“But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask [for] Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.” Matthew 27:20
Is the Christian Church a Brand You Can Trust?
Following up on yesterday’s Periscope commemorating Palm Sunday, we encouraged every follower of Jesus Christ to make your Hosanna sure (Matthew 21:9), and make it forever – never waver to “crucify Him”.
When we show our steadfast commitment to God, we become effective brand ambassadors for Jesus Christ.
Part of our brand behavior is not only our worship and praise – Hosanna! – but sanctification through the Word of God (John 17:17). We are constantly purifying thoughts, habits, and beliefs that don’t align with God’s will.
As we shared last week, sanctification or being holy may sound deep (and painful) to some, but it only means that we are cleaning our temples to be an acceptable home for the Holy Spirit.
Can the world see evidence of our practice of sanctification today?
The Current State of the Christian “Brand”
Let’s be perfectly honest. The same hot water the Pharisees and Sadducees found themselves is where many professed Christians are today – in a boiling pot of Hypocrisy.
In Matthew chapter 23, standing before church leaders and the multitude, Jesus calls the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” eight times! Do you think Jesus was a little upset and fed up?
Church leaders of Jesus’ day had done a poor job in exemplifying love, justice, and the basic tenets of God’s will and order. And, they failed to meet the mark while blatantly raising the bar higher for others. Sound familiar? Church members suffered under heavy expectations (Matthew 23:4), while church leaders couldn’t lift their finger.
In the end, these same church leaders were the ones who persuaded or convinced the people to crucify Jesus over Barabbas.
Let’s take a brief look at the heart of these leaders and why they sought to kill Jesus.
Historical Perspective: What Did Jesus Do to You, Church Leaders?
First, Jesus is a problem for anyone with a pride-filled, un-surrendered heart. The word of the Lord is clear and irrefutable that our fleshly desires cannot overrule Christ. Take a look at what stony hearts in the church produce – see any similarities today?
Jesus, You’re Messing with Our Money.
The consistent root of all evil – the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10) – had infected church leaders’ hearts and caused them to err from the faith. Shall we be so naïve to think that the elders and priests weren’t “in bed” with the very money changers Jesus kicked out of the temple? God forbid.
This was one of Jesus’ first tasks as the revealed Messiah – transform the temple from a den of thieves to a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13). Jesus cared about His house and the people’s needs. Treat everyone with love and fairness.
How are we doing today?
- Have we shunned the misuse of money or financial bondage tactics over God’s people?
- Have church leaders served the people more than pass the offering plate?
Jesus, You’re Messing with Our Power.
If you want to disturb a prideful person with a title and position of power, let someone acknowledge another person over them.
When the children greeted Jesus in the temple after ‘Palm Sunday’, crying “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:15), church leaders were indignant – sorely displeased.
The handwriting was on the wall. The church had accumulated political power and it was all about to crumble – if Jesus wasn’t handled. The scribes and Pharisees would no longer monopolize the spotlight, and would now have to compete with Jesus for honor, respect, and praise from the people.
How are we doing today?
- Have church leaders kept the focus on Jesus Christ, and egos out of the pulpit?
- Have church leaders convinced the people to choose Barabbas-like figures for political gain?
How Can Jesus Be Destroyed Again?
If Jesus died once for our sins (1 Peter 3:18) and is now seated at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32-33) – how in the world can He be destroyed or crucified again?
The answer goes back to the Christian “brand”.
When we profess Christ, quote scriptures on our social media profiles, try to tell everyone else how they should live – and our lives bear no godly fruit, we make a mockery of Jesus Christ.
As such, we destroy or crucify the authenticity of Jesus Christ and the promises in the word of God.
When we fall away from the truth of God, after having professed Christ and tasted of the Word, we crucify our Lord and Savior over again (Hebrews 6:6). The shame brought on Christ not only kills your witness, but also the witness of faithful believers who practice sanctification. You are making the job of Team Jesus – to go and make disciples – much harder.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Make up your mind and choose. If you’re going to serve God, serve Him. If you’re not, don’t lead others to think that you are. The blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ is too precious for fair-weather soldiers.
Church leaders, remember there’s a hefty price to pay for misleading the people and scattering God’s flock (Jeremiah 23:2). Repent from this evil and recommit to your calling – make your calling and election sure.
To those servants of God and Christian brand ambassadors, know that we are contenders for the faith in Jesus Christ (Jude 3). We fight for this. We’re loyal to Christ. Be serious about your walk with the Lord.