Monday, August 19, 2013

Christ's Trial Exposed Men's Unrighteousness (John 18:37-40)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermons on 11 August 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 18:37-40

Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” represents the end of Roman culture and Greek philosophy.  Philosophy seeks the truth.  400 years after Socrates, there was now uncertainty about the truth. 

There is truth about oneself, about the nature outside oneself which sustains it, and about principles of knowledge, i.e. epistemology.

Socrates identified a larger question when people seek to understand nature.  He said man seeks to know everything else but themselves.  He shifted the direction from the seeking of the truth about nature to seeking the truth about self.  Many doctors are sicker than their patients.  Likewise many psychologists have psychological problems.

The shift of thinking by Socrates is important.  If you do not know yourself, how can you know the things outside of yourself?  Socrates is the beginning of study of human beings.  Plato placed emphasis of metaphysics.  Aristotle took on material science.  After these 3 philosophers died, study of the truth declined. 

400 years later, Pilate declared the death of Greek philosophy when he asked what is truth.  Pilate belonged to the group that believed there is no truth in the world.  If God’s truth exists, how could this righteous person be handed by God to be judged before him?  If the Jewish law is most just and holy, why did the religious leaders bring a blameless person to be executed by him?  What is faith? What is the Hebrews’ law?  Is there truth?

Jesus’ response puzzled Pilate.  Already being handed over to be executed, Jesus still confessed He was king.   He said He testified of the truth and everyone on the side of truth listens to Him (v.37).  Pilate asked what was truth but without the intentionto understand.  He did not believe in truth.  He believed there is no truth in Roman empire, no truth in Greek culture, no truth in Jewish system.  He was expressing skeptism about the truth, about the uncertainty of knowledge.

Each religious leader and political leader exposed their foolishness, ignorance and stubbornness before Christ’s trial.  They exposed their unrighteousness.  Christ not only manifested God but also exposed the decadence of humanity. 

Jesus Christ is the greatest Person but who could recognise His significance?  This is the most paradoxical drama.  The ‘important’ political and religious figures were not important after all, but Jesus, the most important Person in history, appeared unimportant.  On surface, it is not easy to recognise this profound wisdom as it appears that Christ was judged by these unrighteous people.  However, in fact the unrighteousness of the religious and political leaders were being exposed and judged here.

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.  But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” (v.38-39)

The Jews wanted to kill Jesus but dared not do so as they were afraid the people would go against them.  So they wanted the Romans kill Him.  But Pilate did not want to do so as he found no guilt.  So who had the authority to kill?  Pilate is the representation of Caesar.  Those with authority were subject to higher authority.  The Jews and Pilate were not the highest power.  They were controlled by Satan.

As Jesus suffered, He watched and waited.  Pilate performed and the high priest performed but in the end they were just puppets.  When Jesus comes back they will be judged.  All those who despise and persecute Christ will be judged.  The Son of God came to the world to expose us. 

What Pilate had done, declaring the end of Roman culture and Greek philosophy, the Jews  did the same for the Jewish culture.  The Jews chose to release Barabbas who had taken part in an uprising. (v.40).  They did not want Jesus, they wanted human rights.  They chose a robber over Jesus.  They learnt the Law and eventually chose a robber.

So the religion had exposed its darkness.  Philosophy had committed suicide.  Jesus kept quiet and watched the show they were playing.  In the end they did not want God.  They did not want Jesus, whom God had declared from heaven is His Beloved Son. They did  not want God’s delight, they wanted Barabbas.  The hypocrisy of religion and the emptiness of philosophy and the destruction of culture were all manifested here.  


At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are all hypocrites:
- Highly educated people believed in Evolution (survival of the fittest) but don't want to have kids (or max 1)
- People believed in evolution but wanted 'revolution' (all the changes: NOW)
- Liberals who say they fight against 'War on women', calls for raping conservative women
- Protestant who pray 'Our Father' not willing to forgive 'mistakes of Catholic Church 500 years ago'
- Leaders of Global Warming movement, fly around with private jets.


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