"SHINE: Embracing, Connecting, Engaging, Transforming"
Pastor John Montgomery's Weekly Sermons:
Dear Church Family,
The deacons and the church staff have discussed actions that will be necessary to serve our congregation during the coronavirus pandemic. They include the following: At present we have canceled Sunday School, small groups & Wednesday night services. We will update this info when this info changes.
1. Cancelling services when needed. If you do not have access to the internet, please call the church
office at 904-781-9151.
2. Members are urged to be careful about shaking hands with each other, washing your hands thoroughly and often, maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and others. Also, if you are feeling sick, please stay home.
3. We will make every effort to sanitize all surfaces in our church including pews, chairs, doorknobs and countertops.
4. Avoid touching eyes, noses and mouth.
If we all practice good hygiene, we will be less likely to catch the coronavirus.
Dr. John Montgomery, Pastor
July 12, 2020
“Responding to the Truth”
Series, “Conversations with Jesus”
John 18:28; 19:28
We live today in a “post truth” culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotions and in which facts are largely ignored. We certainly see that in our political system where “feel good” proposals to give people all kinds of free stuff are advanced and people are told not to worry about the details of how those programs are going to work or how they will be paid for. But the problem is that we are not going to see an end to that any time soon, because those tactics largely work and the people who use them often get elected.
We see the same thing on social media where people share posts that make a point without ever taking the time to see if the information is factually correct.
And unfortunately, that same “post truth” culture even impacts
the way that those who call themselves Christians live their lives. According
to a recent Barna Group study, 57% of Americans believe that knowing what is
right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. The numbers are much higher
among younger generations. But even more disturbing is the fact that 41% of
practicing Christians agree that truth is a matter of personal experience
rather than absolute truth. It is not surprising that 91% of all Americans and
76% of practicing Christians agree that “the best way to find yourself is by
looking within yourself.”
For nine weeks now we have been taking a look at some conversations that Jesus had with mostly ordinary people. Each week, we have developed a “gospel takeaway” from those conversations.
Here is a list of the Eight Gospel Takeaways we have already discussed.
(1). Nicodemus - What I believe is more important than what I achieve.
(2). The Woman at the well - Jesus makes it possible to come as you are, but impossible to leave as you came.
(3). The sinful woman at the home of Simon the Pharisee - My love for Jesus will be in direct proportion to my sense of my own sinfulness.
(4). The demonized man - Only Jesus has the power to free me from my bondage to sin.
(5). The woman caught in adultery - Jesus loves with the perfect balance of grace and truth and that is how He wants me to love others
(6). Martha and Mary - The “one thing” that is necessary in our relationship with Jesus is to listen to and respond to His words.
(7). Rich young man - You will need to give it all up, in order to gain it all.
(8). Zacchaeus - Genuine salvation requires making Jesus “Lord”
in both words and deeds
Today’s Gospel Takeaway is - My relationship to the truth determines my eternal destiny.
Open your Bible to John 19:12-19.
“From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement. 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. The Crucifixion of Jesus16 So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. The Crucifixion of Jesus 16 So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in
the middle. 19
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF
NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
I want you to look at some important characters in our scripture passage.
1. The Jewish Religious Leaders, John 18:28
“Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover”.
The Jewish religious leaders who accompanied Jesus to Pilate’s headquarters, refuse to enter because they believe that would make them unclean. Therefore, they would be unable to eat the Passover meal later that day. What is so hypocritical about that is that these same men have no problem bringing false charges against an innocent man in order to protect their own power. They are so blinded spiritually that they do not even consider that is a lot more defiling than entering the home of a Gentile.
2. The Robber Named Barabbas. John 18:39-40
“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’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising”.
Barabbas was a man whose name means “son of the father”. What is
interesting about Barabbas is that he actually represents all of us in three significant ways:
1) He was guilty and deserved to die.
2) He did nothing to earn his pardon.
3) Jesus died in his place.
3. The Soldiers who Mocked and Flogged Jesus, John 19:1-4
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. 4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”
We are going to see that, just like Pilate, that each of these three groups of people reject the truth.
That brings us to Pilate. To me, the gospel accounts make him out to be a sympathetic character who is thrown into a situation he really wants nothing to do with. While that is probably true to an extent, historical records paint a different story.
We really do not know how much Pilate knew about Jesus prior to this encounter. Obviously, he had heard the Jewish religious leaders’ opinions about Jesus, but I doubt he knew a whole lot more than that.
Not surprisingly, Pilate is most interested in whether Jesus and
His followers are going to cause him problems. Essentially Pilate looks at the
man before him and cannot believe that anyone could possibly mistake him for a
king. Pilate mockingly asks the question something like this: “You? You are the
king of the Jews?”
One of the things we noted is the way that Jesus treats Pilate with both grace and truth here, something we have seen Jesus do in every single conversation we have looked at in this series. He treats him with truth by not letting Pilate off the hook here. He asks Pilate if he is asking that question because he really wants to know or just because he is repeating what he heard from the Jewish religious leaders. But he also treats him with grace by giving Pilate the opportunity to respond to the truth.
Pilate skirts around the edge of Jesus’ question and basically says to Jesus: “Since I’m not a Jew I have no idea what’s going on here. But you must have done something pretty bad for your own people to hate you so much that they have turned you over to me.”
Jesus then answers Pilate’s initial question. He is indeed a
king, but not the kind that is going to threaten Pilate’s rule. If He were, He
would not be standing before Pilate because His servants would have been
powerful enough to keep Him from being arrested by the Jews and brought before
Pilate. And he could have easily raised up enough soldiers to overthrow Pilate’s
small force. He is the king of a kingdom that is not of this world.
Pilate is, not surprisingly, pretty confused now. “So, you are a king?”, he asks. Jesus is indeed a king, but His purpose is completely different than that of any other king. He had not come into the world to obtain power and to rule over others – at least at His first coming. He will indeed do that someday when He returns to this world. But at His first coming, his purpose was to bear witness to the truth. And those who are “of the truth” listen to His voice as He does that. Jesus makes it really clear here that there are only two groups of people in this world:
• There are those who are “of the truth” and who listen to His voice.
• Those are those who are not “of the truth” and who therefore do not listen to His voice.
With Pilate’s response, we very quickly find out which of the two camps he is in. When he asks, “What is truth?”, it is clear that he asks that in a mocking way. He really is not interested at all in the answer to that question as indicated by the fact that he does not even give Jesus a chance to answer before he returns to talk to the Jewish religious leaders.
Even though Pilate is not willing to embrace the truth that
Jesus has just laid out before him, he also recognizes that Jesus has done
nothing that would merit his crucifixion. But he is so spineless that he also
begins to look for a way to wash his hands of his own personal responsibility.
He goes back to the Jewish leaders and says, for the first of three times, that
he finds no guilt at all in Jesus. But he offers the leaders an alternative and
offered to release one prisoner for the Passover. But that backfires on him
when they ask him to release Barabbas instead of Jesus.
Pilate figures if he just has Jesus flogged, that might satisfy these Jewish leaders. And so, even though he had no legal right to flog an innocent man, he instructs the soldiers to do so. And for the second time, he declares Jesus’ innocence. But when he parades Jesus before the religious leaders, they shout “Crucify him”.
Once again, Pilate tries to wash his hands of any personal responsibility by declaring Jesus’ innocence for the third time and telling the religious leaders to handle the matter themselves. But they now make another charge against Jesus that really scares Pilate. When Pilate hears that Jesus has made himself out to be the Son of God, he begins to rethink this whole matter.
As a superstitious Roman, Pilate believed that sometimes the gods came incognito to earth and that if you treated them well, they would look out for you in the future. But if you mistreated them, they would make life miserable for you. This would have only added the trouble that Pilate already had because his wife had warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus because of a dream that she had.
Pilate asks Jesus where he is from. And when Jesus refuses to answer, he shouts at Jesus in frustration: “Don’t you know that I have the authority to either release you or to crucify you?” And Jesus, still full of truth and grace offers Pilate one more chance to receive the truth. He tells Pilate that whatever authority he has comes from God. God is sovereign over this entire matter.
Because he knew that Jesus was innocent, Pilate kept looking for a way to release him. But he was so afraid of losing his own power that he let himself be bullied by the religious leaders until he finally relented to allowing Jesus to be crucified.
Unfortunately, the Jewish religious leaders, the soldiers, and Pilate all stared truth in the face. But rather than accept and embrace Jesus, they chose to reject Him for their own selfish reasons. That was a mistake that had eternal consequences for all of them.
Jesus tells us in this passage that He came to this earth to
bear witness to the truth. One of the ways he did that all throughout His
earthly ministry was in the conversations that He had with people. As we have
looked at nine of those conversations over the last nine weeks, we have been exposed
to various aspects of the truth of the gospel.
There are several possible ways that you can choose to respond to truth:
• Like the Jewish religious leaders, you are reluctant to embrace the truth because there is something in your life that is more important to you than Jesus – some possession, some position, some power – that you are not willing to give up.
• Like the soldiers who were just indifferent to the truth. They did not really have anything personal against Jesus, but they were not willing to stand up for Him either.
• Like Pilate, Jesus has come to you on multiple occasions and given you the opportunity to embrace the truth. But even though you can find no fault with Jesus, for the sake of your own comfort, you are not willing to go “all in” and embrace that truth either.
• Fortunately, many of you have embraced the truth of the gospel and even though you do not do it perfectly, you are committed to living your life according to the truth.
I want to encourage you to pick out just one of these 8 gospel takeaways and commit this morning to taking one concrete action to put that truth into practice in your life this week.
Message Preached at
Cedar Creek Baptist Church
Jacksonville, Florida 32205
July 12, 2020
Sermon Notes is a ministry of the Cedar Creek Baptist Church,
1372 Lane Avenue South, Jacksonville, Florida 32205, 904-781-9151