March 17, 2019

Lent Two, Sunday March 17, 2019 — John 18:28-40 — The Kingdom that Christ Rules

Preacher:
Passage: John 18:28-40
Service Type:

Audio Sermon

Download Files Bulletin

Sermon for Lent Two – Sunday March 17, 2019

Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ.  Amen.

John 18:28–40 (NKJV)

28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

 

30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” 31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

 

33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

 

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.”

 

39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,

   Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

 

We’ve all watched a ‘court-room’ drama at least once in our lives.  Whether it was Perry Mason or Ben Matlock, or some other TV Lawyer, the episode inevitably had a scene where the defendant was accused of a crime.  Afterward, Perry Mason or Ben Matlock went to work, trying to prove that the accused was innocent…or guilty.

When Jesus of Nazareth was first brought before the Judge – the Governor, Pontius Pilate – he had already been condemned by a gathering of a part of the Jewish Supreme Court – the Sanhedrin – in the home of the High Priest in the middle of the night. They condemned him as worthy of death because he told the truth, and said that He was the Christ, the Son of God.

Then, in a move you never see on TV, the men who illegally condemned Jesus proceeded to spit on him, punch and slap Him.  It was just before dawn that they gathered a second ‘trial’ in the ‘courthouse’ adjacent to the Temple of God to quickly make His guilty verdict seem legitimate. They asked Jesus a self-incriminating question, and He answered it truthfully (Luke 22:70-71):

70 Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” 71 And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”

It was then that they delivered Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, to be executed.  The Jewish Nation was not a free nation, like our own, but a deposed nation, under the power and authority of the Roman Empire.  Since this took place during a popular Jewish Festival, called the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, there was a force of Roman Soldiers in the city to ‘keep the peace.’

The Roman Court was open from dawn until dusk, so when they brought Jesus to the Praetorium, the temporary residence of the Governor in the early morning, the Governor, the Judge was ready to receive them.

 

28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

 

Pontius Pilate expected to hear a charge against Jesus.  If He was to try the already beaten and bound man, He would need to know the charges.  He asked the Jewish Leaders directly, but received no answer, no charge.

 

30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”

 

The Religious Leaders tried to push the Judge into simply executing Jesus without any formal charges and without any trial.  They were impudent, probably because they didn’t like the fact that they couldn’t simply execute Jesus, by stoning him to death.  If Jesus were to be executed, the Roman Governor would have to command it and see it was carried out.

Pontius Pilate was not a patsy, at least not to the extent that he was about to simply bow to their demand.  The Governor, to use a modern expression, ‘tossed the ball back into their court.’

31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”

The Judge said in essence: “If you don’t have any charge against this man, then you better go back and have a hearing.” You better take Him and judge him according to your law.  It was then that they implied that they had formal charges against Jesus…that made him worthy of execution.

Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

When Jesus was handed over to be tried and executed by Pontius Pilate, Christ’s own words were fulfilled.  Weeks earlier Jesus took his disciples aside on the road and told them what would happen (Matthew 20:17-19):

17 Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

When they handed Jesus over to the Governor, Pontius Pilate, this was all set-in motion.  However, they didn’t accuse Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God, for such a charge wouldn’t be of concern to the Roman Governor.  The Gospel of Luke reports the charges that they brought against Jesus (Luke 23:2):

And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

Pontius Pilate simply dismissed the first two charges. It wasn’t against Roman Law to undermine the authority of the Jewish Leaders.  He knew that none of them approved of paying taxes.

If Jesus were really claiming to be a King, an upstart to rule the Jews instead of the Roman Emperor… He received Jesus into custody to interview him about these things.

Now we know that the charges brought against Jesus were lies…Jesus didn’t encourage rebellion and Jesus told the people to pay their taxes (Luke 20:20-26).  We can’t learn the truth from them…but we can learn the truth about Jesus Kingship and Kingdom from Him and from the answers that He gave to Pontius Pilate.  These answers are important, because we, by faith, in trusting in Jesus become citizens of His Kingdom.

We learn about the Kingdom that Christ Rules…It is not an earthly kingdom…it is not concerned with earthly things…it is a kingdom of truth.  We pray: ‘Sanctify us by the truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.’ Amen.

+++++++

33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

 

One of the interesting things about the English Language, is that how you emphasize a word can change the meaning of a sentence. For example, let’s take the question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus. If we simply read the question, without emphasizing any word, it sounds like Pilate is asking of Jesus is the Ruler of the Jewish Nation.

“Are you the king of the Jews?”

On the other hand, if we emphasize the word ‘KING’ then it sounds like Jesus is being asked if He holds the highest position of authority or some other position:

“Are you the KING of the Jews?”

 

If we emphasize the pronoun ‘YOU’ then it adds an air of incredulity, disbelief or even mockery:

 

“Are YOU the king of the Jews?”

 

So…which is it?  Well, actually, in the original language the pronoun ‘YOU’ is placed first, in a place of emphasis.

When Pontius Pilate saw Jesus of Nazareth shuffle in, His clothing dirty and his face bloody and swollen from being beaten…He didn’t look like a King at all.  Pilate was skeptical that the man standing before him would or could claim to be a King.

Pontius Pilate was not a buffoon.  He didn’t come to be the Governor of Judea by being stupid.  It was Pilate’s business to know and understand the Jewish People whom he governed.  He understood that the Jewish Nation longed to be set free from Roman Rule by their Messiah.  He understood that the Jewish People were looking for a political/military leader to lead them to victory over Rome.

Pilate was skeptical, but direct.  Are you the King expected by the Jews?  He probably expected a curt, “NO.”  He certainly didn’t expect a question about his question.

34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”

Now remember, that during his trials, Jesus said very little.  The words that He spoke were important.  They were important for Pilate and they are important for us.

Jesus asked the Governor if this was a personal question, or whether he was just following up on the charges brought against Him by the Jewish Leaders.  If Pilate meant, “Are you an Earthly Ruler, an Earthly King, one to raise rebellion against Rome, then the answer was most certainly NO.  If Pilate meant, “Are you the Messiah, the King of the Jews that some of the Jews were looking for, a spiritual leader, then the answer was YES.

The Governor was surprised that this humble man should even suggest He had a personal question or concern:

 

35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”

It is only because of their charges against you that I ask you, are you the King of the Jews!  Have you done something to justify the charges? Do you aim to establish yourself as a king over the Jews?

Jesus answer is important to us because it establishes the nature of His Kingdom:

 

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

 

Jesus said it plainly, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”  If the Kingdom of Christ were of this world, then He would not be standing alone in chains before Pontius Pilate, having been delivered by a crowd of Jewish Leaders.  If the Kingdom of Christ were like every other earthly Kingdom, then He would have servants and soldiers who would fight and even give their lives to protect him.  If Jesus were an earthly king, then he wouldn’t be standing bound before the Governor.

The Kingdom of Christ is not an earthly kingdom.  Its ruler didn’t spring from this world.  While Jesus of Nazareth was born of a Virgin named Mary, He is God from eternity.  He existed long before He entered human flesh and blood in Bethlehem.  This is a truth that is taught again and again in the Word of God.

Now this doesn’t mean that Christ doesn’t rule in this world.  It means simply that His Kingdom isn’t like that of an earthly king.  He doesn’t sit on a throne and rule by force of arms.  He doesn’t expand his borders by war or military expansion.  He speaks to us from the Bible.  He invites us to trust in Him because He has taken our sin upon Himself and died on the Cross to make up for sin and then rose again to defeat death eternal.

The Kingdom of God comes to us, we become citizens when we by God’s Grace trust in Christ.

For this reason, the Kingdom of Christ is not confined to one nation.  Jesus rules in the hearts of all those who trust in His sinless life, His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.  They may live in North America or Africa or Europe or South America, or upon some other land mass.  There are no walls and borders to define His Kingdom.  All of the citizens of the Kingdom of Christ have one thing in common, they trust in Christ for deliverance from sin, death and the devil.

 

The Kingdom of Christ is not earth based…and is thus not first concerned with earthly things. Christ didn’t come here to make sure that everyone is housed and fed.  Christ didn’t come here to set up soup kitchens and hospitals.  Christ came here to take our sins upon Himself.  He came to die for those sins so that we might have a place in His Heavenly Kingdom. Christ’s Kingdom isn’t first concerned with the needs of the body…but the needs of the soul.

Jesus’ simple answer was, “Yes, I’m a King, but not an earthly king.’ I have a Kingdom, but it’s not like the one you serve. Pilate understood that much and sought further clarification…

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king.

 

In English, we call them idioms.  An idiom is a collection of words that mean something different than the words actually say, for example: “It’s raining cats and dogs” doesn’t really mean that cats and dogs are falling from the sky, just that it’s raining hard.

Jesus’ answer to Pilate was also an idiom (Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, Matthew 26:64) which is why it doesn’t really seem like an answer to us: “You have said it.” I guess we do have an idiom like that, “You got it!”

Jesus said, “Yes, I am a King.”  Then Jesus explained the purpose and goal of His Kingdom:

For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

In contrast to every earthly King, Jesus was born a King.  He didn’t take the throne from another, but entered this world as the King.  When the Wise Men came to Bethlehem two years after His birth, they came with this question and expectation (Matthew 2:2):

 

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

 

In contrast to every earthly King, Jesus didn’t come from this world, but from another world, from heaven to earth.  Jesus of Nazareth isn’t just the son of Mary, but also the Son of God.  It is because He is both God and Man that He is the perfect mediator/go-between for us.  He had to be human to suffer and to die.  He had to be God for His death to be of sufficient value to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Christ the King didn’t come to fix this world, but to proclaim the truth so that we might be delivered from it. This world is destined to be judged and destroyed by fire.  There will be a new earth in which there is no sin or death.

How is that people are delivered from this world of sin and their place reserved in the next?  By means of the truth, the good news that Jesus’ sinless life is credited to our accounts by faith.  By means of the truth, the good news that because of His Glorious Resurrection from the Dead we are assured that we will also rise from death to eternal life.

When Christ stood before Pontius Pilate…He didn’t look much like a King.  He was humble, beaten and bloodied.  Pontius Pilate found him to be not guilty of the accusation, but then still had him crucified.

Jesus still was in control, still the king.  He submitted to all of this that you might be delivered from Hell, and a fate much worse than crucifixion.  If by the grace of God, you believe this and trust in Him, then you too are ‘of the truth’ and you have heard His voice.

May God grant that you live as citizens of Christ, serving Him by speaking the truth to others, so that by faith they too may join us now and, in the world to come.

Amen!