Faithlife Sermons

Jesus the Witness to the Truth: The Power behind the Power

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:12
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John 18:28-19:16 Jesus the Witness to the Truth (The Power behind the Power) Introduction: We said last week that though Jesus is the one being arrested, tried, and put to death, that he is so obviously reigning and in control in these events.. "In chapter 18 Jesus is arrested and put on trial; in chapter 19 he is on a cross; in both venues he reigns. In Chapter 18’s introductory arrest and trials, Jesus’ counterparts in our chapter are Annas emeritus (but de facto) High Priest of the ancient people of God, apparently the most powerful person in Israel religiously; The Roman Pilate, the most powerful person in Palestine politically; and the passover people of God, the most powerful force socially. But all of these strong persons are astonishingly malleable (weak) in the presence of Jesus.” And all of these are unknowingly working to fulfill the purposes of God. We cannot forget that the Cross in John’s Gospel is the great Victory of God! Through it he is triumphing over the darkness that has engulfed the world that he dearly loves. Through it he is judging the sins the World. Through it he is declaring his great love for the World. Through it he is triumphing over the evil one, casting him down from his worldly throne. Through the cross he is being glorified, exalted, lifted up, and he is drawing mankind to himself. The most beautiful, powerful thing to see in all of this is the sovereign hand of God moving behind the scenes as he accomplishes salvation and redemption for the world and glory for his name! 1. The Converging Powers of the World 1. We see God’s sovereign will first in the converging of these two powers. Both Jew and Gentile have come together to put an end to Jesus. The Jews don’t have the authority to put Jesus to death, so they have to get a trial through Pilate, Rome’s public official. Pilate at first is reluctant to condemn Jesus. He questions Jesus and concludes that Jesus is no threat to the Roman Empire or the Emperor, and decides to let Jesus go. But the religious leaders are insistent, there not having it, they are out for blood. It seems clear that Pilate has no respect or regard for these Jews, but when it really comes down to it, there threat to him, (“If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar’s, everyone who who makes himself a king opposes Caesar”) It’s his career or Jesus’ life, it’s his kingdom or Jesus’, it’s his skin or Jesus’..he chooses the latter… 2. Jesus will die at the hand of the world power, the power of Rome. He will be “hoisted up” a reference to his crucifixion, something Jesus has said many times in this gospel, and also what was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah - “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.” -Isaiah 52:13 3. This is no accident that "The greatest legal system of the ancient world, and it’s noblest religion, come together in the center of the world (as Jerusalem was long supposed), and at the center of human history. Together they blunder and stumble into an act so wicked, so unjust, so unnecessary and so indicative of their own moral bankruptcy that, before anything more is said, we can draw the correct conclusion. The Man at the center of this storm was indeed dying for the sins of the world.” -N.T Wright 2. The Purpose in it all. 1. During Jesus hearing with Pilate he is asked a series of questions. The main one being, “Are you a king?” I imagine that Pilate doubts very much the validity of this accusation from the religious leaders.. Jesus responds with a clarifying question.. “Who’s asking?” Pilate doesn’t care about a Jewish King he just needs to know if Jesus is a troublemaker and whether or not he’s threat to Rome. 2. Jesus answers affirmatively, “My kingdom is not rooted in, or from this World if it was my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews.” Jesus makes it clear that his kingdom is not a kingdom of violence or force, it’s a different sort of a kingdom. Pilate responds, “So you are a king?” Jesus answers in a funny way. He says, “You keep saying that I am a King. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world - to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is Truth?” 3. The Claim of the Bible is that there is truth—truth that comes from God outside the world and gives the world its meaning, truth that is absolute and unchanging, truth that everyone should seek for and submit to and believe. Jesus came to testify to that truth—he is the key witness. He says, "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” All truth is summed up in Jesus. “In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If you would know anything truly, you must know it in relation to Jesus. “All things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). So he is the purpose of all things. And the origin of all things. So the meaning of all things is in him. When he comes, He brings the truth about all things. The truth about God. The truth about ourselves. The truth about the way of salvation. The truth about what is good and beautiful. The truth about evil and ugliness. The truth about how we ought to live. All right thinking, and all right feeling, and all right doing is defined and measured by Jesus. He is the Truth. 1. "Jesus is a king. But a different sort of King of a different kind of kingdom. A kingdom of truth. That is why he came in the first place. He was, in fact, speaking and bringing the truth. Truth isn’t something that you get out of a test tube, or a mathematical formula. We don’t have truth in our pockets. Philosophers and judges don’t own it. It is a gift, a strange quality that, like Jesus’ kingdom in fact, comes from elsewhere but is meant to take up residence in the world. Jesus has come to give evidence about this truth. He is himself the Truth…” - NT Wright 3. The Power behind the Power 1. Crucifixion rather than stoning - Jewish capital punishment. Prophesy fulfilled, and Jesus executed by the World power. 2. Behold the Man - Here indeed is the Man. The word made flesh. The second Adam, the substitute for the sins of the world. “All the witnesses were too blind to see it at the time, but this Man was displaying his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, in the very disgrace, pain, weakness and brutalizing that Pilate advanced as suitable evidence that he was a judicial irrelevance.” -Carson 3. King of the Jews - John wants us to see Jesus’ trial for the great irony that it is. The Jews are trying to prevent Jesus ministry and kingdom, but instead they are crowning him king of the Jews, they arraying him in purple robes, they are sending him to be exalted - on a cross for all the world to see. 4. Condemned at the same time the passover lambs were being slaughtered. John gives us this detail as a way of saying that Jesus is the true passover lamb. He was sentenced to be slaughtered just as the slaughter of the lambs began. - “Behold! The lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the world.” 5. What is really going on here? 1. There comes a moment in the trial where Pilate knows that he’s between a rock and a hard place. Jesus called himself “The Son of God”. Pilate is afraid, he goes to question Jesus more concerning this. Jesus won’t answer. Pilate threatens that he can save him or send him to his death. Jesus responds to Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Jesus tells Pilate what is really going on, You think you’re in control? You think you can take my life from me? You are only a pawn, you have no power, except from above… God is the one that is in control, and everything is going according to plan. 2. I believe that John is painting this beautiful picture for us of the providence of God, and the irony of what took place when all the evil of hell and earth came together against God and against his anointed one (Psalm 2). They only fulfilled the opposite of what they were determined to do. They crowned Jesus King of the Jews! They declared him as Messiah _ the one who would rule the nations with a rod of Iron. They sent him to die for the sins of the world. 3. What’s really going on is that Israel, the most noble religion on earth, and Rome, the greatest political and legal power of the world at the time, Jew and Gentile, are unknowingly, going to Hoist up for all the world to see, Jesus the King, God’s truth, of what he’s really like, of how holy and righteous he really is, of how much he loves the world, of how his kingdom is one of sacrificial love and servanthood! “Jesus on the Cross will reveal, in it’s full extent, the astonishing majesty of God’s saving love.” The Gentile political power and the Jewish religious power converge here to fulfill the purposes of God…..Just as the scripture says, “Even the wrath of man shall praise you!” 1. "Overcome there, He was Himself overcoming. Crushed by the ruthless power of Rome, he was Himself crushing the serpent’s head. The victim was the victor, and the cross is still the throne from which he rules the world.” - John Stott 4. Conclusion: What are we to understand from all of this about our own lives and the way God works? How is this narrative of Jesus arrest, and condemnation to increase our trust in Jesus, that we might have life in his name? 1. Think about this. The worst thing that has every happened in the history of the world, or the universe for that matter, was part of the plan of God to bring about the greatest thing that has ever happened in the history of the world. - salvation. God did all this, Jesus wine through all of this because of his love for sinners! 2. We are told that if God willingly gave Jesus over to the worst thing in the world so that the best thing in the world could happen to us… what does that tell us? “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 3. My greatest fears are known to God, and he has already promised that what is intended for evil, in my life and your life, God will turn for good - “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
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