By Following the True King

Stefan Nitzschke September 5, 2021 John 18:28-40
Outline

John 18:4 - So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”

2 characteristics of Christ’s followers in a world of false kingdoms

I. Followers of Christ Love Truth (v.37)

John 18:37 - ...for this reason I have been born and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.

Isaiah 5:20 - Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

A. They do not twist truth (vv.29–32)

John 12:32-33 - “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.

B. They do not run from truth (vv.35, 38)

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

John 14:16-17 - I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth…

John 17:17 - Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

C. They are consistent (vv.28, 38–40)

John 18:28b - …they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.

John 5:39-40 - You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 18:40 - Now Barabbas was a robber.

II. Followers of Christ are Kingdom-Focused (v.36)

John 18:36 - My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.

A. They fight a spiritual battle (v.36)

John 11:48-50 - “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”

John 15:24-25 - If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, “They hated Me without a cause.”

Ephesians 6:11-12 - Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

B. They fight using spiritual weapons (v.31)

Colossians 2:13-5 - And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Ephesians 6:14-16 - Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

C. They look to their King (vv. 37, 33-34)

Romans 12:21 - Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 5:10 - For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Matthew 5:44 - But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

D. They look to the coming kingdom

Titus 2:13-14 - …waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 - For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Intro: Ravi Zacharias

John 18:4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them [the guards and Judas], “Whom do you seek?”

Colossians 1:13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,”

This morning, we are continuing our theme of Enjoying Life in His Name, and we are considering enjoying life in His name by following the True King.

*recap what has happened leading up to this point

Follow along with me, starting in v.28…

[Read John 18:28–40]

With the time we have remaining we are going to focus on 2 characteristics of Christ’s Followers in a World of False Kingdoms.

The first characteristic we observe from the text is that…

I. Followers of Christ Love Truth (v.37)

Notice what Jesus says in v.37 “...for this reason I have been born and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

And what do you do when you hear the voice of truth leading you?

You Follow (*pause)

But look down at your text with me to v 28 – Jesus is led into the Praetorium (*explain)

Who didn’t follow Him into the Praetorium, according to the text?

The Jewish leaders! Do you suppose they are members of the True Kingdom or leaders of a false kingdom? (*false)

Now, why didn’t they follow him into the Praetorium? (*fear of becoming unclean)

If you had to guess, would this be a fear based out of Scripture or rules they had heaped up over the years?

You’d be correct in assuming they had made up this rule – based out of a silly myth that gentiles bury the bodies of their aborted children in their homes

True or untrue? (untrue, and weird)

But where does our True King go? He boldly enters the Roman Praetorium – not to become unclean Himself, but to make cleanliness for the Gentiles possible

Regardless, the religious leaders will not go

They have twisted truth in order to prevent them from following Jesus

But what’s more is the reason why they don’t want to become ceremonially unclean – they want to be able to partake of the Passover

What is the Passover celebrating? God’s provision in saving His people from their greatest enemy at that time

And they just watched the final fulfillment of the Passover – the Lamb who was to be slain – enter into a Roman Praetorium…

Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Conversely, followers of the true King…

A) They do not twist truth (vv.29–32)

We see things get worse, starting in v 29 if you are looking at your text –

Poor Pilate askes this question of both the Jewish leaders and Jesus but never gets a straight answer…

Why is Jesus being condemned to death?

Look what the religious leaders say in response:

John 18:30 – They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.”

This is called “begging the question” – when your argument presumes that your conclusion is true

But what are the leaders obviously doing here?

Twisting the truth to their own advantage – Jesus has been declared an evildoer by their own mock trial that declared Him a blasphemer (*explain)

And claiming to be God is a wicked and evil thing to do – unless WHAT?

Unless it’s TRUE!

They ask try to involve Pilate in their plot

So Pilate, seeing through this nonsense to a certain degree, tells them to go handle their Jewish problems in their own Jewish way

But the leaders retort with a curious statement – they CAN’T

The right penalty for blasphemy according to Jewish law was death – but who was the reigning power at the time? (Romans)

So they need to go ask the permission of the kingdom of the world in order to carry out (what they believed to be) the will of God

Brothers and sisters – do these men fear God?

They won’t enter the Praetorium because of man-made rules – instead, they allow Truth Himself to walk away from them

They do this in order to partake of their religious ceremony – an act robbed of all meaning by their rotten disposition

And they ask the permission of the world in order to carry out the law of God (though they obviously have the verdict wrong)

Before we see the religious leaders as deplorable “others” that don’t even deserve to be named in this passage – we need to ask ourselves why this telling of story made it into the eternal, living-and-active Word of God

I believe it is because we ought to see ourselves in the Jewish leaders

We may not be avoiding the Praetorium because we’re convinced the Gentiles bury their babies in their homes – but we certainly twist the truth to our convenience

You see, it wasn’t a matter of blind follwership that led the Jews to instill those laws – they began with the desire to not want anything to do with the Gentiles and THEN came up with a silly (yet twistedly justifiable) reason to validate it

For you, that could look like avoiding your neighbor or coworker because of their political views

Or more broadly, it could look like heaping on the excuses as to why you don’t need to do what the Lord has clearly called you to do in a particular area of your life

Where we have twisted truth to come up with convenient rules, we must repent and forsake those rules – then follow the Truth into the Praetorium

Additionally, we may not be condemning an innocent man to death, only to go home to celebrate the Passover, but each of us lead inconsistent lives

Don’t believe me?

When you get home, take out a sheet of paper

Write all the true things you know about Prayer – what it does, how powerful it is, how often we are called to do it, the incredible examples in Scripture – everything you can think of

Then turn the page over and write how often you pray…

Were we have twisted truth, resulting in an inconsistent life, we are to repent and practice TRUE religion, according to the Word of God

And we may not ask the local government’s permission to kill someone based out of religious conviction, but we have the tendency to make decisions based out of a concern of what he or she will think of me rather than what The Lord would be pleased with

To the degree that we twist truth in order to win the approval of man rather than God, we are to repent and follow the True King – who’s Kingdom will have no end

John 12:32–33 “’And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.”

But we don’t see truth simply twisted in our text this morning – we also see truth dodged

But followers of Jesus…

B) They do not run from truth (vv.35, 38)

Other passages mention something rather crucial that is helpful context for what happens next

Mark’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion includes a curious statement – Pilate’s desire was the appease the mob

This explains why in v 31, Pilate is telling them to take their man and go convict Him themselves, where in v 33 – just 2 verses later – Pilate is fulfilling their request!

And when he finally has an opportunity to interact with Jesus, he is in full evasion mode

Jesus asks him whether he believes that Jesus is King

Not wanting to confront the implications of putting a king to death (remember, he was driven by fear of man), Pilate evades the question

The excuse he gives is “I am not a Jew”

In other words, I don’t have to think about these things – I don’t have to consider whether they are true or not – I am not one of you!

Is that you this morning?

Do you look around and see people raising their hands in worship, opening their well-worn Bibles, voraciously taking notes, and think – “this Jesus must not be for me – I am not one of these people”

Friend, don’t allow excuses to impede you from confronting Jesus as He is

Pilate would go on, in v 38, to ask one of the saddest questions in all of Scripture: what is truth?

Well – he was staring Truth in the face…

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

Truth is not dependent on circumstance – truth simply IS

And the truths that Pilate would not consider are the most egregious oversites imaginable

The truth of his wicked nature and inability to escape the wrath of God

The truth of his need for a king better than the one he was currently serving

The truth of the salvation that was unfolding right before his eyes

The truth of what would become of him if he chooses to evade making a decision about this Jesus

“No one comes to the Father but through [Jesus]”

Looking Truth in the face – will you run from Him, or run to Him?

John 14:16–17 “’I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth…”

John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

Because the final attribute of truth-loving Christians is that…

C) They are consistent (vv.28, 38–40)

John 18:28b, “…they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.”

John 5:39–40 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

We already discussed the inconsistencies attributed to the religious leaders in how they wanted to kill the Passover Lamb (capitol L) and then go home to kill the Passover lamb (lower-case L)

But the inconsistencies do not end there

Pilate gives them one last opportunity to embrace their King

John 18:39-40a – But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40 So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.”

Why Barabbas?

Was he more righteous than Jesus?

Was he their true leader who was unjustly imprisoned?

Was he even just an innocent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?

The text concludes with this…

v.40b “Now Barabbas was a robber.”

Mark would even include that he was an insurrectionist and a murderer

This was a pretty wicked dude

What would the Jewish law declare what ought to be done with such a man?

Insurrectionist: We saw what happened to Korah in his rebellion – he and his followers were swallowed up alive by the earth

Robber: Thieves either had to pay 7 times what they stole – but if they stole a person, they were put to death

Lastly and most obviously, murderers had the death penalty applied to them – life for a life

Does this seem consistent to you?

Seeking to kill Jesus, but specifically requesting Barabbas – all in the name of following the Jewish Law

…but God was doing so much more here – check this out with me…

Leviticus 16:5a, 7-8, 15a-16a, 20-21a – 5 He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering… 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8 Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat… 15 “Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people… 16 He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins… 20 “When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. 21 Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness…”

Brothers and sisters – we are the Scapegoat…

We are Barabbas…

The “lot” for slaughter has fallen on innocent and perfect Jesus, while we – the ones with an abundance of sin to confess – get to go free

Consistent?

This whole deal is far from fair – but praise be to God that it is!

Followers of the True King – Jesus – love truth:

We fight to ensure we do not twist it to our own advantage

We seek to embrace truth so that we do not run from it

We humbly strive to live a life consistent with the things we know to be true

But where we fail in these pursuits, we look to our King who took the punishment for his wicked subjects

And as a result…

II. Followers of Christ are Kingdom-focused (v.36)

Poor Pilate didn’t get a good answer from the Jewish leaders when he asked what made them so huffy at Christ, so he takes the opportunity to ask Jesus – what have you done?

Curiously, Jesus answers the question Pilate asked back in v 33 when he inquires “are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus – speaking in power-language that Pilate would understand, responds with…

John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Jesus draws Pilate’s attention to a few particulars about His Kingdom and his followers

First, we see that those who follow Jesus as King…

A) They fight a spiritual battle (v.36)

John 11:48–50 “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”

John 15:24–25 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

This whole situation would have been extremely confusing to Pilate

I honestly believe that many of his questions reflect genuine confusion and not simply strategic evasion

If Jesus was the King of the Jews – why were the Jews trying to kill him?

That makes as much sense as the Romans turning in Caesar to the Jewish High Priest – it simply would not happen

And if Jesus were any other King – why weren’t his subjects fighting on His behalf?

Jesus seeks to provide clarity – and allow it to shock you – His kingdom is NOT. OF. THIS. WORLD…

Paul would go on to elaborate:

Ephesians 6:11–12 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Where is your focus?

It’s good to fight in the armed forces, it’s good to be caught up in current affairs (Jesus was (tower at Siloam)), it’s good to physically fight off evil when that force is necessary

But don’t be so caught up in the flesh and blood struggles of this earth that you miss the kingdom that is not of this world

You’ve likely heard it said that “some Christians are so heavenly focused that they are of no earthly good”

Well, passages like this would seem to argue: “Christians who are not heavenly focused are of no earthly good.”

And as both Jesus and Paul would highlight, followers of Jesus who are looking to His Kingdom…

B) They fight using spiritual weapons (v.31)

Colossians 2:13–15 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Our Eph 6 passage alluded to the armor of God – Paul would later go on to highlight what sort of weaponry a follower of Jesus would be equipped with…

Eph 6:14–16 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Peter struck the servant of the High Priest in an attempt to thwart Jesus’ capture

This is the sort of action Pilate would have expected

But did Jesus look kindly on such a gesture?

NO! (put your sword away)

Christian brothers and sisters – are you strapped up with the armor of God?

A physical enemy requires physical weaponry – what does a spiritual enemy require?

Then the question stands – if our war is a spiritual one (and it IS waging all the time), what are you using to fight?

*call to Truth, Righteousness, Gospel, Faith, Salvation, & Word

Pilate could not fathom a king who would give himself over without a fight

Our world cannot comprehend an army of a Kingdom not of this realm, equipped with spiritual weaponry not made with hands, to accomplish a mission that has eternal implications

So we fight a spiritual battle, with spiritual weapons, all the while…

C) They look to their King (vv. 37, 33-34)

Do you love Truth enough to follow Him into the Praetorium?

Are you focused on Christ, ready to put down your physical sword when waging spiritual battles?

Look to Jesus and follow the truth – no matter the cost…

Pilate asked if Jesus was a king

He was not ready to accept Jesus’ answer, because the cost of following Christ was too high – he was caught up in the world of false kingdoms

John 18:37 – Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

The kingdoms of this world will be shrouded in falsehood as they look to their various kings – power, convenience, pleasure, etc.

And to follow a false king requires abandoning the truth – we see it in the Jewish leaders and we see it in Pilate

But those who are of the truth follow Jesus

And we follow Him regardless of what it costs

Because it’s not a risk if you know the truth…

*Biff with the Sports Almanac in BTTF

As Christians, we know how the story ends – as we look to the King who is Truth, we…

Romans 12:21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 5:10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

D) They look to the coming Kingdom

It is a joy and an honor to follow the true King

But can I be real?

Following Jesus can be exhausting…

Standing firm on a commitment to truth in the face of such strong opposition often results in discouragement

The growing list of men and women who have claimed Jesus but have fallen away is daunting – and we don’t even need to go that far back in time to be overwhelmed!

But is it worth the fight? Is it worth the effort? Will it all turn out in the end?

Titus 2:13–14 says, “13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

We look to the coming Kingdom, knowing that it will be hard on this side of heaven…

2 Cor. 4:17–18 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Authors

Stefan Nitzschke

Roles

Pastor of College Ministries - Faith Church

Director of Faith West Ministry Housing - Faith West

Bio

B.S. - Management Information Systems, Iowa State University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Stefan has been serving on the pastoral team at Faith Church since 2016. He and his wife have a passion for discipleship and evangelism. They are the blessed parents of four carefree boys and one sweet girl. Stefan is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and is a board member of Faith’s Community Development Corporation.