Hearing Jesus 7: Jesus and Pilate
050-00748 John 19:10-12
I. When we introduced the season of Lent this year, we spoke about taking a journey to the Cross.
A. That journey ends tonight.
1. We have spent the past six weeks following Jesus.
2. He knew where he was going even when his disciples did not.
3. He knew he had come to redeem his Father’s world and he knew that his blood was the currency to be used.
4. When we started this path following Christ, we also knew where it was going to end.
5. We knew that the road ends here, in the Sanhedrin, the court of Pilate, and the mount called Golgotha.
6. We knew that Jesus’ trek was one of suffering, pain and death.
7. And we chose to follow him anyway. Not as curious onlookers. We’re not like those who slow down on the highway so we can see the car wreck on the other side.
8. We chose to follow Jesus because he called us to follow. We chose to come to the cross because it is our cross too.
9. Mark 8:34 (NIV) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
B. Along the road, we have heard Jesus speak and we have learned a great deal about the blessings of following.
1. Speaking to Andrew he taught us how he desires to dwell with us; how close of a relationship he wants us to have with him.
2. Speaking to Bartimaeus he taught us that our sin has made us blind and that he has the ability, and more importantly the desire to heal us.
3. Speaking to Martha he taught us about priorities and that loving God is the source of life, not busy activities that distract us from that love.
4. Speaking to Zacchaeus he taught us that he makes the proud humble and then he lifts up the humble receiving them into the Kingdom with hearts to worship and serve our God.
5. Speaking to his Father, our Father, he revealed to us the depth of his passion to save all the Father has given him. He taught us that we are to be united with one another in the same way that he and the Father are united.
6. Speaking to the crowds in the Temple courts he laid claim to his kingdom as the Son of David and he revealed to us that he is a King and a Priest who is the supreme God and who identifies compassionately with humanity.
C. It has been a long journey. It has been a learning journey. It has been an emotional journey.
1. I confess to you all that tonight I am tired.
2. I have realized that following Jesus is no easy task.
3. In fact, following Jesus is downright impossible.
4. But I have not made the journey along – I have made it with all of you. And we have made it with Jesus.
5. Now we stand in the shadow of death.
II. The Bible says Isaiah 53:7 (NIV) …he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
A. The silence that Isaiah wrote about was not the complete lack of sound.
1. A sheep before her shearers is not silent at all.
a) She bahs and bleats more than she normally would.
b) But for all her noise, she is still helpless.
c) The shepherd is going to get his wool.
2. Not much is recorded in the gospels about Jesus’ conversations during his so called trials.
3. He was not totally silent, though.
4. He did speak to his accusers.
a) He did not speak to defend himself.
b) God needs no defense.
5. But he did speak to reveal himself. His words are never empty or vain.
B. So when Jesus was brought before Caiaphas who was the Chief Priest, the highest office one could ever attain in the priesthood, the record shows that he did answer questions.
1. “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” And Jesus answered, “Yes.”
2. Luke gives more detail, though. Jesus’ answer is more than just an affirmation. According to his record Jesus’ first answer to Caiaphas was “If I tell you, you will not believe me.”
3. All of the priests and rabbis gathered there continue to ask the question, “Are you then the Son of God?” Jesus says, “It is as you say, I am.”
C. In the same way, all the gospels agree that when standing before Pilate Jesus was asked, “Are you King of the Jews?” And Jesus does answer, “Yes.”
1. The Priests and Rabbis have their blasphemous confession.
2. Pilate has his proof of anarchy.
3. Jesus has provided all that is needed for his condemnation and judgment.
a) That is unless he is right in his claims.
b) It is not blasphemy for the Son of God to say he is the Son of God.
c) It is not anarchy for the King of the Jews who is also King of kings to say that he is.
d) In this case, Jesus’ admissions are not confessions of guilt but declarations of judgment.
III. This is what John makes clear in his record of the events.
A. When Pilate decided there was nothing to the charge against Jesus, at least as far as Rome was concerned, he tried to diffuse the situation.
1. Following a custom at the Passover, he offered to set a prisoner free.
2. If he chose the most feared and debased criminal he could find in the prisons and gave the people a choice, surely they would ask to let Jesus go. Case over.
3. But mob action had taken over. Jesus’ accusers had worked themselves into such a state that they could no longer think rationally. They wanted Jesus dead. They could not believe there was even a possibility that he was the Christ, the Son of God.
B. Frustrated, Pilate had Jesus beaten and whipped.
1. The guards dressed this bloody figure up in a royal robe of purple. They forced a crown of thorns upon his head. And they circled around him mocking him saying, “Hail king of the Jews.”
2. Now it wasn’t so much Jesus that the guards mocked. With every “Hail” they hit him in the face.
3. But the contempt they showed Jesus was the contempt they had in their hearts for all the Jews.
4. These people were a pain, a thorn in the flesh of the Empire.
5. Why had they been tolerated for so long? Why didn’t Pilate just end the riot by killing them all?
6. But Pilate took this humiliated and deformed king, a man who was so abused by this point that even he was beginning to feel pity for him, and he presented Jesus to the crowds again. Surely now they would have sympathy and call an end to this mess.
7. But no. “Crucify him,” was all they could yell. “Crucify him,” was all that Pilate could hear.
C. Pilate became mixed with emotion and fear. He could not let this go on. He would lose his station, maybe even exiled to some nowhere post.
1. On the other hand, in his own way he had tried to make a just ruling.
2. These evil people he was assigned to control were pushing him into a corner.
3. I believe that Pilate was still trying to diffuse the ticking bomb without having Jesus killed when he asked, “Where are you from?”
4. But Jesus gave no answer.
a) What? Can’t Jesus see how Pilate has tried to save him? He must know that even the beating and the mocking was only to prevent his death.
b) Pilate, the one man in all the world who held Jesus’ life in his hands and the one man who had any authority that could save Jesus, this Pilate was being ignored by Jesus?
c) He says, probably yelling out of incredulity, “To me you refuse to answer?” To ME. I am the one who can decide your fate. I am the one who with a word can let you live or let you die. I am the only hope you have in this mess. I can be your salvation!
D. Jesus didn’t need salvation.
1. But Pilate did.
2. Pilate was oblivious to the source of his power and authority.
3. Pilate trusted in the State, and in the Caesar, and in his appointed position.
4. What Pilate knew was far less important than what he didn’t know.
5. So Jesus spoke. Jesus told him what to him was horrible truth.
6. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
7. Jesus didn’t need salvation because he was God. He was here because he was God. He lived the way he did because he was God. And he was going to die the way he was because he was God.
8. And the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit had all agreed that together they would redeem their creation from the sin that had brought it to death.
9. Pilate had not authority from Rome. For that matter, Rome had no authority of its own.
10. All authority comes from the only true authority, God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. And this authority comes from God as a trust.
a) To whom much is given, much will be required.
E. Jesus essentially tells Pilate that he can’t control a thing in this situation.
1. The circumstances are under God’s control.
2. The choices are under God’s control.
3. The outcome is under God’s control.
IV. BUT. Even though God is sovereignly managing all that is going on, responsibility remains with those who are involved.
A. “…the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
1. Jesus does not say this to let Pilate off the hook.
2. Pilate has the responsibility to do the right thing and let an innocent man go.
3. But Pilate will choose what is expedient and in his mind best for his career.
4. What Jesus tells Pilate is that even though he is making a choice, a choice for which he is responsible and accountable, he could not make that choice unless the Almighty and Sovereign God permitted that choice.
5. Pilate was given authority to rule by God. Pilate was obligated to rule according to God’s righteousness, holiness, mercy, and love.
6. No matter how good a person Pilate thought himself to be, no matter how honorable, no matter how fair, he fell far short of the goodness and honor of the God who entrusted him with ruling authority.
B. Pilate is culpable. But there is a greater culpability to be assigned.
1. Jesus said it was “the one who handed me over to you.”
2. Throughout the many years of the church there have been those who say that this one is the nation Israel.
a) Such a claim has been an excuse for many ungodly acts.
b) The claim that the Jews killed Jesus has a kernel of truth to it. But all of the great deceptions of history are rooted in truth. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie” as Paul had said.
c) If you think about it, Anti-Semitism is rooted in the same twisted thinking that the Chief Priests and Rabbis were displaying. It is the same racist thinking of the Roman Guards who took out their anger with the Jews on one man.
d) If anyone wants to know who really nailed Jesus to the cross they need only look into a mirror. If we do, this is what we see:
e) Romans 3:10-18 (NIV) “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
f) If I want to find the one who is responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, I must start and stop with myself.
C. But Jesus is referring to one individual in particular. The one who handed Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified was the High Priest Caiaphas.
1. Who was this man? What was his power?
a) Caiaphas held the post of High Priest for about 18 years.
b) This was the highest religious and political position in Roman controlled Israel.
c) The High Priest ruled the Sanhedrin which consisted of all the Pharisees and Sadducees including the teachers of the law and scribes. This body made all the final decisions for Israel.
d) The High Priest not only controlled this body but he was also the one who was responsible for getting the Romans to do what the Sanhedrin wanted.
e) It was a very political job.
2. Caiaphas was High Priest even at the time John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness, according to Luke.
a) What that means is that Caiaphas knew the history of Jesus and the message he preached.
b) Caiaphas followed the ministry of Jesus closely.
c) According to John, following the resurrection of Lazarus Caiaphas led the Sanhedrin in plotting to kill Jesus. The murder, he argued, would benefit all Israel in the eyes of Rome.
3. So early on, Caiaphas, the High Priest over the Jewish people, plotted and planned for a way to do away with Jesus.
D. For Jesus then, Caiaphas held a greater culpability that did Pilate.
1. Pilate had not planned to kill anyone. Caiaphas plotted the death of Jesus for some time.
2. Pilate knew nothing of this Messiah stuff. He only asked if Jesus were king of the Jews. And when Jesus said yes, Pilate didn’t see him as a threat to Rome.
3. Caiaphas, though, could not stand the idea that Jesus might be the Messiah. It was not religion to him. It was political.
4. John 11:48 (NIV) “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
5. Pilate had been entrusted with political authority to keep peace in the land. Under God there was a right way and a wrong way to do this. Pilate, at least in this incident, chose the wrong way. No matter how many times he washed his hands, they would continue to be bloody for all of time.
6. Caiaphas had been entrusted with the authority to serve Israel’s deepest needs: those of forgiveness, right standing before God as his people, the teaching of the people regarding truth, Scripture, and faith; everything that points the heart toward the worship, praise and service of God Almighty.
7. Both were guilty. Both abused and misused God’s trust of authority. Both put Jesus on that cross. Pilate should have known better from the nature of morality. But Caiaphas should have known better from Scripture and from living his whole life as a part of the covenant people of God.
V. So tonight we come to the cross. Let us therefore not forget the journey, especially these last hours.
A. Jesus was betrayed by his own people, the people he had rescued many times before, the people to whom he had revealed himself in their Scriptures, the people who had been chosen to be the holy light drawing all people of all nations to Zion.
1. Jesus was also betrayed by Pilate who should have defended the right against all enemies.
2. And Jesus was betrayed by us, for it was our sin that he came to forgive, it was our pride that he came to humble, it was our lives that he came to redeem from death. And all of that by his own death.
3. Jesus was betrayed and murdered. But he was not betrayed by God his Father.
B. The cross to which we have come is not a cross of death.
1. The cross upon which Jesus suffered and died was transformed into a cross of life.
2. Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV) When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
C. The path has been long. The journey hard. But tonight we come to the cross of Jesus. Tonight we claim it as our tree of life.
1. Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NIV) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
2. Everyone involved on that dark day over 2,000 years ago tried to use the power they thought they had.
3. Each of them proved to be fools because they could not see the real power of God, the cross.
4. Let us tonight quietly lay ourselves down to be nailed to the cross of Jesus that like him, we may know the true power of God – the power of love – the power of redemption – the power of eternal life.