This is the sermon for Wednesday March 24th, 2010.
John part 79
Sinners accusing the sinless One
John 18:28-32 HCSB – 28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They did not enter the headquarters themselves; otherwise they would be defiled and unable to eat the Passover. 29 Then Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man weren’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have handed Him over to you.” 31 So Pilate told them, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law.” “It’s not legal for us to put anyone to death,” the Jews declared. 32 They said this so that Jesus’ words might be fulfilled signifying what sort of death He was going to die.
Last time we saw Jesus arrested, bound, and tried before Annas, with Caiaphas’s trial briefly mentioned. We also saw the denial of Peter.
Tonight, we are going to see Jesus being taken to a Gentile sinner. These Jews taking Him to Pilate are also sinners. Jesus, who is the sinless One, is treated wrongly and accused. At first glance it seems that these sinners have the sinless One right where they want Him. But actually, it is not all these sinners who are in control of the events of the evening, but the Sovereign, Almighty God, who is.
One important thing to note is a sinful world hates Christ and His followers. Sometimes we Christians fail and unfortunately our failures can provide ammunition to the sinful world. But sometimes sinners will use false accusations just like they did with Jesus to try and harm Christian’s reputations. We must understand the same truth as Christ’s day: these accusers are not the ones in control; God is. He has a sovereign purpose behind their accusations. Ours is to trust Him.
Let’s now begin to unpack our text.
A bunch of hypocrites.
John 8:28 HCSB – Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They did not enter the headquarters themselves; otherwise they would be defiled and unable to eat the Passover.
The trial lasted through the night, and now they bring Jesus before a Gentile – Pilate – in the early morning, probably before sunrise.
Now notice that the Jews didn’t enter the headquarters proper of Pilate because they did not want to defile themselves. They probably just went to the courtyard of Pilate’s headquarters. Being the time of the Passover they could not enter a Gentiles residence by Law or they would be ceremonially unclean and could not partake in the Passover.
Now why do I call these men hypocrites? Because, though they are trying to keep the letter of the Law in order to be ceremonially clean; they have broken the spirit of the Law and are actually unclean before God. How are they unclean? They arrested their Lord and Messiah, brought false accusations against Him in an unlawful mock trial, and they hit Him. They also forsook a portion of their own Law for the sake of their hatred of Jesus.
Sinners and legalists often do the same thing in order to destroy the reputation of another Christian. They will point out the other Christian’s failures, or lie about them and their imperfections, all the while ignoring their own, and then have an air of self-righteousness about themselves. For the legalists, that makes them a hypocrite.
A sinner questions sinners about the sinless One.
John 18:29-30 HCSB – 29 Then Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man weren’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have handed Him over to you.”
Verse 29: Early morning was the time that Pilate would judge cases, so that is why they brought Jesus at this early hour. Pilate wants to know the charges against Jesus. This is the start of the Roman legal proceeding against Him.
Verse 30: These Jews skirt the issue: “If this weren’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have handed Him over to you.” They don’t bring a single charge against Jesus at this time; all they do is state that He is an evildoer.
I like what John Calvin states in his commentary on verse 30: “They want Christ to be counted as a criminal just because of their accusation. But if we look at the facts, what criminal acts do we find in Him except that He has cured every kind of disease, has driven evil spirits out of people, made paralytics and the lame walk, and restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and life to the dead?”
In my opinion, the lack of specific charges was enough reason for Pilate to throw the case against Jesus out and let Him go free. But this shows us the sovereign plan of God. These events were leading up to God’s purpose – redemption.
These sinful Jews do not share information with sinful Pilate.
John 18:31 HCSB – So Pilate told them, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law.” “It’s not legal for us to put anyone to death,” the Jews declared.
Pilate is not interested in making a judgment concerning Jesus, especially a judgment where no charges are brought against the accused. He tells the Jewish leadership to judge Him themselves. The Jewish leaders respond, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Now while this is true, there is a lie being implicated here. What is the implicated lie? Well the Jewish leaders already passed a death sentence on Jesus for blasphemy.
Matthew 26:62-66 HCSB – 62 The high priest then stood up and said to Him, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” 64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven .” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
More than likely, by bringing Rome into active participation in Christ’s death, they wanted Pilate to charge Jesus with insurrection, since Rome didn’t put people to death for blasphemy.
This unfolds just as the sinless One prophesied.
John 18:32 HCSB – They said this so that Jesus’ words might be fulfilled signifying what sort of death He was going to die.
In another Gospel Jesus spoke of this happening.
Matthew 20:17-19 HCSB – 17 While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the 12 disciples aside privately and said to them on the way: 18 “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death. 19 Then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and He will be resurrected on the third day.”
This prophecy and fulfillment shows us two things.
- God is in sovereign control of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.
- Both Jews and Gentiles sinned against the Lord in their involvement in His death.
This fact that both Jew and Gentile sinned against the sinless One makes Romans 1:16 even more powerful in my mind.
Romans 1:16 HCSB – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
Both Jew and Gentile are equally guilty before God, and yet the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of both.
On an application note: don’t be surprised when you are wrongfully accused, but rejoice in the Lord and trust in Him.