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Christ Testifies to the Truth—John 18:28–37

Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 6:00
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Christ Testifies to the Truth

April 1, 2012

Lesson: John 18:28–37

Key Verse: John 18:37

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Introduction

Truth is a hindrance to those who believe that they alone have the answers to how we ought to live. They cry when the Christian teaches that it is the God of Scripture who alone knows and reveals what is true. It is not that many people believe the lie, but that they have created lies that others should not believe as truth. Truth is but a dream that dissolves before them; for they desire to legislate their own immorality as morality, which, by their own wills that what they do and think proves their unrighteousness to be the right way of life. They therefore deny the truth of the Creator by claiming evolution as true and must be the only true understanding of the world to be taught; that there is no life in the womb where they go to destroy life. They cleave to their darkness, dispensing their lies, that others may follow their road to destruction.

Jesus encourages us to continue in his Word as disciples who sit at his feet, saying, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). The truth that Christ teaches is that which is of heaven, sincere and without error. When Paul encourages the saints at Ephesus to live righteously, he reminds them that there are those who, “being alienated from the life of God,” having “given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness”; encouraging them in their new relationship with God, saying, “But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: …and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:17–25).

Truth sets us free to be what God intended us to be before the fall. We are to live righteously in his sight. We are to grow in the truth as He has revealed in his Scriptures, of which the Holy Spirit is our teacher. We, therefore, become witnesses to this truth in our thoughts and deeds. The Psalmist testifies, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies” (Ps. 25:8–10). In this way, we become witnesses to the truth that comes from God, saying, “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation” (Ps. 40:10).

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The Accusation—John 18:28–32

Early in the morning the priests bring Jesus to the judgment hall. “They themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover.” They had set the scene for the crucifixion of Jesus. Their lies followed them along with their arrogance that they now had Jesus where they wanted them. On the one hand, they would not defile themselves by entering the judgment hall to keep them clean for the Passover, while they harbored hatred in their hearts for the Christ. Their actions belied the pollution their hearts. There was no law but theirs that would stop them from entering the judgment hall. This is the scene into which they brought their false accusations to Pilate.

Pilate went out to them, asking, “What accusation bring ye against this man?” They answered, “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.” Pilate was not to question their integrity in the matter. They had judged Jesus, but they did not have the authority to sentence him. They expected Pilate to take their word that Jesus was an evildoer. Calvin writes, “Such is the manner in which wicked men, whom God has raised to a high degree of honor, blinded as it were by their own greatness, allow themselves to do whatever they choose. Such, too, is the intoxicating nature of pride. They wish that Christ should be reckoned a malefactor, and for no other reason but because they accuse him.”

Pilate desires to get rid of them, saying, “Take him, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” Death was the desire of their hearts. They acted according to their own evil nature. However, the will of God was revealed in their words, “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.” Jesus was given the name Joshua (Jehovah is salvation) that he may save his people from their sins. The Father had so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life. It is Christ Jesus who went to the cross to prepare a place for us. He redeems our souls through his own precious blood. The manner of his death and sacrifice was revealed to his disciples before this encounter with Pilate. On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus spoke to the twelve, saying, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him; and the third day he shall rise again” (Matt. 20:17–19).

Discussion: What was the spirit of those who brought accusations against Jesus?

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The Truth—John 18:33–37

Pilate returns to the judgment room and calls Jesus, saying to him, “Art thou King of the Jews?” Jesus answers, “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” Pilate answers, “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me; what hast thou done?” Pilate removes himself from the riotous crowd in order to speak to Jesus in private. His aim seems to be to acquit Jesus of the accusations of the priests and people, the chief accusation being that Jesus is declaring himself to be king of their nation. The Lord continues to set his face toward that reason for which he came, that his people may be saved from their sins. Jesus goes to the cross on his own volition, desiring to fulfill the will of the Triune God.

Jesus does answer Pilate, not as a defense to be acquitted of the false accusations, but as a witness to the truth of his coming. For the chief priests had aroused the people against Jesus, and there would be no turning back for those whose hearts are filled with lies and hatred. They would hear Pilate’s voice saying, “I find in him no fault at all.” Their hearts would cry out for the freedom of Barabbas the robber.

Jesus speaks to Pilate, saying, “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. …Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I unto the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” There is a false assumption that Jesus’ kingdom really has no affect on the world around us, as if he is not the king of all nations on earth. They say his kingdom is spiritual and therefore we wait for his coming. Christ has come! He is the King of kings and Lord of lords today. His kingdom is spiritual in the sense that it does not receive its authority from the world. His kingdom is not of this world, but of God. All authority has been given him by the Father. The nature of his kingdom on earth is not of the world, with its lies and wars, but of truth. His kingdom enters the darkness of this world to dispel its lies that many may be set free. His kingdom, his church on earth, is to be a witness to the truth which he himself has revealed through his Word.

Those who belong to Christ because of his redemptive work on the cross have ears to hear and eyes to see. They are being enabled daily, through his Word, by the Spirit, to discern truth from error. Thus we testify to the witness of Christ when we declare the truth of sin and grace as he has so revealed in the Scriptures. Calvin writes “that it is natural for Christ to speak the truth; and, next, that he was sent for this purpose by the Father; and, consequently, that this is his peculiar office. There is no danger, therefore, that we shall be deceived by trusting him, since it is impossible that he who has been commissioned by God, and whose natural disposition leads him to maintain the truth, shall teach any thing that is not true.”

Therefore, we need to be wary of what we preach and teach, in and out of the church body. To argue as if we are interpreters of God’s truth, rather than protectors of his truth, is bringing error into the body and falsehood to our witness. Our faithfulness to the truth that is of Christ is natural to our nature. Let us thus continue to grow in that grace which our Father has so freely given us in Christ.

Discussion: How is Christ the King of kings today?

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2012 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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