Four men who came face to face with Jesus
Reading: Mark 15: 1-15
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2 ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate.
‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied.
3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9 ‘Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to get Pilate to release Barabbas instead.
12 ‘What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked them.
13 ‘Crucify him!’ they shouted.
14 ‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
- Have you ever been in a Court of Law?
- Have you ever heard of someone being wrongly convicted of a crime?
- Have you ever heard of someone pleading guilty to a crime that he or she did not commit?
- Have you ever been accused of something when you were innocent? (Very unpleasant! For example, as a youngster, being accused of forging my father’s signature… no apology!)
- Have you ever been accused of something and refused to answer your accusers or defend yourself? (Almost impossible!)
So let’s look what happened during the trial of Jesus?
- Jesus predicted that He would be condemned to death… but also that He would be raised from the dead… Jesus wasn’t a helpless victim of the system. He chose to die. It was planned by God.
- Though it seems so to us, the trial of Jesus wasn’t a tragic event that should and perhaps could have been avoided… Jesus’ death sentence was part of God’s salvation plan… for you and me.
- The guilty verdict at the mock trial was, in truth, a guilty verdict against those who tried Him, not against Jesus…
I’ve seen thousands of pictures of the Queen… I’ve watched her on television and listened to what she’s had to say… I feel that I know her… But I’ve never met her face to face.
There were four key people who came face to face with Jesus during the trial… let’s look at each person in turn and the lessons that we can learn from their encounters with Jesus.
Meeting a person of great significance face to face must be a powerful experience… and these four men came face to face with the Maker of the Universe… Jesus, God in human likeness…
- How would they respond? What would they say? How would their lives be different as a result of that encounter?
The four men were:
- Annas (also called Hanan)
- Joseph Caiaphas
- Herod Antiper (Nicknamed, Antipas) … Herod the Tetrarch
- Pontius Pilate
ANNAS was an older man, who had been High Priest.
CAIAPHAS was a younger man, who was the High Priest at the time of Jesus’ trial (son-in-law of Anas)
HEROD was a ‘puppet King’ of the Romans with responsibility for Galilee
PILATE was the Roman Governor of the region, answerable to Caesar
All four men met Jesus face to face: Let’s see how they got on!
- Jesus was taken to stand before Annas… a former high priest
- Annas had been High Priest for some 10 years … He knew the Scriptures… He was experienced in the things of God… yet he failed to grasp or didn’t want to accept the truth about Jesus.
Annas could and should have yielded to the One who stood before him on that day… but he chose to ‘stand back’ and do nothing
- He was an experienced priest… He had knowledge and influence …
- No doubt, he had been honoured to be high priest when appointed years before …
- But over time, his zeal had waned and he was now more interested in his position and status than in serving God
- He knew about Jesus… he heard Jesus speaking to him… but he remained unmoved by the Person of Jesus Christ
None of us want to be compared with Annas… but if you consider yourself to be an ‘older’, more experienced person, there may be lessons to learn…
- As an experienced Christian… you (should) know your Bible
- You’ve been involved in different forms of service down the years
- You feel that you’ve got most of the answers about life!
But is your zeal and enthusiasm for Jesus Christ as fresh now as it was when you first met Him?
- The hymn writer puts it like this: “Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His word?”
Is it possible that sheer familiarity with being a child of God can cause our enthusiasm to fade? The wonder of the Gospel becomes ‘commonplace’ … and loses its impact.
- Does the glory of salvation still thrill your soul and cause you to cry out to God in love and praise, as once it did?
- Has the roaring flame become a feeble flicker?
We have some excellent examples in the Bible of people who continued strong in faith until the end of their lives…
- Jacob (‘Israel’) who, nearing the end of his life, when he could barely stand, worshipped the Lord as he leaned on his staff (Zimmer frame!)
- Caleb who, at age 85, cried out “Give me this mountain!”
- Peter the Apostle was crucified as an old man for preaching about Jesus
- John the Apostle died alone in exile… but used his time to write a wonderful account of the life of Jesus, and was given a revelation from God about the end times and a number of letters.
It may be time for some of us who are more experienced to ask God to reignite the passion that once we felt.
Equally seriously, is it possible that you are an older person who knows about Jesus but has never yielded your life to Him with thankfulness for all that He has done… is doing and will do for you?
- You’ve never said a wholehearted “YES, Lord” to Jesus Christ
- You come to church, sing, smile, chat and shake hands… yet there’s an emptiness in your heart that only Jesus Christ can fill
Don’t do anything else until you have made a decision to put that right…Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation for you
Don’t wait a moment longer!
Caiaphas was one of the most influential religious leaders in Israel. Someone with the world at his feet… Young and ambitious… Capable and strong… Many years of life and service ahead of him…
- Would he spend them serving the Living God and His people?
- Would he use his time and talents to further God’s Kingdom on earth?
- Was he eager to know the Saviour, the Christ, the Messiah?
Now was his chance! Like his father-in-law (Annas), Caiaphas came face to face with Jesus when He was brought to him… If he was going to repent and dedicate his life to the Lord, there was no better time than this…
- But instead of using the opportunity to confess his sin and yield his life to Christ, he treated Jesus as an enemy… someone who was hindering his personal ambitions… someone to be ‘silenced’ at all costs…
Here was a young(ish) man who could have influenced countless thousands to dedicate their lives to the true and living God… To embrace the One who is The Way, the Truth and The Life…
- Instead, he preferred to misuse his power and influence to reject and condemn to death the spotless Lamb of God
If you consider yourself to be ‘younger’, I wonder where you stand?
- You have strength, energy and many years of life ahead of you… How will you use them?
- Will it be to serve the Lord your God in all you say and do?
- To give your talents, energy and abilities to Him
- To live for Christ alone by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness… and in serving others?
Caiaphas was face to face with Jesus… but he was unmoved.
Perhaps you’re a younger person who has never truly accepted that Jesus Christ is the only sure way to be saved… The one who offers you new life today and the certainty of eternal life tomorrow…
It’s possible to be on the periphery/fringe of Christian things… something of a ‘spiritual spectator’
- To know Jesus Christ ‘second hand’… through your parents or friends or folk in the church
- You see other people whose lives have been transformed by God’s Spirit…but somehow you’ve never taken that step of faith yourself.
Maybe you’re thinking that ‘it can wait’… I’ll get serious with God when I’ve done this and that…fulfilled my own ambitions… done what I want to do… When I’m older…when I’ve got more time…when I feel more settled, I’ll do something about it then!
- But time passes all too quickly… None of us know what tomorrow will bring…
Why waste the years in being uncommitted or half-hearted when you could make up your mind to become a wholehearted disciple of Jesus Christ today? So how about it? (Note that Caiaphas declined the offer and has to live with the eternal consequences.)
HEROD Antiper (Nicknamed Antipas)… or Herod the Tetrarch
There are four Herods mentioned in the Bible… This Herod is not the one who sent soldiers to kill all the young boys at the time of Jesus’ birth… but this Herod did allow John the Baptist to be beheaded
We read that Herod wanted to see Jesus because he was fascinated by stories of the miracles and hoped to see Jesus perform some amazing trick for his amusement…
- When Jesus refused to cooperate, Herod mocked him and sent him back to Pilate.
- Herod was an unpleasant fellow but at least he had high expectations about Jesus and what He could do… Do we?
Herod’s behaviour was disgraceful… but it acts as a warning to those who consider Jesus to be an item of curiosity rather than a Saviour to be worshipped and adored…
- Some people enjoy sport… others play computer games… yet others spend their time and money on different hobbies… play golf… and some people go to church!
But church should be more than a ‘hobby’ or amusement
Why go to to church at all? … Here are 5 possible answers:
- It’s a habit… I go because it’s what I do
- It’s a social thing… I meet nice people and enjoy having a cup of tea and a chat
- It’s out of duty… I feel a sense of obligation to support the leaders and fellow members of the congregation
- I want to be in church because I can share in praise and worship
- It’s a desire to learn more of God’s Word to help me live better as a Christian
Now all of these motives are admirable… including the “habit” reason… but they are eclipsed by the fact that “coming to church” is just one aspect of “being part of THE church”…
If you are a true Christian and have turned to Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you are part of God’s worldwide church… the Body of Christ… not just a local one
Coming to church is part of our privilege and responsibility
- By coming to church and attending meetings, we become part of the Christian Community, which is great!
- But it is possible to be part of the Christian Community without being part of the Body of Christ in that community!
- In other words, it is possible to be part of a church community without being part of the worldwide church communion.
How do we become part of the Body? By accepting that we are sinners in need of a Saviour…and believing that Jesus Christ died for ‘my’ sins, rose again and gives us His Spirit
- In Jesus’ words, by being “born again”
Herod had no intention of repenting of his sin and being born again…becoming part of the Body of Christ, part of the Communion
- He wanted to gain more from Jesus than give his life to Jesus
- HOW ABOUT YOU and me? Where do we stand?
Pontius Pilate is best known for the act of washing his hands of Jesus… but he must be given credit for at least trying to save Jesus’ life.
Pilate crumpled when he realised that doing what was right …by releasing Jesus… could lead to difficulties for himself…
- It might even lead to problems with Caesar … scary!
Pilate’s wife had a bad dream and told him that he shouldn’t have anything to do with this righteous man (Jesus)
- But eventually, Pilate caved in and handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Let’s not be too self-righteous about Pilate’s actions…
- In the end, the pressure made him reach a decision that he knew was wrong… but made sure that he had a ‘quiet life’.
But how often have you and I avoided making the right decision or saying the right thing or taking a stand because it might cause us difficulty or make us unpopular?
- So easy to go with the crowd… To say nothing… To keep our heads down and avoid being mocked or ignored or thought weird!
Are we really so ashamed of Jesus Christ?
You may be saying: “This is all a bit serious!”
- But God takes it seriously… so seriously that He came to earth to die on a Cross for your sins and mine
FOUR MEN CAME FACE TO FACE WITH JESUS… Their reactions and responses have a lot to teach us about how not to behave!
- And one day, YOU and I will see Jesus face to face…
- Not the human Jesus… but the Judge of all the earth
What will you say to Him… and what will He say to you and me about your life and mine?
I trust that you will hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Or will you? The decision is yours.