The Journey to Calvary Part 1

Just over 10 years ago I took a trip to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando Florida. It is a theme park owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network that is sort of like the Bible meets Disney. It was a trip I took with about 100 people from my church. Two pretty amazing things took place while I was there. The first thing was, I proposed to Deedre, my wife. Now I will have to tell you that highly romantic story another time. The second thing was also quite interesting. As soon as we entered the park, we were met by a man at a tax collectors table. Can you guess who it was? It was Matthew, the tax collector who became a follower of Jesus. Well, it was an actor playing the role of Matthew. He spoke kindly with us and told us his story of how He met Jesus, how He changed his life and how he no longer collects taxes. Then he began to tell us stories about Jesus and where we could find Him. Then we all entered to explore the park, which was a replica of places in the Bible, especially during the life and times of Jesus in Jerusalem. This actor who played Matthew was very convincing. It really felt like I was in Jerusalem, in 30 AD, talking to the Disciple Matthew. Now this man was an actor, but have you ever read your Bible and wondered what it would be like to talk to one of the disciples about Jesus? What would the real Matthew have to say about Jesus life, death, burial and resurrection? Well in a sense, we can ask Matthew these questions and get real answers. When we open our bibles and go to the New Testament, the first book we come across is The Gospel (or Good News about Jesus) according to Matthew. It is here that Matthew tells the story of Jesus and how through Him many found new life. This word “life”, in Greek, is called Zoe. It is where we get the name Zoe from. If we could ask Matthew to summarize what Jesus life and ministry was all about, he would point us to chapter 4 of his book. And in verses 23-25 we would read these words: 

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
— Matthew 4:23-25 NKJV

Now think about this for a minute. These were all very real first hand experiences for Matthew. Beginning in 27 AD, Matthew actually walks, talks and witnesses the Son of God do all these amazing things! Jesus preaching! Jesus Teaching! Jesus Healing! Jesus raising the dead! Jesus restoring lives! Jesus giving new life or Zoe. Matthew begins to chronicle these experiences, in great detail, throughout the rest of his book. But when you get to Matthew 26, things begin to take a dramatic turn. Jesus begins to say to His disciples:

“You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.
— Matthew 26:2-4 NKJV

As the time drew near for Jesus to be offered up, He began to share on, various occasions, with the disciples, what would happen to Him so they wouldn’t be so devastated. He even told them many times that He would rise on the 3rd day so they would have hope. But they where so caught up with the then popular notion that the Messiah would set up an earthly kingdom, that they simply dismissed Jesus warnings. Matthew continues to tell us in chapter 26 a series of events that begin to rapidly unfold:

Mary Magdalene anoints Jesus for burial with fragrant oil in an Alabaster flask. Verses 6-13

Judas plots with the chief priests to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Verses 14-16

Jesus has the “Last Supper” with His Disciples. Verses 17-30

Jesus prays in Gethsemane. Verses 36-46

Jesus is betrayed and arrested. Verses 47-56

Jesus is illegally Examined and abused by the home of the high priest. Verses 57-68

Peter Denies knowing Jesus. Verses 69-75

Finally we get to Matthew chapter 27, where the disciple Matthew shares with us Christ’s journey to Calvary. Time doesn’t allow us to cover all of the details or all the other gospel accounts of the journey to Calvary. However, from the disciple Matthew's perspective, in Matthew chapter 27, we will encounter 4 insights from the journey of Christ to Calvary that will reveal God’s love for you and His desire to give you Zoe…LIFE.

As the journey to Calvary begins in Matthew Chapter 27, we observe 3 things:

The chief priest and elders have Jesus bound and delivered to Pilate. Verses 1&2

Judas remorsefully tries to return the 30 pieces of silver he used to betray Jesus to the chief priests. When denied by them he hangs himself. Verses 3-10

The chief priests vehemently accused Jesus of many things, while Pontius Pilate marvels in amazement at Jesus silence.Verses 11-14

Now we pick up the story in verse 15:

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
— Matthew 27:15-18, 20-21, 26 NKJV

The journey to Calvary reveals that God loves you so much that He is willing to take your place. And guess what? We are all Barabbas!

Jesus Takes Your Place

I grew up in a time when parents believed in disciplining their kids. That ment that when my brother or I got in significant trouble my parents would spank us. Well, there was one time when my brother got into big trouble. My mom brought him into our bedroom and began to spank him. Now I was in her room listen to this. I felt so bad for my brother, that my eyes started to tear up. I walked up to the door and began to bang on the door asking my mother to stop. Now, my plan didn’t work. But could you imagine the impact it would have on my brother if I broke open the door, grabbed my brother and sent him out of the room, and compelled my mother to spank me instead!

Can you imagine what went through the mind of Barabbas that day? Barabbas knew what was coming to him that day. He was a notorious murderer and leader of a rebellion in Jerusalem. He was guilty! He was supposed to die that day! Why am I being set free and this innocent man being condemned to death? Barabbas is shocked to hear the crowd say, “Give us Barabbas!” And in reference to Jesus, the Christ, he hears the crowd cry out, “Crucify Him!” 

“As Jesus passed the gate of Pilate’s court, the cross which had been prepared for Barabbas was laid upon His bruised and bleeding shoulders. Two companions of Barabbas were to suffer death at the same time with Jesus, and upon them also crosses were placed.” Desire of Ages, P. 741.

Friends you are Barabbas! You have been caring around this guilt and shame for so long. Your reputation was notorious. Maybe you are a murderer, because the things you have said in the past have brought death to relationships in your life. You carry in you addictions, bad habits, anger, insecurities and resentments. Maybe your life has been so tainted that you feel far from God. You feel like God is angry with you and ready to condemn you. 

Friends, the truth about God is that He loves you! The journey to Calvary reveals that He was willing to take your place. He was willing to take your guilt, your shame, your filthy past, your condemnation and in exchange give you Zoe. If you really want to know how God feels about you when you fall, just open up you bible, Barabbas, and look to Calvary!