Behold Your King — John 18:28-19:16a

// April 11th, 2018 // Sermons

I love a good debate. I mean, a good one. Not one where the two debaters end up getting angry and calling each other names or when the crowd gets out of control and begins shouting and screaming over each of debaters. Not that type of debate. I like good debates, where you have two knowledgeable people who are interacting with each others ideas and principles in a healthy, robust way. However, as I’ve listened to these debates, looking for the core of someone’s argument against Christianity, I’ve noticed that the core of many people’s argument is built on mockery of the Christian religion. I have heard numerous things that have made my stomach churn, my pulse increase, and my face get red. They will openly mock and ridicule the Christian faith and Jesus Christ himself. Actually, I was just listening to an interview with Christopher Hitchens where he says that mockery of religion is essential in order to demystify it. Shoot, just a couple weeks ago Joy Behar from The View caused a stir when she said that Mike Pence had a mental disorder because he said that “Jesus spoke to him.” It was openly, flagrantly mocking Jesus.

The strategy is to take a distorted view of Jesus, parade him in front of the people they are speaking to, and say, “Look how foolish he looks! Look how ridiculous he is! Look how ridiculous/foolish you are for following him, or believing in him.” The continue to parade him in front of their personal crowd, in front of larger crowds (if possible), and in front of the Christian church seeking to point how out foolish Jesus is and how wise they are. In reality that’s what is happening. They present themselves like conquering kings parading the ravaged Jesus through their city, placing themselves in the position “on high,” seeking to draw followers after themselves.

This isn’t new. It’s been happening for two-thousand years. That’s exactly what is happening in our passage today. It’s another long passage because we are working on finishing up the Gospel of John before the school year ends. Let’s take a look. [Read John 18:28-19:16a]

It’s important when you’re reading any of John’s writings to know that he sees the world in a particular way. He sees a major battle raging between Satan’s kingdom and the kingdom of God. That’s the core reality behind the story of history. God is establishing his kingdom while Satan attacks that kingdom with every power and weapon in his arsenal. If you take some time to read the book of Revelation, you will see that this is the major theme of the entire book. You will encounter word picture after word picture portraying this battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. I’m also hoping that you’ve noticed this theme as we’ve worked our way through this Gospel. It’s been everywhere and it’s showing up in this passage again.

In setting this up, I want to lead you on a little word study through the Gospel of John. I want to show you the different ways John uses the phrase “of the world.” There are two things that John says are “of the world.” In John 8:23, as Jesus is speaking to the chief priests and Pharisees, he says, “You are of this world.”  That’s pretty basic and blunt, right? Then, in chapter 12 Jesus says, “Now is the judgement of this world; not will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31) . Throughout scripture, the ruler of the world, always refers to Satan. Another way to say this would be that Satan is the ruler over sinful humanity in rebellion toward God. They are members of his kingdom. That also helps us to understand that Jesus was not complimenting the chief priests and pharisees when he said they were of the world. Jesus was telling them that they were members of Satan’s kingdom in rebellion against God.

Yet, Jesus also speaks of things being NOT “of the world.” In that same conversation with the chief priests, Jesus is contrasting himself with them, saying, “You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23) . Also, throughout this gospel he has said things like, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19) . So, Jesus is not of this world and his followers are not of this world because he has chosen us out of the world. Finally, in this week’s passage we hear Jesus say, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) . So, Jesus is not of this world, which means his kingdom is not of this world, which means his followers are not of this world.

To be “of” something, means to belong to it. To be “of the world,” means to belong to the world. To be “of the world,” means to be under Satan’s rule and engaged in rebellion against God. However, when Jesus calls you out of the world, he calls you to turn from Satan’s kingdom to His kingdom, he calls you to turn from rebellion against God to surrender/submission to God, he calls you to begin living your life in line with His kingdom and no longer living in line with Satan’s kingdom. He calls you away from belonging to the world, and says that you now belong to him–body and soul, in life and in death. His kingdom is very different from Satan’s worldly kingdom. In all honesty, the kingdom of God is foolishness to those in Satan’s kingdom. Those in Satan’s kingdom mock the kingdom of God. They say that it’s their duty to mock the kingdom of God.

That’s what is happening in this passage. We see a major clash between the two kingdoms. The chief priests and Pharisees bring Jesus to Pilate seeking to have him crucified. At a core level, these religious leaders want him crucified because of how he talks about his relationship with God. Jesus keeps claiming to be the Son of God. Yet, they know Pilate doesn’t really care about their laws. If they want Pilate to crucify Jesus, they need to come up with the right accusation. So, the bring Jesus to Pilate, charging him with claiming to be a king. In their minds they are sure this will get them what they want. They know that Rome didn’t like people who pushed back against Caesar. So, they bring Jesus to Pilate saying, “This man claims to be a king. He tries to undermine Caesar’s kingdom. He is a threat to the unity of our people. He is a threat to the government of Rome. Kill him before it’s too late!”

So, Pilate brings him into his headquarters and interrogates Jesus. Pilate asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus, knowing that this question is coming as a result of accusations brought against him by the crowd, responds, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”  Basically, Jesus is asking, “Why are you asking me?” Also, Jesus is refusing to answer the question because he knows that Pilate will misunderstand anything he may say about being the King of Israel. Eventually, Jesus responds to the question saying, “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.” (John 18:36) . Jesus explains to Pilate that his kingdom is very different from Pilate’s kingdom—a kingdom of this world. It doesn’t function the same way. If it functioned the same way, Jesus’ followers would have led a revolt to free him.

Pilate is paying attention and says,  “So you are a king?”  Jesus responds by basically saying, “Yeah, I’m a king.” He then says, “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.” (John 18:37) . Here Jesus equates his kingdom/kingship with the truth. He says this was the purpose of his being born, to be a king over a kingdom of the truth. As he speaks the truth, he calls people to himself, they hear his voice and listen to him, they embrace the truth and enter into his kingdom—believing in and walking in the truth. That’s what Christ’s kingdom is about. Yet, Pilate rejects it by saying, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

After all this, Pilate is not worried about Jesus “the king.” He approaches the Jews and says, “I find no guilt in him” (John 18:38). Basically, Pilate doesn’t think Jesus is a threat to national security. So, he tries to release him. He gives them an option between releasing Jesus or Barabbas. Now, the ESV translated that Barabbas was a robber, but the word is much stronger. Some would translate it as “terrorist” in our modern terminology. Barabbas WAS a threat to national security. Yet, the Jews choose to have Barabbas released, showing that they are not really worried about national security. They just want Jesus killed.

So, Pilate takes things a step further. He has Jesus flogged in order to demoralize him. This flogging isn’t the extremely intense version….yet. This one is just getting warmed up. Then Pilate sicks his soldiers on Jesus. They weave a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They take off one of their purple military robes and place it on Jesus’ back. Then, they begin to mockingly worship him, crying out  “Hail, King of the Jews!” and slapping him across the face. They continued to do this for some time, mocking him and beating him. Then Pilate brings him out to the crowd again, beaten and dressed as a defeated, ridiculous king. He presents this image of Jesus to the crowd and says, “Look at him! Look how ridiculous he is! You think he is a threat to national security! You think I should be afraid of him! Fools! I find no guilt in this pathetic excuse of a king.”

Yet, the chief priests and pharisees will not give way. They scream, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” They finally reveal the real reason they want him dead. It wasn’t because he claimed to be king, it’s because he claimed to be the Son of God. Yet, Pilate still tries to release Jesus. The the chief priests and pharisees figure out which button to push. They cry out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king oppose Caesar.” (John 19:12). That’s what finally tipped the scales for Pilate—his allegiance to the kingdom of this world. He was afraid to lose the power and prestige that came with his position of authority in the world. So, he mocks them again saying, “Behold your King!” They cry out even louder, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate mockingly asks them, “Should I crucify your king?” Then, revealing their true colors, their true allegiance—revealing which kingdom they are truly a part of—the chief priests cry out, “We have no king but Caesar.” They want nothing to do with God’s kingdom. They want the worldly kingdom. They want Satan’s kingdom. “So [Pilate] delivered him over to them to be crucified.”

The words I want to echo through your mind tonight—and throughout the rest of the week—are, “Behold your King!” Look at your king. See him there beaten, bloodied, bruised. See him with the crown of thorns on his head and a mocking purple robe on his back. See your king being mocked and beaten. See the chief priests and pharisees crying out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” to your King. This is your king. This is the king you’ve given every aspect of your life to. This is YOUR king!

The world will take your king and mock him. The world will take your king and parade his weakness in front of you—parade this event in front of you. They will say things like, “Look at this foolish rebel. Look at this pathetically weak king. Look at this worthless leader who accomplished nothing. Look at this man who had a mental illness and spread lies throughout the world. Look at his man who could only find a few pathetic fisherman to follow him.” Are you embarrassed by your king? Do these insults make you fear those who are mocking, or do they cause a righteous anger to well up in you? Do these insults cause you to question your allegiance to this king?

Tonight, I want you to look at your king. I want you to look at that picture of Jesus—the one mocked by the world. I want you to see the stark contrast between Jesus’ kingdom and the kingdom of this world. I want you to see your king beaten and bruised. I want you to see your king weak and mockingly dressed.  I want you to see soldiers hurling insults at him and slapping him across the face. Then, I want you to remember that your king did all of these things for you—to bring you into his kingdom—to break you free from Satan’s kingdom and draw you into Christ’s heavenly kingdom. I want you to understand that he took the beatings and the mockery that you deserved because of you sin. He willingly stood in your place and drank the cup God has placed in front of him. That is your King! Look at Him! Give your life to Him! Do not be ashamed of him, but worship Him! Behold your King!

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