Summary: The most beautiful face in the universe forever will be the face of Jesus, for this is the face that made it possible for man to return to paradise and to fellowship with God.
You never know when something embarrassing will happen
to you. We are constantly on guard, for we do not like to be
humiliated. Mrs. Howard Field was walking to a near by
funeral home for the funeral of an old acquaintance when
she saw an Easter bonnet that caught her eye. She went in
and purchased it. She felt it was improper to carry it into
the chapel, so she asked an usher to take care of it for her.
You can imagine her dismay when she saw it being placed
on the coffin with the flowers. At the grave site she hoped to
recover it, but she was too embarrassed to do anything, and
so she watched her new Spring hat lowered into the ground.
She hardly knew the woman being buried, but she was
weeping as sincerely as the immediate family.
Her embarrassment was real but hidden. In other
situations we cannot hide, and we are embarrassed by what
is beyond our control. The poet gives an example-
I sat next to the Bishop at tea;
It was just as I feared it would be.
His rumblings abdominal
Were simply phenomenal,
And everyone thought it was me.
Then there are the deliberate efforts to get a laugh at the
expense of others. It can be funny to embarrass others. This
is the motive behind roasts and many other types of humor.
We do this frequently as men. It is part of our sense of
humor. Sometimes it borders on the cruel, however. For
example, Bernard Shaw was browsing in a secondhand book
shop when he found a copy of one of his own books peeping
out at him from a dusty shelf. He looked at the inside cover
and found it was an autographed copy he had given to a
friend. He bought his own book just so he could return it to
the friend with these words on the flyleaf- "With renewed
compliments of Bernard Shaw." You can imagine the
embarrassment of the friend.
The desire to humble another can be just good fun, and
when people are friends it can be good for a laugh, even for
the one embarrassed. But there is also sadistic side of this
that we see dominating the whole scene of the trial of Jesus.
John chapter 19 is just one embarrassing scene after another
as the church and state try to manipulate each other by
means of humiliation. Pilate represents the state. He is the
power of Rome, the secular Gentile state. In the other
corner of the ring are the chief priests and officials of Israel.
They are the church, or the religious establishment in the
legal conflict over the issue if Jesus is worthy of being
sentenced to death.
It is one of the greatest paradoxes of history that the state
tried hard to release Jesus, but the religious leaders would
not let the state do what was just, but used the power of
humiliation to compel Pilate to send Jesus to the cross. Let
me share with you the clear facts of this great paradox of
that pagan secular state trying to do the right thing, but the
clever religious people thwarted justice, and manipulated the
state to join them in the evil plot to officially murder the only
perfectly innocent man who ever lived.
Pilate was a pagan, but he knew when a man was
innocent, and he knew Jesus was just such a man. In fact,
the Gospels tell us Pilate acknowledged seven times that
Jesus was innocent. We see three of them in our text. In
verse 4 Pilate said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing Him
out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge
against Him." In verse 6 he says it again, "As for me, I find
no basis for a charge against Him." In verse 12 we read,
"Pilate tried to set Jesus free." The Gospels confirm that
Pilate found no fault in Jesus, and that he did seek to release
Him. Even his own wife had a dream about Jesus and
warned Pilate not to sentence Him. He tried every trick in
the book to set Jesus free. He even gave the people a choice
to let Barabbas or Jesus go free. He thought for sure they
would choose Jesus rather than a known violent killer, but
they did not.
The record is clear, Jesus was killed by religious people
and not secular people. The religious leaders forced Pilate to
give the order to Crucify Jesus. They embarrassed him into
it. Here were the people who had the promise of God to
have a Messiah sent to them, and they demanded that the
state put this Messiah to death. There is no guarantee that