God’s Rescue Plan

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Jesus came to free all sinners, even me.

Text: Matthew 27:15-23
Title: God’s Rescue Plan
Lent is the time of year that we reflect on our sin and our need for a savior. It is not a time to dwell on our sinfulness, but we look to the one who rescued us from the bondage of our sin. Often it is easy for us to explain away our bad behavior or try and justify it. We have a tendency to judge ourselves against others and we come to the conclusion, “Well at least I am not as bad as the guy down the street.” However what we learn in Scripture is that there is no one who is without sin and even one sin is enough to separate us from God. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. However God loved us too much to leave us in that sinful state and He knew that He would one day come and save us from the destruction and chaos that we unleashed on this world. God’s ways are not our ways and this is especially evident in the Crucifixion and resurrection.
As we begin this evening and the theme of God’s rescue for the world we look at verse 15 and we can see an interesting fact about this plan. “15 Now at the feast…”This “feast” is the feast of unleavened bread and Passover. This was one of three pilgrimage feasts that the nation of Israel observed every year. Historians have speculated that there could have been as many as 2.5 million people in Jerusalem at the time of Passover to feast and to sacrifice a lamb at the temple.
The purpose of the Passover Feast is to remember the miraculous rescue of the nation of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians. It was to remember when the angel of death would Passed over the house of the ones who marked their house with the blood of the lamb, it was the blood of the lamb saved them. What is so amazing as we look at this verse tonight through the lens of the theme of rescue we see an amazing fact. God chose to execute His plan to rescue all of humanity from the slavery of sin during the same time of year that the entire nation of Israel was celebrating the feast honoring their rescue from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. While at the same time thousands of Passover lambs were being sacrificed as a peace offering to God at the Temple, God was preparing our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ to take away the sins of the world. Jesus Christ was God’s plan to rescue the world because he was fully man and fully God and He was the only possible solution to end the power of sin, death and the devil. However as we continue through our text we can see that God’s plan for rescue was not the rescue that the religious leaders and the elders of the people wanted.
Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but Pilate had been forced publicly to decide to release Jesus, which could have possibly lead to a riot in the city, or he had to do what the mob requested which was to release an insurrectionist and murder an innocent man. Pilate remembered the tradition to release a prisoner during the feast. So it is likely that he decided that this would be away that Jesus could be released without having to get his hands dirty, keep order and allow people to get back to their lives. Pilate had seen everything that had taken place over the past few days. Remember it had only been a few days before that Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem, by this same crowd and inaugurated the King of the Jews. Pilate thought of the best thing that he could do, was to place Jesus next to Barabbas, a man that was essentially to opposite of Jesus. He possibly thought that once the people saw the contrast of these two men they would overwhelmingly choose Jesus to be released. But he was wrong. So, who was this man Barabbas?
Barabbas is mentioned in all four gospels, and each describe him a little differently. He is described as a robber, a notorious prisoner, a rebel, an insurrectionist, and that he had committed murder. Some Scholars believe that Barabbas may have been a bandit who may have belonged to a group of renegades that instigated social unrest. These types of bandits were popular with the people, which would explain his notoriety, because these bandits preyed on the wealthy of Israel and created havoc for the Roman Government. There are also some historians who believed that Barabbas was a Zealot, a Jewish freedom-fighting-religious activist group. It is possible that he belonged to a group called the Zealots. To the Zealots, Israel needed to be separated from the rest of the world because they were God’s chosen people and they were promised to be blessed by God. The Zealots would use any means necessary to make this happen and use violence of any kind.
This was the ideal type rescue that the Jewish leaders and the elders of Israel wanted.
The Jewish people rejected Jesus as their king and Messiah because he was not a conquering hero. Jesus preached love to all, even our enemies and they did not want to show mercy and compassion to their enemies. They wanted to retain their special place as God’s chosen people and they were not interested to the salvation of any other nation. They wanted to be rescued like they were in the past by the great the judges or King David. They wanted the Romans expelled from the land of Israel so that they could establish themselves as a nation where their messiah would rule and reign in the kingdom of God on earth. They wanted the wrath of God to be poured out on this heathen nation just as God did to the Egyptians, thousands of years before. This is not what Jesus was offering. Jesus was offering a spiritual rescue not a physical rescue. The religious leaders wanted to be physically rescued not spiritually rescued. They wanted to keep things the way that they had been for generations they were not interested in what Christ was offering. Christ was offering to rescue them from the bondage of their sin and give them the hope of eternal life of perfection with their Heavenly Father. They rejected Christ because of the hardness of their heart and their need for their own comfort. They wanted things to be on their terms, not God’s. God’s plan for redemption cost Him everything. God’s ways are not our ways and this becomes evident at Christ’s final days on this earth.
In the final verses in out text, we see the completion of God’s rescue for humanity. “22Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” Barabbas was guilty, there was no doubt about it. The Bible says that he was a notorious prisoner. His sins were public and he did nothing to deserve his life to be spared, but Barabbas’s life was saved by Jesus an innocent, perfect man completely sinless man. Jesus took the wrath that Barabbas deserved, and Barabbas went free.
Jesus came to the earth to show the love of God to all mankind. Jesus came to tell the good news of salvation was for everyone that had faith in Him and not by following a list of religious rules and regulations. Jesus went to the cross, not because Barabbas deserved it but because nobody deserves it. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise that God gave to Adam and Eve back in the garden when they brought sin into the world. Jesus was God’s rescue plan for all of us and He is the hope of our salvation.
You have that same hope of redemption as Barabas. No matter what you have done. No matter how many times you have messed up or that you continue to mess up. No matter how public or private the sin, CHRIST DIED FOR YOU. There is nothing that you can ever do that is going to make God love you anymore or any less than He already does. Jesus Christ willing allowed himself to experience the pain of betrayal, the humiliation of being arrested and the tortuous death on the cross for you and for me. My encouragement for you today is to remember the promise of the Gospel. Your sins-past, present and future are forgiven through faith in Christ Jesus and you can stand holy, blameless and justified before God.
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