Easter Sunday 2021
“It’s All About the Man”
Even if you are not a sports fan it is difficult not to see the highlights of those game winning shots during NCAA March Madness Basketball tournament. Many of the games come down to a last second shot. The coach will call a timeout with just a few seconds left, draw up a play, and put the pressure of victory on one man – one player – to make the winning shot. The player knows that making that shot wins the game and advances their team towards the ultimate goal of winning the National Championship.
When these shots are made there’s jubilation, exceeding great joy, jumping up and down, and the fans running onto the court with hysterical happiness. Everyone is running towards the one man who made the winning shot – their hero! Brothers and sisters, those are the feelings we should have for the One Man who won the victory for us – our Hero – Jesus Christ! This Lord’s Day – this Resurrection Sunday – we should have jubilation, exceeding great joy, and hysterical happiness for the One Man who gained the victory for us.
Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. (Ps.98.1)
God the Father placed the pressure of victory on One Man – His Son – our Lord Jesus Christ and through His life, death, and resurrection gained the victory for our eternal salvation. Through the accomplishments of One Man – Jesus Christ – sin has lost its power and death has lost its string. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (ICor.15.56-57)
Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save. (Lyrics from Crown Him with Many Crowns)
The Bible is full of prophecies telling us about the victory that this One Man would accomplish. A prophecy is a divinely inspired foretelling of events. God inspired manyto prophesy about the Messiah and what He would do to gain the victory of our salvation. But of all these prophecies the one that we will look at this morning comes from one of the most unlikely people. This prophecy will come from Caiaphas the high priest who will condemn Jesus on the charge of blasphemy, demand that Jesus to be crucified, and bring Him to Pilate for sentencing. Why God would use such an evil man as a vessel of prophesy brings even more intrigue to the story.
Let me set the scene. It is the final weeks of Jesus’ life. Jesus had just preformed His most miraculous miracle raising Lazarus from the grave. This miracle of rising Lazarus from the dead was the high point of Jesus self-revelation as the Messiah, the Son of God and as a result of rising Lazarus from the dead many believed that this One Man – Jesus Christ – was the Lord’s Messiah, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. But rising Lazarus from the dead also became the high point of resistance against Jesus as the Christ. In the face of the most irrefutable evidence, raising Lazarus from the dead with many eyewitnesses, the Jewish leaders knew they had to do something to stop the surge of support of Jesus as the Savior of the world.
While many who had witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection believed in Jesus as the Christ others went and told the Pharisees all the things Jesus had done. The Gospel of John tells us, “Therefore, the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (Jn.11.47-48)
What are we going to do with Jesus?
The “Counsel” was the like the Supreme Court of the Jewish nation and convening a Council on such a quick notice was a big deal. The reason the chief priests and Pharisees convened the Council was to develop a strategy of survival. As I mentioned earlier after the resurrection of Lazarus more and more people believed that Jesus was the long-awaited King of Israel and this threatened the Pharisees’ position as religious leaders. They couldn’t let this One Man take away their personal identity. Israel was under Roman rule and the Pharisees feared that Jesus’ rise in popularity would cause the Romans to think that an insurrection was brewing. This had the potential to take away the autonomy the Pharisees had grown to enjoy during Roman rule. They couldn’t allow this One Man to take away their freedom to rule.
So, the question was a simple one. “What are we going to do with Jesus?” In some ways we are very similar to the Pharisees. We have heard the stories about Jesus. His incarnation. His sinless life. His teachings. His miracles. His call to repent, believe in the Gospel, and embrace God’s kingdom. (Mk.1.15) But in some ways the more we hear about Jesus the more we feel that our personal identity and autonomy is being threatened. The more we hear about Jesus the more we feel that the freedom to rule our own lives could be taken away from us. So, in some ways we are confronted with the same question as the Counsel in Jesus’ day, “What are we going to do with Jesus?” For years I allowed this type of self-preservation philosophy to keep me from surrendering my life to Christ only to discover my surrender to Christ became my greatest freedom. My advice is do not follow the Pharisee’sexample of developing a plan of survival but take this opportunity to surrender to the grace of God found in Jesus Christ.
The Council was unsure about what to do with Jesus so Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” (11.49-50) Caiaphas’ solution was simple enough – kill Jesus! Caiaphas’ rationale seemed logical enough. We kill Jesus so that the Romans don’t kill us. It is better for one-man to die so that the nation lives.
But Caiaphas didn’t understand that his selfish and murderous words were actually a prophecy. The text continues, “Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (11.51-52)
Let me put it together for you so you can capture the impact of the moment.
Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but
being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (11.49-52)
Even though Caiaphas spoke these words out of a selfish and murderous motivation, God used his words for His sovereign good. Like Balaam’s donkey, the Lord opened up Caiaphas’ mouth and he spoke the words of the Gospelsaying, “it is expedient for you that one man die for the people.” The Psalmist was right! People devise vain things and the rulers of the earth take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed. But He who sits in heaven laughs because He has installed His King upon His holy mountain. (Ps.2.1-6) Yes, it is expedient that One Man die for God’s people. But this wasn’t Caiaphas’ brainchild. This was God’s sovereign plan from the beginning and nothing – no high priest – no religious counsel – no demon in hell –was going to disrupt or hinder God’s sovereign plan.
Brothers and Sisters, on this Resurrection Sunday let us be encouraged to know what others mean for evil God will work it out for our good. (Gen.50.20) No matter what you are going through today – God can make a way – where there seems to be no way! Yes, God makes a way where there seems to be no way! We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom.8.28) We know that no weapon formed against us will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment will be condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. (Is.54.17) The point is that even though Caiaphas’ heart was full of selfish and murderous motivation, the Lord’s sovereign purpose was going to be accomplished through Christ.
Brothers and sisters, in the face of hard times and seeming defeat we need to have confidence that God not only knows what we are going through, but He is waiting to turn it for our good. The Bible tells us that God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (ISam.16.7) And what I am saying this morning is that we need to ask the Lord to allow us to see things the way He sees them. We need look beyond the outward appearance and look to the heart of God. Brothers and sisters don’t judge by appearances. Trust that God’s sovereign plan is for your good. Know that theLord accomplishes many victories through apparent defeats.
Caiaphas’ prophecy is true “it is expedient for you that one man die for the people.” This Man – this One Man – was delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men, and put to death. But God raised Him from the dead giving us the victory over sin and death!
We know that through the obedience of this One Man the many will be made righteous. (Rom.5.19) We know that by the grace of this One Man, Jesus Christ, the grace of God abounds to the many. (Rom.5.15) Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world! (Jn.1.29) This One Man sled His precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless. (IPt.1.19) The Father saw it and was satisfied. God raised Him from the dead! He is risen! He is risen indeed!
So, When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died my sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me
Caiaphas’ prophecy has been translated “it is profitable for you,” “it is to your advantage,” and “it is better for you.” And I am here today to tell you that Jesus dying in your place is expedient, profitable, advantageous, and better for you. Why? Because this One Man did what we could not do. We needed a substitute. He took our place, bore our failures, and made satisfactory atonement for us. Jesus Christ died in our place when He was crucified on the cross. We deserved to be the ones placed on that cross because we are the ones who had fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom.3.23) Jesus Christ committed no sin and no deceit was found in His mouth. But Christ took the punishment on Himself in our place—He substituted Himself for us and took what we deserved. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Cor.5.21) God accomplished through Christ what we could have never accomplished – to satisfy divine justice. (Rom.3.26) Jesus Christ is our Sovereign Substitute! There is one mediator between God and humanity – the One Man Jesus Christ. (2Tim.2.5)
We must remember that there is a gap between God and us. A gap wider than the span of the Grand Canyon but Jesus Christ stands in that gap and grants us access to the Father. The One Man, Jesus Christ, is the bridge that leads us to God. He is our Sovereign Substitute.
As God’s sovereign substitute Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd, gathers to Himself the scattered flock. The inspired interpretation of Caiaphas’ prophecy tells us that he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (Jn.11.51b-52) All of us like sheep have gone away; each of us has turned to our own way. (Is.53.6a) But this One Man is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. (Jn.10.11)
As the Great Shepherd He gathers God’s children unto Himself regardless of where they have been and regardless of what they had done. The cross of Jesus Christ is the great gathering point for the children of God. As Jesus told us, “if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (Jn.12.32)
And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. This One is our peace. (portion of Micah 5.4-5a)
As I conclude this Resurrection Sunday, I want to say that it is expedient for you to embrace the truth that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (Jn.3.16) You must answer the question, “What are you going to do with this Jesus?” I am here this morning to tell you the good news. God has demonstrated His love for you in that while you were lost and gone astray Christ die for you so that you would be brought back into the fold of God. This is the great news! Jesus as the good Shepherd has left the ninety-nine to go after you. He doesn’t care why you left. He doesn’t care where you have been. He wants you to know that He has laid down His life for you. He desires to gather you to Himself and rejoice together that the one who was lost has been found. (Lk.15.3-7) No greater news could be expressed on this Resurrection Sunday than to hear that you confessed with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead! (Rom.10.9)
Brothers and Sisters, on this Resurrection Sunday – we should have jubilation, exceeding great joy, and hysterical happiness for the One Man – Jesus Christ – who gained the victory for us. It’s Sunday! It’s Resurrection Sunday! The Fridays of our lives (like pain, disease, and heartache) have passed. The Bible tells us that our Great Shepherd will wipe every tear from our eyes. Well, Jesus taught us to live on earth as it is in heaven. So, let the Lord wipe away your tears today. No matter what you are going through today – God can make a way – because He has provided the One Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be our Victor! It is all about a Man! It is all about a cross! It is all about the blood that was shed so that you would not be lost! It is all about a lovethat is bigger than a life. It is all about the freedom that was given through His sacrifice. Cause He would rather die than to ever live with you!1