John, The Love of God
As believers, we are busy this time of year setting up our manger scenes depicting the birth of Christ. It is important to us to show the world that Truth was born as a baby to a couple of humans, Mary and Joseph, dedicated to doing God’s will in His way, in His time.
As we set up the array of bright decorations of red and green, we are also reminded of God’s mission for this little child, His Son, who became the King of kings. Jesus, the Messiah, the One the Jews had been waiting for, grew to be a man on a mission from God, His Father. He came to this earth as the Person called Truth. He is Truth. Whether we believe or not. Truth remains. Truth never changes. Jesus is Truth. Truth set us free.
Truth is on trial in our next passage of John. “What is Truth?” is not the right question asked by Pilate. The better question should be WHO is Truth? Read and see what you think…
John 18-19, The Message
(This passage is long, but I feel led to tell the whole story of Pilate’s search for Truth who is standing right in front of him.)
The King of the Jews
28-29 They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn’t enter the palace because they didn’t want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. “What charge do you bring against this man?”
30 They said, “If he hadn’t been doing something evil, do you think we’d be here bothering you?”
31-32 Pilate said, “You take him. Judge him by your law.”
The Jews said, “We’re not allowed to kill anyone.” (This would confirm Jesus’ word indicating the way he would die.)
33 Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”
34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”
35 Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”
36 “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”
37 Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”
Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”
38-39 Pilate said, “What is truth?”
Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man. It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “Not this one, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.
1-3 So Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it on his head, threw a purple robe over him, and approached him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they greeted him with slaps in the face.
4-5 Pilate went back out again and said to them, “I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime.” Just then Jesus came out wearing the thorn crown and purple robe.
Pilate announced, “Here he is: the Man.”
6 When the high priests and police saw him, they shouted in a frenzy, “Crucify! Crucify!”
Pilate told them, “You take him. You crucify him. I find nothing wrong with him.”
7 The Jews answered, “We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8-9 When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared. He went back into the palace and said to Jesus, “Where did you come from?”
Jesus gave no answer.
10 Pilate said, “You won’t talk? Don’t you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to—crucify you?”
11 Jesus said, “You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That’s why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault.”
12 At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down: “If you pardon this man, you’re no friend of Caesar’s. Anyone setting himself up as ‘king’ defies Caesar.”
13-14 When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside. He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). It was the preparation day for Passover. The hour was noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king.”
15 They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!”
Pilate said, “I am to crucify your king?”
The high priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar.”
16-19 Pilate caved in to their demand. He turned him over to be crucified.
They took Jesus away. Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read:
JESUS THE NAZARENE
THE KING OF THE JEWS
20-21 Many of the Jews read the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was right next to the city. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The Jewish high priests objected. “Don’t write,” they said to Pilate, “‘The King of the Jews.’ Make it, ‘This man said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’”
22 Pilate said, “What I’ve written, I’ve written.”
23-24 When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, “Let’s not tear it up. Let’s throw dice to see who gets it.” This confirmed the Scripture that said, “They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat.” (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!)
24-27 While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.
28 Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, “I’m thirsty.”
29-30 A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.
31-34 Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.
35 The eyewitness to these things has presented an accurate report. He saw it himself and is telling the truth so that you, also, will believe.
36-37 These things that happened confirmed the Scripture, “Not a bone in his body was broken,” and the other Scripture that reads, “They will stare at the one they pierced.”
Points to ponder…
–Truth was standing right in front of Pilate who was desperately searching for truth to end the “caught in the middle” predicament in which the Jewish leaders put him.
–He declared Truth innocent. But the Jewish leaders shouted “Crucify Him”. They tried to kill Truth so they wouldn’t be bothered by Truth again.
–Jesus answers Pilot, “I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”
–As we set up our manger scenes and ooh and ah over the baby born in a cave, think also of Truth, Who as a man suffered by being tortured, mocked, and betrayed. Think of Truth who bled and died on a cruel cross for all sin. Truth redeemed us. Truth set us free!
–John “saw it himself and is telling the truth so that you, also, will believe.”
One more thought…
Pilate made a sign of declaration and put it over the head of Jesus with words written in three languages so all would understand:
“Jesus the Nazarene
The King of the Jews”
The Jews vehemently opposed this sign. But Pilate refused to change it. Maybe Pilate was almost persuaded by Truth. Mm.
Last thought…what do WE do about knowing Truth?
–Go tell the Truth to a world who, like Pilate, is desperately asking, seeking and searching for someone to be authentic, who lives with Truth in them. This is a great time of year to begin a conversation about the Gift of Truth to all!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you. These words are so small and nearly enough to tell you how grateful and humbled we are before you. You are Truth. You always have been and always will be. Thank you for reminding us of why you came. Thank you for giving us the Truth who set us free. Give us words that people will understand. Prepare their hearts to receive Truth.
In Jesus Name, Amen