Thursday, August 08, 2013

Jesus Tried before the High Priest (Jn. 18:15-32)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 22 July 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation

Passage: John 18:15-32

Jesus was led willingly to be sacrificed like a lamb.  He received silently all that God has appointed for Him.  He had a very firm attitude and was at peace.  He took calmly all injustices against Him. 

Jesus said He spoke openly but the religious leaders and the soldiers came in the dark to arrest Him.  One who is calm and secure is full of power when he speaks.  When Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, Jesus asked Peter to put his sword down.  He did not depend on anyone to rescue Him.  We see how great His character was.  After Peter put the sword down, Jesus immediately healed the ear of Malchus.  We see His calmness, His greatness and His attitude towards His enemies.

We have such a great Lord, but we have unbecoming Christians.  When Peter said he would die for Jesus, Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed twice.  Christians are often self-righteous.  Young people have too much self-confidence.  They remember their good works and forget their weaknesses.  When you admire your own experiences you will fall.  Jesus gave stern warning.  Many of those who are great fail and die in matters they are strong at.  We should not boast of our own contribution. 

Then Peter did deny Jesus.  When Jesus looked at him, he realised his mistakes.  He could not escape and cried in bitterness.   This realisation is the beginning of his spirituality. 

When Jesus was questioned, He was calm and confident.  “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.  Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” (Jn. 18:20-21)

When Jesus said that, it seemed rude.  He was before the high priest, the highest religious leader of the Jews.  But Jesus was the King of kings.  He never begged for mercy or forgiveness.  Openly and with full confidence He said He taught in the temple and synagogues, so they could ask them.

One of the officers came to slap Him.  This is the first physical humiliation the Son of God received.  Jesus did not scold Him or humiliate the person.  He said what He ought to say.  When we are being bullied, we need to learn that God is the Judge.  We need to remember that we are the children of the King of kings.  Jesus did not debate.  Jesus answered calmly, “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (Jn. 18:23)

There are two principles in His reply.  The first one is we should be open to be corrected if we are wrong.  “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong.” Often times in debate our emphasis is not the truth but for our face, for our pride, our vainglory.  In apologetics, there should only be one motive and it is for the truth.

The truth came from God.  But sinner does not understand this.  When they tell the truth, they want to show that they are better than others.  It is for their right and pride, not for serving the truth.  If you are not fighting for the truth but for your prestige, God will not bless you.  The principles Jesus gave us is that we are to manifest the truth. 

It means we must be open to face challenges and even false accusations.  If we say and do the wrong thing, and know that we could be wrong, we should let others to point this out and allow ourselves to be corrected.  This is the right attitude towards the truth.

The second principle is not to be ashamed of the truth but to stand firm.  Jesus did not tell the officer to slap the other cheek.  He spoke what He ought to say. “If what I say is true, why do you strike Me?”   This should be that attitude of Christian ministry.  Christians are not to bully others.  But when we speak of the truth, we often feel insecure, we are afraid of others, we are apologetic, we soften the message so that people will pity us.  The servants of God shall not do so.  Regardless what status we have in the society, in matters of faith we stand before God. 

He who flatters the rich and powerfull, and bullies the poor and the weak is a shameless person.  In contrast, a prophet of God does just the opposite.  A prophet rebukes the king and looks out for the widows and orphans. 

We need to move from the defensive to offensive.  It is not enough to just say why we believe, but to challenge others why they do not believe the truth.  We should try to produce unanswerable Christian questions and bring people to a decisive point.  However, most of our preaching today has no power.  We are afraid of such moments.  We do not bring people to decisive point.  In the gospels, Jesus asked more than 100 questions, many of which could not be answered.  This is the highest style of questioning.  We should not be afraid in preaching the gospel.


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