Dear beloved friend in Christ.
This Sunday, November 25, in the year of our Lord 2018, is Christ the King Sunday, that last Sunday of the Church year which precedes the Advent Season. This part of scripture reveals unto us the true nature of our King, One who layed down His life for all humanity so that we would live and not die. Kings of this earth demonstrate their influence and power by ruling over people while the True King gave His life for all of His brothers and sisters in the world. May the Spirit give us illumination to "Behold the Man" arightly... And may we receive this knowledge from the Word of God which He has spoken and yet does speak.
We will use the Holy Scriptures from the Gospel of John which I will put down for us and we will go through it, making a few comments as we go along. But as I said earlier, let us allow God to speak to us by His Word and Spirit. Also let us be reminded that John’s Gospel was the last one written so it must be kept in mind that many details of what John is writing about the readers would be aware of from the other gospels. To get the full picture of the accounts, it is important to read all four gospels and to compare them. For this exposition however, we will for the most part follow the story of what the Spirit gave John to write in his Gospel.
John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
After concluding His High Priestly Prayer (John 17), Jesus went to a familiar place that Judas had been with him on occasion. He knew what was ahead, and He did not go to another place to hide from Judas, but rather He knew that “the hour had come. “ It was a garden that he went into, and there Judas, in whom Satan had entered into, found him, coming with a large band of soldiers with lanterns, weapons and torches. This is our first clue to the hiddenness of the Kingship of Christ, for Judas is leading a band to find the Light of the World with earthly torches, lanterns and even weapons. Perhaps they considered that because Jesus has a large number of followers that the army of soldiers would be needed to stop the resulting riot upon them arresting and binding up Jesus.
Even after Jesus speaks to them in identifying Himself, with “I AM He” and them falling back to the ground, they still kept on with their mission to arrest Him. Judas was right there with them, and he likewise fell to the ground.
7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
Jesus speaks on behalf of his followers, asking that they be spared of what He knew was coming and as the scriptures testify, his request was honored as none of them were arrested by the soldiers.
10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Peter, the most forward of the apostles, having maintained that he would even to death for Jesus, now lashed out with his sword, seemingly wanting to protect the Lord from being arrested. He in doing this demonstrated his loyalty to Jesus, but not yet understanding the nature of the King that Jesus was. He was told to put his sword away, for didn’t he realize that Jesus is moving forward into the work that He came here to earth to accomplish for the redemption of the world? He did not understand at this point what Jesus was all about.
12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
They took our Lord, binding Him with some kind of fetters, which He could have easily broken had He exercised His power for Himself. But rather He exercised restraint and in so doing demonstrated that He was of a different nature than earthly kings. He could have called Ten Thousand Angels, but He did not do that. Are we thankful that He didn’t, for where would we be if He had? We all know that we would be without hope of eternal life.
15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
Now back to Peter, who through John’s intercession was allowed to come into the palace of the high priest. It was there that Peter was warming himself by the fire when a damsel (young woman) insinuated that Peter was one of Jesus’s disciples. How did Peter respond? He denied it by saying, “I am not.” He then continued standing there with the servants and the officers, by the fire to stay warm.
19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
The high priest now began to ask Jesus about His followers and the doctrine he was teaching. It could not have been honest inquiry, for Jesus had taught openly to the world, He had taught in the synagogue and in the Temple and He had done no teaching in secret. Annas was only interested in finding something to pin on Jesus which would help condemn Him to death. Jesus then told Annas to go ask the people who He had taught and find out from them what He had taught.
One of the officers struck Jesus with his palm, saying, Do you answer the High Priest in such a way? In other words, how dare you speak to the high priest in this way? It is ironic that Jesus, the True High Priest, was right in front of the temporary high priest but did not recognize Him.
Jesus responds to the officer: “If I have spoken evil, tell me in what way I have spoken evil, but if I am speaking in a non evil manner, why did you hit me? Here we see a principle that needs to be mentioned, for Jesus has taught us not to reward evil with evil, but evil with good. There is a difference between turning the cheek in non retaliation and between speaking truth into a matter where evil is being done. This could be developed and explained, but we will leave it at that and go on to the next part. We go back to Peter and his struggles within himself, just like us.
25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
Luke 22:33-34 Jesus had foretold Peter that this would happen, and it did come to pass as it noted here. John tells of two denials while the other Gospels record all three denials.
Now Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor enters the scene.
28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
Those who were moving towards killing Jesus did not want to go into the judgment hall, for if they did they would defile themselves and they would not be able to eat of the Passover. Huh? This illustrates the blindness of a hardened heart that is not open to the truth. We could kill someone, but yet be afraid of some man made rule that would prevent us from worshipping through our ritual? O Lord, help us to see arightly.
29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
At Pilate’s question, they responded something like this: We know what we are doing, for He is guilty in our estimation and we are bringing him to you since we can’t sentence him to death. We know that he is worthy of death, but you need to pronounce it on him and carry out the sentence.
John 18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Now Pilate begins to question Jesus, by asking Him if He was the King of the Jews, and Jesus responds by asking Pilate if he is asking for himself or did others put him up to it. To which Pilate, like recoils, am I a Jew? (He was a Roman governor, a non Jew) Your own people, including the chief priests have delivered you up to me, What have you done? Are you then a king? Pilate only knew of earthly kings, and must have been really confused with Jesus.
Jesus answered in a clear and positive manner, and in so doing revealed of the nature of His kingship. You call me a king, well, I am a king but not a king like the kings of this world. I was born (in human flesh in a manger) and as a king I came into this world (from eternity) in order to bear witness unto the truth. The truth that I bear witness if that which is contained in the Scriptures (Old Testament and those signs and words which He has done and spoken) And then Jesus lays down a very important statement: Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
Jesus graciously places in front of Pilate Himself as the Truth and invites Pilate to hear and to believe what He has just said. How does Pilate respond? What is truth? Truth is standing in front of Pilate and he doesn’t see or hear it. Are we missing the Truth? Are we like Pilate, saying what is truth anyway? Pilate moves on with another angle by which he can get Jesus off of the hook….
39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
It was a custom to release a prisoner during the Passover, and it seems like Pilate thought that if I bring a real bad terrorist as one of the criminals, they will choose to let Jesus go. But they did not so choose, as the chief priests moved the people to shout to have Barabbas go free and to have Jesus crucified. Let us turn to Mark’s Gospel for a little more info on this happening.
Mark 15:6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.
7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.
8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.
9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.
11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
13 And they cried out again, Crucify him.
14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
KJV John 19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged, which means having your back struck with cords having bits of bone or lead on the end of the cords. Scourging resulted in open wounds all the way to the bone and would leave one weak. How does one properly describe the pain and suffering that must have been part of his scourging? Awful, awful, that which our Saviour endured out of His love and commitment for us soul’s salvation.
The soldiers made mockery out of our Lord, putting on Him a crown of thorns and putting a purple robe on him, coming by Him hitting him as they passed and hailing in mocking voices, “Hail the King of the Jews!”
Then Pilate, brought Jesus, disfigured as described in the book of Isaiah:
Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you- his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind-
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
And Pilate, again washing his hands of the affair, put Jesus before them saying: “Behold the Man!”
Our King Jesus, standing before all the people, and perhaps they would now see that He was not a threat to their power base in the Jewish hierarchy. This man who would not fight back, would not call Ten Thousand Angels to fight for Him, but a man who was bruised, bleeding and weak from all the scourging stood there silently.
ESV Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
May the Holy Spirit show us Christ, the crucified, dead and risen Saviour King today.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala