by Rev Bill Woods
On Monday, April 12, 2021, both chambers of the Arizona Legislature passed bills that would legalize sports betting in Arizona.
– On Thursday, April 15, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill to allow sports betting to become legal in Arizona.
– During the event, Ducey also signed a new gambling compact agreement with the Tribal Nations which the governor and the tribes called a historic agreement.
The Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals, and Coyotes will all have licenses to operate on-site sports betting at their arenas.
– The Phoenix Open and NASCAR will also have sports betting available at tribal casinos.
We’re not talking about $10’s of millions. We’re talking about $100’s of millions according to State Representative, Jeff Weninger, of Chandler District 17.
Arizona joins 25 other states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico in legalizing sports wagering.
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed state lawmakers to decide whether or not it would be legal in their specific states.
The Federal Government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs still need to sign off on the bill, but it’s thought that’s just a formality.
– The whole process could take as little as 90 days.
The Phoenix Suns announced Thursday, they have partnered with the sports betting app, FanDuel, which will have a luxury sportsbook retail location inside the Suns arena.
Legalizing sports betting will forever change the sports and entertainment landscape in Arizona and, I feel, opens a Pandora’s Box for crime and all kinds of corruption.
– We already have big problems with the Cartel. This will just open other avenues for them to operate.
Today the State of Arizona and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are pleased with their decision to open sports gambling State-wide.- It’s going to bring so much more revenue to their coffers!
– I think the day will come when they’ll question if that was such a great decision.
Speaking of gambling caused my mind to race back to the biggest gamble to have ever happened in history.
– The gambling that was done at Golgotha over 2000 years ago.
I realize Easter is over and most pastors have moved on to other topics, but I want to explore this topic of the Crucifixion at least one more time before I move on to other things.
The Crucifixion is the darkest moment in the history of the world.
– This was the day that man nailed God to an old rugged cross.
God sent His Son to save Adam’s descendants from the penalty of sin — man rejected God’s Son and murdered Him on a Cross!
Crucifixion was grizzly enough with all the shame, pain, bloodshed, and terror involved, but man was turning his back on God’s Love!
It’s strange in the gravity of such a gruesome situation that anyone could be so calloused and unfeeling as to sit and gamble at the foot of the Cross.
– But that’s exactly what happened! — Matthew 27:35–Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”
What a horrible commentary on society!
– So hardened that there’s little compassion left…………..
– These men gambled as if nothing else mattered — however, they weren’t the only gamblers at the Cross!
Look through the crowd—many were engrossed in this morbid scene — people with much at stake in this bloody drama of terror.
1. THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS WERE TAKING A GAMBLE THAT DAY.
Annas, Caiaphas — all the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin — they hated Jesus!
– He was destroying their comfortable religious system that served them so well!
The Pharisees and Sadducees had never gotten along.
– They disputed religion, politics, theology — every issue.
The main difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees was their differing opinions on the supernatural aspects of religion.
– The Pharisees believed in the supernatural–angels, demons, heaven, hell, the after-life and so on–while the Sadducees did not. That’s why they were SO-SAD-U-SEE.
– There was no love-loss between the two factions.
– Now, they were suddenly united in their common hatred of Jesus! — He had to go!
It’s odd how common hatred can bring former enemies together.
– There were two old ladies in Grand Coulee who couldn’t stand each other and were always at each other’s throat.
– One day they discovered that neither of them could stand me and somehow this common hatred of the young preacher brought them together………..
– Islam has a teaching: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend!.”
The brains of the “Let’s Murder Jesus Movement” were the priests — they found allies in the Pharisees who eagerly threw their influence with those who wanted to crucify Jesus.
The Pharisees lit the fire under the mob’s emotions causing them to boil forth with the cry, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
The Pharisees hurled arguments at Jesus while the mob howled for His destruction.
– There was a herd-mentality.
– People weren’t interested in right or wrong.
– People ran on raw emotion with no thought or facts to back their actions.
THEY DIDN’T NEED REASON! — They were controlled by emotions which blazed into fury.
We see it today!
– People following the herd — not caring what’s right or wrong, just caught up in what everybody else is doing.
– The “protests,” actually riots, that are being staged over “police brutality.”
Coca Cola used to have the slogan, “Ten million people can’t be wrong!”
– They are if they’re on the wrong path!—the majority of the world’s population’s going to Hell!
Matthew 7:13-14–“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
The Jewish leaders didn’t want Jesus upsetting their system and gambled they could get rid of Him so they could continue their worship of self and selfish ambition.
People gamble today.
– They know they need Jesus, but their plans seem more important right now!
– If they can silence Jesus He won’t bother them so much.
The Jews gambled they could reject and destroy Jesus, but the Jewish Leaders lost their gamble and the stakes were high!
Everyone who gambles on pushing Jesus away and remaining selfish and sinful will lose.
– The stakes are just as high today. — Mark 8:36–For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
2. PILATE HAD A LOT AT STAKE TOO. HE GAMBLED THAT HE WAS IN CONTROL.
– Funny! Things were more crucial than he’d first thought.
– Jesus didn’t seem like someone who’d work the crowd into this frenzy.
He seemed quiet, not at all a trouble maker.
He had no money — He was homeless.
– His followers were fishermen, tax collectors — very simple men.
– They didn’t seem a threat to anybody — especially Rome.
Why were the Jewish Leaders so bent on killing Jesus?
– He felt Jesus’ calmness.
– He heard the mob outside — they were about to riot!
He knew Jesus was innocent.
– He’d tried to avoid the issue by sending Jesus to Herod — Herod sent Him back!
Pilate’s wife had dreamed about Jesus and sent word to him to have nothing to do with this man!
Pilate compromised and had Jesus flogged — hoping to satisfy the blood lust of the mob — that wasn’t enough! — The mob demanded crucifixion!
Finally, because he didn’t know what to do — and he feared the crowd — Pilate sent for a basin of water.
– Matthew 27:24–When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
The Jews answered — Matthew 27:25–And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
In one bold stroke they called the wrath of vengeance down on themselves and their children.
That was the cry which wrote the bloody history of the Jews through the centuries.
– That cry stained the Jewish path through hundreds of years with blood.
– Destruction of Jerusalem. A.D. 70
– Spanish Inquisition. 1478-1834 (up to 130,000 people were tortured and executed.)
– Nazi Germany. 1933-1945 (6 million perished)
The Jews have paid dearly as the result of that horrible cry for Christ’s Blood.
– I’m not anti-Semitic, but I see these people got what they asked for.
– Parents and grandparents need to be careful for their children’s sake………
Pilate thought he’d side-stepped Christ.
– Pilate couldn’t side-step Jesus
– NEITHER CAN YOU………………………….
3. JUDAS PLAYED A GAMBLE!
– Judas had been with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry — 3 years!
– He had plans and aspirations about who Jesus was and what Jesus could do for him.
– Judas had gotten greedy and critical.
– Judas wasn’t serving God — he was serving self.
– Like people today who whine, “The Church isn’t meeting my needs.”
– That’s not the Church’s goal — we’re to meet God’s needs………….
– Judas could’ve met Christ’s needs by being faithful and obedient.
– Judas never grasped the truth that “God’s ways are best ways.”
– He betrayed innocent Blood.
– Couldn’t stand the guilt and hung himself.
– Judas gambled and lost—“Be sure your sins will find you out!”
4. MEN ON THE OTHER CROSSES.
2 other men were dying beside Christ on crosses that day — Luke 23:39-43–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Jesus invited both to join His Kingdom.
– One thief gambled that Jesus was who He said He was and accepted the invitation.
– That was the best decision of his life…………
– Like most dying men this thief prayed.
– He reached the place where even in his unbelief he called for redemption from the curse of hanging on the cross.
The other thief railed and cursed at Jesus echoing the mocking mob.
– Like men in tragedies of sea, storms, avalanches or other sudden accidents, he called for help which could only come from God.
– But look at his prayer—selfish, packed with doubt — Luke 23:39–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
– No repentance, no godly sorrow, no sign of change of attitude.
– He filled his voice with the railing accusations of the mockeries being hurled at Jesus.
– God doesn’t listen to prayers like that.
– He wasn’t sincere about turning to God—just desperate to get relief………….
– His voice dripped with doubt as he prayed, “If Thou be!”
– He heard the crowd and gambled they were right — this dying man couldn’t help him.
– So close! — But he gambled with the majority and missed the “sure thing.”
– He should’ve listened to the man on the other cross—he’d be in Paradise with Jesus instead of eternally damned in Hell.
5. THERE WERE OTHER GAMBLERS THERE TOO:
– John and Mary
– They chanced being arrested — it might have meant their lives.
– They loved Jesus too much to dessert Him.
– They were willing to stand and be counted for Christ — US TODAY?
– Peter was afraid to take a chance.
– He hid (broken hearted) — Peter lost out — Christ later forgave him.
6. IT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU, BUT THE BIGGEST GAMBLER WAS JESUS!
– He gave up everything with no guarantee anyone would respond.
– He left Heaven!
– He became a man — John 3:16–For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The only convert He knew for certain would be in Paradise was the thief who accepted His invitation.
He suffered, bled and died — not knowing if anybody would pay attention.
– We’re free-moral agents — He had no guarantee we’d respond.
Jesus died on that old rugged cross because He loved you and me — when we were unlovely!
– We were lost and on our way to Hell!
He had to offer us a chance at Heaven — forgiveness—Sonship — Eternal Life.
GOD RISKED IT ALL BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU!
– WILL YOU LET THAT LOVE GO UNNOTICED?
Are you like those calloused soldiers—gambling at the foot of the Cross while the most important event in history was taking place?
Maybe you’re one of those people who know you need the Lord, but you want to wait for a more convenient time to accept Him.
YOU ARE GAMBLING YOUR SOUL, HOPING YOU DON’T DIE AND GO TO HELL BEFORE YOU GET RIGHT WITH GOD.
THERE’S A SAYING THAT SAYS, “THOSE WHO WAIT UNTIL THE 11TH HOUR TO REPENT USUALLY DIE AT 10:30!”
WILL CHRIST HAVE GAMBLED IN VAIN FOR YOUR SOUL?
PODCAST GAMBLERS AT THE CROSS