Matt 27:26                             The Sixth Trial                                             12/14/2008    ßà   

 

 

 

#1.       Whom Will Ye That I Release? (Matt 27:17, John 18:39, Rom 2:28-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       What Then Shall I Do With Jesus? (Matt 27:22, Acts 4:27-28, Rev 19:13, 22:18-19)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       His Blood Be On Us and On Our Children (Matt 27:24-26, 18:7, Psalm 76:10)

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 27:15 (2X). Today we are reading about the sixth trial of the Lord Jesus before He was crucified. Therefore the title of this sermon is, The Sixth Trial (2X). As I have explained last week, there were three trials of the Lord Jesus before the religious rulers of the Jews, namely before Annas, before Caiaphas, and before the entire Sanhedrin. Thereafter there were three trials of the Lord Jesus before the secular rulers of the Jews, namely before Pilate, and before Herod, and again before Pilate. Today we will read of the last trial of the Lord Jesus before Pontius Pilate, and of the wisdom of God to make this man the governor. We read in Matt 27:15-

Mt 27:15-26  Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

When we see this scene where all the religious rulers of the Jews were gathered before the hall of judgment, we realize that this was a gathering of the most religious rulers that existed in the Roman Empire. These were the most learned people of their day, for most of them were highly educated in the law of God, and in the ceremonies of their religion, and in the law of the Roman Empire, and most of them could read and write and speak fluently in Hebrew, and in Greek, and in Aramaic, and in Latin. And yet all this education and religiosity had not changed the heart of most of them, and neither had they discovered that the first requirement of God was that they must have a change of heart. I say “most of them”, for there were two that did have a change of heart: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. But all the others in the Sanhedrin, the ruling council, were perfectly at ease in their hearts to murder Jesus by a mock trial, for they intended to eat the Passover meal that evening. Now, the Lord Jesus was standing before Pilate the second time. And together with the religious rulers of the Jews was a great multitude that also clamored for the crucifixion of Jesus. Five days earlier, on the first day of the week this great multitude had hailed Jesus as their new leader whom they wanted to be the king of Israel. At that time they shouted with joy, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matt 21:9) But now they shouted, “Let Him be crucified.” What brought on this miraculous change? It was really a miracle that this multitude could switch from one extreme to another. But here we see another sign of the providence of God in the entire sequence of events. It was also the providence of God that caused such a weak governor to be appointed at this time in the history of the nation of Israel. And it was also the providence of God that withheld grace to the hearts of most of the Sanhedrin, so that they in their hatred against Jesus were blind to their own wickedness.

Pilate did not want to condemn Jesus, so Pilate sent Jesus to King Herod. Herod also did not want to condemn Jesus, so Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Now Jesus stands before Pilate the second time. Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, but he needed a little more evidence, and Jesus was not giving him any evidence. Then Pilate thought of another way to release Jesus. The Jews had a custom that at the feast of Passover a prisoner would be released. If Pilate would give the Jews a choice whom they wanted to be released: A terrible criminal, or Jesus who went around preaching and healing people of their diseases. Of course they would choose Jesus. Jesus was not accused of being an insurrectionist, but Barabbas was an insurrectionist; he was a rebel against the Roman Empire. Barabbas was also a murderer and a robber. They cannot afford to let Barabbas go free.

#1.       Whom Will Ye That I Release? (Matt 27:17, John 18:39, Rom 2:28-29)

Pilate was convinced that they will see how guilty Barabbas is. Then we read in verse 17,

Mt 27:17  Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

Of course Pilate knew about Jesus. He caused quite a stir in Jerusalem five days earlier, and that had not escaped the Roman authorities. But the Romans knew that Jesus was not an insurrectionist. Jesus did not plan a rebellion against the Roman Empire. Pilate was looking for a way out. He knew that for envy the Jews had delivered Jesus to him. He knew that the Sanhedrin were filled with envy against Jesus, the miracle worker. Pilate wanted to release Jesus especially after Pilate received a message from his wife. But Pilate was a spineless representative of the Roman government. Pilate did not apply the law to the Jewish nation as a Roman authority should. Pilate wanted to please the rulers of the Jews in whatever they desired. We see here another sign that God arranged these things, because God waited till the fullness of time had come. This was the time when Pilate was the Roman governor, and Pilate had this job only for a few years. Pilate was very afraid to lose this honorable job. The Jews knew that. Pilate wanted Jesus to go free, but not at the expense of his own job. Pilate was not more noble than the rulers of the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus; he also was willing to commit murder to save his job. Does that sound familiar? It was for this reason that the rulers of the Jews condemned Jesus. Pilate was looking for a way out, but God was not going to let Pilate set Jesus free. Pilate asked the Jews: "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?" Why does he even ask such a question? It is absolutely in the interest of the Roman Empire that an insurrectionist like Barabbas be crucified instead of Jesus. Pilate asked this question more than once, for we read in John 18:39 that Pilate asked: "Will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?" From God’s perspective this was the real reason why Jesus must be crucified. He must become the King of the Jews; not the OT Jews, but the NT Jews, which are those who are defined in Rom 2:28-29 as the NT Jews. But Jesus cannot be the King of the Jews, in a spiritual sense, unless He pays for our sins on the cross. The sufferings for our sins, which He started in the Garden of Gethsemane, had to be completed on the cross. He can only establish His Kingdom by enduring the wrath of God by suffering the equivalent of an eternity in hell for all those whom He came to save. Therefore this means that:

·                    Barabbas Is Exchanged for Jesus (Matt 27:20-21, Rom 3:13-18)

From God’s perspective it is Jesus, not Barabbas, who must be crucified. We read in Matt 27:20-21,

Mt 27:20-21  But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

What a wonderful custom was this. It was mercy and grace, and a deliverance that was entirely within the picture of the Passover. The Jews did not realize what they were doing. But God has set this up, so that it became a striking picture of salvation, and God recorded it for us in all four of the narrative Gospels. You see, this murderer Barabbas typifies you and me and every human being who is one of God’s elect. His name already points us into the right direction. The name Barabbas is derived from two components: The Hebrew word Bar, which means Son, and the word Abba, which means Father in the most intimate sense. Therefore Barabbas means Son of the Father. When Barabbas was born, his father and his mother gave him this beautiful name, not realizing that their son would be a murderer. But the providence of God led Barabbas to be in prison when the Lord Jesus was going to be crucified. When we become a child of God, then we become Sons of our Father who is in heaven. But even before we were born from above we were already marked out by God to become His sons and daughters. Before we were saved we all were by nature children of the wrath of God. We all came into this world in rebellion against God, and none of God’s elect was any different from those who never become saved. Even though the Lord Jesus Christ paid for all our sins on the cross in AD 33, when we came into the world we were born wicked, just like anyone else. Therefore God’s righteousness demanded that we must be under the wrath of God until the day that God the Holy Spirit made us “born from above.” When God speaks of the human race, God says in Rom 3:13, “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips.” Think of it, how fitting this is to the multitude. When Pilate asked: "Whom will ye that I release unto you?" they all said: "Barabbas". They preferred a murderer over the Lord Jesus Christ. God says in Rom 3:13-18,

 

 

Ro 3:13-18  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Truly, we were rebels against God, and we were murderers using our tongue as a murder weapon. But think of what came to pass for Barabbas on this Passover day in 33 AD. Barabbas was expecting his execution by crucifixion. He knew he was guilty, and he knew that he had to die. Then a couple of Roman soldiers opened the door of his jail and said: "You are free to go home. A man by the name of Jesus took your place. He will be crucified in your place." Wow! That was hard to believe, but it was true. Barabbas did not even know who Jesus was. If anyone of us were Barabbas, would we not be curious to know who this Jesus is who took our place, and who suffered the penalty for our sins in our place? And would we not be eternally grateful that He took our place? We would then find out that this Jesus had disciples, and we would find out from His disciples what Jesus said, and what He did. And why did He do it? He did it so that God would be glorified. But He did it not for nice people, but for sinners who committed every sin in the Book. He did it:

For there are no nice people in the world. There are those who think that they are good people. The Pharisees thought that they were righteous people. But their self-righteousness was not worth anything in God’s sight. On the last day they will be judged for their self-righteousness, for God says in Heb 9:27,

Heb 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

What was the reason why Barabbas would inquire about Jesus? Barabbas was on death row, and Barabbas knew that hell was awaiting him. Suddenly, the threat of hell was removed, because a man by the name of Jesus took his place. That made him grateful and curious to know Jesus. You know, there are many more people on death row, and they do not know it. But they never experienced that anyone took their place to make them free. They go through this life without a single care about the things that God wrote in the Bible, and they never get to know Jesus. They also do not know that God has said: "It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this, the judgment." What makes Barabbas different from others around him? Barabbas knew what he deserved. He deserved to be under the wrath of God and to be crucified and to be cast into hell. Then Barabbas heard the Good News; he heard the Gospel. He was pardoned because on this Passover day Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slain for him, in his place, so that he would be delivered from his terrible predicament, and receive mercy and grace. This mercy and grace was all arranged by God. Barabbas did not have to do a single thing to be set free. But he realized that he was set free. Who is Barabbas a picture of? Barabbas is a picture of everyone of the human race who is going to be saved. Barabbas is a picture of us. We have come to realize that we are not such nice people as we thought we were. We really are dirty rotten sinners and murderers at heart. We murder with our tongue. And we were under the wrath of God like Barabbas was. But the wrath of God means we are headed for hell, and hell lasts forever. We need a Savior like Barabbas had a Savior; someone who is able to take our place to endure the wrath of God. And then we heard the Gospel; the Good News that Christ is our Savior and that He is willing to be our Substitute, so that we are delivered from going to hell. What an incredible mercy and love for us, who are unworthy creatures. What a wonderful gift of God that He has arranged a gift of such great mercy, and the gift of grace to make us sons of God. We did not even know we were going to receive all that. It was an undeserved free gift from God. But we believe it is true! Has that changed our outlook on life? How does this Good News affect us, and how has it made us different from many others around us? Do we now have an intense interest to know this Jesus? Do we now have an intense interest to read the Bible and to search His messages so that we get to know our Savior? Can it really be seen in our life that Christ is the one whom we want to serve? We really did not deserve this, you know! The Lord Jesus did not come for nice people. He came for people like Barabbas, who was a murderer. We were not much nicer than him, and we still are not nice people. But there must be a change seen in us. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 5:32, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If the Lord Jesus Christ really has gone to the cross for us sinners, in our place, then is there repentance seen in our life. Is Christ the Lord of our life?

And then Pilate asked:

#2.       What Then Shall I Do With Jesus? (Matt 27:22, Acts 4:27-28, Rev 19:13, 22:18-19)

Mt 27:22  Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

In other words, they all said, “Let Jesus be crucified in the place of Barabbas, and let Barabbas go free.” How was this possible? How could they forget the many thousands in Judea and in Galilee who have been miraculously healed by the Lord Jesus? The only way to make this possible was the providence of God that put these words in their hearts, for there could be no salvation if Jesus was not crucified. Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 4:27 (2X). God orchestrated the events leading to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, so that He could be the Christ, the Messiah, who would do battle against Satan in our place; and as the promised Messiah He could take away sin and the guilt of sin. Even though both Herod and Pilate claimed to be innocent of His death, we read in Ac 4:

Ac 4:27  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

Ac 4:28  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

Pilate was determined to let Jesus go free, but from eternity past God had decreed that Pilate should sentence His Son to death, so that there might be salvation for those whom God intended to save. This was God's plan. Christ was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. If God determined that Jesus should be crucified, then no man on earth could change God's will, even if he was the representative of Caesar. God is sovereign, and God's sovereignty overruled Pilate and Herod.

Having said that, we must also personally face the question: "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" The name Christ means "the Anointed one", or "the promised Messiah". Is He indeed my Messiah? If Jesus indeed has suffered and died for me, then, what shall I do with Jesus? Shall I honor Him as my Lord, and shall I henceforth in gratitude live for Him, because He snatched me out of the fire? We would say: "Of course will I honor Him as my Lord, my Savior, my King". But what are the facts? Many people acknowledge Christ as their Savior and their King, but I am afraid that many of those people do not know the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus does not know them as the people He suffered and died for. In Rev 19:13 the Lord Jesus is called "The Word of God".

This means that the Bible, which is called the Word of God, completely circumscribes who Jesus is.

And if you still did not understand this plain fact of Scripture, God summarized this again in Rev 22:18-19. But what have people done with the Bible? What have they done with the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Word of God? In 1879 they have changed the Greek N.T. on the basis of two corrupted Greek documents, so that the Greek text is no longer the Textus Receptus. As a result, almost all the newer translations are now based on the revised Greek text, which contain thousands of omissions. To top it off, people who have been adding to the words of God are now, in most Churches, no longer called heretics. People who started out with the Bible, but then have added their own dreams and visions to it, and so have generated several Cults and Sects, are now embraced as brothers and sisters in Christ. The external Church has lost the discernment to know who Jesus is. They have joined hands with those who worship another Jesus. Please turn to the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 5:21 (2X).

·                    Why, What Evil Hath He Done? (Matt 27:23, 2Cor 5:21,10)

Mt 27:23  And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

He has done no evil at all, for only if He is without sin can He be the spotless Lamb of God. Only if He was sinless and remained sinless could He be our Redeemer and our High Priest at the same time. Historically they thought that Jesus had committed blasphemy. But God disclosed to us in several passages in the NT what was really going on. We read in 2Cor 5:21,

2Co 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

We should not say, “Christ was laden with our sins”, for that would make Him dirty with our sins. This verse says that “He knew no sin”, which must be valid either before or during His crucifixion. How was Christ made sin for us if He knew no sin? The Bible teaches that our sins were imputed to Him, which is an accounting term. It is as if Christ has a ledger in His hands on which our sins were charged to His account, and now He has to pay off His debt. Not only were our sins imputed to His account, but when His atonement was completed His righteousness was imputed to our account. It is as if we have a ledger in our hands from which all our sins have been erased and Christ’s righteousness has been added to our account. This is what we mean when we say that Jesus was laden with our sins? We hear this so often, and we have become so familiar with these expressions, that we sometimes fail to think it through. We must realize when our sins were imputed to Jesus, we did not exist yet, and our soul did not exist yet. Both our body and our soul were created in the 20th Century. When God looked down the corridors of time He saw us as dirty rotten sinners, who had no interest in Christ at all, for we all were by nature dead in trespasses and sins. But God had mercy on us and God gathered up all the sins that we were going to commit, down to the very last one, and He laid them on the account of the Lord Jesus. When Christ's account was charged with our sins, He could not go back into God's holy heaven. He first had to get rid of our sins that were on His account. But since Christ was also fully man, He was under the law where God declared that “the wages of sin is death” and the death that God had in view was an eternity in hell. Therefore, the only way Christ could get rid of our sins on His account was to burn them off in hell, like every human being is required to do if they died with sins on their account. Therefore, in order to make the full payment, Christ had to suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for us. But since Christ is also God, He could do that from the time that He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, on Thursday evening, until the time that He died on the cross, on Friday afternoon, at about 3 O'clock. At that time all my sins were washed away from Christ. And therefore, those religions that deny that Christ is God do not have a Savior, for only if He is God is He able to pay the full price for our sins.

When Christ was paying for my sins, He did that on my behalf. He had become my representative in the spirit, just like Adam is my representative in the flesh. When Christ paid for my sins, He purchased for me the right to receive a regenerated soul. But when I came into the world, I was born with a body and soul like unto that of my forefather Adam. It was a body and soul that were enslaved to sin and Satan. But when the fullness of time was come, it pleased God to give me a regenerated soul while I was under the hearing of the Gospel. From beginning till the end it was / and it is entirely the work of God. I had nothing to do with my natural birth, and I had nothing to do with my spiritual birth.

While we are here in 2Cor 5, let us also look carefully at verse 10. We read in 2Cor 5:10,

2Co 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat (bema) of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

·                    The Judgment Seat (Rom 3:12, Matt 27:19, 2Cor 5:10)

The “judgment seat” is the Greek word “bema.” Many fanciful stories have been woven around the “bema seat of Christ”. It is supposed to be at the end of the world when all mankind shall stand before the bema seat of Christ, and some shall receive praise and extra rewards if they have done good, and others shall receive condemnation if they have done bad. But this flies in the face of every-thing we have learned about the Gospel of salvation, for it is not of works, but a gift of grace. We must keep in mind what exactly the bema seat is. Some misconception of this term is caused by the words “good or bad”. God says in Rom 3:12, “There is none that doeth good, no not one.” If everyone must stand before the bema of Christ, then all shall be condemned to hell. Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 27:19 (2X). In Matt 27:19 God speaks about the bema of Pilate,

Mt 27:19 When he was set down on the judgment seat (bema) his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

In other words, Pilate’s bema was the judgment seat before which the Lord Jesus was condemned to die. And God says in 2Cor 5:10 that every human being must stand before the judgment throne of Christ This principle applies to every human being. We must all appear before the Judgment seat of God. But anyone who is saved has already stood there before the Judgment throne of God, because Christ stood there as our Substitute, and we were there in Christ. The Bible says that when Christ was crucified, we were crucified with Him, and when Christ died, we died with Him, and when Christ was buried, we were buried with Him, and when Christ arose from the dead, we arose with Him. Therefore we have already stood before the judgment throne of God. How can all this be true if we did not exist yet, and even our souls did not exist yet? But God says: "It is true" because we were there in Christ. It is the representative principle all over again. When Adam sinned and came under the wrath of God, we were in Adam, because He was our representative in the flesh, and that is why we became children of wrath, even as others. When Christ stood there, and was judged by God, and suffered the equivalent of an eternity in hell, we were in Christ, because Christ was our representative in the Spirit. We also stood there and were judged by God, and we went with Christ and experienced the equivalent of an eternity in hell, because we were in Christ. That is why God cannot send us to hell again, for He is a righteous God who does not require payment for sin twice. But if you remain unsaved, then you don't have Christ as your Substitute standing before the bema of God. That means you have to stand before the bema yourself and answer to Christ for your sins. That is terrible. The bema is not a place where you receive any nice rewards. The bema is a place of condemnation. Let us return to Christ before Pilate. The Jews said:

#3.       His Blood Be On Us and On Our Children (Matt 27:24-26, 18:7, Psalm 76:10)

Mt 27:24-26  When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Pilate was demonstrating that even unsaved man has the law of God written on their hearts. To have Jesus crucified is outright murder, and he wants to be guiltless of this. Then all the people of the nation of Israel took full responsibility for crucifying their Messiah. Is it any wonder then that the nation of Israel has suffered so much ever since? And even though it was God’s program to nail Christ to the cross, we should always keep in mind that God works out His plans through the sins of mankind. We should also remember that the Lord Jesus said, in Matt 18:7, “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Just like in the case of the sin of Judas Iscariot, man sins voluntarily, and that is why a righteous God can send people to hell. Even though the sins of man work out to fit into the plans of God, does not mean that man is not guilty of sin, for mankind sins with delight. And they sin because there is no fear of God in their eyes. And just like in the case of the crucifixion of Christ, the wrath of man against God shall fit perfectly into the plans God has drawn up from before the foundation of the world. We read in Psalm 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Our God is sovereign. Our God knows the end from the beginning because He causes His plans to unfold according to His good pleasure.

·                    What Shall I Do Then With the Word of God? (Matt 27:22,26, Isa 53:5, Gal 3:13)

Mt 27:26  Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

There are three historical events recorded in this verse. #1. Pilate released Barabbas unto them. And while we meditate on this, we realize that Barabbas was a picture of you and me. The disciples who watched from a distance were horrified to see that Barabbas was pardoned and Jesus was crucified in his place. But let us be fair. The angels who know us better than we know ourselves were probably horrified to see that we were pardoned and the Lord Jesus was crucified in our place. #2. Pilate commanded that Jesus be scourged, which means that He was whipped with nasty Roman whips. And when we read about this whipping we are reminded of the Prophecy of Isa 53:5, where we read,

Isa 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All three of the afflictions on the Lord Jesus in this verse belong together in the atonement. He was wounded, and He was bruised, and He was chastised with Roman whips. Men did it because they were evil, but God meant it for good, for it was in this way that with His stripes we are healed. #3. Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified. Pilate did it out of his evil heart, for Pilate was willing to commit murder to save his honorable position as governor. But God orchestrated this event so that Christ would hang on a tree, for we read in Gal 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” In order to bear the full penalty for our sins, Christ had to become accursed by God, for to be in hell implies to be accursed by God. And again this He did for our benefit. What then shall we do with Jesus? Shall we keep all this information to ourselves? Or shall we believe that all this is true, and shall we rejoice that we have been set free, like Barabbas, and shall we rejoice to tell others what the Lord has done for us? Of course, this is what we shall do. For if we truly believe that the Lord has done this for us, how can we keep silence? How can I keep silent that God so loved me from everlasting past that He moved heaven and earth to make me His child, to make me a son of God?                      AMEN.            Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.