Title: Solus Christus
Text: Matthew 27:11-26
FCF: We often struggle to depend on the sufficiency of Christ alone for our continued salvation.
Prop: Because religion from the top down will fail, we must depend only on Christ and Him crucified.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew 27. There are many positive things about preaching through a book of the bible rather than preaching topically or through current events. You get to see the author’s purpose from beginning to end. You maintain continuity in context, helping to prevent you from misinterpreting. It is how the author would have assumed you read and understand their book anyway. The one downside to preaching and studying through a book is that an author can sometimes take several chapters to communicate the same point. Through this last narrative of Matthew, the application has been and is going to be pretty much the same throughout. In some ways I feel guilty for repeating myself but repetition is not a bad thing. Especially when we are repeating something this important. And it just so happens that the message that we have been repeating for the last few weeks, becomes all the more potent in light of current events. Today’s message, although presenting nothing new, is perhaps one of the most important messages you’ll ever hear.
I’m in Matthew 27 starting in verse 11. I’ll be reading from the NET which you can follow with the pew bible on page 1128 or in whatever version you prefer. If you don’t have a bible, take the one in the pew for your own.
As I said, recent events have made what we will discuss today all the more relevant. Let’s first discover what Matthew is teaching, then we can see clear enough to find Matthew’s still very applicable message, even 2000 years later.
I.) Religious leaders will fail, so we must depend only on Christ and Him crucified. (11-14)
a. [Slide 2] 11 – Then Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.”
i. Matthew, as we’ve seen over and over again, not only does not have a particular affinity for structuring his narratives in chronological order, but also, he is incredibly selective in the details he conveys too.
ii. Although interrupted by the episode of Judas, we know that Jesus has been brought to the prefect Pilate .
iii. Pilate, as we noted last week, is no friend of the Jews. In fact, we should interpret almost everything Pilate does, not really through the lens of Pilate being innocent, but rather, Pilate having his own axe to grind and Jesus being a pawn in accomplishing that task.
iv. Matthew jumps headlong into the trial with Pilate sitting in judgment – but the context of this pulled from the other gospels is much more robust.
v. All the gospels have Jesus brought before Pilate
vi. But John reveals that the Sanhedrin and the Jews would not go into the residence of the Prefect, no doubt because of the pagan images and effigies in his home. They did not want to be ceremonially unclean prior to the Passover feast that evening. Again, this is Nisan 14 – the day of preparation. Which helps us to understand the frenzy that is being somewhat artificially encouraged by the Jews. They want Jesus dead BEFORE the festivities that evening.
vii. Also from John, we see Pilate come out to address the crowd. He asks for charges against the accused. From John and Luke we get their replies. It is hard to know in what order, but probably they first replied disrespectfully and said, if he wasn’t a criminal they wouldn’t have brought him.
viii. This response is treated with reciprocal coldness by Pilate as he tells them to handle it themselves.
ix. The Sanhedrin then protest that they cannot put someone to death.
x. Although we don’t have a segue from this – probably at this point the Sanhedrin elaborate on their reason to put him to death which Luke records. They accuse Jesus of inciting the Nation of Israel against Rome, teaching them to not pay their taxes, and claiming to be the Messiah – which they explain to Pilate, is like claiming to be a king. All of these, the Roman prefect would have no choice but to investigate as possible capital crimes worthy of execution.
xi. John records for us an initial conversation with Jesus about this, privately in the inner parts of Pilate’s home. They both leave the Sanhedrin in the outer court to have this conversation.
xii. All four gospels record Pilate asking this question “Are you the King of the Jews?”
xiii. It is Jesus’ response that varies among the gospels. And when we look at all four gospels we understand why.
xiv. In John Jesus asks if Pilate came up with that on his own or if someone told him he was the King of the Jews.
xv. Pilate responds in disdain and says he is no Jew. So he wouldn’t know. But then he says to Jesus that his own people have brought him and are accusing him. What have you done? He asks.
xvi. Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly, but begins describes his heavenly kingdom. If he had a kingdom of earth – war would be upon them, but His Kingdom was altogether different. What had he done? He wasn’t the King they wanted.
xvii. Then Pilate asks – So you are a King?
xviii. And this is where we get Jesus’ response from the synoptic gospels and John. Jesus says you say so, or it is as you say. He said the same thing to Caiaphas. In other words, Jesus says – yes, but that isn’t how I would put it. Then from John Jesus adds – I was born for this purpose to testify to the truth and everyone who belongs to the truth will hear me.
xix. Then Pilate, famously says, what is truth. Probably Pilate is saying “What good is truth? Truth is worthless.” A sentiment sadly echoed in the once great halls of learning in this very country.
b. [Slide 3] 12 – But when He was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.
i. Then in all four gospels we see Pilate and Jesus go back out to the crowd. Pilate announces that he has no reason to charge Him, but the Sanhedrin keep announcing all his charges.
ii. Jesus does not respond with one word.
c. [Slide 4] 13-14 – Then Pilate said to Him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?” But He did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.
i. Pilate asks Jesus why he doesn’t respond to their charges.
ii. He is perplexed.
iii. It is at this point that the Sanhedrin let slip that Jesus was inciting people against Rome throughout Judea starting from Galilee. This is recorded in Luke.
iv. Pilate sees a way for himself to get out of this mess.
v. He asks if Jesus is Galilean. Because if so – that is Herod’s jurisdiction.
vi. Luke is the only gospel that records Jesus being sent to Herod at his palace in Jerusalem to be tried by a second Roman court. So far, the three Jewish courts Jesus has faced have rendered 3 verdicts of guilty. And the 1 Gentile court, says the verdict is innocent.
vii. At Herod’s trial it is clear that all he wants to see is Jesus do some signs and miracles. He wants a magic show. Herod does question him – probably trying to provoke him to do something.
viii. The Sanhedrin follow Jesus to Herod’s court and shout their accusations against him.
ix. Although Herod and his soldiers mock Jesus and dress him up like a king – ultimately, they send Him back to Pilate having found nothing worthy of death.
x. The second Gentile verdict is also – innocent.
xi. Luke tells us that although Pilate and Herod were political rivals before this, after Jesus’ crucifixion, they became friends. Well isn’t that nice for them.
d. [Slide 5] Passage Truth: Although we have seen a lot of details about the trials from other gospels, it is incumbent upon us now to understand what Matthew’s point is without considering other details brought in from other gospels. So based on Matthew alone, what he is teaching the Jews, is really a continuation of what he has been teaching. The influence and character of various groups of people are being set in contrast to the humility and obedience of Christ. Here specifically we see the envy and bloodlust of the religious elite accusing him of things he never claimed. Yet he remains silent. The lamb led to slaughter. The Jews through Matthew’s pen are forced to consult the prophesies that refer to their own Messiah and find that in His death, Jesus continues to prove that He is their Messiah and King. A truth spoken by A Pagan Prefect.
e. Passage Application: Again the application is undeterred. Reject your religious leaders and self-righteousness and depend only and continually on Christ and His substitutionary death.
f. [Slide 6] Broader Biblical Truth: So for us, translating this truth to our context and looking at the entire bible, we see that Jesus is also our Messiah and King. There is no other. There is hope in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. It is by this silent Savior that we can shout in joy at being set free from our wicked natures.
g. Broader Biblical Application: So we must continue to believe only on Christ and Him crucified. This is core to our faith, core to the reformation, this separates us from so many false gospels today.
[Slide 7 (blank)] So we’ve seen the failure of the religious leaders quite often in Matthew’s gospel. It has been a fairly constant thread. And we see it here again. What else does Matthew wish to show us?
II.) Religious leaders will deceive, so we must depend only on Christ and Him crucified. (15-22)
a. [Slide 8] 15-18 – During the feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whomever they wanted. At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ? (For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.)
i. In Luke, Pilate states the case of Jesus to the Sanhedrin very clearly. He finds him innocent of anything that would be punishable by death, and so does Herod.
ii. Now in all four gospels, Pilate attempts another end around to thwart the plans of the Sanhedrin. He is not a fan of them coming into his court and telling him how to rule. But he also doesn’t want them to riot.
iii. Apparently it was customary to release a prisoner during the feast of Passover. Pilate gives them a choice. Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ.
iv. Although Matthew is the only gospel that calls this man Jesus, and there are relatively few manuscripts that include it, the likelihood that a scribe or copyist would add it is very small. Furthermore, the name Barabbas means son of the father or son of the teacher. Most likely it is a nickname or title. With all this and the fact that Pilate specifies which Jesus he is talking about “The one called the Christ” makes me think that there were actually two Jesuses on the stand that day.
v. One to be released and one to be condemned. The first is described in all four gospels.
1. Matthew calls him a notorious prisoner.
2. Mark says he was a murder and an insurrectionist. A zealot.
3. Luke also calls him an insurrectionist and a murderer.
4. John calls him a revolutionary
vi. Certainly, included in the accusations against Christ is that he calls himself the King. The King of the Jews. It is obvious that they are trying to present Jesus as a revolutionary Himself.
vii. Pilate knew that the real reason they wanted him dead is because they were scared of Christ’s growing influence over the Jews and their decreasing power. Knowing this, Pilate presents two options to them for release, assuming that the same crowd who supported Jesus only a week prior would express their support of the man over and above a known insurrectionist.
b. [Slide 9] 19-20 – As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about Him today.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.
i. Pilate miscalculates. The crowd accompanying Jesus at the triumphal entry were primarily Galileans. This crowd was no doubt primarily Judeans. They would not have chosen a Galilean Messiah advocating peace to their enemies over a Judean zealot advocating Rome’s destruction.
ii. At about this time Pilate’s wife lets him know that she had had a dream about Jesus and that He was innocent and that Pilate ought to let him go.
iii. During his attending to his wife’s dream, the Sanhedrin council stirs up the crowd convincing them, as they were already inclined, to free Barabbas and kill Jesus.
iv. When Pilate returns he finds a crowd that has gone completely the opposite direction he hoped they would.
v. Every gospel records the crowd’s insistence on Jesus Barabbas being freed and Jesus who is called the Christ be executed.
vi. The timeline is difficult from here, because the synoptic gospels seem to indicate that Jesus’ flogging and crucifixion happened consecutively. However, John, puts this event, chronologically first. Jesus was flogged, clothed with a mocking royal robe, crowned with thorns, mocked and beaten by the Roman soldiers, then stripped of the robe and his cloths returned to him. Then he was brought BACK to stand before the crowd. Pilate’s offer is re-extended.
vii. Do you want me to release Jesus Barabbas – a terrorist – a rebel – the very thing you are accusing Jesus who is called Christ of? Or do you want me to release to you Jesus who is called the Christ – beaten to a pulp – probably going to die from blood loss or infection? Which do you want?
c. [Slide 10] 21-22 – The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!”
i. They demanded Barabbas. We want the known murderer, not the one who will probably be dead in a month. WOW!
ii. Proverbs 17:15 says “The one who acquits the guilty and the one who condemns the innocent – both of them are an abomination to the Lord” And somehow, here, the Sanhedrin and the crowds of Jews gathered that day, are both. They simultaneously acquit the guilty and condemn the innocent. WOW!
d. [Slide 11] Passage Truth: Matthew slowly transitions here from seeing the religious leaders of Israel to seeing the average every day Jew as well. Look what their religious leaders had led them to? There are shadows of Eden here. When a spirit being, privy to the things of God, jealous of God’s position over him, convinced a woman that there was a better way than what God had revealed. Here a religious body, who is supposed to be God’s mouthpiece to His people, envious of Jesus’ fame, convinced a crowd to kill their own King.
e. Passage Application: Matthew again points to the inadequacy of religion and its leadership and the sufficiency of Christ and Him crucified.
f. [Slide 12]Broader Biblical Truth: There are many religious leaders and teachers in this world today. And every single one of them, regardless of their education, tenure, or cultural acceptance, all of them must be filtered through the Word of God. That includes me by the way. I do my best to present to you an accurate interpretation of the text with regard to context, language, culture and Spirit leading, but I am only human. I am bound to get something wrong. If you are a fool, you’ll never see it. If you hate me, you’ll never challenge me. If you love me, you will show me my error in meekness and with mercy. And I pray that God will give me grace to hear and heed.
g. Broader Biblical Application: The Application then is pretty much the same. Anything that is Christ plus, or Chris minus should be cast aside, no matter how influential or well known, or powerful the speaker is. And no matter what cost it would be to reject them, the cost of rejecting Christ alone is far greater.
[Slide 13 (blank)] The danger in listening to false religious leaders is apparent. This crowd was worked into a frenzy to kill their own King. Caution should be noted. But what happens if we aren’t cautious?
III.) Religion in general will fail, so we must depend only on Christ and Him crucified. (23-26)
a. [Slide 14] 23-25 He asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. You take care of it yourselves!” In reply all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
i. Pilate asks what they wish to be done with Jesus. They scream a third person imperative. Literally it would be HE BE CRUCIFIED. Sounds a little piratey for us.
ii. Most translations say “Crucify Him” which is ok. But really they are saying “HE MUST BE CRUCIFIED.”
iii. Here in Matthew, but especially in John Pilate insists that he has done nothing to deserve such a fate.
iv. Although John omits it, Matthew has Pilate washing his hands and says – you see to it yourselves. In John he says the same thing. Basically – if you want Him dead, you do it.
v. In Matthew here, we see them reply by saying “ let his blood be on us and our children.” Maybe in effect saying – we won’t hold you guilty if you do it. We will take the blame. We and our children.
1. [Slide 15] Now it is unfortunate that I need to address this, but some Christians use this verse as an excuse for Anti-Semitism. Based on the words of the crowd here they would say that God is simply fulfilling what they have vowed upon themselves. In so doing, God not only has terminated his covenants with Israel, but is actively cursing them because they still bear the weight of blood guilt for killing the Messiah.
2. Such a view is inconsistent with biblical understanding of soteriology in general. Specifically that there is not a person who has ever lived that not only would have also cried out with the crowd “Crucify Him” but by their sin have nailed Christ to the cross.
3. Matthew does not write this verse in a vacuum. There is considerable context surrounding these sentiments. The immediate context notes the Jewish leaders part in killing their own Messiah and King. But lest Matthew’s Jewish readers think that only the religious leaders are to blame, he reminds his readers that the crowd that day took the guilt on themselves and their children as well. Not a perpetual guilt for the Jews but rather a general guilt by all who are Jewish.
4. But Matthew’s context continues, and next week we will see this more clearly, but what follows this event is the culpability not just of the Jews for Jesus’ death, but of the Romans as well.
5. Matthew in this entire narrative has been showing that everyone surrounding Christ has rejected, abandoned, betrayed, denied, and ultimately killed the Messiah of God. His narrative builds the same argument that Paul lays out in the first 3 chapters of Romans. There is none righteous. There is none innocent. Except…. Jesus. Jesus is the only innocent person in the matter. Later Matthew will show faith from unlikely sources – but that only serves to amplify the truth that the Jews alone were not to blame for the death of Christ – but rather, Humanity and their sin.
6. [Slide 16] “The only way to generalize about responsibility for Jesus’ death beyond the actual group of people present in this scene is to indict all humanity, as Christians in their more theologically sober moments quickly recognize.” Craig L. Bloomberg Matthew pg 413 NAC
b. [Slide 17] 26 – Then he released Barabbas for them. But after he had Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
i. So after Pilate says, You do it, and the crowd says they’ll take the blame …
ii. In John the Sanhedrin council explains their righteous hatred to Pilate. In that Jesus has broken a law unto death in their law. That he claimed to be the Son of God. In other words they are trying to tell Pilate that HE MUST DIE – but they cannot do the deed. They will take the blame, but ultimately they cannot do it.
iii. John records, that at this Pilate was struck with fear. He pulls Jesus back into his residence away from the Jews again.
iv. Pilate asks Jesus where He came from.
v. Jesus does not answer.
vi. Pilate asks – are you refusing to talk, even to me now? Don’t you know that I hold your life in my hands.
vii. Jesus replies that Pilate has no authority except authority that was given to Him by God. Therefore, since Caiaphas and the religious leaders had handed over Jesus to be killed, having been revealed much more about Him than Pilate, they had committed the greater sin. Greater even than Pilate’s part in the matter.
viii. At this point Pilate is doubly resolved to have Jesus released.
ix. He leaves Jesus inside and goes out to the Jews to makes his wishes known.
x. The Sanhedrin now resort to blackmail and extortion. They tell Pilate that if he releases Jesus, he is no friend of Caesar. Everyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.
xi. Pilate then has Jesus brought out and says here is your king. They say – we have no King but Caesar – crucify Him! What a shocking statement. We have no king but Caesar. A rejection of the Davidic Covenant. Wow!
xii. Finally, Pilate released Barabbas and ordered for Jesus to be crucified.
xiii. Although it will be chronologically out of order, we will study Christ’s beating next week and then skip to His crucifixion, as Matthew has chosen to present it, and for reasons we have already hinted at. More on that next week.
c. [Slide 18] Passage Truth: Matthew’s transition is complete. Although lied to, the influence of the Sanhedrin did not force the crowd to take the culpability for innocent blood upon themselves and their children. They too were guilty of the blood of Christ. The same blood that could save their hearts, was on their hands. Certainly the influence and whispers of the religious leaders are obvious in this text, but this does not excuse the Jews but rather serves to show their hearts. That they were easily influenced and manipulated to reject their own Messiah and King.
d. Passage Application: Matthew pleads with his readers to realize that they have been deceived and that Jesus is their King and Messiah. To depend on Him and Him only.
e. [Slide 19] Broader Biblical Truth: For us also we must see that religious leader or not, deceived or not, it matters very little. We might look at those who are in churches that are being taught false gospels, even today, and we might be tempted to consider them victims. In a way they are, but that does not make them less culpable for their unbelief. All of us are called to test the words of men against the word of God.
f. Broader Biblical Application: Again our application must be – where Matthew is leading us to – Christ and His death are enough. Nothing more is needed, and it provides nothing more than promised. It was for this reason he would be lifted up, so that he could bring many sons to glory.
[Slide 20 (blank)] So Christ and Him crucified is enough. But what does that mean?
That Christ alone with no addition to Him and no subtraction from Him, Christ and Him crucified alone is sufficient for our Justification, our Sanctification, and our Glorification. Period. His person and work is sufficient. We need no other sacrifice. We need no other atonement. We need no penance. We need no extra means of faith or grace. We need nothing and have nothing but Christ and Him crucified.
But there are many false gospels in our world today. Gospels that have led many astray. Gospels that overtly teach or covertly imply that the cross of Christ is not enough. That you need more means of faith or grace to accomplish the end that God has planned for His elect. Typically these teachings focus on human effort, human will, and human penance to achieve a closer relationship to God. But as Hebrews 10 teaches, the perpetual access to God is secured by the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus Christ. What does that mean practically?
Do you seek mercy for your wicked nature and forgiveness of sin? What you need has been provided.
Do you seek the killing off of your natural impulses to do things against God’s will? What you need has been provided.
Do you seek grace to rise up in victory and be who God has destined you to be? What you need has been provided.
Do you seek a closeness to God, His loving embrace, His sovereign will, His gentle discipline, His power, His passion, His blessing amid various trials and trouble? He has what you seek, and access to Him has already been supplied by the person and work of Jesus Christ – His Messiah and your King.
In Christ and Him crucified there is no lack.
But I have to warn you about another aspect of this also. Because although many teach that Christ’s cross is not enough – there are just as many that teach Christ’s cross provides over and above what God has promised it does. It is true that everything we NEED God has provided for us in Christ and Him Crucified. But many add to that what they want. In this, they cheapen the cross. By adding to it, they make it infinitely less. What does this mean practically?
Do you seek power, wealth or fame? Some false teachers say that Christ wants you to have it. But in truth, Christ’s cross will not supply that to you. In fact, His cross may cause you to never receive any of these.
Do you seek a trouble free life, no issues, no problems? Some teach that if you are experiencing trouble or problems, it is a sign that you aren’t right with God. For those who love God, life is always good. Job’s friends preached the same message and they were wrong too. Christ’s cross will not supply a trouble free existence. In fact, Christ guarantees trouble for those who would be His followers.
Do you seek freedom from the penalty of sin so that you can live as you wish with no repercussions? Christ’s cross will not supply that to you either. In fact, For those who are truly His followers, he calls them to kill their sinful desires, to cut off their offending hands, to pluck out their offending eyes, to expect discipline when they are wrong, and to never again actively pursue sin. Christ’s cross guarantees not just the freedom from the penalty of sin, but its power as well. His cross, will make you new. And no matter how much we want to emphasize the Love of God, if the love of God we preach casts aside the law of God, then the God we’ve been preaching is not Yahweh.
Do you seek acceptance by the world? Do you seek to be a world changer and go out and lead many to Christ? Christ’s cross will not supply that to YOU. You are not a world changer – Christ is. You will never lead people to Christ – GOD will. Christ’s cross is sufficient - but you don’t get splash glory because of it. In fact, Jesus said that many do not find it. Although it will change the world – it is one soul at a time, and few will be the results. The world shouldn’t accept you. In fact – if the world is accepting you as one of their own – you are probably doing something wrong.
The truth is so narrow my friends. And every year people who have appeared to understand have turned away from the truth to embrace the lie. Every year false teachers and apostates emerge and lead many astray.
Just like the Sanhedrin, we have many, in my lifetime alone, who have once taught orthodoxy, but now teach heresy. In my lifetime alone I have seen
And Beth Moore all reject orthodox teachings and have embraced heresy. They are apostates.
My sending church, who ordained me into the gospel ministry declared a few years ago “we don’t care what the bible says we just want to do what we have always done”
And just a few days ago, Josh Harris, famous writer of “I kissed dating goodbye” among other books, has separated from his wife, apologized to the LGBTQA+ community for his bigotry against them, and has rejected being called a Christian if it means adherence to orthodox doctrine.
If you think the gospel is not under attack, you are living under a rock. Your head is buried in the sand. And if it stays that way – you will fall too. Wake up!
In Matthew 7 Jesus describes how to recognize a false teacher. He tells his disciples and the crowd around them to look at their fruit.
It is interesting that Jesus has other fruit bearing illustrations of the kingdom of God. The 4 soils if you remember. Seed planted on four soils and only 1 produced fruit. But then we see people like Andy Stanley, Beth Moore, and Josh Harris all who have produced fruit and then they reject sound teaching. They reject orthodox theology. And we wonder wait a minute? How could this happen? They bore fruit!
To harmonize these two I think you have to see Jesus’ 4 soil parable through the eyes of the farmer.
Kadie and I have tried several years to grow green peppers in our garden. Every year, the plants grow very tall and flower out extremely well. They produce a lot of peppers on them, and they end up being quite large. But every year, we pluck the peppers off the plant and the harvest is always rotten. I’m not sure what bugs or diseases they catch, but every year we throw out our peppers because we cut into them and they are inedible.
The harvest is what determines if a tree bears fruit, not if it hangs on the branch. A false teacher bears fruit. But one day that fruit will be exposed for what it is. Rotten.
Jesus Christ and Him Crucified is our only hope to bearing fruit that is edible in the end. Nothing more and nothing less. The wolves are starting to outnumber the sheep. Hold fast to sound teaching my friends, keep one another accountable. May we continue to cling to Christ alone, His person and His work.
[Slide 21 (attestation page)]