We're turning to John's gospel and chapter 19, John chapter 19, and I've entitled my message this evening: "Away with Him!". We read John chapter 19, and as we do such, we are on very holy ground for here we read of the cross, and we read from verse 1:
"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written".
Let's bow our heads in prayer: Our Father, we have been reading very sobering words, for we have been brought to Thy cross, the cross of God, where He laid to death His own Son for our sin. Lord, we thank Thee for it, but we are very conscious that there are those in this gathering, and they're not thankful for the cross. We pray tonight that You should bring Calvary's scenes before them, and let their sins weigh heavy upon them, and let them only find rest in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, I need Thee, fill me with the Holy Ghost of God I pray, in Jesus' name, Amen.
Our text is found in verse 15, verse 15: 'They cried out, Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him'. Now you might be sitting there tonight saying: 'What kind of a person would cry such a cry? Who was in this crowd? What kind of human beings and individuals would cry: Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him?'. The lawyer probably says that this was the cry of injustice, the greatest injustice in all of history, where a man was tried and judged for something he did not commit - in fact, Pilate himself said: 'I find no fault in this man', twice he said it in our passage. He could find no fault with Him, not only judicially and in the law of the land, but no one could bring an accusation against this man Christ Jesus. Therefore many legal men will say: 'This epitomises the greatest injustice and miscarriage of justice in all history'.
The religionist, the one who goes to church, does their best and follows a code of religious beliefs, and perhaps calling themselves a Christian - they say that this cry, 'Away with Him, away with Him', it speaks of persecution. Perhaps the greatest persecution known to man, that indeed gave birth, perhaps, to the greatest martyrdom ever - where this man, this good man, this prophet, this Messiah, Jesus Christ was put to death - what a martyr!
The politician may say it was the cry of an occupied people who were manipulated by an imperial force of Romans. This man Jesus Christ was causing problems, He may have caused a revolution or a rebellion, and they feared him - therefore they manipulated the Jewish crowd to try and get this man usurped out of society. Philosophers and theologians can argue till the cows come home, in all their highbrow ways, that this cry is the epitome of the collision between good and evil. That there on the cross you have light and darkness colliding, and all the evil in the world coming headlong with all the good in the world, and all that is God and Christ and everything to do with Him. There you have that great battle of the forces of all eternity together. Of course, the problem with that is that evil seems to have won the day, for at the end of those few hours Christ is hanging dead on the gallows.
But at the end of the day, folks, what good is all that hot air to you and to me? What good is it to debate what actually happened there at Calvary's cross in such intellectual and highbrow terms? It means nothing to you or to me, it does nothing for my life or your life! I want us to see where the answer lies to that question: what kind of people would cry: 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him'? You see, the answer to that question is much nearer, it's much nearer home than you think! It's much nearer than political strife, or religious power struggles, that were simmering underneath that society. It's much nearer than philosophical wrestling between good and evil, light and darkness - because if we are to come tonight to the conclusion about why men and women can cry about the Son of God: 'Away with Him, away with Him'; you've got to look very near to yourself my friend! In fact, you've got to look to yourself.
You've got to look to the individuals that were in that crowd, for I'm sure that there were very few philosophers in the crowd, maybe some religionists, but they weren't thinking along these lines, that this is great persecution or a martyrdom. There were individual men and women in that crowd - what kind of people were they? You might answer that they must be very evil people, you might say: 'They mustn't have known this man, the Lord Jesus Christ. They couldn't have seen His miracles, they couldn't have heard His words, they couldn't have bathed in His compassion and His love and tenderness that He showed to other human beings. They couldn't have known this man, the Lord Jesus Christ - what kind of people would say to this man: Away! Away! Crucify Him!?'.
The truth is, they were people who the day before cried: 'Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!'. They took branches of palm trees, they went forth to meet Him, they worshipped Him, they shouted and sang His praises - but today, as they are before Pilate, and before Jesus Christ, the Son of God, he asks them the question: 'Shall I crucify your King?'. They reply: 'We have no King but Caesar!'. You say, 'What kind of person is this? What kind of people, what kind of person, knowing Christ's character, knowing His work, knowing what He has said, would say: 'Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!'?'.
Do you know who was among that crowd? There were young people, there were adults, and there were elderly people. The whole spectrum of society was there, and they all cried: 'Away with Him!'. Don't get it into your head that they were hired by some Roman Gestapo, or that someone put their arm up their back and brought them to the cross, and mingled them into that crowd to shout these words out: 'Crucify Him! Away with Him!'. There was no brainwashing at all! None of them suffered a momentary lapse of humane character, but they were ordinary people who stood at the cross and with their voices, that God had made, condemned Christ Jesus: 'Away with Him!'.
Men, women, children - in fact, it was very like this crowd in this company that we are in tonight. But you might still say: 'What kind of people would do the like of that?'. Let me put it in the words of an old evangelist: do you know what type of people do that? Sinners! Deep-dyed, thoroughbred, complete sinners! That's who shouted: 'Away with Him!'. That's who shouted: 'Crucify Him!'. Men, women and children; young, old, middle-aged sinners! People just like you.
'I would never do the like of that. I would never say: 'Away with Him!', about the Son of God. I would never condemn Him, with my words, to death'. Do you know what the word of God says about those people then? That Jesus came unto His own people, and His own received Him not. I believe the man was right when he said that if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was to come into the world today, they would crucify Him again! But worse than that, my friend, you would be in the crowd!
Do you not believe me? Maybe you find all this quite heavy, and hard to understand, or hard to accept, that you would be in that crowd, that you would be shouting with your voice: 'Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!'. You say to me: 'You're mistaken, David! You don't know me, you don't know what's in my heart, you don't know the way I was brought up to respect religion and God and the Bible. I mightn't be a Christian in your book, but I certainly wouldn't put Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to death! I would never say: 'Away with Him!''. Oh? Well, why are you saying it tonight? Now come on! Why are you saying it tonight? Why are you planning on walking out of this Gospel meeting, and you're saying - whether you like it or not - 'Away with Him! I don't want Him!'. The crowd that we are in tonight is almost identical to a crowd that was around the cross that day at Calvary's Hill, for there are young people, there are adults and old people, who right now are saying: 'Away with Him!'.
You might say: 'Well, I don't reject Him. although I'm not saved, I wouldn't reject Him and say: 'Away with Him!'. Do you remember the Holocaust in World War II? There were people in that society, and they didn't put the Jew into the gas chamber, but what they did do was they turned a blind eye to it going on - and you know, they were as guilty as anybody. Around that cross, and around this Gospel today, if you turn a blind eye to the crucified Christ, you're saying: 'Away!'...
Oh, but there's one difference: the apostle Peter, as he preaches in the book of Acts, tells us that they did it in ignorance. They didn't realise that they were crucifying the Son of God, but my friend, when you say 'Away with Him!', you know full well what you're doing. In that crowd there's a face, there's a life, there's a voice just like you. You know, there was the cry of the youthful rebellion - a young person, I'm sure there were some young prodigals in the crowd. In their adolescent passion they had now come to a head, and they wanted to fulfil all their desires, and they didn't want God's kingdom to come upon them in Jerusalem now to spoil their youthful activity and rebellion against society. That's why they said: 'We will not have this man to reign over us. We'd rather have the excesses of Roman Imperial power, we'd rather dabble in the sins of our forefathers than have the government of King Jesus in our lives!'. Out of their youthful sinful ambition, they cried: 'Away with Him!'.
Are you crying that tonight? Young person, let me ask you: are you a deep-dyed, complete, thoroughbred sinner? Do you see yourself as that? For that's what the word of God says you are: totally depraved, so much so that there rises from your breast at this very moment that cry: 'Away with this Jesus! I don't want Him! I can't wait until I get out of this meeting! As soon eight o'clock comes I'll be gone, there'll be nobody speak to me about Christ or getting saved. I want this Man away from me!'. There's something heinously intoxicating about young sinners, isn't there? Their rebellion, the red blood in them that they want to do their own thing, and then they get one sniff of the world's sweet perfume and they're gone in a moment! For a moment's thrill they'll sell their family upbringing, their church, their mother's prayers, they'll sell their soul for pleasure! You're doing that, aren't you? You're like old Judas, you'd sell the Son of God for the price of a dirty filthy slave. That's what you're doing, for you're selling the Son of God for your dirty sin - for the booze, and the dope, and the girls, and the clubs, and the 'hard man' status - you're selling the Son of God, you're saying: 'Away with Him! I don't want anything to do with Him!'.
I would beware if I were you, for the word of God says Judas hanged himself, and it also tells us that he went to his own place. My friend, if you say - even in your youthful rebellion - 'Away with Him!, you'll go to a part of hell that is hot enough for the mother of all crimes: Christ rejection. Youthful rebellion is a terrible thing, and young person: do you have the blood of Christ on your hands tonight? Now come on, let's be honest! Are you saying in your life: 'Away with this man!'? You know, sometimes I see it, I mean I can see it in the actions of some young people that come into this building. I can hear it in their words, I can see it in their very demeanour and the expression on their face - the misery of sin is written all over it! Will you not be done with it tonight? Come on! Be done with it! Come out of the far country of your sin, and eating with the swine and the pigs and the dirt! Will you not come from it? Will you not, like the prodigal, come to your senses, come to yourself, and run to the Father's house for freedom at home? Will you not do it? Oh, for Christ's sake do it! Leave it! Rather than say: 'Away with Him!'; say: 'Away with your sin!'; say: 'Away with that reputation!'; say: 'Away with that Saturday night! Away with my friends!' - and choose Christ!
There was the cry of youthful rebellion, and there was the face of adult contentment. Oh, I'm sure there were some adults in that crowd, and there they were, and you know as well as I do that it's not just the foolishness of youth that damns a soul, but perhaps the greater number that day was probably made of mothers, fathers, and respectable people like yourselves. They had forgotten the sins of their youth, they had blotted them out as immature indiscretion and childish excess. They had found their purpose in life: their family, their friends, their job, their career, their life - to cultivate, to live, and to grow, and to grow old in happiness - yet that respectable bunch, just like folk here tonight, were among the crowd around the cross crying: 'Away! Away! Crucify Him!'. So it's hardly surprising that they're among us tonight, is it? Oh, there's so many respectable folk, and they've got everything going for them, even their morals are going for them, they even go to church, they even say their prayers and read the word of God - but by their very life, by their actions, by their wilful continual Christ rejection they cry from their soul as loud: 'Away with Him!'.
In the Old Testament there's a man called Jeshurun, and you read of him in Deuteronomy 32 and verse 15: 'he waxed fat' - that's a sign of richness, contentment. 'He waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation' - Jeshurun. Is that you? Everything's going well: 'I don't need God! What do I want God for? What do I want Jesus Christ for?'. That's the society in which we live, an affluent West where we've forgotten God, where we don't need God - 'Why would I pray: 'Our Father, give us our daily bread', when I can get my own daily bread? I don't need God! I don't need any help to live my life'. You know, I believe this with all my heart, that the floods that we have witnessed right across Europe and in the British Isles, and Britain in particular, are a judgment from God - I believe that. All that furniture floating through the living room and down the street, and the cars that are wrecked and destroyed, all of that is God's judgment upon a nation that has said: 'We will not have this man to reign over us! We don't need God, we can make it our own way'.
You see, God says: 'Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap'. What God can do in a nation, my friend, God can do in your life, in your home, in your environment, in the sphere of your existence: God can come in with a great flood, why? Because you've pronounced: 'Away with His Christ!'. Are you in the slough of adult contentment? You know, there's consequences of that: if you say 'Away with Him!', Christ, the Son of God, one day, will say 'Away with you!'. That's strong stuff, but that's what I find in the word of God. I find the Lord saying in Matthew 7:23, to those who have never known salvation that we're talking about tonight: 'I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity'. What's He saying? 'Away with him! In his lifetime, in the Gospel meeting where he had a chance, when Jesus Christ was seen before him crucified, as I brought scenes of Calvary before him he said continually, over and over and over throughout a whole life, through youthful rebellion, through adult contentment: 'Away with Him!'. So I will say: 'Away with you into eternal fire!''.
My friend, this is serious stuff, for there's a hell - and you better believe it, because it's there and you're going to see it one day if you don't turn to Christ and be saved. You're going to witness it, you're going to witness it better than I could ever preach it because I'll never see it, praise God - but you'll see it if you say: 'Away with Him!'. The Lamb of God, bleeding for your sin, if His blood is on your hands, if His guilt is upon your head - oh, as sure as you're sitting on the seat tonight you'll be damned, and damned for all eternity.
There's the cry of youthful rebellion and the cry of adult contentment, and there's the cry of mature stubbornness. I have no doubt that there was the old man there around that cross, an old rickety old man who's seen all his life behind him. This is my imagination, but I can imagine him with his little grandson beside him, and they're both gaping at the cross, they're both looking at the blood pouring from the brow of the Son of God. He lifts the wee lad up in his arms and says: 'Son, I've seen a clatter of ones like that. They came and they said they would deliver Israel, but who's going to deliver Him now? Son, you take my word for it, it's all fairytales'. God help the man or woman who leads their own flesh and blood to sin and hell because of old mature pride. It's happening all around us, men and women dead in their trespasses and in their sins, bringing up their children in sin and leading them to a lost eternity.
I'm sure that around that cross there was the hard old sinner, and I believe the hard old sinner is the hardest nut for the Gospel to crack. He's hardened himself so much that he has decided that his life's motto and his dying breath is going to be: 'Away with Him!'. But praise God, there's no nut too hard that God can't crack it - and God could crack you tonight, God could break you, God could save you, God could cleanse you with that precious blood and bring your spirit alive again. He could make you born-again of the Spirit of God where you sit at this moment! But if you're a mature, stubborn old sinner, you'll have to be quick about it. This person has been staring for years, out of the crowd, at that tangled figure on the wood so long that the horrors of Calvary, the horrors of the blood, the horrors of the wrath of God that was poured upon the Son of God - as they look, as they see, as they hear about it from the preachers mouth, it runs like water off a duck's back.
It has become nothing to you, the sorrows like unto His sorrows. The old stubborn, foolish sinner has the loudest cry: 'Away with Him!'. He grows more and more numb to the Christ and His blood. But let me warn you tonight, old expert at sin, old expert at Christ rejection: you will harden yourself so much that the Lord might decide 'You're a nut I don't want to crack any more'. In Deuteronomy 32 and 29 it says: 'O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!'. My friend, if you're sitting with a history of Christ rejection: waken up!
You're all in that crowd tonight: young, adult, old - will you walk Golgotha's hill? Will you walk up it and shout the taunts: 'He saved others, Himself He cannot save'? Will you turn your back once He gives up the ghost, and will you walk down Golgotha's hill of the skull with the blood of Christ upon your hands? Will you? Or will you turn to Him for cleansing? Will you recognise that every sin that you've committed was laid upon Him there, and in love for you He hangs, enduring such agony and desperate sorrow - and as you cry: 'Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!', can you hear through your loud shouts His cry of agony to your sin-sick soul: 'Is it nothing to you? Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger'?.
As you cry: 'Away with Him!', can you not hear: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'? As you shout: 'Crucify Him!', can you not hear the cry: 'It is finished!'? Oh, if you'd shut your mouth and stop crying with your heart: 'Away with Him!' for one second, and gaze by faith at Calvary's cross, and hear the words of love that are spoken there for you and for your salvation. If you would only witness the blood that was being poured out for your sin, that you may be forgiven. Young sinner: in all your rebellion; older sinner: in your contentment; mature sinner: in your stubbornness - almost damned sinner: turn back! Turn back! Climb that hill, and fall at the feet of the bloodstained cross, and avail yourself for cleansing. Know your sins purged, know them forgiven, know them washed whiter than the snow, and let them roll off your back - that great burden - and watch it as it falls into the tomb, where Christ was buried and rose from to give you life and power!
So then, what will you do with Him? Come on! We're not playing church tonight: what will you do with Christ the Son of God? Will you speak His death sentence again? Will you go out into eternity with the blood of the Son of God upon your hands? Or will you fall at His feet and take Him as your Saviour and your Lord?
Let us bow our heads, and if you're a believer in this place and are walking in fellowship with the Lord, please pray at this moment.
Has God spoken to you tonight? You've said: 'Away with Him!' for far too long, and you are running the risk that one day He will say: 'Away with you!'. Now friend, if God has been speaking to you this evening you've got to respond. You've got to admit your sin, and say: 'Lord, I am a sinner. I confess my sin, and I acknowledge and believe that Jesus died for me at Calvary. I put my faith in Him for salvation. Lord, save me'. I will be at the door, and I will speak to anyone who wants spoken to. If you're a backslider, if your life's not right, if you've never been saved - but whatever you do, my friend, do not say: 'Away with the Son of God!' once more, for it could be your doom.
Our Father, we thank Thee for this hour, we thank Thee for the Gospel, and we thank Thee for the One who is the Gospel: the Lord Jesus. We thank Thee that He died, and though men meant it for evil, God meant for good. That blood that flowed at the hands of men, flowed to cleanse for sin. We thank Thee, Lord, every one of us that have availed in that flood, and pray that there'll be more tonight - to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
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This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "Away With Him!" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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