Levi Lusko - Getting Rid of Jesus
Welcome, guests and locations, church online, we're glad to have you. Come on, church, let's celebrate and welcome everybody that's with us today. Thank you, team. I got a word from God. He gave it to me quick, he gave it to me fast, and he gave it to me urgently. So I'm ready to get right into that. I'm not going to waste time as I organize myself up here. But let me just really quickly, a couple quick thoughts I want to throw it at you. First of all, we are still taking applications for our Fresh Life Leadership College for our fall semester, and we're having a preview day on May 12. So if you want to see "What is a Day in the Life Of", check that out. There's information there on the screen, freshlife.church.
Our college, we're able to offer a number of different degrees that can benefit you serving God within the walls of the local church, be it this church, or another church one day, or in marketplace ministry, or something in between, some non-profit sector. And we're just really excited about what you'll learn in the midst of serving God, alongside our church, and staff, and team as we do all that we're doing here at the church. And as you learn in the midst of that environment, much like a teaching hospital where you're getting to apply in real time in a fast-paced multistate, nationally and internationally reaching ministry, as you get to serve God in the middle of the blood and guts and thick of it.
And then whether you take that back to where you serve God, or somewhere he'll call you, be that somewhere in the world, or you end up moving through the ranks of our leadership pipeline as we, of course, now have an internship and a residency, and end up perhaps some of you coming on staff, we do welcome you in all across the country as you listen to this on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and you consider what does God have for me. I just feel like something is stirring up. Not here, or here so much, it's right here. Then we would welcome you in. You can get your application in.
Secondarily, secondly, number two, numero dos, Easter is next week, and that's awesome. And we are excited about that. Resurrection Sunday, the chance to talk about the power that Jesus has over death and hell and the grave. And, of course, to consider his sacrifice on the cross. So we're having two different worship experiences, completely different messages. I'm really excited because God already gave me both of them. And they are, I'm sitting high in the saddle because I'm fired up on these words that God gave me. And Jennie and I had a plane the other day. I don't know if the Holy Spirit got on at the beginning, or the middle of the flight, but he was there. Like I got off this plane with five different sermons, and I've never been so happy in my entire life. And a couple series, we have a lot, this, God's given me so much.
We're going to be, of course, he can change his mind and he does that sometimes. But preaching throughout the summer and fall, I'm excited about what God's going to do in the life of our church in the coming days. Excited about it very much. Yeah, you can be, too. I welcome you in. So Easter, Good Friday, we'll be taking communion Good Friday. That's really cool. And both of these represent monumental opportunities to think about and consider carefully who in your life could benefit from an invitation to attend a service that could change their life forever. And I don't take it lightly or say it flippantly that you ought to think about who you work alongside, who you will cross paths with.
But there are hurting people out there. There're hurting people out there. And to think about what you can do to say, hey, I'd love to bring you as my guest into our church where you can be certain that we will pray and carefully think about what we do to present Jesus to them. And that will give them a chance to make a decision for Christ. And we have seen God so faithfully respond in people's lives over the years of our church. 15 years that we've been going towards Easter saying, let's make this all about the person who doesn't know him. And that's a partnership. You can be sure, I have been, we will be preparing and planning and putting on the finest worship experience we can. And knowing that it's also up to you to do the job of bringing, to do the job of inviting. And then, of course, then we leave it all to the Holy Spirit, and we go base jumping for Jesus, y'all. That's the beauty of it all.
What would be a heartbreaking disappointment to me would be just people come into church, like for a little blessing, so they can go on their day and have their little Easter egg hunt with their family. And, sure, isn't that neat that Jesus came out of that grave, like Punxsutawney Phil? Like that's not how I want to live. I want to live with us fighting tooth and claw, hammer and tongs, for those who don't know Jesus, or have been gone for a while and need to have that love rekindled. So may God bless us all with eyes to see and ears to hear who he would have us to be a part of playing. And you think, oh, they wouldn't want to come. And then you actually step on faith and like, crap, they did. Now you caught the car, what are you going to do with it?
Title of my message is Getting Rid of Jesus, shifting gears unnaturally. Getting Rid of Jesus, that's the sermon title today. Luke, Chapter 22 is where we're going to be. It's interesting how many times the formula of going into the past and fiddling with something, and then traveling to the future to see how much you broke it, because what you thought would make it better actually made it worse, is like what we see in the movies. Of course, we saw it in Christmas Carol. We've seen that played out a million times, right? Like here's the Christmas, here's the past, here's the future, here's what it could be, here's what it will be.
And Family Man, Nicholas Cage, same thing. Like we think about tenet and inception. You think about changing stuff. You think about monkeying with stuff. And now my mom is married to Biff and what am I supposed to do about it? And I thought having the winning ticket would be awesome. It turns out it wasn't. And all these things that we can, well, this did this, and here's the hurricane that came from the butterfly wings over here. I was spending some time thinking about the sermon, and I just started to wonder, what would the world look like had there never been a Jesus? What would a world, what would 2022 in our life, in our country, what year would it be? What, literally, I'm asking, what year would it be? I mean, we measure time based on Jesus's coming.
So even just something as simple as like writing the date. Well, how are we going to measure time? It's not going to be on the birth of Christ. It's not going to be on the year of our Lord. So how are we going to measure? And what other impacts, if any, would there be, like something as simple as like when you get sick? What hospital would you go to? Those of you watching church on line, are you going to go to St. Thomas, St. Luke, St. Joseph's, St. Mary's, Sacred Heart? Which hospital? And the disaster relief that we count on like, well, I'm going to make my donation when there's a big event. Are you going to give it to the Red Cross?
And even like your children's education, my whole life, I've been saving for my kid's college fund. Like I really want them, well, they can't go to Princeton. They can't go to Yale. They can't go to Harvard, right? I can't afford that, anyway. I know it's an illustration, but all those colleges, and many of the Ivy League schools in our country, were started by ministries with the explicit intention of training up young people for the work of ministry in the world. So what would a world be, what would life be without Jesus? Because that seems to be where our culture's saying, we need to be going. And I think, sadly, at times, the church is a little quiet about it because we're not so sure if they don't have a point. Church is bad.
Salem Witch trials, don't you know there was a time in the world when the Christians did some really terrible things? Hey, you don't need to quit talking about the Salem Witch trials. There's Christians that do really stupid things every day. And every new time, like, well, this Christian fell, well, this pastor fell, well, this leader fell, proving once and for all, well, we ought to just get rid of Christianity. There shouldn't be, there shouldn't be a church because there's a guy who did something dumb. There's a woman who's a sinner. And here we go. You might not like it, though, this dystopian future, the fantasy world.
If there was no church, if there was no Christian because religion is this big evil and it just divides. And during the pandemic, churches got really, really interested in the politics, and all on this ticket, all on that ticket, all on this vaccine is awful, vaccine is awesome, or do, you don't care about Black people. Well, you don't care about any people. And the old and the young and then, so, therefore, the church then is just so politicky and so bad for the culture and bad for the world. And we're just like, well, I don't really even know because, yeah, everyone's against it. But then we get to our dystopian future full of storage units and weed shops, and we may not like and enjoy the country, and the life, and the world.
We wake up in one day. What will the world be like without Jesus? What if we could go in the past and get rid of Jesus? What would life be like? I wrote down some names of people whose impact we celebrate in the world, even though we don't even realize it, that wouldn't be a thing were it not for Christ. First name I wrote down was Florence Nightingale. 17 years old, feels a call from God to do something that wasn't like a thing that was, people were doing, called being a nurse. Can God call someone to be a nurse? Well, she sure felt in order for her to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, she needed to give her life serving patients and doctors alike at her own personal expense and sacrifice to help people, to be there for them in those precious moments.
In her footsteps, untold millions have followed. Not just as nurses or doctors, but also chaplains who serve in hospitals, people who show up and pray, people who show up and care, people who show up in Jesus' name and offer aid, and offer assistance. It's an interesting thing when you go back to the pre-Christ time, when you go back to the pagan world, when you go back to ancient days, there wasn't a real huge emphasis on humanitarian work. In fact, gods were never known for their kindness, right? Zeus was known for a lot of things, but not like he's such a warm, loving, kind father. And so there was not this big sense of like we need to fight for the afflicted, and the persecuted, and the at risk, and the marginalized, and the stranger.
This is why Jesus's message of compassion, and caring, and love rang such a bell and such a chord, and why after his shocking death, and his unexpected Resurrection, and then his ascension to heaven where he sent His spirit to fill the hearts of his followers has always rang such a chord for people. Because in the Roman Empire, if you had a boy, and then you had a girl but you wanted another boy, you would simply toss the child out. Or if your baby was disfigured in any way and you didn't find that convenient, you literally would practice what was a known thing that is called infanticide. You would just toss the baby out. And do you know who roamed the streets at dark trying to get ahead of the wild feral dogs? It was the Christians. It was the Christians who would rescue these babies.
And when plague swept through the Roman Empire and people were dying, and if you were a hopeless Roman believing in the Greco-Roman pantheon of gods who were capricious, you felt like it was somehow on your family member who died of the plague, so you just needed to get them out of the house, they would toss them out of the house. They would flee the city, not care for those who were dying. And it was the Christians who at their own personal expense and risk would fight for and care for and tenderly appreciate. It was the Christians who subverted the empire by their love, by their kindness, by adherence to Jesus. Because you can kill me, you can take my life, but he rose from the dead, he changed my life, and he sent me on a mission to love, and to care, and to, so the entire idea of humanitarian aid of hospitals, that was not a thing. There wasn't like great health care.
Martin Luther, John Calvin, other reformers, they were the ones who pushed for universal education so people could be funded by taxpayers, educated, and change their lot in life. And you could have this ability, the superpower, to gasp, learn how to read. It was Christianity as it swept through the Roman Empire within a few hundred years that really upended the practice of slavery in the empire. At the time of Christ, something of 40% of the empire was slaves. And just a few hundred years, as Christianity rippled around the world, it's down as low as 15%. What would the world be like without Jesus? Well, we're talking about a very different place to live.
I don't think any of us would actually want to live there. To think about William Wilberforce, the great abolitionist, who in the name of Jesus made it the cause of his life to end the slave trade. You think about the self-contradictory life and leadership of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote of inalienable truths. God created all. And they had these rights and freedom for everybody is what he, liberty, the pursuit of happiness for all. This shocking idea. Well, America was still beginning. Would there be an America? Would the pilgrims have come here to escape the harsh religious oppression they were feeling in England? You have to think about Abraham Lincoln, who actually brought to life for all the actual truths that Jefferson wrote about, but was certainly not living in his day. And you have Jefferson, this touch by Jesus.
Look into his life, look into what he believed about the Bible. Look into Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister, an imperfect person. But based on his understanding of what Jesus led, the way Jesus taught, these things have changed the world for good, and not just for evil. Just to even think about a world without "John 3:16". A world without Billy Graham, a world without the Tim Tebow Foundation, a global prom for those with special needs where we can say to them, you matter, you have worth. The world might not see that, but you do because God put it in you, and we're going to celebrate that about you. To think of a life without Jesus, well, we'd have some big bills to pay, if there were an America, and if somehow we did figure out to call it 2022.
The estimated toll on the United States government if the Church of Jesus Christ instantly vanished overnight is something like as high as $2.76 trillion. And that's just talking about actual dollars flowing from churches to support non-profit organizations, many of whom are faith-based. 50 of the largest United States organizations that do humanitarian work in this country alone, 20 of them are faith-based. And the amount of money that flows from churches like ours to make sure that there's a bed at a place called a Good Samaritan, which we're going to find new words for this all, because the Good Samaritan, it all came from Jesus. And someone can't be a Prodigal Son, right? Most of Shakespeare's work's going to have to go back because he pulled so much from the King James Bible. We're going to have to fix a lot of stuff that's, but just, here's a fun one. Who else can you pull out from the story of the past that makes such shockwaves in the future? Try it. OK. This person never existed. How different is the world?
And yet, this random carpenter, made fun of and ridiculed, who lives his life saying things that flew in the face of everything that was being said by the religious institution of his day, hardly travels even more than 100 miles from where he was born, and yet today, we think about what life would be like on this planet had he never been born. He's more than a carpenter, as it has been said. And if this fascinates your mind, I spent a good portion of this week reading a book by a man named Jeremiah Johnston. Because I've spent so much time thinking about it, I googled it and found out someone wrote a book about it. So I was like, oh, that could be a good, ah, Jeremiah Johnston got to it.
So the book is Unimaginable. And he asked the question, what if Christianity never existed, basically, and plays this all out in a fascinating way. And so if that whets your appetite, check it out. But the reason I go down this journey with you is because we are going to meet three different people in Luke's gospel who, in fact, make it their goal to get rid of Jesus. That's their intention. So let's start in "Luke 22, Verse 63". Of course, if you've been following with us in the series, The Way of Suffering, which is available for free on the internet, you can listen to the past messages. We've seen Jesus give his messages to all of the discourse, speak to his disciples, and then travel to the Garden of Gethsemane where he is betrayed by one of his own, and all of his disciples abandoned him.
Peter first makes a quick mess, one last mess for Jesus to fix and mop up before they all abandon him. But, eventually, they all, as prophesied, they all leave his side and Jesus is taken into custody. And in "Verse 63," we read, "Now, the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him, and having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him saying, 'Prophesy, who is the one who struck you?' And many other things they blasphemy spoke against him. As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led him into their council saying, 'If you are the Christ, tell us.' But he said to them, 'If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer me, or let me go. Hereafter, the son of man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.' Then they all said, 'Are you then the Son of God?' So he said to them, 'You rightly say that I am.' And they said, 'What further testimony do we need, for we have heard it ourselves from his own mouth?' Then the whole multitude of them arose and led him to Pilate, and they began to accuse him saying, 'We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a King.' And Pilate asked him saying, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' He answered and said, 'It is as you say.'"
Your attention, please, our first of three who think the world would be a better place if Jesus was dead is the Jewish Sanhedrin. 71 individuals, 71 modeled after how Moses structured the governance of the nation of Israel, 71 with Moses, as the 71st allowed there to never be a tie vote. There was always that chief among equals sense of someone has to have the final say. Someone has to have, essentially, the ability to say, well, that's lovely, I've heard all what you have to say. Here's what we're going to do. In this day at this time, the 71st vote, basically, went to the high priest, whoever was in the position of high priest, a position that had to be ratified by Rome.
Rome, which had subjugated Israel, but had the style as they would spread out around the world of allowing puppet governments to remain in their stead over the regions, over the areas. They let the Sanhedrin kind of day-to-day still pretend they were in charge, but Rome very carefully kept in charge of who was in that seat of power, the high priest. And by this time, all of those priests, and scribes, and Pharisees, who ended up filling out the other 70 positions were, basically, the aristocracy, the who's who. They had the clout, they had the connections, they had the opportunity, and they, basically, kept themselves in charge. What we just read sort of glosses over and gives the 30,000 foot view of what amounted to three different phases of the religious trial, separated by a night sleep. For you'll notice as we came into the new chapter, it said, as soon as it was day, that's a key detail, we will come back to that, as soon as it was day.
When you look at the harmony of the Gospels, you find Jesus immediately upon arrest taken straight to the house of a shadowy figure who looms large in the New Testament, and his fingerprints are everywhere. Although, you can't find an actual job that he has that would allow Him to have the power he does. And his name is Annas, Annas. Annas, we're told, is where Jesus was taken the moment he was finally arrested. Now, this had been brewing and looming for a while. For several years, this clash and confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders had been really kind of like boiling, boiling, boiling, right, 180, 190, 200, finally, and it's like it's finally frothed over where they were looking, how can we betray him, how can we get him because the people, they seem to love him, which was really the problem.
You see, the reason that the Jewish leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus was because they were threatened by him. First of three, take away truth. They felt threatened, threatened by who he was, threatened by his popularity, threatened by the fact that people loved to listen to him, and they didn't respect them. And we know this exactly because "Matthew 27:18" says, "Pilate saw through the lies and knew that they had handed, '27:18', him over" because of, say it with me, envy. Now, they had the trumped up charges formally, their ratified agreement internally, why he needed to die was blasphemy. That you being a man have made yourself God, which they got Jesus to say by self-incriminating himself, which read the Old Testament, you were never forced to testify against yourself, as in our day today, which our system of jurisprudence is very much based on the ideals and ethics of the Judeo-Christian worldview.
So how things were framed back then, this really how our civilization was put together. You did not, you could be silent at your own trial. But they said to Jesus, who are you? Tell us what you've done. Tell us more about yourself. And he kind of calls them out on it. Shouldn't you be telling me why I've been arrested? It's not really how this works. I don't want to tell you how to do your job here. And for his rewards, he would be punched in the face. And he continued to politefully, respectfully point out breaches in their protocol and the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in their own life. Do you understand what's happening? They are trouncing, and trampling, and doing donuts in the law of Moses. That is the basis of why they want Him put to death. Not historically awesome, right?
This does not really make a lot of sense. You guys are saying you're all for this, but Jesus is sort of nudging them like, you realize the hypocrisy here? And one of the rules that Moses commands had laid out that God gave through Moses was that, if anyone's going to be convicted of a capital crime and his life's going to be taken from them, you have to have a day in between the day of the verdict breach guilty, and the sentencing. And that day all of the Sanhedrin was meant to give a day over to fasting so that at any point, mercy might prevail as they sought God and coming, sleeping on it, right? So no one's hot and bothered, that they're all cool, and that they can say, and if even one false not guilty was given, you couldn't reverse that. But you could reverse a guilty to a not guilty. Pretty beautiful.
So they had the trial illegally by night, right? And then they all said, let's just all go to our house for at least five minutes, then we'll come back together as soon as the, like 11:59, like as soon as it's, right? It's now a new day. Now, we can say it wasn't today that we agreed to. So Annas is the first person they're taking, they took him to. Annas is not the high priest. Annas is the father-in-law of the current sitting high priest. Annas was high priest. And then several of Annas' sons were high priest. And then Annas' daughter's husband, Caiaphas, is the current high priest. So why when Jesus is arrested was he not taken to Caiaphas' house first? Because Annas is the godfather. Annas is the power broker. Annas is the one in charge, and Annas had some beef with Jesus.
Remember on Jesus's first trip into the temple after he was baptized successfully, endure the time in the wilderness, and then proclaimed himself to be the Messiah and began ministering? Do you remember one of the first things he did? He flipped over some tables in the temple. And on Palm Sunday after his triumphal entry, he returned and did it again. The temple treasury area where all of the animals for sacrifice were bought and sold, and money was exchanged from one currency to another, had a nickname. Its nickname was Annas' Bazaar, Annas' Bizarre. He held the pocketbook on this whole enterprise.
Now, again, Jesus didn't do it because he thinks it's wrong for a church to sell merchandise. Like he's going to flip over any church that has church T-shirts and books, like, oh, how dare you, in the name of the Lord. Like hold on a second, chill, chill. You're like, finally, someone's addressing the obvious elephant in the room. All right. They were blessing the people by making this ministry open to them. If you're coming on foot from Bethlehem, or from Nazareth, or further, as people would even come from Ethiopia to attend these feasts, and you wanted to bring a lamb to give to God as a sacrifice, you do not want to have to do a road trip on foot with a lamb, OK? So it's really awesome that they had a bunch of great lambs there at the temple. What was historically not lovely was the fact that over time, they went, dude, we've got a captive audience.
People will pay anything we charge. We're pretty much printing money here. And so they were upping, upping, upping, and ripping people off who wanted to worship God. And that, not the fact that they were selling in this area, is what Jesus was incensed about. Secondly, if you came from other parts of the Roman Empire, what kind of money would you bring with you? Roman money, right? Remember, give to Caesar that which is Caesar's. He said, give me a coin. Whose inscription, because they said, should we pay taxes? He goes, give me a coin. Whose image is that? Caesar. Give to Caesar what's Caesar's, and give to God what's God's. Awesome. Jesus is frickin' Jedi Yoda, bro. Like he is just, you cannot trick this guy. Because, technically, God made Caesar and Caesar's coin, OK? God owns it all. So you could not bring a coin with Caesar's image into the temple area, because they would view that as a graven image prohibited in the Ten Commandments.
So the likeness to Caesar was offensive to the Jewish understanding of how to honor God. And so they would not let you buy that sheep, which was now rip off prices, all right, like buying food in the airport, don't do it. And also, I vowed to mention Disneyland in every sermon in the series just from personal symmetry. So let me just say, try and find a drinking fountain in Disneyland. If anyone from Disney is listening, not only do you have too few, but they are all poorly maintained, OK? They dribble. Have you noticed this? I'm like, just what I want, my four-year-old putting his mouth on the metal, because you literally have that much water coming out. Everything else is perfect in Disneyland, but your water fountains. Why? We have a commemorative Tinkerbell cup for your water. We would love to offer it to you for a price of $17.99, right, courtesy of Visa, which is how memories are made, cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching, all right?
So you can't find a water fountain, so you're going to end up buying something. That's the idea. You can't use the Roman coin so we need to exchange your local currency for our temple currency again. Now, they're making money on the exchange, they're making money on the land. And then here's the worst part of it all, the Bible says, give God your best. And every year we take a year-end offering, and all we ask is for us all to consider what's our best. And every week the beauty, the beauty of tithing is, we're going to give our best, our first and best 10%. And that's a beautiful idea. But they were saying to people who bought, brought a lamb, so if you wanted to use your lamb that you did carry and not the temple lamb, they had these temple inspectors who would look at it and go, oh, you want to give God that sickly beast? Like you pretty much you want to go to hell, right? And they would make people feel bad about it and pretend they saw a spot in the back of it, and so they would force them to go into this whole process. This is all Annas.
And Jesus was upsetting and showing the ugliness of that. So what do we do when we see new, breaking news thing about this scandal, and this in the church? We know that there's sin in the church today, just like there was on that day. But that's not what Jesus wants, and not all of us want to lead that way. You don't hear breaking news, pastor's faithful to his wife. Pastor preaches for decades and teaches his people through the Bible and people are saved. Well, put that on my Facebook wall.
See, I knew it, the church is such a scam. The sensational sells. And Jesus is quietly, boldly leading his people in the midst of a world where there still is brokenness, even in the saved, even in those who lead. They were threatened by him so he has to go. So Annas, Caiaphas, and then they formally, quickly so they can get the notary in and take the photo. We all agree, guilty, guilty, guilty, got to die for blasphemy. Then they go to Pilate and go, hey, this guy, totally the worst, forbids to pay taxes to Caesar. Wait, that's not the charge you agreed to 10 minutes ago. I thought it was for blasphemy. I thought it was because he was going to tear down the temple and build it up in three days, which he was actually metaphorically saying about his body. But they're now trying to bill him as some sort of arsonist, and terrorist, and public enemy number one, and threat to Caesar, which he is not.
The back end of a Jesus follower is a better citizen of Caesar than a person who is not. But they were threatened by him and, immediately, Pilate switches gears and sends him off to Herod, hot potatoes the situation. He could smell the stink on this whole thing, and so he goes, Jesus is, yeah, yeah, yeah, I think who would be a great guy to put him to death for you, Herod, right? As it turns out, he's in town for the feast. So off Jesus goes to Herod. We pick it up in "Verse 6 of 23, When Pilate heard that Galilee was mentioned on the case jacket, he asked if he was a Galilean. And as soon as he knew he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he immediately sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at the time.
Now, when Herod saw Jesus," check this out, check this out, check this out, "he was exceedingly glad," I underlined that, "for he had desired for a long time to see him, because he had heard many things about him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by him. Then he questioned him with many words, but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him to Herod. Then Herod with his men of war treated him with contempt, and mocked him, arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him back to Pilate. That very day," this is so creepy. "That very day, Pilate and Herod became friends with each other. For previously, they had been at enmity with each other".
So Herod, too, at the end of the day, makes the same decision the Jewish leaders made. We are getting rid of Jesus. Why? Herod's reason was different. He did so because Jesus was unwilling to entertain him. Because he wouldn't entertain them. He wouldn't come into the court and dance and sing and be the monkey that Herod wanted him to be. Herod didn't want change in his life. He didn't want, he didn't want anything disrupted. But he loved the idea of a little religiousness here. Oh, my goodness, I love the goose bumps I get whenever they play that song. Oh, my gosh, yes, God. Oh, Jesus, I've heard of that guy. And he says, I'm obsessed with Jesus. He says to all of his friends, oh, my gosh, Pilate just wrote me and he said that Jesus is being tried and we can have a hand. And anybody want to see Jesus?
And so he puts the turkey leg down and wipes his face and gets the guy who passes out the grapes to sit down for a second. And the juggler goes over to his little bench and he's like, I'm obsessed with this guy Jesus. Oh, my gosh, it's like avocado toast and like Lululemon leggings that make my butt look so good. It's like Jesus is like an oat milk latte to him. He's just this current fixation, like I am, I am so into Jesus. Here's the thing about Jesus, he doesn't do birthday parties. I saw in the Rolling Stone Magazine this week a story that caught my eye just as I was looking through this message, literally, studying about Herod, and popped up. It said, it said, The Lavish Top Secret World of Private Gigs. That's a good clickbait right there, man, right, check. The article is all about how there's just like lo-fi scene where if you're super wealthy, it's almost like it used to be enough to have a private jet.
But now, no, it's like, dude, who performed at your birthday party. And talks about what you can pay and how there's brokers that can negotiate if you want, if your kid's having a bar mitzvah and you want Beyoncé at it, like you could literally pay for that. But you've got to really pay. I mean, it's, we're talking to have 40 minutes of J.Lo is $1.25 million, plus $500 and K, $500K for travel expenses. We're talking about getting Bob Dylan, or Arcade Fire, or Alicia Keys to show up at your kid's birthday party on a stage you have built in the backyard. Half a million dollars for Rickie Martin, if it's local and he can drive from Los Angeles. And on it goes. This didn't even stop during the pandemic. $100,000 to have your kid on his birthday have Sting come on and serenade for whatever, Leon Bridges, Keith Urban, Christina Aguilera, One Republic.
And I'm not, of course, I'm not mocking any of these for doing it. It's probably good stewardship. But to think about, to think about, I'm going to pay a million dollars now so that Rod Stewart, or John Mayer, can come in for this concert where they're going to take everyone's phones away so no one can prove it happened, and they have kind of plausible deniability about it. And you're thinking, Levi, that's too expensive. I know, it gets crazy. Bruno Mars charges as much as $4 million for a private show to sing for 20 people. And you're like, that's too much money. I can't do it. Well, good news. Coolio, Naughty by Nature and Vanilla Ice are available at a very discounted, steeply discounted, I am pleased to report. And that is, basically, Herod's, how Herod used Jesus. Like I love the idea of a little Jesus in here. He was the same way with John the Baptist before Jesus.
And I don't think any of the desire is wrong. I think there are some sense in which Herod deep down knows that all of his money, and all of his buildings, well, we didn't even know about the Herod family, by the way, Herod's not a name, it's a title. So Herod, when you see Herod all through the Bible, you're like, that seems to be, that guy seems to be everywhere, right, the whole family, right? And Herod is the title, and the chief of them all is Herod the Great, who tried to get rid of Jesus when Jesus was a baby, and Herod was this tiny little short guy with this big ego, which is why he spent so much of his life building big buildings, right, like giant lifted truck, totally not compensated for anything with your big lifted truck. That's Herod, right?
And so he spent his life with this giant ego trip killing anybody he thought was a threat to him. And his descendant is this Herod that killed John the Baptist, but first wanted to hear a Bible study from him. I'll be real careful, I'm usually pretty careful with people who every time says, best, best that I've ever heard. Oh, my gosh, you're such a man of God and, oh, my gosh, and, every time, because those are usually the same people who are telling everybody everything wrong about you six months later when they're somewhere else. And that's kind of this huge fervent emotion. We're not looking for that. We're not about that. We're about that quiet, that long-suffering, that show me with your faithfulness, not with your mouth, right?
So Herod wanted John the Baptist to come and do a Bible study for him. In fact, this is crazy. You should read the whole thing on your own. It's "Mark, Chapter 6, Herod feared John the Baptist, knowing he was a just and Holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things," he felt all kind of feels, "and he heard him gladly". Just like that story Jesus told of the parable of the seed that gets sown, and the one seed just jumps up, like I love God so much. I love God so much. I love God so much. But it's all about what God can do for you, how God can entertain you, how God can be like an ATM machine to you. And the problem is that if your relationship with God is all about what you can receive from Him and not who He is to you, then you're basically Herod wanting Jesus to come in and walk on water on my swimming pool. I got a hydro flask, can you turn it into Cabernet?
And you'll be the first leaving like a rat running out of a fleeing ship when he gives you what you need and not what you want, which is almost always hard things that develop us. And so our relationships with God can't be based on what he does, but on who He is. And Herod gets rid of Jesus the moment he no longer is serving him, just like he cut John the Baptist head off, by the way, at a birthday party, the one who he loved to listen to the sermons. And didn't just notice him now and Pilate have an alliance that before I'd be real careful about a relationship that's built on the rejection of Jesus. So here comes now our hot potato, Jesus, back to Pilate, who all he wanted to do was get out of rejecting Jesus, but they won't let him. And you're like, why won't they let him? Because when you read the rest of the stories, you find out Pilate actually tells them, I will turn a blind eye if you stone him, which is the preferred manner of execution for the Jews.
But the Jewish leaders, even when Pilate gave them, I'll wink at you. He said, you go put him to death your way. I won't make a fuss during the feast. I don't want a rebellion. I just actually want you to leave me alone. Pilate didn't want to be in Jerusalem. He wanted to hang out at Caesarea, his place by the sea. This was just, he was putting his time in, biding his time. Eventually, Tiberius will give me a better gig. I'm going to get out of here, man. I don't want to stay here. But I finally worked this hard to be a governor, and he wanted out. So he's like, dude, I'll let you stone him. But they're like, no. Why? Because they knew if they put Jesus to death, the people would never tolerate it, because the, Jesus had the people's hearts. They wanted to get Pilate to do their dirty work for them. And, ironically, they ended up fulfilling Jewish prophecy, which said that the Messiah would die a death of piercing, not a death of stoning.
"Psalm 22," read it some time. It's awesome. It talks about Jesus being lifted up. We love ourselves some "Psalm 23," but you don't get "Psalm 23" without "Psalm 22". We don't get to enjoy this. That's why Good Friday matters. I'm not going to Good Friday. I'm just going to go to Easter Sunday. Let me tell you, you don't get an Easter Sunday without going through the cross. You don't get to the empty tomb without Jesus going into the tomb. And that's what's so powerful about the look back. That's what's so powerful about remembering. That's what's so powerful about first going to Gethsemane and then going to Skull Hill, so that when you stand at the empty tomb and go he has risen, it means something different because you understand the bad news that gives you context for the good news.
So Pilate ends up rejecting Jesus. Why? We're almost done. Because it would cost him. Pilate ends up letting Jesus, he thinks he could wash his hands of it. I'm going to have him put the death, but I want you to know, I'm doing this under protest. I'm getting rid of Jesus, but I don't want to. He's conflicted. Pilate, of all three of them, breaks my heart the most. I do feel for Herod, because he genuinely seems to actually like Jesus. But I really, really, really am heartbroken over Pilate, because their interactions are chilling. If you read "Verse 13 of Chapter 23," it says, "He called together the chief priest, the rulers, and the people. He said to them, you brought this man to me as one who misleads the people. Indeed, having examined him in your presence, I find no fault in this man concerning those things of which you accuse him. No, neither did Herod. I sent you back to him and, indeed, nothing deserving of death has been done by him. I will, therefore, chastise him, and I'm going to release him".
That should be it, right? Shouldn't that be how the end of the story goes? The person in charge says, not guilty, slams the gavel, case dismissed, y'all go home and bother someone else. But we know that's not how the story ends. It ends with Jesus nailed to a cross. And why did Pilate eventually get blackmailed and extorted and give in? Because he knew doing the right thing, which deep down inside he knew was right, was letting Jesus go because he was an innocent man. And he was scared out of his mind about the fact that he thought that Jesus might actually be divine. Because he had seen a lot of condemned people in his life begging for their life, promising, I don't know how you, probably as Fredo said, opportunity to deliver. Jesus is just like clearly in charge here. Where are you from? My kingdom is not of this world. That's unsettling. Don't you know I could put you to death? Yeah, but you have no power over me unless it was given to you.
So the actual sin goes for those who brought you here, by me here. And then, just as he's about to finally make the decision to put Jesus to death, even though he doesn't want to. You're like, why, why, why, why? Remember what I told you? Pilate wants another job. Pilate wants to get out of here. Pilate wants to be more powerful in the Roman Empire, and he'd worked for a long time to get to where he was. He had gotten in trouble several times leading the Jewish people because they were really difficult to lead. And they had gone over his head to Caesar and blackmailed him, and made Caesar get, like could you just, so Pilate's like irritated with them, but he can't do what he actually wants to do, which would be like kill them all, because Tiberius doesn't want that. He wants peace. There's his Pax Romana, peace through the empire. He doesn't want war. He wants subjugated colonies to be a source of money and taxation to build the empire, right?
So he wants, Pilate, do your job. If I keep getting disciplinary reports, eventually, not only am I going to not upgrade you to a better city, I'm going to kill you, bro. So keep the peace. So Pilate's in a hard situation. And just as he's about to say, finally, OK, fine, we'll kill him, even though I know he's guilty, not guilty. And I know, he's freaking me out with that Jesus look he gives me of like love and stuff, and kindness, and he looks right through me. I never felt like I feel talking to him. Pilate's wife comes bursting into his room. Pilate, oh, my gosh, I just had the craziest dream about him. He's totally innocent. You should not kill him. Honey, Mrs. Pilate. So what he knows he should do, and what it could cost him to make the right decision about Jesus could cost me everything I've ever thought I wanted my life to be. And in the end, he washes his hand of Jesus, gives the command, and away he goes, down the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering, with a cross on his bleeding back.
Now, I don't tell you any of this, and we're getting close to the end here, very close, to heap ridicule on, I think the wrong way to read these accounts would be like, the Jewish leaders are dumb. Herod's dumber. Pilate's dumbest, right? Like to feel like somehow we're reading this in order to feel good about ourselves for how much better we are than them? What I've been on my knees about this week is, God, where is the Pilate in me? How am I like the Jewish leaders? And how easy it is for me to become Herod? Because John said in "1 John 2:16" that only three things come the devil's way against humanity. These three are our downfall perpetually. Why doesn't the devil mix it up? Because they keep working. If you're fishing and the fish are biting, you don't just change bait, right? The loss of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life.
Eugene Peterson, the late Eugene, he put it this way. "Practically everything that goes on in the world, wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting," this is '1 John 2:16' in the message, and "wanting to appear important, has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world, with all of its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out. But whoever does what God wants is set for eternity". I see in the Jewish leaders the less of the flesh. It'll never be enough. I want more. I want more power. I want more money. And I will do anything I need to do to keep it. The lust of the flesh, and what does that lead to? All you ever need is more, more of that, more of that, more of that. It will never fill up the hole inside of. When is enough going to be enough? And what will you forfeit on the way to getting it? Because, again, they're giving up their adherence to Moses's law in order to preserve Moses law. It's like the parent that is on the road 300 days of the year and is never there for the kids because they weren't provided for well by their parents.
And so now, they're never there so that their kids can have a better life than they had. And they don't have the epiphany that your kids don't just need more and more, they need more of you. So to trounce the law of Moses and do donuts and to preserve the law of Moses, you're like, it's like Breaking Bad, one of the most well-written arcs I've ever heard of. This guy who is doing, what is he doing, to provide for his family after his death from cancer. He destroys his family and becomes a monster in the process.
Then there's Herod, the lust of the eyes, seeing Jesus. For a long time, he had wanted to see something razzle-dazzle. Give me a good sermon, give me a good word, give me, give me something that can give me some of the Holy Ghost goose bumps. You know I love that good feeling every Easter. Give me some of that feel good. I see the splash of Jesus, ah, awkward as you. I love it, ah. Oh, man, had a good cry, boo-hoo-hoo, but never changed. Looked at the law of liberty, saw exactly what happened, but did nothing about what I saw. Never repented, self-deceived, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life, Pilate, what I built. Where, I've come so far to be here.
Now, is it is it fulfilling you? What breaks me the, my heart the most about Pilate is church history records that he will get deposed eventually. Nothing will ever be enough for the Jewish leaders, by the way. And in his place of exile, he tragically takes his life, which is just one more subject that we have to consider in our world without Jesus. Because not only is the estimated toll that the church is going away funding the food banks, and the homeless shelters around the world, $2.76 trillion. But there's other intangible costs, like the, what it would do to an already strained mental health system to have every church in the world gone overnight. Every church of Jesus Christ gone, because there's no church gathering for Jesus that didn't exist, right? And already in the world, every 40 seconds, someone takes their life.
And to think about the fact that we don't have a steeple at our church, but I love the heartbeat of why steeples existed so that no matter where you were in town, you saw a building saying, hey, come on in here. We're pointing to God, but come on in here. Come on in here. Come on in here. Come on in here. And the toll, I have a family member who needed mental health help and was looking for the ability to get in. And the wait to get into a psychologist that could help them, the wait to get into a psychiatrist, it is, it's unfathomable to think, especially, in big cities, the wait time just to get mental health help when you need it. And to think of churches that, I'm not saying we're a psychologist or psychiatrist, but it's places where someone will listen. It's places where someone will pray for you. It's places where we'll be a family to you. We'll be community to you. We will care for you. We'll talk about hard subjects. We will point you to Jesus. We will fight for you.
Pilate takes his life to spare the pride of life. He fought for the pride of life wanting, wanting, wanting. And all three of these are all at times in my heart in my life I think it's so easy to end up like the Jewish leaders, thinking that if I give in to the flesh, I'll be happy when all that waits is death. I think about Herod and how easy it is, I learned from Herod the danger of the wrong alignment. You think about Herod and Pilate's friendship now, what something's built on, what a friendship is built on is what you're going to have to build it on. It's why so many relationships built on infidelity, shockingly, don't do great. They're built on lies. To a friendship, what if every time you're around someone, it's just gossip, gossip, gossip, gossip.
If every time you're around someone, what attracts you to some, what attracts you to certain places? What attracts you to certain situations? Herod and Pilate, it chills me, became friends from that day forward. But the foundation of a thing is all you have to ride out the storms in this life. And then, thirdly, Pilate, to look at Pilate, and tonight I ask the question, how am I not listening to the Holy Spirit who sends little agents of rescue along the way? How many opportunities did God give him? Come on, Pilate. Come on, Pilate. Come on, Pilate. Come on, you're just like cheering for Pilate. Pilate, do the right thing. But you should be asking the question, what is the Holy Spirit saying to me that I'm ignoring?
Now, the beautiful news about all of this message is that you can't get rid of Jesus. They did. They did. And he came back. We'll talk about it on Easter. I hope you'll come. Peter, and we're going to close with this story about a woman who bought a lottery ticket and something Peter said. So I promised, you're on, you're almost out of here. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, Peter, who denied Jesus, who failed Jesus, who lied about Jesus, cut an ear off misunderstanding what Jesus wanted him to do. When we don't follow Jesus instructions, we make messes. Forgiven, restored, redeemed and, finally, at a place where he was no longer living out of his shadow side, trying to be important and have enough, and appear better than John, and James, right? He gives a sermon with all the Jewish leaders listening, knowing Pilate's somewhere listening.
Herod, word's going to get to Herod. And he summarizes the events that we've been talking about, the attempt to get rid of Jesus, which was unsuccessful. And he puts it this way, at this time, this Jesus, he says, "this Jesus following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands," ouch, "and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross," the nation of Israel at large. He came to his own and his own received him not, and they killed him. Someone say, but God. But God. No, a little louder like you mean it, but God. The devil did his worst, But God untied the death ropes, and raised him up, because death was no match for him. They thought they had taken out the trash. They thought they had washed their hands of him. They thought putting a gorgeous robe and treating him cruelly could get rid of him.
But on the third day... I had read this story in the news about LaQuedra Edwards. It was November of 2021. LaQuedra Edwards was in a grocery store buying a lottery ticket, as she did every so often. Just as she was, she had put a credit card in, those machines they have with the buttons right by the, you were nodding a little too, a little fast for that, you sinners. She had put her credit card in, she was about to make her selection. She always picked this real cheap lottery ticket. It was like her little thing. And right as she was about to hit it, this guy came past her a little too close and shouldered her, like fully, like hockey checked her. And she said she was smashed into the machine. And when she did so, she pushed the wrong button. And she was irritated for a number of reasons.
Number one, he didn't say sorry. He just kept walking like it hadn't even happened. He didn't even see her, like she wasn't even a human. The exact opposite, by the way, of everything that Jesus stands for. Jesus sees us and says, I see you. So we can walk the streets of this world and see those who are cast aside, the stranger, the foreigner, the forgotten, the elderly, the maimed, the handicapped and say, I see you, and so does God. Not only did he not even see her, he just kept walking. But when he had bumped her, he had made her hand push the wrong button, a more expensive ticket, a $30 lottery ticket, didn't even know that was a thing. And she took her ticket out, was so embarrassed and flustered, she just got into her car straight away. And she said she didn't even scratch the thing until she was driving down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.
If you've ever driven on the 405 freeway, you do not need to be scratching a lottery ticket driving down this thing, OK? It needs your undivided attention, honey. She scratches it, she's driving, she's still kind of teary about what had just happened. And she said she looked down and gasped, almost drove off the road when she saw that she had won $10 million. She pulled over, got the app out to confirm it. Indeed, this was a $10 million payout for a ticket she didn't even want. She's crying, interviewed, she was asked, what are you going to do? She said, I'm going to buy a house because I've never owned my own home. And then I'm going to start a non-profit because I want to help people.
I tell you that story because I feel like it just, it wraps up so nicely what we're talking about, the rudeness that we've read in these texts. It was all a part of God's plan to work that in, that roughness in, that horrible behavior in, that sin in, that darkness in, so that he could untie death for us all. He allowed the rudeness, he allowed the roughness, the horror, the worst it can get. And not only does that prove the triumph of the Gospel, but it also exposes us to a brand new way to look at the way we've been badly treated. The hard things that have happened to you and the dark things that have happened to me, we can believe that every single one of those things is all leading towards a payout of glory, is all leading to a payout of God's plan, is all working towards us being more like Christ Church.
I came to encourage you that all the rough treatment of this world, all the dark things and the hard things we face, come on, it's, I got 10 million reasons to praise him. Does anybody feel thankful today for the way that God has worked in your story? And he even now is going to untie what death has planned, to untie resurrection power, to untie a brand new beginning. They spoke divorced over you. They spoke cancer over you. They spoke unwanted over you. But God says, I see you and I love you. I have a plan for you, and I'm working all things together for the good for those who love Him. We've imagined today what the world would look like without Jesus. But I want us to end asking the question, and walk out into the streets of this world, to turn off this broadcast and ask the question, what could the world look like if we would fully follow Jesus? What could the world look like? Look at all that has been done by followers of Jesus. But now the baton's in our hands. What will we do? We are now ambassadors. We now have the name of Christ. May we bear it well.
So Father, we look to you. Show us, God, where the little Pilate is in me. How are we like Herod? How are we like Caiaphas and Annas? Thank you, Jesus, for stepping foot into our world. We see you in the wilderness. The devil said to turn rocks into stone and you refused the lust of the flesh. Then the devil made you see the kingdoms of this world and said he would give them all to you if you just bow down and worship him. And you, Father, gave your son the strength to overcome the power of lust of the eyes. And when the devil took you to a high place and said, throw yourself down, all the people will see the angels slowing your descent, and they'll follow you, you saw through the lie of the pride of life. So, Father, you, through your spirit, can today give us the power to overcome all of the snares the wicked one is putting in our paths. May we not eat just the bread of this world, for the things of this world are passing away. We choose to satisfy our souls with every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Today, church says, all of us who like Jesus need to go through the temple turning over some tables and the tables aren't in the atrium of our church, the tables are in the atrium of our hearts. For we are the temple. And if today you would say there are some things that need to get flipped over inside your own heart as you follow Jesus, could I just ask that you would repent and show that to him, responding to the Holy Spirit by just raising a hand up? If you're saying, God, you've shown me secret sin, and I don't want to be held back. The day will reveal it when we stand before you, but I want to do business with you now. If there's some sin in your life, you just say, God, it might be small, it might be just a little jealousy, a little lust. The point is it's little now, but it won't stay little, it'll grow. But if you can deal with it today, let the Holy Spirit deal with it today, you can be healed.
Thank you, Father, for the honesty and just the genuine sense of revival I feel all across our church, response to you at church online, podcast audience. You're doing business with your people. You're purifying your bride. You want to sit and fast for there is much to be done. Thank you, Jesus.
You could put your hands down. And I want to pray for a different audience. I want to pray for those who need to give their lives to Jesus today. Seeing this microcosm of Pilate's journey, we just see here's your chance, here's your moment to respond. And we thank you, Jesus, that you're so good to give us those opportunities. All the way to the way of judgment, your word says that you say, I say to the wicked, repent, turn from your wicked way. God is not itching and looking forward to shoving a lightning bolt down your throat. He let his son be slaughtered so you could be set free.
If you're here and you need to open the door of your heart to Jesus, not as a juggler or an entertainer, but as a Lord, a King, your God. The one who made you who you are humiliating and humbling yourself before him to say, I can't save myself. I've made a mess of my life. But I want you to come in and be my King. In good days and bad days, I'm going to trust your lead. I'm going to be a sheep and you're going to be the shepherd. I'm going to be clay, you're going to be a potter. If that's what you would like to do, I want to pray with you to give your heart to Jesus. Could you say this out loud with me? Church, say it with us, mean it in your heart, and on the authority of the word of God, you will be saved.
Dear Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I'm broken. I'm lost. I need you. Thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for his death, and his Resurrection. I put the weight of my soul, into your hands. In Jesus' name.