Pastor Kirk

Reflections from a spiritual pilgrim in Toledo, Ohio

Holy Week

Here's The Man! John 19:1-7, 8 September 2013

Big Idea: Jesus is the ultimate man, the ideal human.

Introduction

We have been looking at the life of Jesus through the lens of John, one of His best friends. We are in the nineteenth chapter of his Gospel or “good news.” We will spend five weeks in this chapter exploring the final hours of His pre-resurrected life.

Last week Jonathan Hurshman taught on Jesus’ first encounter with Pilate in chapter eighteen. The Jewish leaders bring Jesus to the Roman governor’s palace and…

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” (18:31)

Later, Pilate asks

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 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’?” (18:38-39)

They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. (18:40)

Pilate wants to punt. Clearly Jesus is no threat to his authority and wants the Jewish leaders to go away and leave him alone. Hoping to satisfy them

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. (19:1)

There were three types of flogging done by the Romans.

  • the fustigatio, a beating that served as a warning for smaller offenses
  • the flagellatio, a more brutal punishment for more serious crimes
  • the verberatio, the most heinous punishment

This flogging is believed to be the first and least severe punishment. Pilate sees nothing wrong with Jesus and wants to pacify the Jewish leaders.

Flogging was typically done with a whip of several strips of leather with bone and lead imbedded. The Jews had a limit of forty lashes, though they usually did thirty-nine in case of a miscount. The Romans, however, had no limit and their flogging often resulted in death.

The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. (19:2a)

The crown of thorns was possibly taken from a Sayla Tree with long, thick spikes, not small thorns from a rose stem. The thorns would not only cause bleeding, they would distort a person’s face as they sunk into the victim’s skull.

In Genesis 22, a ram’s head was caught in a thornbush and was offered up instead of Isaac as a sacrifice, a moving parallel to Jesus’ crown of thorns as He becomes our sacrifice.

They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (19:3)

Purple dye was rare and expensive, usually drawn from shellfish. It signified royalty. Note they repeatedly mocked Him, again and again.

If His body was not in enough agony, the emotional abuse He took was unimaginable. They say that sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you. What a lie! Words are sometimes more powerful and painful than sticks and stones. Jesus is experiencing it all, and He’s totally innocent…and He
is the King of the Jews. He is being mocked with the truth.

He did it all for you and for me.

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.” (19:4)

Again, Pilate says, “Not guilty.”

Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (19:5)

His intent was likely, “Look at the poor man? How can he be a threat to the government or anyone, for that matter?”

John repeatedly shows the humanity of Jesus and this is another example. Here is the man. Jesus is the man. He is the Son of man. He is the ideal man. He is the ultimate example of what it means to be human.

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”


But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” (19:6)
Pilate offers a third “not guilty” verdict (see also Luke 24:4, 14,22). He is sarcastic in his response for he knew the Jews lacked the authority to crucify but he was desperate to get them out of his sight. He just wants the whole situation to go away.

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (19:7)

Leviticus 24:15-16 states blasphemy as a capital offense.

Who is the real man in this account? Is it Pilate with power and authority or the humble Jesus who actually possessed all authority? Is it the politically correct, people-pleasing Pilate or the Biblically correct, God-pleasing Jesus? Which best describes your life?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Denials, John 18:15-27, 25 August 2013

Big Idea: We are all capable of heinous acts, but by the grace of God.

The biography of Jesus by His close friend, John, brings us to the final hours of the life of Christ before the crucifixion. Last week we studied the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now the focus will include Peter.

Peter

Peter is one of the dominant figures in the Gospels, the good news accounts of Jesus. Jesus’ inner circle consisted of John, James, and Peter. Simon Peter was a fisherman who walked with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. He was never shy about speaking his mind or expressing his emotions as he did in last week’s text by cutting the ear off a slave in the midst of Jesus’ arrest. We are about to see another famous—or infamous— episode featuring Peter.

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
(15-16)

Who is “the other disciple?” John. He got Peter a backstage pass!

It was early in the morning. There was a fire. It is dark (remember, this is before electricity!). The servant girl recognized Peter as being from Galilee.

“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”
(17)

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. (18)

Now the scene shifts from Peter to Jesus.

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. (19)

“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.” (20-21)

Jesus was asking why they questioned His public ministry.

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

The violence has begun. Actually, it began in the garden with Peter cutting off the ear of Malchus.

What would you do if someone slapped you in the face? Notice what Jesus does. He is under complete control. In the midst of injustice, He is calm and non-violent. What a powerful example for us when we were mistreated or persecuted.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (23-24)

No trial is to begin or end at night. They are breaking their own law. Since Caiaphas is not presiding here, this is more like a police interrogation than an actual trial. Annas is here as a witness in case Jesus does say something incriminating.

The probing of Jesus by Annas is obviously unsuccessful which is why He is sent to Caiaphas.

Now we go back to Peter.


Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” (25)

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. (26-27)

I doubt Peter ever heard a sound as horrifying as that rooster, between 3 and 5 in the morning. If you recall, several chapters ago Jesus predicted this very event.

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:38)

Jesus stands up to those that question Him and denies nothing.

Peter cowers in the face of those that question him and denies everything.

Jesus tells the truth. Peter tells lies.

So What?

Can you imagine denying Jesus? Can you imagine denying Him three times?

It’s easy to criticize Peter for abandoning his best friend during His hour of greatest need. What was he thinking?

I’ve had similar thoughts about Adam and Eve. One rule! One, simple rule! Avoid one tree’s fruit! When I was a child, my least-favorite chore was pulling weeds. On hot, summer days while my friends were playing or swimming I would silently curse Adam and Eve for their sin that resulted in weeds I had to pull!

But I would do the same thing.

Sin is common to all of us. We are born with it. Contrary to some naive authors, children are not born good. That’s why their first word is usually, “No!”

We all sin. Listen to what the writer of the Gospel of John said later…

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

This is why we need grace. This is why Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested and killed…in order to offer us forgiveness and grace, unmerited favor.

Maybe you think you’ve screwed up, big time. You’re in good company! Peter denied Jesus three times…and became the first Pope and one of the greatest Christians in history. Another guy, Saul, was in charge of murdering some of the first Christians…and wrote much of the New Testament after He encountered Jesus and became Paul.

Nothing you can do can make God love you more.
Nothing you can do can make God love you less.

Every day we make choices. Every day we choose to follow God or the world. Every day we face temptations that lead us to God or away from Him. What will you choose?

Prayer

Reflection Time

What is God saying to you?
What are you going to do about it?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Arrested Development, John 18:1-14, 18 August 2013

Big Idea: Jesus willingly surrendered Himself for us.

Introduction

After months of studying the life of Jesus, we turn a sharp, dark corner. For the next few weeks, we will be examining those final, bloody hours before His death. As one of Jesus’ best friends, John gives a unique account of this scandalous expression of God’s love for us.

In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) the humanity of Jesus is emphasized, His sufferings. John emphasizes the deity of Jesus, the God man. The emphasis is on His glory and His return to the Father.

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (1)

The 17th chapter of John records Jesus’ prayer for Himself, His disciples, and us. If you missed them, I urge you to listen to the podcast or read the message notes at PastorKirk.com.

John does not record the agony of Jesus sweating drops of blood, instead focusing on His glory, His ability to be in complete control.

David fled his son, Absalom, in 2 Samuel 15 after crossing this same Kidron Valley. Another interesting parallel is David’s counselor, Ahithophel, betrayed him and later hung himself, the person in the Bible besides Judas to hang himself. The agony of David and Jesus are oddly similar. Coincidence?

The scene is dark, both literally and figuratively.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. (2-3)

Earlier, Jesus eluded his enemies because it was not yet time. Now is the time for His arrest. A detachment is a tenth of a legion or as many as 1000 soldiers! It is unlikely that they all came, but imagine dozens or even hundreds of armed soldiers going after one man…one unarmed man!

One writer noted how they bring torches and lanterns to search for the Light of the World; they bring weapons against the Prince of Peace.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” (4)

Jesus approaches them! What kind of person goes out to their enemies?! I love that He knew all that was going to happen, yet He asks who they want.

Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of John were “What are you seeking?” (1:38). These people are seeking Jesus, not to know Him but to kill Him.

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. (5a)

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (5b-6)

Twice Jesus calls Himself “I Am.” John has given us many “I Am” statements already such as, “I am the bread of life” and “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Jesus is divine, yet notice they didn’t fall forward to worship Jesus but backward in fear and confusion in the presence of the LORD they do not know or recognize.

Psalm 27 says

The LORD is my light and my salvation —whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. (Psalm 27:1-2)

Again he asked them,
“Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
(7)

Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (8-9)

Jesus remains in complete control. He tells the crowd to let the disciples go and they obey Him. He issues orders to those arresting him! He is the Good Shepherd laying down His life for the sheep.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) (10)

Peter was a fisherman, not a soldier. He probably went after the neck and only got the ear! Why didn’t they go after Peter? Luke tells us Jesus healed the ear of Malchus (22:51). As is so often the case, Peter is clueless. He is out of control. He takes matters into his own hands. Then he is scolded by Jesus!

Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (11)

There is the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13), consolation (Jeremiah 16:7), but this is the cup of judgment that Jesus will bore for us on the cross. He is willing to drink the cup given to Him by the Father.

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people. (12-14)

They didn’t need to bind Him. He willingly went with them. He went alone. His friends have all fled the scene.

Caiaphas was the one the Roman government accepted. Annas was the head of the religious leaders, their high priest.

Notice the final sentence. John shows us that it was predetermined that Jesus would die (see John 11:43-53). Jesus knew the plan and was in complete control of every moment. The true high priest will be put to death by the religious high priest.

So What?

In the beginning, there was a beautiful, perfect garden. Generations later, sinful men arrested the only perfect Man in a garden in order to restore humanity, in order to bring healing and reconciliation rather than violence and bloodshed.

Despite the nightmare He was about to face, He chose to follow the Father’s plan of seeking and saving us—broken, messed up sinners. Jesus willingly surrendered Himself for us. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

You can listen to the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

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