Summary: When Pilate is asked to judge the guilt of Jesus Pilate finds himself asking a very significant question: What Is Truth? The truth is that Jesus is declared innocent by Pilate, but He is still put to death because Jesus is also an inconvenience.
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The Obvious Truth
Who ate the lollies?
Not me. Not me. Not me.
Every parent has had that conversation at one time or another.
So, you go to the old faithful approach.
“I can tell you are lying when you stick out your tongue”.
Who ate the lolly?
Not me. Not me. (muffled sound because mouth is shut) Mot Me!
I guess in that case knowing the truth is not so important – but there are some cases when the search for the truth is very important.
That is the case with our text this morning John 18:28-40
Pilate asks a number of questions in this section. But the most important one is in verse 38.
What is truth?
And – ironically – Pilate seems to be the only one interested in seeking the truth.
The Jewish authorities aren’t concerned with the truth.
They only hold to the truth as it suits them. Their truth is, if they go into the home of a Gentile, they will not be able to celebrate the Passover because they will be unclean.
So they get Pilate to come to the door of his palace.
And they stay on the street.
Keeping true to the fact that they are clean, upright citizens.
Yet they are missing the most obvious detail of the lack of truth.
They have completely twisted the justice system.
They are condemning an innocent man.
They are going to have God’s Son killed by the Gentiles.
They are more concerned about not being able to eat the Passover than they are about killing the one who is the true Passover.
They don’t want truth, they want convenience.
Sadly they are not alone … even today many want a convenient Jesus.
The truth is that Jesus transforms our lives – but it is convenient to forget that transformation takes effort and willingness.
The truth is that followers of Jesus cause others to ask questions – but it is more convenient to stick to ourselves and not let anyone know who we really are.
The truth is that following Jesus means dying to ourselves – but it is more convenient to live for the moment.
The truth is that Jesus sets us free from our sin and shame – but we find it more convenient to be driven by guilt and fear.
We don’t need a convenient Jesus, or a convenient faith. That is the sort of Jesus and the sort of faith that we pull out on Sunday morning and then put back on the shelf on Sunday after church. We need the truth – a true Saviour who real answers.
That is what Jesus is.
He is the true Saviour – a true Saviour even to the smallest detail.
Let’s reread verse 32-33
In Jewish culture, if someone was given the death penalty, they would be usually be stonedd. Very rarely would they be hung from a tree or a pole, and never crucified. Why?
22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
When the Jewish leaders say they cannot put people to death they are correct. Indeed it has been 40 years since that right had legally been theirs. The Romans would not allow local communities to put in place the death penalty.
But – because of this situation – Jesus is not stoned to death. Jesus is crucified. And in so doing He fulfils Scripture.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
Jesus came at the right time, to die in the right way, so that He could make us right with God by being cursed. That is what is necessary. Even here He is the true Saviour. The one who truly dies a cursed death. So that we can have eternal life.
So here is Pilate. He has a group of Jewish leaders standing before him asking him to put this man to death. Notice that, when Pilate asks, What are the charges? the answer is somewhat vague.
“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” In other words, “Pilate, you know us, we wouldn’t say he’s a criminal if he weren’t, take our word for it and pass sentence upon him.”