Monday, August 12, 2013

Jesus Tried before Pilate (Jn. 18:25-38)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 28 July 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation

Passage: John 18:25-38

Jesus was judged by different tribunals without sleep and food from the time he was arrested.  He was judged by the high priest first.  Then before Pontius Pilate, Jesus was found without guilt.  Herod sought a miracle from Him but Jesus said not a word to him.  It is the sovereign will of God that Jesus went through all these.  As our Lord faced all these trials, we see how weak His disciples were. 

Peter denied Him as Jesus foretold.  One of His disciples betrayed Him.  Each of His disciples asked, “Lord, is it me?” but when it came to Judas, he said, “Rabbi, is it me?”  Judas never acknowledged Jesus as Lord.  During those times, acknowledging Jesus as Lord implies you are willing to give up your life.  Roman citizens were to call Caesar their Lord.  Jesus warned Peter that before the rooster crowed twice Peter would deny Him three times.  Many people are self-confident of their faith and love for the Lord.  They think they are not like others and will not fall.  If we come to church not to be rebuked but to tell people how we love the Lord more than others, we are in very a dangerous position.  When we think of our ideal as our spirituality we will fall. 

And indeed Peter denied the Lord three times.  He became bolder with each denial and at his last denial he even used the name of God to deny he knew Jesus.  This is the progression of sin.  The first time we lie it is difficult but as we get used to it we become desensitized, bold and experienced.  We become more bold and even use the Word of God to support our own sin.  We are not afraid and will not even know we are living in sin.  Then we become a religious hypocrite.  A lot of religious leaders find it difficult to detect their own sin.  Because they live in religious circles they get used to using the Word of God.

The very last time Peter swore in the name of God that he did not know Jesus.  At that very moment the rooster crowed.  Why did the rooster crow twice?  The first time he was not very sensitive.  The second time the rooster crowed, he remembered what Jesus said.  The rooster witnessed for the time.  He was suddenly aware.  At that moment Jesus looked at him.  When we look into the eyes of God, it is the moment of repentance, the moment you see the glory of God, the moment you surrender.  When he saw Jesus, he went away and cried bitterly.  This is where Peter was different from Judas.  Judas regreted betraying Jesus too, from a certain angle there is similarity.  However Peter repented and turned back to Christ.

We are no better than Judas or Peter.  Like Judas, many Christians betray the Lord for money.  Money is more important than spirituality, than the Lord.  Peter betrayed Jesus due to fear of death.  When we face difficulties and are ashamed of the Lord, we deny Him.  Peter and Judas are like our mirrors, telling us we are weak in the flesh.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

It was still early when the Jewish leaders brought Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate.  They did not enter the palace because they wanted to eat the Passover.  The temple of God is holy but the Roman palace is not holy.  The Jews were afraid of becoming unclean.   The holiness of Jesus is different, wherever He comes, He made the place holy.  Jesus is the Holy One.  When He touched the sick and the dead, He did not become unclean but instead the unclean become clean.  But for the Jews, they are afraid to lose their holiness. 

Pilate knew that the Jews would not go in to his palace, so he compromised.  He came out of his palace into the temple of the Jews.  The Jews could not even stop him from entering the temple of God.  Jesus in contrast, has the power to give His life and to take it back.  He had absolute sovereignty.

The Roman laws required execution based on justice.  Pilate could not find anything wrong with Jesus. He asked why they delivered Jesus to him.  And they answered, “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” (Jn. 18:30).  They implied that Jesus had done a great crime otherwise they would not have bothered the Roman governor. On surface they looked right, but when asked further this is a great deception.  We see the deceitfulness of human hearts, the hypocrisy of religion, the problem of politics and the abuse of justice. 

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” (v. 31).  Roman had their own laws and the Jews had their own laws.  Pilate was not willing to execute Jesus because it did not make sense.  However, they said they had no authority to kill Jesus.  Now the religious leaders are making use of political power to execute Jesus.  It is difficult for Pilate.  In the end Pilate complied becaues Jesus must die as written in the Scripture.


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