Avoiding Spiritual Cowardice

Dr. Steve Viars September 12, 2021 John 19:1-15
Outline

Genesis 14:14-16 - When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

Exodus 14:27-31 - So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.

Joshua 1:6-9 - Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Judges 4:21 - But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.

Numbers 13:30-33 - Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

1 Samuel 28:5-7 - When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”

3 stages of people who lack spiritual courage

I. Make “Smaller” Concessions to Appease Those Who Don’t Believe

Psalm 1:1 - How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

A. Scourged Jesus and allowed Him to be mocked

John 19:1-3 - Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face.

Luke 23:6-11 - When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.

Luke 23:12 - Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.

“Scourging was a hideously cruel form of punishment. The victim was stripped, bound to a post, and beaten by several torturers in turn. Jewish law set the maximum number of blows at forty (Deut. 25:3), and in practice the Jews gave a maximum of thirty-nine (to avoid accidently exceeding forty blows; cf. 2 Cor. 11:24). The Romans, however, were not bound by any such restrictions. The punishment would continue until the torturers were exhausted, the commanding officer decided to stop it, or, as was often the case, the victim died. The whip consisted of a short wooden handle to which several leather thongs, each with jagged pieces of bone or metal attached to the end, were fastened. As a result, the body could be so torn and lacerated that the muscles, bones, veins, or even internal organs were exposed. So horrible was this punishment that Roman citizens were exempt from it (cf. Acts 22:25). The scourging He endured left Jesus too weak to carry the crosspiece of His cross all the way to the execution site (Matt. 27:32). Pilate hoped that this brutalizing of Jesus short of death would satisfy the bloodthirsty mob.” (John MacArthur, John 12-21, pp. 337-338)

John 19:4-6 - Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.”

B. Tried to avoid taking a position on what was true/right

John 18:38 - Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

Acts 2:32, 36 - This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses…Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.

II. Speaks and Acts with Hollow Boldness

John 19:7-8 - The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid…

A. Reacts with internal fear when faced with Christ’s deity

Matthew 27:19 - While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”

B. Believes he has more authority in the matter than he does

John 19:10 - So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”

John 19:11 - Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

“Behind Pilate’s ‘power’ (exousia, ‘authority’), however, Jesus discerns the hand of God. Typical of biblical compatibilism, even the worst evil cannot escape the outer boundaries of God’s sovereignty – yet God’s sovereignty never mitigates the responsibility and guilt of moral agents who operate under divine sovereignty, while their voluntary decisions and their evil rebellion never render God utterly contingent (e. g. Gn. 50:19-20; Is. 5:10ff.; Acts 4:27-28). Especially in writing of events that lead up to the cross, New Testament writers are bound to see the hand of God bringing all things to their dramatic purpose (cf. Carson, ‘OT’, esp. pp. 247-248), no matter how vile the secondary causalities may be; for the alternatives are unthinkable. If God merely outwits his enemies, whose evil sets both the agenda and the pace, then the mission of the Son to die for Fallen sinners is reduced to a mere after-thought; if God’s sovereignty capsizes all human responsibility, then it is hard to see why the mission of the Son should be undertaken at all, since in the case there are no sins for the Lamb of God to take away.” (D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, pp. 600-601)

Acts 4:8-12 - Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

III. Gives in When the Pressure to Compromise Seems Unbearable

John 19:14-16 - Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

John 20:30-31 - Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- One of the marvelous provisions of a personal relationship with God is the possibility of developing spiritual courage…

- there’s a kind of strength and confidence that only comes through the Holy Spirit of God working in and through you…

- so for example, as early as Genesis chapter 14 – just 2 chapters after the Lord makes his covenant with Abraham [arguably one of the most events in the entire Bible] – we then read that Abraham wins the unbelievable battle of the kings…

- its also a very understated description of what occurred…so we read about all these powerful military leaders who in their conquest had swept up Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family…so Genesis 14:14 explains -- Genesis 14:14–16 - When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

- and you’re left scratching your head and asking, how did that small group defeat all these powerful kings?...and that begins a repetitive theme throughout God’s Word…

- He gives His people unusual courage…

- so Moses meets with Pharaoh and demands that he allows the children of Israel whom Egypt had enslaved to go into the wilderness and worship…and when Pharaoh refuses, Moses begins this epic battle with the Pharaoh of Egypt culminating with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea…Exodus 14:27–31 - So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.

- after Moses death…what was it that God repeated instructed His new leader to be?... Joshua 1:6–9 - Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

- there are so many examples of this principle throughout Scripture…

- by the way – this wasn’t just limited to men…do you remember a woman named Jael, Heber’s wife?...

- here’s a little marriage tip, guys – if you are ever having a disagreement with your honey and she says, hey, do you remember where we put those tent pegs?...my advice would be – fold em right then and there…

- because here’s what Judges 4 tells us about Jael…Judges 4:21 - But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.

- that resulted in a great deliverance by the way, for the people of God…because the Lord gave this woman unusual courage…

- [btw ladies, you could get a lot of mileage out of that story…good night honey, good night tent peg…]

- so there are all sorts of places in Scripture that would help us develop this premise… that one of the marvelous provisions of a personal relationship with God is the possibility of developing spiritual courage…

- now the other side of this issue is the sad reality that the Bible contains plenty of examples of people characterized by spiritual cowardice…the polar opposite of what we’re discussed so far this am…

- for example, there were the ten spies…who were sent to Numbers 13:30–33 - Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

- and of course we know that because of their cowardice, the children of Israel had to wander around the wilderness for the next 40 years…which show that the consequences for falling into this trap can be severe…

- we could also give multiple examples from the life of King Saul…where his fear motivated him to making his own offering before going into battle before waiting for Samuel as he had been instructed…or his decision to go visit the witch of Endor which reads like this - 1 Samuel 28:5–7 - When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”

- so now we see a clear contrast emerging…people who allow the Lord to develop in them the characteristic of spiritual courage…and other who succumb to spiritual cowardice….

- I hope you’re already beginning to ask yourself the question – which of those conditions best describes me…and what evidence would I give to support my answer…

- well, interestingly, that very issue comes up during the trials of Jesus Christ…and that’s what we’d like to study this am…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to John chapter 19…page 88 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re talking today about Avoiding Spiritual Cowardice…and if it hasn’t clicked yet…we want to see what God’s Word tells us about a man named Pilate…please listen in – read John 19:1-15

- so we’re talking this morning about Avoiding Spiritual Cowardice and with the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 stages of people who lack spiritual courage

I. Make “Smaller” Concessions to Appease Those Who Don’t Believe

- now, already, those last two statements need a bit of explanation…

- here’s what we mean by “stages” of people who don’t believe…

- one lesson from this passage is that cowardice often follows a progression…or a downward slide…

- Pilate gave in to his fear at this point, hoping that would stop the slide…but the opposite happened…

- it’s like falling down a rocky mountainside…you try to stand up and regain your footing, but the precipice is too steep…

- so he gave into his fear again in a more significant way…

- that is a principle we see in many places in Scripture…watch the path you’re on and think carefully about where it leads…and if you’re on the wrong path, repent and turn it around right away because invariably its going to get worse…

- we mentioned Lot’s nephew in the introduction…how did he even get to the place where he and his family were swept up in an invasion of a wicked place like Sodom?...

- you remember the progression – it happened very early in the story of Abraham in the Bible…

- where Abraham’s flocks and his nephew Lot’s became very large and their herdsman were arguing about land and watering rights…

- so Abraham said to his younger nephew…choose which land you want and I’ll go the other way…of course lot should have deferred to his older uncle out of respect and filial piety…

- but he was already looking longingly at Sodom, a place that already had a reputation for wickedness…

- and before long he had, as the KJV puts it, pitched his tents toward Sodom…

- and the next thing we know Lot and hid family are living in the city of Sodom…

- and they become so entrenched in that way of life that later when Lot is warned to get out of Sodom because God is going to destroy the city…his children and their spouses laugh at him when he tries to convince them to leave…

- of course his own wife is turned to a pillar of salt because she even looked back longingly at the city when she was commanded not to later in the text…

- and here’s the point – that hardness on the part of his family members didn’t happen overnight…it resulted after a series of concessions just like we’re seeing with Pilate…

- that principle is also very prominent in the very first Psalm in the Bible – do you remember… Psalm 1:1 - How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

- if you’re not careful whose counsel you walk in, it won’t be long before you’re standing among them and then eventually comfortably seated among those who scoff at the things of God…

- that’s what we’re seeing with Pilate…one wrong choice leads to a worse wrong choice which leads to full blown cowardice…

- now, we should also point out that this is the sixth in a series of trials to which Jesus has been subjected…

- there is where, btw, a Harmony of Gospels serves us well …

- a book like this lays out material from all 4 gospels on the same page in the chronological order in which the events occurred…

- and if you say – why did there have to be so many trials?...

- because there was no legitimate charge…at first they wanted to suggest that Jesus was an insurrectionist…which did not match any of Christ’s teaching and rang somewhat hollow when they were more than happy to choose Barabbas, a well-known insurrectionist, to be released at the time of the Passover instead of Jesus…

- then they accused him of claiming to be God…which was absolutely true, but that was no violation of Roman law…

- so the Jewish authorities just wanted Jesus dead…and since Roman law would not allow them to carry out this kind of penalty on their own…they needed to find someone in the government spineless enough to bow to their demands…

- that’s what Pilate was…so the chapter opens by reporting that he…

A. Scourged Jesus and allowed him to be mocked

- John 19:1–3 - Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face.

- if you compare this to the gospel of Luke, you find that this is just a continuation of the abuse that had been heaped on Jesus when he was before Herod…

- Pilate tried to get out of this this mess by sending Jesus to Herod…

- here’s what Luke explained… Luke 23:6–11 - When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.

- the next verse contains a very important principle - Luke 23:12 - Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.

- mark it down – cowards enjoy one another’s company…

- so by time we get to our text, the 3 religious trials are over…and this is the third of the Roman trials…

- so Pilate takes our Savior who has already been mocked and ridiculed by Herod and his soldiers…and has him scourged…what does that mean?...

- Scourging was a hideously cruel form of punishment. The victim was stripped, bound to a post, and beaten by several torturers in turn. Jewish law set the maximum number of blows at forty (Deut. 25:3), and in practice the Jews gave a maximum of thirty-nine (to avoid accidently exceeding forty blows; cf. 2 Cor. 11:24). The Romans, however, were not bound by any such restrictions. The punishment would continue until the torturers were exhausted, the commanding officer decided to stop it, or, as was often the case, the victim died. The whip consisted of a short wooden handle to which several leather thongs, each with jagged pieces of bone or metal attached to the end, were fastened. As a result, the body could be so torn and lacerated that the muscles, bones, veins, or even internal organs were exposed. So horrible was this punishment that Roman citizens were exempt from it (cf. Acts 22:25). The scourging He endured left Jesus too weak to carry the crosspiece of His cross all the way to the execution site (Matt. 27:32). Pilate hoped that this brutalizing of Jesus short of death would satisfy the bloodthirsty mob (John MacArthur, John 12-21, pp. 337-338).

- I don’t know about you, but the older I get and the more I think about what our Savior endured for our salvation, you don’t become desensitized to this information, I find it harder to consider…it’s sickening…

- now, you might say – then why did you use the phrase “smaller concessions” to describe this part of the story?...

- I put the word smaller in parentheses to make the point that while this was shockingly unjust…[Pilate has already repeatedly said that Jesus was innocent]…but I think MacArthur is right in suggesting that Pilate believed that if he did this, the crowd would surely not demand that he go any further…

- so the next verses report… John 19:4–6 - Pilate came out again and *said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate *said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.”

- so he…

B. Tried to avoid taking a position on what was true/right.

- those last words are an incredible abdication of responsibility…

- he should have said – I find no guilt in him and I demand he be released…

- it’s my job to stand for justice and truth and that’s what’s going to happen today…

- and by the way, he wouldn’t have been standing alone…he had an army that was far stronger than anything the Jewish leaders could have mustered…

- and even if they had complained to Roman officials higher up the chain…the facts of this case were truly on Jesus side…

- but cowards won’t stand for truth when they are called upon to do so…

- of course part of the challenge here is what we read previously in chapter 18…when Pilate said… John 18:38 - Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”

- if you don’t believe in the existence of absolute truth…it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever take a principled stand if there’s any risk or cost involved…

- here’s another piece of this puzzle…if you take me up on my suggestion to read through these events in a Harmony of the Gospels…a theme that comes springing forth is Peter’s role in all of this…

- because woven strongly into the gospel narrative are the three denials of Peter [which btw, is a strong case for the inspiration of the Bible because if the Scripture was a man-made document, you better believe the failures of one of the church’s early leaders would have been removed]…

- but the hard truth is – Pilate was not the only coward in this story…

- but here’s the other side of that…Sunday’s coming…and the gospel of John isn’t over yet…

- and after Peter becomes convinced of the objective truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ…he becomes a fearless leader in the early church…

- do you remember what he said in his very first sermon on the Day of Pentecost when the church of Jesus Christ was born… Acts 2:32, 36 - This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses…Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.

- here’s the truth…and here’s what you need to know and here’s what you need to do, to address once and for all what is true through believing in the forgiving power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ…

- and by God’s grace, 3000 people responded to that invitation…issued by a man who was no longer ashamed of His Savior…

- can I ask you to think about this from your perspective?...

- do the people in your life know that you are a follower of Christ?...

- do they know that you will stand for what is true and right regardless of the cost?...

- have you decided that you are not going to make any concessions in order to appease unbelieving people because either they will never be satisfied anyway, or the price you paid to please them simply wasn’t worth the eternal cost?...

- so what happens next in this progression?...

II. Speaks and Acts with Hollow Boldness

- here’s what happens when you try to overcome fear with wrong, self-centered, self-protective choices…more fear…

- Pilate thought by refusing to take a strong principled stand, everyone would be his friend…

- but now the Jewish leaders are like sharks sensing blood in the water…

- John 19:7–8 - The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid;

A. Reacts with internal fear when faced with Christ’s deity

- there’s another detail that occurs at some point in this narrative that might explain Pilate’s state of mind…

- because somewhere along here he receives a text message…

- actually it’s not a text…but it’s definitely a message…do you remember who it was from?...

- it was from his wife…

- Matthew 27:19 - While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”

- can you feel the screws tightening down on his heart?...

- maybe He was the Son of God…maybe there is absolute truth in this world…and in his cowardice, he just allowed the Son of God to be scourged…

- of everyone on the planet his wife could have had a troubling dream about, she dreamt about Jesus of Nazareth…

- so please don’t miss the next step…he starts talking like a big shot…

B. Believes he has more authority in the matter than he does.

- John 19:10 - So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”

- here’s the principle – exaggerating your own resources will invariably lead to a fearful life…because you simply can’t keep that charade of self-sufficiency going forever…

- have you ever noticed this – often the loudest bullies are the biggest cowards…

- by the way, Who is the real picture of courage and strength in this passage?...

- it’s our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…and please think about the physical condition He would have been in by this point in the narrative…

- yet he speaks measured words of truth for the purpose of bringing both God’s sovereignty and appropriate human responsibility to the equation…

- John 19:11 - Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

- that’s what courage sounds like…even when Jesus fully knew how this story would end…

- so, what can we learn about courage from what Jesus said?...the focus is on the sovereignty of God is what is transpiring…which is amazing when you just stop and think about everything Jesus could have addressed at that moment…

- DA Carson observes…

Behind Pilate’s ‘power’ (exousia, ‘authority’), however, Jesus discerns the hand of God. Typical of biblical compatibilism, even the worst evil cannot escape the outer boundaries of God’s sovereignty – yet God’s sovereignty never mitigates the responsibility and guilt of moral agents who operate under divine sovereignty, while their voluntary decisions and their evil rebellion never render God utterly contingent (e. g. Gn. 50:19-20; Is. 5:10ff.; Acts 4:27-28). Especially in writing of events that lead up to the cross, New Testament writers are bound to see the hand of God bringing all things to their dramatic purpose (cf. Carson, ‘OT’, esp. pp. 247-248), no matter how vile the secondary causalities may be; for the alternatives are unthinkable. If God merely outwits his enemies, whose evil sets both the agenda and the pace, then the mission of the Son to die for Fallen sinners is reduced to a mere after-thought; if God’s sovereignty capsizes all human responsibility, then it is hard to see why the mission of the Son should be undertaken at all, since in the case there are no sins for the Lamb of God to take away (D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, pp. 600-601).

- the contrast is clear, isn’t it?...hollow words spoken by Pilate as he focuses on his quickly diminishing resources…and Jesus’ courage because He is focused on the eternal purposes of the heavenly Father…

- this comparison can give us hope as well…because after the resurrection we see this same kind of speech on the part of the apostles…so Peter has the opportunity to heal a lame man…[that was the silver and gold have I none passage]…and when the religious leaders got wind of that…they put Peter on trial [these people loved trials]…do you remember what Peter said?...

- Acts 4:8–12 - Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

- that’s courage, that recognizes the reality of Christ’s resurrection…and speaks the truth regardless of the cost…

- too back Pilate didn’t choose this path…because, where did his lead?...

III. Gives in When the Pressure to Compromise Seems Unbearable

- total capitulation is where this part of the story ends…

- John 19:14–16 - Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

- instead of standing up for what he knew to be true…he handed them over to them to be crucified…

- can I ask you this morning…how does the Holy Spirit want this passage to impact you?...

- how would you evaluate yourself on the spectrum of cowardice or courage?...

- if you’re here this morning and you have not yet trusted Christ as Savior and Lord…is it possible that fear has something to do with that decision?...

- being afraid of what a family member, or friend, or co-worker might say?...please think carefully about where the cowardice trail leads…

- the truth is – Jesus died, was buried, and rose again…and every person has to decide whether he or she will choose to believe that…

- John 20:30–31 - Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

- don’t let fear stop you from choosing to trust Christ while you have the opportunity to do so…

- Christian friend…what about standing for the truth when God gives you the opportunity to do so?...

1. For example, if you’re a student…and you’re with a group of friends making fun of someone who is weaker, or has some characteristic that attracts negative attention…

- what do you do in that moment…are you like Pilate…or are you like Jesus?

2. What about in your office when someone suggests some sort of moral or ethical compromise…

- everyone else thinks that’s the way to go…

- in fact, they are laughing and congratulating themselves for their deception…

- then the camera pans over to you…and it’s time for you to speak/or not…or act, or not…

- what are you going to say, and what are going to do…and are you comfortable with where that path leads?...

3. You have people all around you who don’t yet know the Lord…in fact, they couldn’t even clearly articulate the gospel…much less have had an opportunity to accept or reject it…

- it’s time for you to be the witness God saved you, and created you to be…

- John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- what’s it going to be?

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video