Sermon – What is Truth? (John 18:28 – 18:40) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 53 of 58

What is Truth?

Chris Tilley, John 18:28 - 18:40, 5 February 2023

Chris continues our series in John’s Gospel, preaching from John 18:28-40. In this passage we see Jesus before Pilate, and what it means for us today.

John 18:28 - 18:40

28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

So John 18, beginning at verse 28.

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from QIAFAST to the Palace of the Roman Governor. By now, it was early morning. And to avoid ceremonial unclineness, they did not enter the palace because they wanted to be able to eat the passover. So pilot came out to them and asked, What charges are you bringing against this man? If he were not a criminal they replied, we would not have handed him over you.

Pilot said, take him yourselves and judge him by your own law. But we have no right to execute anyone they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. Pilot then went back inside the palace summoned Jesus and asked him, are you the king of the Jews? Is that your own idea?

Jesus asked, or did others talk to you about me? Am I a Jew, Pilot replied? Your own people and chief priest handed you over to me, what is it you have done? Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.

But now my kingdom is from another place. You are a king then said pilot. Jesus answered, you say that I'm a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

What is truth reported pilot? 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 1 prisoner at the time of the passover. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews? They shouted back, no, not him, give us Barabbas.

Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. Well, good evening. Good evening to you all, and welcome from me. My name is Chris Tilly. I'm 1 of the elders here, as Phil said.

Let's pray before we before we start. FATHER, as we've just been praying on our tables, help us now to open ourselves up to your word of truth. We know your word is true, and we know your word is good. So please help us to to listen and accept it now. Our men, Well, what is truth?

It's a great little line, isn't it by pilot? 1 is truth, pilot retorts. Is tempting to think that truth is 1 of those elusive things for for humans, be like trying to grasp hold of the wind. Although if you were in a recent rooted for. 1 of our youth did try and actually grab grab hold of the wind.

He tried to suck it in, which was a really clever way of doing it, I thought. Anyway, by the way. But who knows the truth about pretty much anything? Who can say definitively what the truth is? About many, many things.

It's often said that we live in a a post truth age, an age in which there's so much this information. And it's incredibly hard to trust basically any any sources whatsoever. My favorite radio presenter is Lisa Tarbak. Every Saturday, it's well known in our house that I have a date with her between 6 and 8 pm while I'm cooking dinner. And she often randomly just shouts out.

Tell us the truth, which is actually a really good thing to shout out. And deeper, I think then she even realizes. Tell us the truth. It's a deep longing of humans to know what on earth is the truth. So for for example, is truth a subjective thing?

Is it merely subjective? Subjective means is it based on feelings, tastes, or opinions because we're told many things that that claim to be the truth. Aren't we? Many things that claim to be the truth. Take oh gosh.

Controversial. Why have I put this down? Take evolution. Frankly, we shouldn't care 1 way or the other. If it's true or not, it doesn't actually matter in the end.

I know, yes, if you can argue with me about it afterwards. I don't care I'll find out 1 day when I get to heaven or maybe I won't. And then I still won't care because I'll be in heaven. But what we should care about What we should care about is when people purport it to be absolutely true, it's not its unproven theory. It's based on opinion.

It's not it's not factual because it's untested. It's unproven. That's subjective. That is subjective. Or is truth simply a matter of perspective?

You know? You I believe 1 thing, you believe another, you have your truth. I have might my truth live and let live. Is that is that how truth works? Well, as you've probably already figured out, The answer to all of the above is no.

The truth is not subjective. There's nothing subjective about truth. It doesn't actually matter what we feel is true. It doesn't matter what we think is true. It doesn't matter what we want to be true.

The truth is the truth whether we know it, like it or want it. It it just doesn't change. It is true. The truth isn't about perspective either. It is by definition exclusive meaning there can only be 1 truth.

If something is true, everything else is false. That's that's the very definition. There's no room for other versions. They are not the truth. They are at best distortions, at worst outright lies.

The truth is a singular thing. It's a singularity. You cannot have 2 people with contradictory ideas both claiming to be true. That is not how truth works. Either 1 is false and the other true or is this more often the case.

They're both false. They can never both be true. And this is the predicament that poor old pilot finds himself in today. He is being asked to make a decision about someone's life based on 2 different versions of the truth. There was a film in 20 21.

I doubt many of you have have seen it. It's a Matt Damon movie called The Last Jewel, it's set in medieval France. And it's a unique film in in this in that it tells the story 3 times over. You actually watch the film 3 times. You watch it Firstly, from the point of view of I can't remember his name.

Nice. French name. It's gone from my head. It's his it's his version of events of what happens to him and his wife. Then you watch the whole film again, which is from another man's perspective of Well, there was a consensual affair and the ladies all loved me, and this is my version of the truth.

In both versions, the men are both fantastic. And you actually you actually quite like the first guy. You think, wow, fantastic husband, loyal soldier. You know, she always speaks well in public. But then you see him in the second version of the truth.

You think, gosh, this guy is a bit of a shocker, actually. Then you watch it again. And the final telling of the film is just the truth. And it's told from his wife's perspective, they're both horrors. You see what actually happened.

You see the truth at the end. And that's that's kind of what we're gonna do tonight is, that's largely what you have going on here. You have the Jewish leaders version of the truth. You have pilots version of the truth. Then you just have the truth at the end.

So I'm going to do something that's maybe a little bit a little bit dodgy, but let's go with me. I'm not heretics. Don't charge me on stage. But I want us to I want us to get into the mindset of these Jewish leaders. I want for a moment all of us in the room to imagine that we are 1 of the Jewish leaders at this particular time in history.

So the truth according to the Jewish leaders, if you could put that up, Alex. Israel, as a nation, does not really exist. Okay? We're there. We're back 2000 years.

Those glory days are a thousand odd years in the past under King David and Solomon. Since then you've had the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and now the Romans have invaded and and ruled over Israel. Currently, Israel only exists as a Roman province, which they call Palestine, rubbing further salt into very deep old wounds. It's the province of Palestine, not even of Judea or Israel. And Roman rule is pretty total.

Their military might is completely unparalleled. Their systems of government reach deep into many aspects of life, taxis are levied, slaves are taken, tariffs are applied, that's the sort of world you're living in. And in return for this domination, you get relative stability and the protection of the legions, although this feels a lot like extortion most of the time. For a nation such as Israel, This is not good enough. It's not good enough.

You are god's chosen people. That's what you hold in your heart. You have a history of heroic military leaders. Peer the swaddlers. Great kings.

If anything, the group should be on the other foot. The Romans should be under you. You should be rolling over them. You've got scriptures such as Genesis 49 numbers 24, Psalm 2, where God promises the nations of the world as your inheritance. Yeah?

You should be the Roman Empire. Is it should be the Israeli Empire, the Israelites Empire. That's what should be going on in your mind. And not only that, but the scriptures also talk of a Messiah, a king, a promised 1 who will rise like a star from among the Jewish people, 1 who will rule with an iron scepter. And will dash his enemies to pieces like pottery and establish justice over all the earth.

He will usher in this new golden age for Israel, for the Jewish people. It's heavy stuff, isn't it? It's very very heavy stuff. And in the meantime, the job of the Jewish leaders, the sadisties, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrine, the chief priest, is to watch over Israel, is to guard it, is to uphold the law as passed down by Moses, until the Messiah comes. And it's into this context.

Steps Jesus. And to the minds of the Jewish leaders, he is not the Messiah they were hoping for. I'm not sure specifically what they were expecting. Perhaps that he would rise from among themselves from the ruling elite Ironically, if they're checked, they would have known that Jesus actually descended from the line of David, which is about as noble as the stock can possibly get. But in chapter 6, you have people saying, is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose parents we know?

So from their perspective, This Jesus who rises up, who becomes a personality, it's just a normal person. He's nobody special. He's the son of a carpenter. He's conceived outside of marriage, didn't you know? Actually, it's scandalous.

He's from Nazareth in Galilee to nowhere. Back quarter is horrible. So I've been from Birmingham. I'm from Birmingham. He has no political clout.

He has no military leadership or experience or credentials. He has no connections. He's not well connected. He doesn't know the people in power. Frankly, no 1 knows who he is.

But he is making big claims about himself, and he's doing some pretty amazing stuff. And they can't just ignore him. He won't go away. It's like a thorn in their side. So they watch him closely.

And as they watch him, they start to build a case against him. And I wonder, would we not have done the same thing? Would we not have done the same thing? It really struck me as I was going through this. Imagine someone started walking around Kingston, saying the things that Jesus said.

We would think this bloke is mental. We need to lock him up. He's completely lost his mind. So they build a case against him. And the case that they build consists largely of of of 4 things, but 1 of them major.

1 of them major. So something that comes up again and again and again as Jesus goes about his ministry and starts to confirm all of their fears about him is that He consistently does it in ways that break the law. He's a Sabbath breaker. Time and time and time again Jesus keeps doing things on the Sabbath. It doesn't matter what they are, it doesn't matter what these things are at all.

The fact that he's doing it on the Sabbath rules them out. He could do anything he likes, but it's on the Sabbath, so it doesn't matter. It's null and void. The fourth commandment says to remember and keep the Sabbath holy, and Jesus is not doing that in their view. What sort of a messiah can he possibly be if he breaks God's law so blatantly?

So in chapter 5, as Jesus heals a lame man, the day on which this took place was a Sabbath. And so the Jewish leader said to the man who had been healed, it is the Sabbath. The law forbid you to carry your mat. But he replied, the man who made me well said to me pick up your mat and walk, So they asked him, who is this fellow? Who told you to pick it pick it up and walk?

And then you skip on and so because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. I don't care that a man who was lame his entire life is now walking. He did it on the south, It doesn't matter what he did. He's a lorebreaker. And then again, chapter 9 of John, You have a blind man this time.

He's been blind his whole life. Some of the Pharisees said, this man is not from God. Because he does not keep the Sabbath. They do not care that a man who's just been healed who was blind. He's able to do miraculous things, but so what?

In order to do them, he breaks god's law Therefore, he cannot be from God. That's part of the argument. So next question, where does he get this power then. If he's able to do these things, where does this amazing power come from? Ah, there's only 1 other place he must be demon possessed.

He must be demon possessed. And you get it all the way throughout John chapter 7, you were demon possessed the crowd answered. Chapter 8, the Jews answered him, aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon possessed? In chapter 10, the Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, he is demon possessed and raving mad.

Why listen to him? In the other gospels, they say they go as far as saying, his power is from Bealzebub. That's another word that they used for Satan himself. That is how he's able to have this power. That is how he's able to do these things.

It's it's not from God. He's a law breaker. It's demonic power. That's how this thing's working. And he uses it to deceive the people.

They see these signs and these untaught, uneducated, people who do not know the law, they just follow him like sheep to the slaughter. In chapter 7, you have the Pharisees saying to the gods, you mean he has to received you also, they just sent the guards to arrest him in the temple courts, and they come back saying no one's ever taught this way. Has he deceived you also? The Pharisees were taught it? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?

No. Because we know the law. But this mob that knows nothing of the law there is a curse on them. Jesus with his demon power has cursed them. He's put a spell on them.

And they're just playing along to his his tune. So Jesus is a lawbreaker, potentially demonic and has put a curse on the people and so can deceive them. Can nobody see what is going on here? Can nobody see that? We've got to stop this man.

He needs to be stopped. Well, don't worry, don't worry because he's just played right into our hands. He's given us the ultimate reason to stop him. Is guilty of blasphemy. The chapter 10 of John Jesus says these words.

My father who has given them to me is greater than all. No 1 can snatch them out of my father's hand. I and the father are 1. Again, his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him. But Jesus said to them, I have shown you many good works from the father.

For which of these, do you stone me? We are not stoning you for any good work they replied, but for blasphemy because you, a mere man, claim to be god. There, we have him. We've got him. Anyone who claims to be god deserves to be put to death, a mere man, the son of a car, and so this nobody claims to be god.

It is our duty to stop him before he goes any further. Before he deceives anymore. If they do not, then not only will his blasphemy go unpunished, but they say in chapter 11 that worse may come, Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him. Then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.

The Romans will take everything over. It will all be gone. This is their fear. That's their real fear. Many people have fallen for this Jesus, and if they're not careful, the Pharisees could have a full scale uprising on their hands.

And if that happens, the Romans will get involved and that will be bad for us all. Mainly for the leaders, mainly they're worried about saving their own skins. However, there is another issue Because of the large following that Jesus has attracted already, they can't simply drag him outside the city and stone him to death for blasphemy. Because there would be a riot from his followers. So they're a bit stark what is to be done.

How are we to get ourselves out of this a predicament. How do we solve this riddle? Well, that brings us back to today's passage, this scene with pilot. They cannot kill him for fear of the people. However, here's the clever part.

If we can get the Romans to kill him, then the people would not dare rise up against the Romans. So we just have to do some legal chicanery to get around this, sling him through a quick court, take him to pilot, and then they can do it. And that lands are squarely back on verse 29. So pilot came out to them and asked, what charges are you bringing against this man. Well, all of the above pilot.

That's our version of the truth. That's all you need. Here's a criminal And so we have handed him over to you. That's all you need to know. Don't worry about the details.

Just know that he's a criminal. And just do your thing. For the Jewish leaders and the people, the truth actually doesn't matter does it as long as they get what they want. And to do that, they've convinced themselves that their own lives and distorted realities are in fact truth. They've gone so far with it.

Actually, they just add lie upon lie upon lie until they're in the right mess that they can't get themselves out of. And they have to fully follow through. So they bring Jesus to the pilot. That brings us on to the truth according to pilot. Now switch your mindset.

You're no longer a Jewish leader. You're now pontius pilot. That's quite a difficult 1, isn't it? To to get yourself in the mindset of you're you're a governor of a Roman province. Gosh, I don't even know where you begin with thinking about that.

Anyway, you are. And it's the small hours of the morning in Jerusalem. And pilots shaken awake by his staff. And he is the governor of the Roman province of Palestine. His job as the as the governor is to see to the efficient administration of the province.

To protect its borders, to wage war if necessary so that Rome can maximize its profits and its glory. That's what you're there for, pilot. And normally, he'd be based in Caesarea up the coast. That's his normal place of operations. However, This week, he happens to be in Jerusalem.

He's positioned himself there because it's passover week. And Jews from all over the world are coming to the city. They're converging on the city for the passover to go to the temple to offer their sacrifices. Now, in the Roman mind, in pilots' mind, this is the week that the Jews celebrate what? They celebrate their rescue from under the yoke of Egyptian oppression.

They're all gathered in 1 place. It's a Tinder box. It's a very fertile breeding ground for anti Roman sentiments. And so he wants to be on hand at the scene at ground 0 to deal with any issues that arise before they conspire out of control. Whatever they may be.

And in the early hours of this morning, such a situation arises His staff telling that there are a crowd of agitated Jewish leaders and people gathered outside the palace. Now, annoyingly, because of some obscure law, they are unwilling to come into the palace, so he has to get dressed and go out to them. Very frustrating set of events. But it's best to see what's going on, just to make sure let's nip this in the bud. And they've brought a man whom they wish to hand over for trial under Roman law, which again brings us back to verse 29.

What charges are you bringing against this man? Or is it criminal? That's all. That's all he gets. He's a criminal.

So we've handed him over to you. It's it's a rather evasive answer, isn't it? And most likely because they know, Pilot just won't care about Jesus' Sabbath Breaking, blaspheming, demon powered deceitful ways. He just won't care. He's a Roman.

This is a Jewish matter. And they're right. He doesn't Their evasive approach doesn't doesn't work out for them either. The pilot just says, take them yourselves and judge them by your own law. And we know why they don't wanna do that.

So they persist. He doesn't wanna get involved in internal religious disputes. Why have you troubled me with this effectively is what pilot says, but the reply that comes back peaks pilots' interest. The next sentence from them gets his attention, but we have no right to execute anyone. Whoa.

Okay. Execution. I didn't realize we were talking about execution. Who's talking about execution and why? What is this man done that deserves execution?

Because in the Roman Empire, execution was reserved for serious crimes, very serious crimes, crucifixion particularly was saved for usually revolts against the empire. And that is Pilot's chief concern. That's what suddenly peaks his interest here. Now John doesn't tell us exact what the conversation between pilot and the people was and how that precisely unfolds. But you can guess from the conversation that Pilot now has with Jesus in verse 33.

Pilot then went back inside the palace summoned Jesus and asked him Are you the king of the Jews? He's got that from somewhere. Are you the king of the Jews? Is that your own idea, Jesus said? Or did others talk to you about me?

Pilot is is now concerned that the rumblings are are there. He's now concerned that Jesus may have some kind of claim to the throne of Israel, that he might be someone who's trying to unite the the Jews and and this week would be the perfect time to do it. And that would be very bad news for the Romans and it would be even worse news for for the Jewish people. He's concerned because Jesus seems to be claiming to be the Messiah, which means the promised deliverer. So yes, Jesus is a king.

Just not in the way that pilot or anyone else is thinking. And Jesus' response to pilot was brilliant, wasn't it? Is that your own idea? Is that your own idea? Or did someone put it in your head?

What do you say about me pilot? What do you say about me? It's me and you talking now. There's nobody else. It's just me and you.

Jesus is basically saying to pilot to make his own assessment and come to his own decisions on his own terms about Jesus. This is an opportunity for pilot. It's amazing, isn't it? It's an opportunity for pilot. The Roman governor He was a horrible man pilot if you read the history about him.

He was a horrendous horrendous guy. Really, really nasty guy. But here's an opportunity for him and he squanders it. Am I a Jew, pilot replied, that I would trouble myself with such things, your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?

You've done something for them to hand you over to me. What is it? In other words, there's nothing to do with me. Just tell me what you've done to get your own people so worked up. To which Jesus again replies brilliantly.

Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place. Yes, I am a king pilot, but not 1 you need to worry about. At least not 1 for the reasons that you're thinking.

I'm not 1 that is a threat to the Roman Empire in the way that you're thinking of it. But actually, I am a king that you need to fear pilot. I am a king that every individual person needs to fear in a sense if you reject me. Because to reject him is to reject salvation. And pilot refuses to see this.

He simply wants to find out whether or not Jesus poses a threat. That's all that's on his mind. That's his only agenda. He's just working through the matters of the day and trying to discharge his duties as governor of the province. Again, I I put it to you.

If you're in pilots position, I reckon you probably would have done the same thing. I reckon you probably would. You are a king then so pilot to Jesus' response. You are a king. I knew it.

Jesus answered, you say that I'm a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. You say I'm a king pilot, but the reason I came is to tell the truth. If you're on the side of truth pilot, you'll listen to me, but you're not, so you won't.

Now effectively, Jesus has done all of his talking. By this point. This is Jesus done talking. Those who heard and believe they're on the side of truth. Those who didn't are not.

What do you believe, pilot? What do you believe? Are you on the side of truth? What is truth? Retorted pilot.

And with those words, he shuts down any further conversation with the 1 who is full of truth. He shuts down the conversation with the truth. It's incredible. He doesn't care Who can say for sure what the truth is? You say 1 thing that Jewish leader say another who can say for sure.

Why does the truth even matter? For pilot, it's more of a philosophical question. Who cares what the truth actually is? The more pressing question is what do I do with you? How do I stop what's about to happen from happening?

I mean, I can't find anything wrong with you, so that's a problem. Frankly, it would be easier if there was something wrong because I could just have done with the whole situation. But I can't. But to accept you, to accept you Jesus. Now that would make my life very hard and that I'm not willing to do.

So what does he do? He consults the world. He consults the people. I find that basis for a charge against Jesus. What shall I do with him?

What shall I do with him? But it is your custom for me to release to you 1 prisoner at the time of the passover Do you want me to release the king of the Jews? They shouted back, no, not him. Give us Barabbas. Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

Effectively, he takes I mean, it's actually In many ways, if you think about it just in purely worldly terms from pilots point of view, it's a master stroke. Just take everything else out of the picture. It's an absolute master stroke because he takes the easy way out. The angry crowd get what they want, the legal basis to kill Jesus. And pilot gets to look as though, he's tried to do the right thing.

He's not judging Jesus. He's let the crowd judge Jesus. Let the Jews judge their own, but I can hand down the sentence based on what they tell me to do. Everyone's a winner. We'll have no uprising.

Everything will just carry on with the status quo. Everyone will be comfortable. Everyone will be happy. No dramas. Partner doesn't care at all what the truth is so long as it doesn't inconvenience him.

And in order to silence the truth, he's willing to question whether it is ever really possible to know what truth is. Remember at the beginning when we looked at being in a post truth world, well, it looks as though pilot was in a post truth world as well. In fact, if you think about it, we've been in a post truth world since Genesis chapter 3. Nothing has ever changed and nothing ever will. But burying your head in the sand when confronting truth or when confronted with the truth is not the answer.

Truth is objective and the objective truth is none other than the lord Jesus Christ. It's the man you meet in the scriptures. He comes to you and explains who he is in no uncertain terms. And to deny that to deny that, well, that's lunacy. And it brings us onto our final point, which is the truth.

Just pure and simply the truth. Now there's many there's many ironies as you go through this passage, and I'm sure you probably picked out quite a few of them. Already. But the first irony, you get right at the beginning in verse 28. Which says 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. Now the Jewish leaders rules and regulations meant that they could not enter a gentile residence. Or they would become unclean. If they became unclean, they would have to miss the passover meal because there were certain things that they had to do to make themselves clean again.

They didn't have time to do it. However, they are perfectly happy to deal with gentiles, to procure the death sentence of an innocent man. You tell me what's unclean. Not only that, but there's so desk sprits to eat the Passover meal whilst handing over the Passover lamb himself. Jesus is the Passover meal.

They can't even see it. If they've been listening to Jesus, they would have heard him say earlier in John very truly. I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life and I will raise them up at the last day. Jesus isn't saying, literally, my flesh and drink my blood.

That's that's that's how ridiculous it gets. They say, what, you're mad. What actually eat you? What were zombies or vampires or something? No.

Don't be so literal. Don't be so stupid. How can you not understand what I'm saying? I am the bread from heaven. I am the manner that God sent down for you to to to live on, to know true life.

When the Passover lamb was sacrificed in Egypt so that you could live by painting the blood over your doorposts. That's me. You can't give me over and eat the passover meal. The second irony: In verse 31, but we have no right to execute anyone they objected This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. Now, We have no right to execute anyone.

This isn't technically true, is it? We we know that they executed people. Remember what happened to Stephen? They just dragged Stephen out and stoned him to death. Whether it was lawful or not is another matter, but they were certainly happy to do it.

And they were doing it for much the same reasons as as as the things that Jesus has said. So they could have stoned him to death The reason isn't that they're worried about having the rights to do it. They're worried about the backlash from people that follow Jesus. Because there are many that do follow Jesus. John's gospel is really clear on that.

But if they had done that, If they had simply dragged Jesus out the city and stoned into death, guess what? Jesus would be a liar. It's amazing, isn't it? If they had done that, it would have made Jesus a liar. They actually would have won they would have got what they wanted because Jesus said in verse 14 earlier in in another chapter in John just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness.

So the son of man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him he said that as he was speaking about the kind of death he was going to die. Lifted up. What does lifted up mean? Lift it up. On a cross, you start on your back on the ground with your arms spread wide and they lift you up.

For all to see. Just as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness and all who were bitten had to look at it and be saved. So people who are bitten by sin have to look at Christ lift it up on the cross and be saved. Now when you're stoning someone, you don't lift them up. Actually, you bury them up to their waste in the ground and launch rocks at them until they're dead.

They're at actually proving the truth of Jesus' words themselves as they're trying to disprove him. Get that through your head. You just can't make it up. Can you? You actually couldn't make it up.

The third irony. Verse 39. But it is your custom for me to release to you 1 prisoner at the time of the passover. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews? They shouted back, no, not him.

Give us Barabbas. Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. And so an innocent man dies so a rebel can go free Pilot executes someone who was no threat to him and releases a threat. As we as we've been reading in 1 Timothy, Paul says, here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus died came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.

Even sinners like Barabbas. By setting Barabbas free, they are validating Jesus' entire mission. That he would drink the judgment meant for rebels like us. And then there's the final irony and that's the truth about us. Earlier in John, Jesus have been speaking to the people and the Jewish leaders.

And he said this, whoever speaks on their own, does so to gain personal glory. That's the Jewish leaders. But he who seeks the glory of the 1 who sent him as a man of truth That's Jesus. There is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law?

Yet not 1 of you keeps the law? Why are you trying to kill me? The people and the leaders who are so keen to see the rules followed at all costs, Southbreaker, did not manage to keep the rules themselves. They couldn't do it. And we see that in this passage as they bend all of the rules out of shape to push through the murder of a man.

Who has just basically become an uncomfortable inconvenience to them. He told them things like, if you were Abraham's children, then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you were looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God Abraham did not do such things. You were doing the works of your own father. Guess who that is?

You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him when he lies, he speaks his native language. For he is a liar and the father of lies, yet because I tell you the truth, You do not believe me. What did Abraham do? He trusted God They're nothing like Abraham because if they were, they would trust him.

These are truths that they cannot bear to hear. The truth is if you do not listen to Jesus, you are no child of god. You are a child of the devil. Jesus says it plain and clear. And you will do his bidding, which is lies and murder, which is exactly what they do.

They lie so they can have him murdered. And people today have not changed. We are we are foolish to think that things are any different in today's world that this would have played out any differently and even in our own hearts. When Jesus gets too radical for you, too uncomfortable, too exclusive What are we tempted to do? Shut him up.

Effectively murder him. Silence him. Shut him down. Don't want to hear that. I really want you all to hear this.

I really, really do because don't think for a second that that ability does not reside within you. You are by nature and enemy of Christ. We're told that in the scriptures. Even in my short time as an elder over the last couple of years, We have watched so many people effectively murder Christ because they do not like what they hear anymore. Most of it was fine.

Much of it was good. But then something comes up that's at odds. Can't live with that. That doesn't agree with the life I want to live, and they walk away. It's it's depressing.

When you murder Christ, you're effectively, I mean, it sounds dramatic, but you're basically what you're just you're doing I you're saying I don't need any help. I don't need your help. I don't need saving. I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm not listening to your version of the truth.

I've got my own thanks. Doing just fine. And this is what Jesus has been saying all along It's not just my version of the truth. I didn't make this up. He's just telling people what his father told him He says it over and over and over again.

He could not be clearer about that point. I am just doing my father's works. I do not speak on my own. I say what the father told me to say. I've been told this by the father.

I come from the father. Again and again and again, god decides what's true and his mouthpiece to tell the world is Jesus. If you don't listen to him, then your arguments with God, and I can tell you there's only 1 outcome there. It's depressing to watch people do that. It really is.

But I don't want to end on that note because Jesus had so much more to say that was positive. So let's end on this. In chapter 8, verse 31 of John, Jesus says to the Jews who had believed in him. Jesus said, if you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples, then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free.

The truth that sets you free is that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners of which I am the worst. That's what Paul says. And he's not saying he's worse than any of you. He just knows himself better than he knows any of you. He knows his sin more deeply.

I know my sin better than I know any of your sin. I am the worst sinner in this room for me. I'm the worst sooner in the world to me. Fin, you're the worst sooner in the world to you, I'm sure. We know ourselves We don't know ourselves as well as we ought to.

There's depths of sin within us that that are horrifying to discover. But Jesus came into the world to save sinners like us. He allowed himself to go through this process. He allowed people to lie about him. He allowed them to hand him over.

He allowed them to nail him to a cross. He allowed them to kill him so that we can walk free. Just like Barabbas walked free from certain death. That's the truth. It's not a version of the truth.

It's not subjective truth. It's objective. It runs throughout the whole of this book cover to cover So what is your version of the truth? I hope you don't have 1. I hope you can just hang everything on that truth.

Let me pray. Father, we do thank you that you speak to us so very clearly. You leave no room for doubt. You give us evidence tons and tons and tons of evidence. Everything you say is backed up and backed up and backed up.

There are prophecies which foretell the future and then it happens. You send your son and he fulfills every prophecy that was made about him. It's spectacular. And there's nothing else like it anywhere in the world. Nothing that even holds a candle to it.

And so we pray that that we would cling to this truth. Whatever Jesus says, However, hard it may be to hear that we would we would work with it. We would battle through anything that we're struggling with, clinging on to your words of truth, not listening to the lies that the world has to tell us, but we come to you with it. We return to you. In prayer, we return to your word for guidance.

We would look to other Christian brothers and sisters for help. Please help us to be singularly minded about what your truth is and help us to be confident in that as well as we go and and speak this truth out into a world that so desperately desperately needs it. Father, we do pray that you would help us with this and that your name would be glorified as a result.

Preached by Chris Tilley
Chris Tilley photo

Chris is an Elder at Cornerstone. He is married to Bernadette, who is part of our safeguarding team, and they live in New Malden.

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