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, the same
Cross of Christ which is the ground of our free salvation is also the most
powerful incentive to a holy life.
You know what I do when I sin?
First of all, you need to listen, I know when I sin.
Our conscience, especially when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, we know when we sin. We know we’re doing wrong, amen?
But you need to take it one step further. That’s one of the sins that sent Jesus to the Cross. He shed his blood for that sin. He goes on to say, “It’s very humbling to come to the Cross.”
That’s why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessed are those who mourn for sin for they shall receive salvation.
Against this self-humbling, our ingrained prides rebels. We resent the
Idea that we cannot earn or even contribute to our own salvation.
So we stumble, as Paul says, over the stumbling block. You know Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away and I will never cast out.”
You cannot do one thing to merit God’s forgiveness. You don’t have any merit. All you have is demerit.
So that’s why the Bible says, Run to Christ. Turn from your sin. Turn from yourself–whatever you’re trusting in and run to Jesus Christ and him alone.
Now I want to conclude in 1 Corinthians 1. Paul is reminding those Corinthians beginning in verse 26, he says, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards. Not many were influential. Not many were of noble birth but God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. And God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him.”
Now, I want you to listen, it is because of Christ, because of God, that you are in Christ Jesus–now this is important–who has become for us wisdom from God.
Now here we go, That is Jesus is my Righteousness. I have no other righteousness save that of Jesus Christ. He is my Righteousness. He is my Holiness.
Loved ones, you cannot stand before God because you’re unholy but you come to Christ—he is your holiness. So he says, Christ is our Righteousness, our holiness, and listen, our redemption.
You see that song we sang is true. Jesus is mighty to save. And I could have person after person come up and tell you about their life before Christ and their life after Christ, how Jesus is mighty to save.
Did you know, most of the people who come to Christ weren’t particularly looking for Jesus Christ? But you know, he was looking for you.
He’s the Good Shepherd.
And he goes out looking for his sheep.