Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 16, 2017
Open your Bibles this morning to John 18:28-40. If you do not have a Bible, there should be one within arm’s reach. If you do not own a Bible, please take one of ours home with you. It is our gift to you.
For those who are visiting, I do want to give you a special welcome. We are glad you are here with us this morning, and we hope it will be the first of many. If you do continue to come on Sundays, what you will find is that here at Cornerstone we place a very high value on the Bible, the Word of God. We believe that it is inerrant and it is inspired, and it is God’s revelation to man. One of the reasons for this foundational and strong belief in the Bible is that it has proven true over and over and over again, both historically and personally.
Because we place such a high value on God’s Word, at Cornerstone we subscribe to expositional preaching through an entire book of the Bible. What this means is that we pick a specific book and we preach through that entire book from beginning to end. In doing so, we preach exactly what the text says, we exposit it, we explain it. Currently, we are working our way through the the Gospel of John, and we having been doing so for the last 16 months.
For Easter, I was tempted to step away from our expositional pattern, but I decided against it. I decided to let our text be our text and allow God to do with it what He pleases. So with that turn with me to John 18:28-40. I will read it. We will then pray that God would lead us this morning in understanding his truth, and then we will begin to examine our text.
What is Truth?
Let us begin this morning with the question that is posed by Pontius Pilate in verse 38, “What is truth?” It is a question that continues to echo today, perhaps now more than ever. Earlier this month, Time Magazine published their April issue, and on the front cover in bold red letter where three words, “Is Truth Dead?”
Interestingly, this cover page was a redo of Time magazine's cover in April of 1966 which posed the question, “Is God Dead?” Same fount, same bold red coloring, and same black background. Obviously this was intentional, but my guess is that Time Magazine does not fully understand the magnitude of the connection between those two statements, for God and truth are synonymous. God is the standard of truth, for he is the Creator of all things and is all knowing and all powerful. Likewise, Jesus, who is God the Son says in John 14:6, Jesus plainly states, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the truth, and the truth is Jesus.
Pilate, and his question, “What is truth?”, is the posterchild of today. As Time magazine acknowledged, we seem to live in a post-truth culture. In fact, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” the 2016 word of the year. Why? Because this is perhaps the best way to describe current American culture, post-truth. America has embraced relativism, subjectivity, every person has become their own God making up their own rules. The world has become shifting sand, and therefore everything becomes nothing. Humanity becomes like chaff, blown about from day to day with no anchor for our souls.
Does that description resonate with you today? Did I just describe your life; a life with no foundational truth to root yourself in? Are you just floating through life, until you eventually die? I think we would all agree that this way of thinking is extremely unfulfilling and depressing. If there is no truth, there is no reason to keep living, for no truth means no purpose, and no purpose means no reason to live.
You may find it interesting that according to some historical accounts this was the conclusion reached by Pontius Pilate. A man who found no truth in life, a man who ultimately fond no anchor in life, eventually, it is believed by some, took his own life. Some people argue that Pontius Pilate eventually committed suicide. If this is true, I would assume the main catalyst behind this action was his relativistic, subjective, post-truth mentality. If everything means nothing, then there is nothing to live for.
This postmodern, post truth, subjective intellectualism is, however, 100 percent false. It is a lie of Satan, and many of you are perhaps drinking the Koolaid. In this word there is absolute truth. And this truth has a name. His name is Jesus Christ, and all other truths flow from Him.
Are You the King of the Jews
So let us this morning do what Pilate should have done when Jesus was brought before him. Instead of shrugging off Jesus with a flippant question of, “what is truth”, let us actually answer the question found in verse 33, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Let us perform the duties of a jury and reach a verdict on whether Jesus is, as CS Lewis says, a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord.
In reaching a conclusion as to whether Jesus is the King, what evidence might we examine? Whether Pilate knew it or not, he had already given the answer in verse 31, “Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The way to determine if Jesus was in fact the king of the Jews was to use the Jewish law. What is the Jewish law? It included several things, but at its core is the Old Testament. In fact, the law is a common way to refer to all of the Old Testament. In using the Old Testament, we must recognize that the Old Testament was written long before Jesus was born. The book of Genesis was written around 1500 B.C., before Christ, and the last book in the Old Testament, Malachi, was written around 400 B.C., before Christ. And throughout the entire Old Testament the different writers all wrote about a coming King, a Messiah, a Savior that would eventually show up and deliver God's people.
So let us do that this morning to see if we can examine some of the evidence and reach a logical conclusion. What does the Old Testament tells us about the qualifications of the King of the Jews.
Old Testament Prophecies
First, The King of the Jews would be a human and would be a male. In Genesis 3:15, God tells Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Is Jesus a human and a man? Yes. All of the Gospel accounts support that. With this prophecy we have eliminated half of all humanity. The King will be a King, not a Queen.
Next we are told in the old Testament that the King of the Jews would be a descendent of Abraham, a descendent of Isaac, and a descendent of Jacob, a descendent of Judah, a descendent of Jesse, and a descendent of David. We find that in Genesis 22:18, Genesis 21:12, Numbers 24:17, Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1-2, and Jeremiah 23:5. Was Jesus a descendant of those six people? Yes. We see this confirmed in Matthew chapter 1, with the listing of Jesus' genealogy. Each one of those individuals are in Jesus family tree. Jesus has the required royal blood. With this piece of evidence, we have eliminated all races, but one, the Jews, and we have, eliminated all tribes of the Jews, but one, the tribe of Judah. Furthermore, we have divided the tribe of Judah into eight section, David being one. All of the sudden, our pool of candidates has become very small. But it is about to get really small with the next one.
The King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem according to Micah 5:2. Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Yes. Matthew 2:1, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king.” With this simple requirement, the list of candidates has been reduced dramatically, to what percentage, I do not know for sure, but it would at least eliminate 99.99 percent of the human race.
The King of the Jews will be called Lord according to Psalm 110:1. Was Jesus called Lord? Yes, by numerous people including the angels in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The King of the Jews will be called Immanuel according to Isaiah 7:14. Was Jesus called Immanuel? Yes. Once again by an angle to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
The King of the Jews will be proceeded by a messenger going before him according to Isaiah 40:3. Did a messenger proceed Jesus? Yes. Matthew 3:1, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”a 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
The King of the Jews will be called a Prophet according to Deuteronomy 18:18. Was Jesus called a prophet? Yes. Matthew 21:11, “And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
The King of the Jews will be anointed by the Holy Spirit according to Isaiah 11:2. Was Jesus annointed by the Holy Spirit? Yes. Matthew 3:16, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,c and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;”
The King of the Jews will perform great miracles according to Isaiah 35:4-5. Did Jesus perform miracles? Yes. Matthew 9:35, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”
The King of the Jews would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey according to Zechariah 9:9. Did Jesus ride in on a donkey? Yes. In fact, just five days before his trial with Pilate. Luke 19:35-36, “And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.”
The King of the Jews would be rejected by the Jewish leaders according to Psalm 118:22. Was Jesus rejected by the Jewish leaders? Yes. We see this in our text from this morning John 18, it was the Jewish leaders who wanted Jesus dead.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Because of time, we can't go into all the prophecies from the Old Testament regarding the King of the Jews. There are approximately 61 major prophecies of the coming Messiah in the Old Testament.
The Probability that Jesus is the Christ
And Jesus fulfilled every single one of them, not just one, not just a couple, but every single one. In a court of law we call this type of case a slam dunk. The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus is the one who God had been telling the world about for thousands of years.
In fact, there has been some mathematicians, specifically Peter Stoner, who put together some probabilities of the likelihood of one man fulfilling these prophecies found in the Old Testament. Stoner concluded that for one man to fulfill only eight of this prophecies would be 10 to the 17th power. That is 1 with 17 zeros behind it. To help us understand that number Stoner encourages us to imagine filling the entire state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep. Then mark one silver dollar with an X. Then stir all the quarters up and then blindfold a man and tell him to walk into Texas and pick up one coin. The chance of him picking up that silver dollar with an x is 10 to the 17th power. Stoner then goes on to to say that to fulfill 48 prophecies would be 10 to the 157th power. This number is almost too large for us to wrap out heads around. Yet, once again, Jesus fulfilled every single one of them and more.
How are we to explain this? Simple, Jesus is the King of the Jews. Believing that Jesus is the long awaited for Messiah is not a leap of faith. It is the most reasonable and logical conclusion your could ever make.
However, the greatest evidence that Jesus is in fact the King of Kings is of course the empty tomb. Jesus spent three years going around telling people that he was the Son of God. That he is the one who can fix the worlds biggest problem, our sin, and our death. It is one thing to say it, but it is another thing to display it, but that is exactly what Jesus did. He not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk, when he walked out of the tomb. If a man says that he is the Author of life and I say prove it. Dying and coming back to live is pretty good proof, wouldn't you agree?
My Kingdom is Not of this World
Now some of you might be thinking to yourself, so what, what does this have to do with us? Perhaps you have the same attitude as Pilate who said in verse 35, “Am I a Jew?” But once again, if Pilate would have just read the Word of God he would have discovered that the King of the Jews is not only the King for them, but he is a King for all people and all nations. Turn with me to Psalm 2, another Old Testament passage written 1000 years before Jesus was born.
Psalm 2- “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Psalm 2 is a warning to Pilate, it is a warning to Caesar, it is a warning to all of us. There is only one King that all man must submit to, and God has provided overwhelming evidence to support that Jesus is that King. The problem for many of you is that you are just like Pilate. The Word of God is standing before you, the evidence is overwhelming, you just have never bothered to look at it. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the Savior King of this world.
The question for some of you is will you turn your back on Jesus this morning, just like Pilate did? Or will you turn from your sins and submit to him and receive forgiveness and eternal life? There are only two options in this world, to see Christ for who he is and trust in him and take refuge in him, or perish. There is no middle ground.
John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Eternal life, or the wrath of God. The choice is yours.