Mark 38: How will you respond to Jesus?

Mark 15:1-32

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.


How many of you have watched the Passion of the Christ? I remember when I first watched it, I was shocked by its brutality. The movie was very violent. In fact, in America, the movie was rated R due to violence. There were a few scenes where I had to look away because I could not bear watching them. Despite how I look, I have a soft heart. I am not good with gory scenes. But I think Mel Gibson did a good job portraying what happened to Jesus on the road to Calvary. Sometimes when we read the passion narrative, it is easy for us to forget how horrific it was. We quickly read through it without realizing that it is the worst tragedy in human history. The passion of the Christ helps us see glimpses of the injustices Jesus had to endure. And our tonight’s passage is about that.

In this chapter, for the first time, we have Jesus not in front of the religious establishment but the political establishment. He is not in front of the religious leaders but the Roman authority. This is the chapter that made Pontius Pilate’s name famous throughout history. Every time people recite the Apostle’s Creed, they mention his name. There is a line in the Apostle’s Creed that says Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate. There is even a mind-body exercise named after him. It is called Pilate with an s at the end. Okay, that’s not true. Pilates is not named after Pilate. Pontius Pilate is famous not because he was solely responsible for Jesus’ death, but because he was the one calling the final shot of Jesus’ execution. And in our passage for tonight, we meet several people who have different responses to Jesus. And their responses determine their eternity. Mark records these stories for us not just because they happened, but because their stories are examples of how people in all places and at all times respond to Jesus. And the question that the text is asking us is, what will we do with Jesus? How will we respond to Jesus? And our response determines our eternity.

So tonight, we will look at five different responses to Jesus. And that’s why I have five points for my sermon instead of my usual three or four. Relax, we will still finish before 7 PM. Okay, let’s get into the passage.

Religious leaders (Mark 15:1)

If you remember the sermon from a few weeks ago, Jesus was put on an unfair trial by the religious leaders and the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am.” And they were outraged by it. They spit on Jesus, and they beat him up. And last week, we switched focus to what happened with Peter in the courtyard. And now in chapter 15, as soon as it is morning, they bind Jesus and bring him to Pilate. Because the Jews do not have the right to execute anyone. The Roman government has that right. That’s why they bring Jesus to Pilate very early on Friday morning. They want to execute Jesus before Sabbath begins on Friday sundown. But here is my question. Why did they hate Jesus so much? Religious leaders are supposed to be Jesus’ number one supporters, not enemies. But throughout the gospel of Mark, we find them constantly hating Jesus. Why? Here is why. When we think of sin, we often think of bad people doing bad deeds. We think of serial murderers, rapists, or people like Hitler or Stalin. And that’s true. But that’s not the only way sin expresses itself. Sin also expresses itself in good people doing good deeds. Listen. It is very possible to be very good and be very sinful at the same time. When the main motivation for being good is self-centred, it is sinful. Because we are not doing good for God’s sake; we are doing good for our sake. And there is no better way to get control of other people than by being nice. There is no better way of demanding people give us respect than by being good. There is no better way to get everyone to do everything we want than by being self-sacrificing and loving. From the outside, it looks like we are doing these wonderful things to help others. But we are actually using them. We are manipulating them. We are not doing it for their sake; we are doing it for our own sake.

And this is how religion generally works. This is what most religious people do. They read the Bible, they go to MC, they pray, they go to church, and they do all these good things expecting a result. They expect answers to their prayers. They expect blessings in life. But what happens when they do not get what they expect? Over the years, I have had people come to me and say, “Yos, I have tried to be the best Christian I can be. I went to church. I gave tithes. I was involved in ministry. But my prayer is not answered. Instead, everything went wrong in my life. What’s the use of me doing everything I did if God does not answer my prayer?” In other words, they are saying, “I’ll obey God if…. I’ll be a good Christian as long as…” Whatever on the other side of the if, whatever on the other side of the as long as, that’s their real god. They are not obeying God; they are using God to get their real god. We understand this. When we truly love someone, why do we do the things they want? Not because we expect something in return. We do it because we love to see the smile on their face. That’s the reward. Do you see it? Sin is not just breaking the rules. Sin is also keeping the rules and insisting God gives us what we want in return. Sin is us trying to be our own saviour and living for our own glory. And we can do it by breaking the law or keeping the law. This is the problem with the religious leaders. They do not love God. They love their own glory. They crave the praise of people. And when Jesus showed up on the scene, Jesus showed them who they really are. Jesus exposed their sin, and they hate Jesus for it.

And here is my concern. There are many religious leaders in churches today. And they are hard to spot. Because on the outside, they look like excellent Christians. They are probably some of my favourite people in the church because they are at church every Sunday. They are faithful, they give generously, they serve, they read Keller and Piper, they share RSI sermons with others, they like my Instagram posts, and they are good, nice people. But in their heart, they never really put their faith in Jesus. They are simply using Jesus to get what they want. They are using their good deeds to negotiate with Jesus, to make a trade with Jesus. “Jesus, because I do this and that, I expect you to bless my career. I expect you to heal me, find me a spouse, secure my children’s future, etc.” And if that’s you, hear me. It is only a matter of time before you hate Jesus. Because Jesus will disappoint you. And you will feel like he owes you and you deserve better. Billy Graham used to say that it’s not people’s sins that usually send them to hell; it’s their good works. Because their good works keep them from coming to Jesus. The religious leaders hate Jesus. This is the first response to Jesus.

Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:2-15)

Who is Pontius Pilate? Pilate is the 5th governor of Judea. He is the governor of Judea for 11 years, from AD 26 to 37. So, the religious leaders bring Jesus to Pilate and Pilate begins to interview Jesus. There is actually a long conversation between Jesus and Pilate but Mark only records part of the conversation. Mark 15:2 – And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” When Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, it is not a theological question. Pilate could not care less if Jesus is the Son of God or not. What he wants to know is whether Jesus is the King of the Jews. That is, “Are you in any way a threat to my government? Are you a political leader? Will your followers move against the Roman government?” That’s what he cares about. And Jesus’ reply is very interesting. He is very ambiguous in his answer. When the Sanhedrin asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” Jesus said, “Absolutely. I am.” He was very clear. But now when Pilate asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replies, “You are the one who said it.” It’s not a clear yes or clear no. He could have said, “No, I am not a political leader. I come to bring spiritual reformation, not political reformation.” On the other hand, he also doesn’t say, “Yes, I am a king. Of course, I am a political leader.” Instead, by saying, “You have said so”, Jesus is communicating that he is a king, he is a political leader, but he is not a king like what people expected. His kingdom will have many political ramifications, but his kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world. It is a very different kingdom and Jesus is a very different king. What a brilliant answer.

And so, the chief priests accused Jesus of many things to get him into trouble with the Roman government, but Jesus remains silent. And Pilate is amazed. Think about it. What do we do when people accused us of things we did not do? We automatically defend ourselves. Right? If someone falsely accused me of mishandling the church’s money, I won’t remain silent for sure. I will defend myself the best I can because my reputation as a pastor is at stake. But despite all the false accusations, Jesus says absolutely nothing. And don’t be mistaken. Jesus’ silence is not a silence of defeat; it is a silence of trust. Jesus surrenders fully to God’s sovereignty. And Pilate is amazed by what he witnesses before his eyes. While the religious leaders are doing everything they can to harm Jesus, Jesus remains calm. And after investigating Jesus for a while, Pilate cannot find any fault in Jesus according to Roman law. He is convinced that Jesus is innocent of all the charges brought against him. So, Pilate tries to get Jesus out of trouble three times. He wants to release Jesus and he knows he should release Jesus. Pilate finds him innocent, and the case should have been closed. But here is the problem: the crowd. The chief priests somehow managed to stir up the crowd and they cry out, “Crucify Jesus. Crucify Jesus.” Pilates asks, “Why? He did nothing wrong. Why should I crucify him?” And the crowd yells even louder, “Crucify him. Crucify him.” And here is the sad part. Mark 15:15 – So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Pilate knows Jesus is innocent, but he chooses to please the crowd. He chooses injustice over justice. He did everything he could to release Jesus except to actually release Jesus.

So, what does it mean for us? Pilate represents people who think that they have done everything they can for Jesus but never did the one thing Jesus wants from them, which is to believe in him. Pilate acknowledged that Jesus is innocent, and yet he refused to let Jesus go. Why? Because he wants to play safe. He knows that if he does the right thing, the crowd is against him. Pilate cares more about his job and his reputation than Jesus. He puts his career and his life over justice and truth. He is willing to acknowledge that Jesus is innocent, but he is not going to sacrifice his career for Jesus. In other words, Pilate does not reject Jesus, but he is indifferent to Jesus. He is too distracted with many other things in life to follow Jesus. And this might be some of you tonight. You are intellectually convinced of Jesus, but you do not want to overcommit your life to Jesus. You are fine with Jesus as long as Jesus does not disturb your career, your dating life, your family, your bank account, your future, etc. Your concern in life is, “How can I have the best life now? How can I have a successful career? How can I get married? How can I have a happy family? How can I get rich?” As long as Jesus does not disturb your agenda, you are in. But the moment you have to choose between Jesus and your agenda, you are out. This is the second response to Jesus.

Barabbas (Mark 15:11-15)

The third response that we see in the text is Barabbas. So, Pilate has a custom during the Passover festival. He would grant forgiveness to one Jewish prisoner to gain favour with the crowd. And Pilate wants to use this custom to release Jesus. He asks the crowd to choose between two prisoners: Jesus or Barabbas. Who is Barabbas? Barabbas is a criminal who committed murder and rebellion against the Roman government. If Jesus is innocent, Barabbas is guilty. And interestingly, Barabbas’ first name is Jesus. So, the choice Pilate offers to the crowd is, “Choose. Do you want me to free Jesus Barabbas or Jesus of Nazareth? Do you want the guilty Jesus or the innocent Jesus?” It should have been an easy choice. It’s like asking, “Do you want Mother Teresa or Osama bin Laden?” No one in their right mind would choose Osama bin Laden. But the crowd cries out, “Give us Jesus Barabbas. We want the guilty Jesus. Crucify the innocent. Release the guilty.”

Can you see what happened? Don’t miss it. We are supposed to see that we are Barabbas. The meaning of the name Barabbas is the son of a father. It is a very generic name that could mean anyone. So, the choice is between the son of a father or the Son of the Father. The choice is between a guilty sinful criminal or the innocent holy righteous Son of God. And in an inexplicable way, the innocent one is condemned and the guilty one is released. The innocent is put in the place of the guilty, and the guilty in the place of the innocent. How much clearer could Mark be? Do you know what this is? This is the gospel. This is a picture of what Jesus did for us. Like Barabbas, we are everything Jesus is not. We are sinful, selfish, and rebellious. We have broken God’s law and we are guilty. We stand condemned under the judgment of God. Like Barabbas, we are waiting on death row for our eternal punishment. Yet remarkably, an exchange takes place in which the innocent is condemned to die and the guilty goes free.

Imagine if you are Barabbas. You know that you have been sentenced to die. You know that you deserved your punishment. There is nothing you can do to escape. And then the jailer comes, opens the prison door, and says, “Barabbas, you can go.” “Wait. What? What do you mean I can go? Do you mean it is time for me to be crucified?” The jailer replies, “No Barabbas. You are a free man. Go now.” “But why? I don’t understand.” “Because another Jesus has taken your place. He will take your cross instead.” Can you see it? The guilty one is set free. The innocent one is condemned. The point of the story is not that Barabbas put his faith in Jesus. We have no way of knowing if Barabbas gets the gospel or not. I hope he does. The point is that Barabbas’ story is a picture of the gospel.

Apostle Paul puts it this way. This is one of the most beautiful bewildering statements in all the Bible. I encourage you to memorize it. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. When Jesus died on the cross, he did not die for his sin. He did not have any. He died for the sin of others. He died for the sin of Barabbas. He died for my sins and your sins. He took our sins upon himself. And he was treated the way we should have been treated. He died so that we might live. He was condemned so that we might go free. In other words, Jesus’ crucifixion is our justification. His condemnation is our pardon. His bondage is our freedom. J.D. Greear puts it this way. It’s like taking a final exam that is worth 100% of your grade and you don’t study at all because you are too busy watching Netflix. When you read the exam’s questions, you have no idea what the answers are. You don’t even understand the questions. But sitting right next to you is the perfect student who always gets 100 on the exam. Right before you have to turn in your exam, he takes your answer sheet and writes his name on it. And he gives you his perfect answer with your name on it. So, you end up with a perfect grade while he fails the exam. This is the gospel. The gospel is not simply God forgiving us of our sins; the gospel is God became sin so that we might become righteous. And we contribute nothing to our perfect grades. All we bring to the table is our failing exams, our sins. This is the only exchange Jesus will make with us. Our sins for his righteousness. That’s it. Nothing else. And the moment we make that exchange, we are not a quarter righteous or half righteous. We are 100% righteous because Jesus is 100% righteous. This is the third response to Jesus.

The soldiers (Mark 15:16-20)

Once Pilate condemned Jesus, the soldiers begin to scourge Jesus. These were the parts in the Passion of the Christ where I closed my eyes a lot. They were extremely horrific scenes. A Roman scourging is a terrifying punishment. The soldiers flog Jesus, beat Jesus, humiliate Jesus, making him weak for the crucifixion. And it is not only one or two soldiers who do it but the whole battalion, which is about 600 soldiers. Then they put a purple robe on him because purple is the colour of royalty. They make a crown of thorns and put it on Jesus. And they salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They are mocking Jesus. And they continue to beat Jesus and spit on him. And when they have enough, they lead him out to crucify him. Crucifixion is the cruellest, most painful, most humiliating form of capital punishment in the ancient world. And Rome had perfected the technique to ensure maximum suffering. So, imagine that scene. The innocent Son of God is ridiculed, shamed, humiliated, and beaten, at the hands of sinful people, the people he came to save. Maybe like me, some of the angels cannot bear to witness that scene and they look away. Perhaps they also weep.

Who are the soldiers? They are the mockers. They have no vested interest in Jesus, yet they fully participate in the rejection of Jesus. They never take the time to consider Jesus’ claim. They simply come along for the ride. They have no intention of investigating Jesus’ claims. All they know is that Jesus must be wrong, and Christians are on the wrong side of history. And our society is filled with this type of people. They never take the time to investigate the truth for themselves. They reject Jesus simply because everyone else rejects Jesus. For example, Stacey told me last week about how a person she met recently asked her a question, “Why do you Christians hate LGBTQ+ people?” But who said that Christians hate LGBTQ+ people? They assume Christians hate LGBTQ+ people because we disagree with their way of life. They rejected Jesus’ claim to be the way, truth, and the life, because they say it is arrogant to claim that there is only one way to heaven. They mock Jesus’s claim to be king without knowing why. All they know is that it does not make any sense to their way of life, and they reject it straight away. It does not make any sense for a king to come in weakness and die. A weak dying king is illogical. So, they reject and mock Jesus without taking the time to investigate the truth for themselves. This is the fourth response to Jesus.

Simon of Cyrene

Mark 15:21 – And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Normally, a prisoner who is to be crucified must carry his own cross to the place of execution. Not the whole cross, just the horizontal beam. However, Jesus is too weak to do so. The soldiers have beaten him to the point that he is unable to carry his cross. So, they need someone to carry the cross for him. And Simon of Cyrene happens to be in Jerusalem for Passover. Cyrene is most likely a name of a place in Africa. So, Simon has travelled a long way to get to Jerusalem for Passover. The last thing he wants is to get caught up in an unnecessary business. But the soldiers see Simon and they compel him to carry Jesus’ cross. The word compel is not the right translation. The right translation is forced. So, they are not saying, “Hi bro, would you like to carry Jesus’ cross? I think you are strong enough to carry his cross. Don’t you feel sorry for this weak man? Why don’t you help him carry his cross?” No. It’s more like, “You. Yes, you. Carry his cross or we’ll make you.” Simon has no choice. He becomes the first person who literally carries the cross of Jesus. But listen. Simon might carry Jesus’ cross because he has no choice. But it is not a coincidence. This experience changes Simon’s life forever.

How do we know? We know because Mark specifically mentions that Simon of Cyrene is the father of Alexander and Rufus. This is very unusual. We can understand why Mark would record Simon’s name as the stranger who helps Jesus carry his cross. But why give his name, where he came from, and the name of his children? Like, if I write an email to you and mention how I was helped by Edrick, I will not say, “Edrick, the husband of Ellis and the father of Elleana.” I might say, “Edrick, the white hair dude”, but I won’t say, “Edrick, the husband of Ellis and the father of Elleana.” Unless you know Ellis and Elleana. Remember that the book of Mark is directed to the church in Rome. And Mark records their names because they are well known in the early church in Rome. How do we know? Listen to what Paul writes in Romans 16:13 – Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Most scholars agree that this Rufus is the same Rufus mentioned in Mark as the son of Simon. It means that Simon became a true follower of Jesus. His short encounter with Jesus changed his life forever.

So, Simon is not only forced to carry Jesus’ cross on the road to Calvary, but then he also decided to voluntarily follow Jesus and carry the cross for the rest of his life. There is something about the cross of Jesus that amazed him and captured his heart. And not only that, but his wife and two sons also put their faith in Jesus. Paul writes that Simon’s wife has been a mother to him. Do you see what happened? Simon carrying the cross for Jesus resulted in his family coming to faith. And get this. This is amazing. In Paul’s greetings in Romans 16, Rufus is the only one Paul describes as chosen in the Lord. Why? Paul is making a point. I am very sure if Simon had the choice, he would not choose to carry Jesus’ cross to Calvary. But Simon had no choice. The soldiers made him carry the cross. It looked like unfair treatment on the outside. But when we pull back the curtain of God’s sovereignty in history, we see that it was not the soldiers who forced Simon to carry Jesus’ cross. Simon was chosen by God to carry Jesus’ cross because God wanted to save him and his family. Listen. Even on the road to his death, Jesus is not a weak king needing help. Jesus is a strong and sovereign king who is still saving people on the road to Calvary.

So, who is Simon? Simon is a picture of a true disciple of Jesus. He did not choose God, but God chose him. And it is the same for every disciple of Jesus in this place. We did not choose God; God chose us. And oftentimes, God’s choosing of us comes through unexpected trouble. It comes through a cross that is forced on us. But that cross, that trouble, confronts us with the beauty of the man who died on the cross for us and it changes our lives forever. So, we not only believe in Jesus, but we follow Jesus and carry the cross every day. And listen. The decision to follow Jesus and carry the cross is not just for us. Our decision to follow Jesus and carry the cross has a massive influence on the future of our family. So, parents, before anything else, the most important decision you must make for your family is not where to buy a house. It is not where to live, where to work, which school to go to, what lessons to take, where to go for a holiday, etc. The most important decision you must make for your family is, will you follow Jesus and carry the cross? Simon is a picture of someone who follows Jesus and carries the cross. This is the fifth response to Jesus.

Let’s continue the rest of the verses. Mark 15:22-32 – 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

So, when they get to Golgotha, they offer wine mixed with myrrh to Jesus to reduce his pain. But Jesus refuses to take it. It might be because Jesus wants to suffer the full pain of crucifixion, or because of his vow to never drink wine again until the consummation of the kingdom of God on earth. And then the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’s garment, which means that Jesus is crucified naked. So, at 9 AM, they crucified Jesus with the inscription, “The King of the Jews.” And Jesus is crucified in between two robbers. And they revile him. People who walk past the cross ridicule him. The religious leaders mock him. They say, “I thought you are the Messiah? If you are, then save yourself. You saved others, why can’t you save yourself? Save yourself and come down from the cross. If you do that, then maybe we believe you.” In other words, they are saying, “Did you not say you are the Saviour of the world? God couldn’t be saving the world through you. Look at you. You are dying on the cross. What can you do? If you are the hero of the story, then prove it to us. Make a great comeback. Come down from the cross and turn the table around.” But here is the irony. Jesus is not going to save himself. Because a hero is supposed to save other people, not himself. And the only way for Jesus to save others is for him to stay on that cross until the end. It is through dying on the cross that he is going to save the world. Jesus is a hero, but he is not a great hero because he saves himself. Jesus is a great hero because he chooses to stay on the cross even though he has all the power to come down from the cross. Jesus remains on the cross not because he is powerless but because he is extremely loving. It is not weakness that keeps Jesus on the cross; it is love. And it is because he remains on the cross until the end that we can believe in him today and have eternal life.

So, let me close this way. Who are you in this story? Are you the religious leaders? Are you Pilate? Are you Barabbas? Are you the soldiers? Or are you Simon of Cyrene? All these five types of people are in the church. But only two have eternal life. So, the question is, have you made your decision to follow Jesus? Because that is the main question of the text. Have you put your faith in Jesus? And by that, I do not mean seeing Jesus as an example but as a Saviour. Because Jesus was not crucified as an example for us to follow. Jesus was crucified because he was making the most expensive trade in history. His life for our lives. His righteousness for our sins. The innocent died so the guilty might live. This is our only hope in life and death. Not that Jesus died for the sins of the people up the street. But Jesus died for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin so that we may become the righteousness of God. Have you made that trade? If you haven’t, what’s stopping you? Let’s pray.

Discussion questions:

  1. What struck you the most from this sermon?
  2. Out of the five responses, which one resonates the most with you and why?
  3. What is wrong with “the religious leaders”? Why is it very dangerous?
  4. How would you feel if you are Barabbas? Do you feel the same about the gospel? Why or why not?
  5. Have you ever experienced the “Simon of Cyrene” experience? What happened?
  6. How does the gospel enable us to love the religious leaders, Pontius Pilate, and the soldiers?
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