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John 18,33-37

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TITLE:   Nothing more -- nothing less -- nothing else!          SCRIPTURE:    John 18:33-37   

1. In our Gospel lesson today, the Jewish leaders, wanting to rid themselves of Jesus, trumped up charges that he was setting himself up as king. 

  • Not having authority to execute Jesus themselves, they hoped to persuade Rome to do their dirty work for them. 

  • Their best bet was to persuade Pilate that Jesus intended to set himself up as king -- as a rival to Rome. 

  • The Romans didn't care much about Jewish theology, but they did care about threats to their own power.  If Jesus were setting himself up as king, you can be sure that Pilate would be interested.

2. But Pilate was no fool. 

  • When he first encountered Jesus, he asked, "Are you the King of the Jews?" 

  • Their conversation made it clear that Jesus posed no threat to Rome. 

  • Pilate understood that there was something going on that he didn't understand -- and that bothered him. 

  • He didn't trust the Jewish leaders, and suspected that they were trying to put a fast one over on him -- but he couldn't quite figure out what. 

  • He asked Jesus to help.  "Are you the King of the Jews?" he asked.  I can imagine Pilate scratching his head as he questioned Jesus.  He must have asked himself, "What in the world is going on here?"

3. This conversation with Pilate, Jesus made it clear that he considered himself to be a king -- but not in a way that Rome need fear.  His kingdom was "not from this world," he said.

  • It didn't take Pilate long to figure out that he had nothing to fear from Jesus. 

  • In fact, even though we think badly of Pilate for allowing Jesus' execution, we should note that Pilate was the best friend that Jesus had that day. 

  • The Jewish leaders were trying to kill Jesus.  Jesus' disciples had abandoned him.  Pilate -- and only Pilate -- tried to help Jesus.

  • -- First, told the Jewish leaders that he found no case against Jesus.  He considered Jesus to be innocent.

  • -- And then he tried to persuade the Jewish leaders to let him free Jesus as a part of the holiday celebration, but the Jewish leaders chose Barabbas instead -- and continued to press for Jesus' crucifixion.

  • -- And then Pilate had Jesus scourged -- beaten within an inch of his life.  It is hard to imagine that as a favor to Jesus, but I believe that is how Pilate intended it.  He thought that he could satisfy the Jewish leaders by whipping Jesus.  If he beat Jesus severely enough, perhaps they would be satisfied -- would relent.

4. I believe that Pilate wanted to do the right thing

  • -- and he could see quite clearly that there was no reason to kill Jesus

  • -- that Jesus was no threat to Rome. 

  • As far as Pilate could see, Jesus was king over nobody

  • -- so he tried to save Jesus -- tried several times. 

  • He was the best friend that Jesus had on that terrible day. He was the only person who tried to help Jesus.

 

5. What Pilate couldn't see -- and the Jewish leaders couldn't see – and even the disciples couldn't see -- was that Jesus was a king -- that he would rule over more people than Pilate -- or Herod -- or even Caesar.

  • -- None of them could imagine that billions of people would call Jesus Lord. 

  • They couldn't imagine that people in unknown lands on far-away continents would build great churches in honor of Jesus -- and hospitals -- and orphanages -- and schools.

  • -- None of them could foresee that men and women all over the world would fall on their knees to worship Jesus.

  • -- None of them could envision that Jesus' reign would really begin with his crucifixion -- that his suffering and death would save the world.

  • -- And, if we had been there, we couldn't have imagined it either. 

  • We live in the land of "biggest and best" -- but Jesus did his work by becoming "littlest and least."  It went against everything that Pilate knew -- and it goes against everything that we know too.

 

6. But it worked!!!  You have to admit that it worked! 

  • All through the centuries, and all over the world, people have made Christ king over their lives -- not in spite of the cross -- but because of it.  It is mind-boggling, when you think about it.

  • And those people -- the ones who made Christ king over their lives -- changed the world. 

  • Just stop and think about this -- Rome was the greatest power in the world.  Rome was famous for it roads – its aqueducts -- its Coliseum -- its great army.  You can still go countless places in Europe today and see roads and walls and buildings built by Romans.  Young people today still go to school to learn their language.  They were an amazing people, and had an amazing impact.

  • But Jesus has had even more impact. 

  • If you want to see the power of Rome, you must look at the ruins and imagine the glory. 

  • But if you want to see the power of Jesus, you have only to look at the countless men and women -- alive today -- who have made him Lord over their lives. 

  • Pilate could not have imagined it when he finally gave up and let them crucify Jesus, but Caesar is dead -- long-since dead -- but Jesus is alive.

  • And Jesus has done great things for those who have given him their lives. 

7. I remember reading about General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army.  Booth had -- and is still having -- a huge impact on the lives of down-and-outers all over the world.  One day someone asked him his secret.  Booth answered:

"I'll tell you my secret.  God has had all there was of me. On the day I caught a vision  of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind  that God would have all of William Booth that there was. And if there is any power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will,
and all the influence of my life."

In other words, Booth made Christ king in his life, and Christ returned the favor a thousand to one.


 

 

8. But the question today isn't what Pilate should have done -- or even what William Booth did. 

·         The question today is about you -- have you made Christ king over your life? 

·         Have you given him the adoration of your heart?  Have you given him the power of your will?  Have you given him the influence of your life?

·         It isn't an easy thing to do!  If it were easy, we would all have done it long ago!

·         -- The truth is that we want to come to church when we feel like it – and put a few dollars in the offering tray -- and hope that Jesus will bail us out when we get into trouble.

·         -- The truth is that we are willing to let Christ be king in our lives -- but not in all of our lives. 

·         We are willing to let him rule over everything but our business -- or our use of  alcohol and drugs -- or the way that we spend money.

·         Letting Christ be king over our lives is hard -- so we tend to do a halfway job of it.

9. In his book, Wake Up, America!  Tony Campolo tells of addressing the Southern Baptist Convention some years ago.  They were having quite a ruckus at the time over the inerrancy of the Bible.  The super-conservatives were insisting on inerrancy.  The just-plain-conservatives were advocating a more moderate position.  It had developed into a huge fight -- a civil war.  When he addressed these warring factions at the convention, Campolo said:

"I don't know why you're worrying so much about the inerrancy of the Scripture.
After you prove that it's inerrant, you're not going to do what it says anyway."

Campolo tells that story, and then he says:

"It's true.  If you're supposed to be a pacifist, if you're supposed to give your money to the poor -- you're not going to do all this stuff. Wouldn't it be better if you agreed that the Bible didn't speak the truth all the time, and then maybe you could get out of some of these obligations."

I love that story!  Listen to the punch line one more time!

"I don't know why you're worrying so much about the inerrancy of the Scripture.
After you prove that it's inerrant, you're not going to do what it says anyway."


10. The truth is that Campolo hit the nail on the head

·         Not just for the Southern Baptists, but for all of us. 

·         It is hard, really hard, to do what Jesus wants us to do.  It is hard to make Jesus king over our lives.  The apostle Paul put it this way:

"I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want,  but I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15)

·         I figure that if the apostle Paul had that kind of trouble, so do we.

·         Making Jesus king over our lives isn't a one-time deal.  It involves more than one decision for Christ.  Making Jesus king over our lives is something that we have to do day-by-day -- even minute-by-minute.  It is something that we can do only by prayer and by the grace of God.

·         Let me offer you a simple but powerful prayer to pray.  "Dear God, your will -- nothing more -- nothing less -- nothing else."

·         If you want a formula for changing your life, that's it!  Pray that prayer daily -- and then try to live it.

·         "Dear God, your will -- nothing more -- nothing less -- nothing else."

·         Make Christ king over your life -- and see what blessings he imparts.  You will never be sorry that you did.
 

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