Jesus the Lord of Justice
Pastor Duane Smets
June 17th, 2018
I. Lies for Truth
II. Wounds for Healing
III. Guilt for Freedom
IV. Death for Life
Justice. What is justice? Often we don’t recognize justice until we see and hear of injustice.
Tom remembers being eleven years old the first time his dad touched him inappropriately. He felt it was wrong but it was his dad. He had all kinds of mixed feelings that were difficult to sort out. It led to years of molestation no one knew about.
Sally came from a poor family, so she worked hard at school, got good grades, went to college while working on the side to put herself through school. She saved up a significant chunk of money when a friend introduced her to a new exciting opportunity to invest in a rapidly growing company and she’d make double her money in months. So she did it. And she never saw any of her money ever again. The owners of the company took the money and ran.
Malik grew up as a young black kid in a predominately white school. He couldn’t help but feel different, especially when he would overhear other kids talk about the color of his skin and how he was different. Kids would walk on the other side of the hall or even cross the street in order to not walk past him as though he were dangerous. One day a teacher told him to take off a bracelet he was wearing because it looked gang-related when another white kid was wearing the same one and nothing was said. He’s only 23 now but has been either pulled over or pulled aside by police officers sixteen times in his life and every time his heart starts pounding with fear. He feels like he’s being hunted.
In 1994 Anthony Baez was playing football with his friends when his miss threw the ball and accidentally hit a police car. The officer came out of the car yelling at him and before Anthony knew it, he was on the ground being beaten by four officers because of mouthing off, until one officer put him in a choke hold which led to his death.
Gerard Richardson was arrested and convicted for murdering a 19-year-old girl and spent 20 years in prison until 2013 DNA evidence proved that the bite mark on her was from another man and he was set free.
We live in a world of injustices.
And it’s not just out there in these extreme cases and situations. It’s something we regularly encounter. You don’t have to look any further than the last time you got upset or angry about something. Maybe it was an argument with your spouse, maybe it was a situation at work, maybe it was something that happened with a stranger.
Regardless every time you find yourself angry about something you will find it’s because there was injustice where someone said or did something to you that was not right, not fair, or not kind.
Justice. Today in our text and story from The Gospel According To Luke we’re looking at the scenes where Jesus is on trial and what we’re going to see is Jesus being treated unjustly and unfairly. And my hope for today is that we’d not only see that but see why He did and was willing to suffer injustice.
So let’s go ahead and stand and read the Bible now. We’re picking up the story where we left off last week. We’re in the final twenty-four hours of Jesus’ life. Last week we looked at his last moments with His disciples. This week we’re looking at Jesus’ trial, what went down there and the significance of it. Here we go…
63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.
66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”
23:1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
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.
Reading about and watching Jesus in these scenes provokes this sense of awe in me. He is so radically mistreated and yet the entire time, every step of the way He acts with utter integrity and grace. What He does is take on injustice so God’s justice might win and reign for thousands throughout the ages.
It looks to me like there are four main ways He does this in our text. So my four points today are, “Lies for Truth”, “Wounds for Healing”, “Guilt for Freedom” and “Death for Life.”
Let’s jump into our first point, “Lies for Truth."
I. Lies for Truth
So Jesus is praying and singing in a garden with His friends after dinner when these guys show up with swords and clubs and arrest him. They take him to the leading official’s estate mansion, sit him down in a chair and begin this thrown together spur of the moment trial at night.
What happens essentially is a lot of shade gets thrown at Jesus. Do you guys know that expression, throwing shade? I kind of like it.
To throw shade is to throw attitude at someone, insulting them, being derogatory and sassy towards them expressing contempt and disapproval or disgust. It’s like someone saying, “I don’t need to tell you-you're ugly because you know you’re ugly.” That’s throwing shade.
And that’s what they’re doing here to Jesus only they’re not throwing shade at Jesus about His looks but about His identity. The core issue, why they arrested Jesus and what they’re insults are all about is Jesus’ claim to be the divine Son of God.
It starts off with the guards throwing shade at Jesus. They put a blindfold on him and play a game of “who hit you?” What they’re saying is, “Hey Jesus, if you’re really God tell us which one of us hit you, even though you can’t see right now.” Jesus could’ve done that, but instead, He says nothing.
Then the Jewish police come in and they ask him two questions, “Are you the Christ?” And “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus answers affirmatively to both questions but in unique ways.
To the first question, he says if I say “yes” you won’t believe. Jesus is saying that because this isn’t the first time they’ve had this conversation and His whole goal throughout His ministry has been to bring people to faith and believe in Him as the Christ, the savior.
On other occasions, Jesus did what He likes to do so often where He’d essentially flip things around when questioned. “Are you the Christ?” “ What do you think? Do you believe?” But they refuse to answer.
So Jesus gives an answer by quoting two passages of the Bible together, part of Psalm 110 and part of Daniel 7, affirming He is the Son of Man who has come from and is returning to God’s right hand of power in heaven.
They get it, right away. So they basically say, “So you really think you’re God huh?” And Jesus answers, “It is as you say.” It comes out a little weird in our English translations but the phrase in the original is basically, “you’ve spoken correctly” or “I am as you say.”
In response, they get angry, really angry, because they don’t believe. So morning comes and they’ve determined that Jesus has to die and they’ve got to figure out how to get it done, so they take Jesus to Pilate Roman ruler, who has actual soldiers at his disposal. And when they take him to Pilate they resort to lies, the twisting of truths in hopes that it’ll be enough to get Jesus sentenced to death.
They have three official charges. One, misleading the nation. Two, not paying taxes. Three, Jesus saying He’s a king.
The first one is comical. Jesus’ teaching was consistently filled with talk about loving God, loving your neighbor and loving your enemy. It’s a lie. Jesus had been leading the people, had gathered a big following. Where He had been leading them to is back to God.
The second one is a bold faced lie. Earlier in Luke 20 they straight up asked Jesus they should pay taxes to Caesar and Jesus asks for a coin and said to give Caesar what’s Caesar’s.
The third one is the most interesting one. Their main problem is that Jesus says He is God but they know Pilate won’t care about that. Roman rulers didn’t get involved in religious disputes. There were a plethora of gods people worshipped and they didn’t really care which one it was.
So instead of bringing up Jesus’s claims to deity, they bring up His claims to kingship. When He was born an angel appeared to His mom saying He would sit on the throne and just days before He entered Jerusalem as a full grown man, Jesus accepted and received the praise of the people saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord (Luke 19:38).”
Now the way the Roman government worked and why it was the most powerful government in human history, ruling for over 1500 years, was in large because of something called the “Pax Romana” the “Peace of Rome.”
What Rome would do is when they took over a land and people in military battle, they would allow the people to still exercise their own religious worship and still have their own culture and even their own government as long as they paid taxes to Caesar and they were not allowed to have a military, so that there was peace. That’s why you’ve got this Jewish King Herod operating in our story in conjunction with and under Pilate’s authority.
Pretty much all Rome cared about was peace and money. So the Jewish leaders attempt to cast Jesus as revolutionary, a king who is wanting to start an uprising against Rome, disturbing the peace. And that’s why this is the one charge Pilate takes interest in. He doesn’t really care about the first two, but if Jesus is a political insurrectionist, then that’s an issue.
So Pilate examines Him and Herod examines him and Jesus just barely says anything. When Pilate asks Jesus if he’s a king, Jesus answers almost the same way he did earlier saying, “It is as you say”, “that’s correct”. And because of the way Jesus’ answers, Pilate realizes that Jesus’ claim to kingship is no threat.
Each time words are spoken to Jesus or about Jesus in this sequence of events what we see and hear are true things being said about Him but they’re being said in a twisted way. That’s what a lie often is, the worst and most deceiving lies, mixing some truth with some untruth.
And what’s so amazing to me is how Jesus responded, every time. He either gave short, simple affirmative answers or said nothing. When he’s before Herod, verse 9 says Jesus simply, “made no answer.”
Have you ever had someone say things to other people about you that are not true? It sucks. Have you ever had someone attack your person or your character? It sucks. It’s nearly impossible to not want to speak up and defend yourself.
But Jesus just sat there and took it. He just sat there and allowed them to twist things He’d said and allowed them to make these false accusations and He chose to simply let it ride, choosing not to defend Himself.
Heres how Isaiah 53:7 describes what Jesus did,
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers are silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
Jesus took on the lies and was lied about so that the truth of who He is might shine.
Think, just for a minute about lies you’ve told or lies you’ve believed about yourself, about others and about God. We’ve all bought into lies. Lies to save face. Lies to get ahead. Lies to impress. Lies not to hurt. Lies to escape. All kinds of lies.
But here’s what I want you to know today, Jesus came to take on the lies. Jesus came to give Himself to lies so that we might see His perfection and then be found and made true once again in and through Him.
Jesus didn’t open His mouth for all the times we’ve open ours. Jesus was falsely accused so that we would come to know the truth…the truth that He is, in fact, the savior who can make us true and whole again.
Today, what lie are you believing about yourself, your life and about God you need Jesus to speak His truth into? The truth is that Jesus is the King, He is the Son of God and He is the Christ who can save us from all the lies that ruin and damage us.
Well, Jesus came not just to take on lies but also to be wounded. So let’s talk about that for a minute in our next point, “Wounds for Healing.”
II. Wounds for Healing
During Jesus’ trial here He suffers from two different kinds of wounds, verbal and physical.
It starts off in a session of police brutality. Verse 63-64 says they were mocking him, that they beat him and struck him. Herod, after questioning him and not getting any answers had his soldiers dress Jesus up in a fake kings robe and verse 11 says they “treated him with contempt and mocked him.”
First, let’s start with the verbal wounding. They are literally calling Jesus names and mocking Him as a king. The Gospel of Mark tells us they also put a crown of thorns on His head and were bowing down to him giving fake homage.
Can you imagine that? Words hurt. You may have heard the kids rhyme growing up, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s actually not a true statement at all. Nine times out of ten, victims of abuse will recall the actual words that were said were just as painful and damaging.
The insanely popular TV show right now, 13 Reasons Why is all about how a girl committed suicide because of things people said about her or to her. Words hurt, badly. They sting, sink deep, wound us and we remember them.
Every argument you’ve ever been in is likely because someone said something to you that hurt you. Words hurt.
And you’ve got to imagine Jesus here. He’s is, in fact, the divine Son of God. For eternity He had been surrounded by angels in all His divine glory. He’s a king, the king of all. But for the last 33 years of His life, He has been hiding and shielding His divine glory. He could show it at an instant but instead, He allows them to think He’s a fraud and to call Him names. I’m sure those words hurt.
And it wasn’t just the words. They struck Him in the face. Some of you have never been in a fight. Unfortunately, I’ve been in several, both inside the ring and outside the ring. Now all the fights I got in outside the ring with gloves off were before I became a Christian. The last gloves off fistfight I got into was in 1996. But you know what I still remember what it feels like to have someone crack you in the jaw with their fist. It hurts. For hours after you’re moving your jaw up and down and it just feels like this massive pressure on your face like someone is holding a rock to it.
They hit Jesus repeatedly in the face. That hurt. Then later, Pilate has him “punished”. The other Gospel accounts tell us this was a flogging.
C. Truman Davis, a Christian medical doctor, wrote about the first-century flogging in a journal article titled, “The Passion of the Christ from a Medical Point of View.” He says,
“The Romans first stripped the victim and tied his hands to a post above his head. The whip was made of several pieces of leather with pieces of bone and lead embedded near the ends. Two men, one on each side of the victim, usually did the flogging. The Jews mercifully limited flogging to a maximum of forty stripes; the Romans had no such limitation.
The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across (the) shoulders, back, and legs. At first, the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper in the subcutaneous tissues, producing first and oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles… Finally, the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue.
It is not surprising that victims of Roman floggings seldom survived.”
Jesus was body became a bloody mess. He was wounded badly. He hurt. He suffered much physical and felt deep emotional pain. He could have used His power to escape it. But He didn’t. He suffered that injustice. Why?
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 53:5 & 1 Peter 2:24.
He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes, we are healed. - Isaiah 53:5
By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24
Jesus was wounded for all the emotional and physical pain we have experienced and will experience in this life. He was wounded so we might be healed. It’s one of the reasons why we like to call Jesus the Great Physician. Because He heals our souls and promises us new, fully restored bodies one day.
Listen, you can turn to all kinds of things to heal your wounds, medicine, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, power, you can go to a therapist, move to different cities, get a different job…all kinds of things but nothing can heal the deep wounds of our souls like Jesus. Jesus knows that we hurt and what it’s like to hurt. He was hurt for us so we might be healed.
I want you to know today if you’re suffering and having a hard time, Jesus knows what it’s like. If there are things that you feel like have eaten away at and stolen your life, Jesus can restore you. If you’ve suffered injustice at the hands of an oppressor there is hope and healing in Jesus. He was wounded so He might be able to heal you.
Well, Jesus didn’t just take on lies and wounds but He also took on guilt that wasn’t His. So let’s move on and talk about that for a minute in our third point, “Guilt For Freedom.'
III. Guilt for Freedom
In the story of Jesus’ trial, there are two stages, the first stage being with the Jewish leaders and then the second stage with the Roman ruler, Pilate.
The first stage happens with the entire Jewish leadership council called the Sanhedrin. It was a group of about 70 men, including the elders, priest, and scribes. So this was a big deal. These guys are basically supposed to be the church leaders. They often disagreed with each other on things but they are united against Jesus.
The Sanhedrin wants Jesus dead. The irony is they actually broke seven of their own laws in how they conducted their trial. It was supposed to be a temple, it wasn’t. The accused is supposed to be able to give a defense. Jesus wasn’t allowed one, only yes or no questions. No trials were supposed to happen during feasts. But it was Passover when this happened. Capital crime charges had to be at least two days, not done at night and at least two eyewitness testimony was required. So the whole Jewish trial was completely illegal according to their own law.
When Pilate examines him…and fun side note, for years Bible skeptics challenged the authenticity of this account because in archeological digs and writing there was never found any mention of a Roman ruler named Pilate. But in 1961 in a dig of Herod’s amphitheater, an inscription mentioning him was discovered.
So Pilate examines Jesus and reports his verdict three different times. Here they are:
Verse 4, “I find no guilt in this man.”
Verse 14, “I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him.”
Verse 22, “What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death.”
The story of Jesus’ trial is consistent with the entire tenor of Jesus’ life. People were constantly amazed not only at his miracles and his teaching but at Jesus’ character.
1 Peter 2:22-23 summarized it this way,
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.“
Jesus was found to be innocent. Two sects of political authorities, both Pilate and Herod found Him innocent and yet in the court of public opinion, He was still found to be guilty. It’s really a mob mentality that takes over in the demand for Jesus’ blood.
The text and the story puts an enormous emphasis on this word, “guilt.” What becomes clear in the story is that it’s not Jesus who is guilty but everyone else involved. The religious leaders are guilty of not just legal crimes but spiritual crimes against a fellow man and against the Son of God. Herod and Pilate succumb to pleasing the popular vote and become guilty of unjustly ruling and abusing their role and power. The crowd crying out for Jesus death is guilty of hatred and vengeance for not getting what they wanted from Jesus.
Guilt. Jesus is deemed and sentenced as guilty for the guilty, even though He was guilty of nothing. So let’s talk about guilt for a minute.
What is guilt? Guilt is a deep sense of wrong. It’s a feeling where you know you have violated your conscience, ultimately God, and likely hurt another person or yourself. Guilt goes down deep and has this effect of either making a person want to try to make up for it or saying forget it and turning to other things to try to make the feeling of guilt go away.
When was the last time you felt guilt? It’s not a good feeling, is it? It often feels like a weight. Like a heavy stone stuck in your stomach. Guilt shows up when you remember your past sins, failings, and shortcomings and start to beat yourself up for them.
What’s ironic is Jesus never knew guilt. He never knew what it was like to feel guilty until He took on that sentence and carried it. Jesus could have defended Himself before Pilate and pressed the law and demanded His release. But He didn’t. Instead, He allowed Himself to be judged guilty so that you and I might stand guiltless before God.
1 Corinthians 1:4 & 8 says it this way,
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,…who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What Jesus does for us is He takes our guilt upon His own back, as if it were His own so that the weight of guilt we feel might be taken off our shoulders.
That’s what Jesus said at the beginning of Luke.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me…to set at liberty those who are oppressed. - Luke 4:18
Are you feeling pressed down today by your guilt? Jesus wants to set you free from that. Let Him carry it for you and you can walk away guiltless. Jesus takes our guilt so we can be free from it.
Well, Jesus not only takes on lies, wounds, and guilt but ultimately takes on death. Our final point for today, “Death for Life.”
IV. Death for Life
As you’re reading through this story of the events of this trial you start to feel the rising tension. It starts off with guards mocking and beating Jesus. Then there’s the angry questioning from the Jewish leaders. Then Jesus is passed around from Pilate to Herod and then back to Pilate again.
By this time a huge crowd has gathered outside the Roman palace and when Pilate announces his verdict of innocence, the tension has mounted and mounted and reached a boiling point. The text says they were insistent, vehement, that they kept urging, demanding and all shouting together, “Crucify, crucify him!”
The natural question for anyone reading through Luke is, “why?” Why did the crowd turn? I mean the religious leaders never liked Jesus but the crowds did. Just days before they welcomed Him into the city, receiving Him as their future king. What made them turn from wanting Jesus to be King to wanting Him crucified?
The answer is in verse 18 and 19 when they ask for the release of Barabbas.
“‘Release to us Barabbas’— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.”
Insurrection is an attempt to overthrow the government. As we talked about earlier the Jews were ruled over by the Romans, were not allowed to have their own military and had to pay taxes to Rome and they did not like it, not one bit. They liked the Bible promises of a Christ, a messiah to come and save and deliver them but they solely envisioned that to be someone who does so by leading a revolt against the Roman government.
Barabbas attempted to be that kind of Christ and that’s why they liked him. Once it became apparent to the people that Jesus was not going to lead a fight against Rome, they turned on Him in an instant and wanted Him dead. What they failed to see was that they needed salvation and deliverance from more than just Rome, they needed what we all need, to be saved from the sin and selfishness of our hearts.
So in a great irony, Jesus becomes Barabbas’s substitute. A murderer is set free and Jesus is murdered in his place. Jesus dies so Barabbas can live.
Ultimately, Jesus’ trial is concluded in the court of the crowd who convicts Him of innocence and sentences Him to death for it.
When we read this story it’s easy to see the fault in the religious leaders, the fault in Pilate and the fault in the crowd. What’s not so easy to see is that most likely we would’ve done the same thing if we were there. And the thing we need to see most is who we are in the story? Do you know who it is?
We’re Barabbas. All of us are sinners who are guilty of crimes against God and Jesus gives Himself up for us to suffer in our place. Jesus dies a death we deserve so that we can have life. Jesus was unjustly put to death so that we might be declared just before God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says it this way,
“For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Through Jesus in our place, God lets us go free and we are declared just and righteous in His sight. And this my friends is the wonderful beauty of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we can only get from Him, life and a righteousness we don’t deserve.
Jesus died for us to save us. Our guilt, our shame, our fears are all put on Him and in exchange we are given freedom, worth, and safety. Jesus willingly took on death for us so that we might live, live now with God and into eternity.
Jesus on trial. It’s an incredible sequence of events. In each step we see Jesus taking on injustice for us, taking on lies, taking on wounds, taking on guilt and taking on death so we might be true, healed, freed and given life.
I started out the sermon tellings some stories of injustice. In the story of Jesus, we see and hear of the ultimate injustice, the perfect eternal son of God dying a death He did not deserve, but doing so out of love and compassion for sinners like you and me.
When we see this and believe this what it does is restore our relationship with God, making us just or right with Him and then that justice begins to extend itself out to others. Ultimately the answer to injustice is right or restored relationship.
I’d like to conclude today with a quote from Tim Keller’s book “Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Make Us Just.” Keller writes,
“We get insight when we consider the Hebrew word that can be translated as ‘being just,’ though it is usually translated as ‘being righteous.’ The word is tzadeqah, and it refers to a life of right relationships. Bible scholar Alec Motyer defines ‘righteous’ as those ‘right with God and therefore committed to putting right all other relationships in life. This means, then, that Biblical righteousness is inevitably ‘social,’ because it is about relationships.”
We live in a world full of injustices. Jesus stepped into our world of injustice, taking injustice upon Himself so that relationship with God and with one another might be restored. The way forward for justice in our land and in our lives is receiving the grace of Christ which enables us to extend that grace to others and when that happens…then things change and there is justice!