Summary: My relationship to the truth determines my eternal destiny
This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
We now live in what many are calling a “post truth” culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotions and in which facts are largely ignored. We certainly see that in our political system where “feel good” proposals to give people all kinds of free stuff are advanced and people are told not to worry about the details of how those programs are going to work or how they will be paid for. But the problem is that we aren’t going to see an end to that any time soon, because those tactics largely work and the people who use them often get elected.
We see the same thing on social media where people share posts that make a point they want to make without ever taking the time to see if the information they are sharing is factually correct.
And unfortunately, that same “post truth” culture even impacts the way that those who call themselves Christians live their lives. According to a recent Barna Group study, 57% of Americans believe that knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience and, as one would expect, the numbers are much higher among younger generations. But even more disturbing is the fact that 41% of practicing Christians agree that truth is a matter of personal experience rather than absolute truth. So it’s not surprising that 91% of all Americans and 76% of practicing Christians agree that “the best way to find yourself is by looking within yourself.”
For nine weeks now we’ve been taking a look at some conversations that Jesus had with mostly ordinary people just like us. And each week, we’ve developed a “gospel takeaway” from those conversations. And if some of the statistics I’ve just cited are true, and I have no reason to think they are not, then it’s likely that some of you here this morning view those gospel takeaways kind of like items on a menu that you are free to either accept or reject based on your own personal tastes. But in this last message of this series, we’re going to see that is not the case at all. There is only one truth and our gospel takeaways from the last 8 weeks are merely aspects of that truth. So you must either choose to embrace that truth as a whole or you are actually rejecting the truth. And as we’ll see this morning, your eternal destiny rests on what you do with the truth.
Today’s passage is longer than most we’ve looked at in this series, but it’s really important that we read it all at one time because while some of the details in this conversation are important, it is the story as a whole that is most valuable to us.
[Read John 18:28-19:16]
In addition to Pilate and Jesus, there are also some other important characters in the account that I just want to mention briefly:
• First, there are the Jewish religious leaders who accompany Jesus to Pilate’s headquarters. They refuse to enter because they believe that would make them unclean and therefore they would be unable to eat the Passover meal later that day. What is so hypocritical about that is that these same men have no problem at all bringing false charges against an innocent man in order to protect their own power. They are so blinded spiritually that they don’t even consider that is a lot more defiling than entering the home of a Gentile.
• The second character is a robber named Barabbas, a man whose name means “son of the father”. What is interesting about Barabbas is that he actually represents all of us in three significant ways:
1) He was guilty and deserved to die.
2) He did nothing to earn his pardon
3) Jesus died in his place
• Third were the soldiers who mocked and flogged Jesus.
We’re going to see that, just like Pilate, all three of these people or groups of people reject the truth.
That brings us to Pilate. To me, the gospel accounts make him out to be a sympathetic character who is thrown into a situation he really wants nothing to do with. While that is probably true to an extent, historical records paint a different story.
Pilate was a native of Seville, Spain and after serving in the Roman army, he returned to Rome where he married the granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus. That proved to be a shrewd political move that earned his appointment as procurator of Judea, a post he held to a little over a decade. During that time, he was anti-Semitic to the core a fact that was confirmed by three major confrontations he had with the Jews during his reign.