• Several years ago, I was a full-time Seminary student and Pam was working to support the family.
One April morning Pam told me that she had been feeling nauseous for a week or so and had gone ahead and taken a pregnancy test.…
• Now normally, I would be like… there is no way… it’s just the pizza you ate the night before… but this time it was different…
• Firstly, Pam was beaming from ear to ear with the largest smile ever….
Secondly, she handed me a pregnancy test and there it was..... two lines… There was no doubt in my mind that she was pregnant...
Now…Don’t get me wrong.... Children are a huge blessing… and you should get excited at the news of having a baby…
• but when you think that part of your life is now complete...— a different emotion comes up …Your hands get clammy and you go into a cold sweet…so all this is going on in inside…
• But at the same time I knew better --- I knew that this was one of those marriage moments- where I’d have to respond in the appropriate manner.
• So, I looked up from that pregnancy test and put on the happiest face that I could muster… and said ....“I am so happy… I am so excited for us … it’s the most awesome thing that could have happened to us”.
• Pam held out for just a few seconds longer and then announced.... “April fools” ….
• Talk about an adrenalin rush.... as the blood slowly returned into my body.
Now get this in order to pull off this prank successfully --- Pam had to enlist the help of a pregnant coworker (coconspirator)who happily agreed to produce the positive pregnancy test... Now that is what you call a great prank.
• This year Easter happens to fall on Aprils fools .....
This doesn’t happen often - the last time EASTER fell on April 1st was 1956… then next will be in 2029 then 2040…
• When you think about it the Resurrection is either the single most important event to happen on the planet or it is Biggest Hoax of all time…
Philip Schaff said that
• “The resurrection of Christ is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records."
• Today over 2.2 Billion Christians around the world are Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus… These are Christians from all walks of life who have embraced the “Truth claims” of Jesus and the Bible.
A truth claim is a statement that a particular person or belief systems holds to be true.
• The Bible is full of these kinds of Statements….
If you go through the Gospels you will find the “I am” statements of Jesus… For example, Jesus said....
I am the bread of life.
I am the good shepherd; I am the light of the world.
• Jesus said to Thomas…I am the way the truth and the life and no one can approach the Father accept through me..
When Philip asked Jesus to show Him the Father - Jesus responded “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and to share Equality with the Father.
He claimed to have the power to forgive sins.....
• One of the most Significant Truth Claims has to do with the Resurrection… After Jesus’ friend Lazarus, had died he told Martha … that He had the power over death itself.
It is not just the Gospels but the Bible itself claims to be the inspired word of God…the word inspired originates from the root word to exhale.
God has breathed out scripture to us.
The Christian philosopher... C.S. Lewis said that there is no middle ground when it comes to the claims of Christ.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.
He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice.
Either Jesus was and is who he claimed to be… the Son of God or he wasn’t….
the Bible doesn’t give us other options.
Within the message of Easter are the themes…Acceptance and Rejection…
One is that of Acceptance.
A few months ago, Dean Johnson a former pastor of did a funeral here at the church and during his sermon he pointed to the Cross behind me and said.
• Do you know what that is? --- It’s a plus sign!
When you have Jesus Christ in your life the cross adds value to your life… it gives you hope…gives you purpose… meaning…
Christ is always a plus sign … it doesn’t matter what you go through in life or even death --- The cross is going always give more value and more hope…To some as they look at the cross… While that is true…
At the same time the Cross is also a symbol of rejection.
In the First Century in the Roman world, the Cross was not something you would put on a building or a piece of jewelry you ware around your neck.
The cross was a device of torture… like the electric chair today …
· Crucifixion was the Romans’ method of Capital punishment and it was reserved for only the worst of criminals.
· You would never crucify someone who was of high social status or was considered a noble person, no matter what the crime.
· The cross was a place of shame and humiliation…
· Crucifixion were normally conducted along the major high ways…in view of everyone.
One of the main reasons was that it served as a deterrent for anyone who thought they could usurp Roman authority…
· To put someone on a cross was ultimate sign of rejection
T/S There are three groups of people that rejected Christ in the Easter Narrative… the religious leaders, the Romans and the crowd... What I would like to do this morning is for us to consider together What was at the root of their Rejection?
T/s In the Matthew 26 we find the beginnings of Christs humiliation and rejection…
T/S One of the reasons that Jesus was Rejected by the Jewish leaders was that…
1. Jesus didn’t fit into their World View
He didn’t fit the mold of the Messiah.
Jesus was preparing his disciples for what lay ahead.
He explains to his disciples that the teaching part of his ministry is now concluded… The next event in his coming was to face the cross and to lay down his life as an offering…
At the same time The Jewish leaders have gathered in the court yard of Caiaphas the High priest to plot a plan to kill Jesus.
This is not the first time… the religious leaders had talked about getting rid of Jesus … but now they were desperate… They needed a concrete plan to convict and condemn Jesus to death.
There was one huge obstacle on the way of their plan.
that was the feast of Passover.
Jerusalem would be jammed packed with thousands of pilgrims, who would have their minds filled with nationalist fervor and longings.
And their plot to kill Jesus could backfire and Jesus could be accepted as the Messiah.
They had to move carefully as stealthy and as fast as Possible...
• They needed to arrest Jesus secretly and have him tried and convicted… with no time for people to object...or cause a riot.
timing meant everything.
As it turns out the Judas betrayal of Jesus was fortuitous
• Judas had deserted Christ and for 30 pieces of silver ($600) and was willing to give them Jesus exact location.
From this point forward things move quickly… In the Early hours of Friday morning Judas takes religious and soldiers into the garden of Gethsemane and exposes Jesus with a Kiss… Jesus is arrested and taken before the Annas the former priest and then taken to the current priest Caiaphas...
This all took place in the dark between the hours 1am-3am… in the morning…
It reminds me of one of those Navy seal team’s covert operations … where it’s all under dark and you only find out a week later what happened.
So, early Friday morning Jesus is arrested and by 5 am Jesus is on Trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin… Matthew gives us more details..
This is one of the Most suspect trials in History of law practice.…Every
rule in the book is broken.
According to Jewish law…
No trials to be held at night or during feasts.
2. No Decision for Capital punishment could be made in one day..
3. The accused should have been permitted a proper defense…
None of the proper protocols were followed and today’s world this would be a miss trial.…
What is ironic is that these same leaders that were so care for keeping every inch of the law were so willing to break all the rules… Now, things don’t get better they get worse… It’s almost too painful to watch.
Caiaphas struggles to get a viable case against Jesus....
· They couldn’t find any credible witnesses…
· Look at that… Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,
So in order to convict Jesus …they started to looking for false testimonies anything that could incriminate Jesus…no one came forward.
• Finally… two witnesses come forward with something they said Jesus claimed “He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.”
Now this is a true statement --- Jesus did say this… but His accuses were twisting his words to mean that jesus threatened to destroy the literal temple… Jesus had used the temple as analogy to speak about his own death and the resurrection… that his temple the body would be raised on the third day..
Caiaphas the high priest knew that this none of this would hold in a Roman court… they would simply laugh at the notation and put it to Jewish superstition.
• As Caiaphas sees the trial collapsing …and the disaster they would have if Jesus was released after the trial…he resorts to one last resort... one final Hail Mary… He asked Jesus
.... ARE YOU THE CHRIST THE SON OF GOD…
Jesus has to incriminate himself by answering this question…
Jesus answer… It as you have said.
Caiaphas now has the Evidence that he needed… The case is watertight... Jesus had implicated himself to such an extent that the Sanhedrin would deem him worthy of death for blasphemy.
Why did the Religious world REJECT CHRIST?
The reason they rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit into their worldview!
I think it is important to understand our world view… when we when to Seattle I spoke to surfer guy about what he believed.. and he believed that we are all part of some Alien experiment… I thought that was interesting perspective… I asked him… How did you come to believe that… what led you believe… I not judging… I love to have that discussion with people.. if you are an atheist agnostic… indifferent… How did that happen?
The point is that each of us has a worldview and it is impacted by several factors… our upbringing, our Education, our experiences… all these things impact the way that we see life.