The Savior Who Was Rejected

Steve Viars March 17, 2007 John 18:28-40

 

- Today is March 18th...which would mean that this past Wednesday was March 14th...

- now you might say, so?

- well, shorthand for that date in our calendar system is 3/14...you still might say, so?

- for some people in our country, that’s a big “so”...because they worship the number 3.14...commonly known as pi...the relationship between a circle’s circumference and diameter.

- now you might say, PV, you’re not exaggerating when you say that they worship that number are you?...

- I’m not going to say that I’m incapable of exaggerating...but in this case...that’s really what’s happening...

- an article appeared in the paper this week entitled...Fans of pi Worship Their Day, Number.

- it began like this...”This is a story about love.  About inscrutable complexity and remarkable simplicity, about the promise of forever.  It is about obsession and devotion, and grand gestures and 4,000 word love letters.  It is about a curious group of people with an almost religious zeal for a mind-numbing string of numbers...They are acolytes of the church of pi.

- These individuals encourage one another to memorize the endless digits of pi...

- the world record is held by a Chinese chemistry student who rattled off 67,890 digits of pi over a 24 hour time period in 2005...it took 26 video tapes to record his feat and he sent them all to Guinness’s Book of World Records to substantiate his claim...

- Then there’s Marc Umile...who works at an Opera House in Philadelphia...He tried to adapt the number to music...

- so he read the digits of pi into a tape recorder...a thousand at a time, giving the numbers a rhythm, some high toned and some low...

- then he started listening to the tape...constantly for two years...

- here’s what he said – “To and from work, in my quiet time, on my lunch break – and when I didn’t have the tape on I would recite in the shower...Probably 40 per cent of the time I had an earphone in my ear.”

- the article went on to say...”Umile believes the fascination with pi has something to do with our desire to learn the ultimate truth of something.”

- he holds what is believed to be the US record, where he went into a Philadelphia law office and typed 12,887 pi digits into a spreadsheet on a computer over the span of 3 and a half hours, 1000 numbers at a time, with two smoke breaks.

- Of course if this number is the source of eternal truth, somebody should probably explain the necessity of the smoke breaks...

- then there’s software engineer Mike Keith...who wrote a love poem to pi...

- “It is nearly 4000 words long – and the length in letters of each word corresponds to pi’s digits.

- imagine the amount of time it would take to produce a document like that...

- so what’s the point?...everybody has to decide whether they believe in the existence in truth...and then where they’re going to go to find the truth they seek...

- and the message of the Bible would be – be very careful about the way you respond to the truth...of God.

- with that in mind, would you open your Bible to John 18...[page 88 of the Bible under the chair in front of you...]

- our theme this year is Reaching New Heights...

- we’re trying to do everything we can as a church to be best prepared to serve the Lord as we launch our community center, and church based seminary, and residential treatment center for at risk girls...

- in January, we studied Matthew 6 and worked on Reaching New Heights in our Faithfulness to Pray

- then in February we looked at Psalm 119 and focused on Reaching New Heights in our Commitment to Scripture

- between now and Easter Sunday on April 8th, we want to study John 18-21 thinking about Reaching New Heights in our Love for the Savior...

- the first part of this chapter tells the story of Judas, so we organized our thoughts around the concept of The Savior Who Was Betrayed...

- then we read the sad story of Peter, so last week we studied The Savior Who Was Denied.

- this morning we would like to finish chapter 18, thinking about The Savior Who Was Rejected...

- read John 18:28-40

- undoubtedly the theme of this section is truth...

- just like the people we mentioned in the introduction came to a position about their source of truth...and then began organizing their behavior around those beliefs...

- the same is true in this passage...

- this morning I’d like us to scour these verses looking for Three characteristics of people who reject the truth.

- let’s be clear about our purpose...I didn’t mention the pi worshippers to poke fun at them, and nor are we examining this passage simply to be critical of the various persons we just read about...

- we’re looking for characteristics...ways to interact with/respond to the truth of God...and then to examine ourselves...and ask...does that characteristic, in any way shape or form, exist in your life?...and does that please the Lord, and where does that road lead, and would a story like this...help each of us make necessary adjustments in the way we’re living?...[repeat proposition...]

I. Hypocrisy.

- as we’ve mentioned the last couple of weeks to be sure that this is clear to those who are newer to studying the Bible, Jesus went through a series of trials before both the religious leaders and the secular ones...

- by time we get to this place in the story, the religious ones are completed...he has been before Annas, and before Caiaphas, and before the Sanhedrin...

- now, as we’ve said...the Jewish leaders broke dozens of their own laws in the way they conducted these trials...

- they met at night---their law forbid that...

- there were no witnesses at the initial trial...it should have been immediately dismissed...

- one of the court officers struck Christ because he didn’t like his answer...again, a clear violation of their own law...

- if you want a full treatment of that subject – I would encourage you to read a commentary on John by James Montgomery Boice – The Gospel of John Volume 5

- Boice was the long time pastor of 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and he spends a significant amount of time detailing from a legal perspective all of the ways the religious leaders ignored their own rules, their own laws, their own truth...

- in significant ways...

- but they had a problem...under Roman law they were not permitted to carry out the death penalty without the involvement of a secular court...

- so they took Jesus to a man named Pilate...who was the procurator in that part of the Roman Empire...it was a relatively insignificant post, and Pilate only held it because of who he married...but the bottom line is...the religious leaders could not execute Christ without the blessing of the Roman authority...

- but John makes this clear point...the Jewish leaders needed to talk to Pilate...but they couldn’t go into Pilate’s headquarters...the Praetorium...because they also had a law that if they entered the dwelling place of a non-Jew they would be ceremonially unclean and therefore unable to observe the Passover feast...

- and John is trying to help his readers see the hypocrisy of all of that...ever since the arrest, they have been breaking laws right and left...they’ve had a very cavalier attitude toward truth when it came to their treatment of Jesus and the possibility of putting Him to death...

- but on the other hand, their adherence to their man made oral tradition was of crucial importance to them...

- in other words, we don’t mind ignoring whatever truth is necessary to help us put an innocent man to death, but we sure aren’t going to do something that would make us ceremonially unclean for the upcoming feast...

- they were hypocritical...

A. Because they majored on the minors.

- that is one of the quickest routes to rejecting the truth...

- the Bible calls it people who...Matthew 23:24 - ...strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

- ignoring the important aspects of God’s Word and focusing on certain ideas, often times that aren’t even clearly found in Scripture...

- this is one of the reasons that many believers, and many churches aren’t growing, and aren’t accomplishing much for the Lord...

- you may have grown up in a religious setting where there was the list...

- maybe it wasn’t written down anywhere, maybe it was...but everybody knew the list...

- here’s the length your sideburns could be if you really wanted to please God...

- here’s the places you could go...here’s the places you couldn’t...

- here’s what you could wear and what you couldn’t...

- and there’s nothing wrong with a person, or a family, or even a church having what we might call “rules of the house”...principles that everybody in the group decides they are going to follow out of their desire to serve God...

- but often times two insidious things happen...

- the list, the man made rules is elevated to the level of Scripture...

- and the weightier matters of the Word of God are ignored...

- I was recently talking to a man who told me that his church wasn’t growing and he believed it was because young people aren’t interested in spiritual things anymore...

- and I thought to myself, that is curious...because one of the ways God has greatly blessed us is by giving us a marvelous balance of older people and younger people...

- but I wonder if in some settings where younger people are no longer present, the issue isn’t that young people aren’t interested in spiritual truth...its that they’re not interested in being brought under all these man made rules that don’t even resemble the Word of God...while at the same time clear principles of Scripture are being ignored...

- on the other hand...one of the ways for a church to accomplish a lot for the Lord is by agreeing as a group that we are going to major on the majors...

- we are going to take personal holiness seriously...as clearly defined by Scripture...

- we are going to take the accomplishment of our mission seriously, as defined by Scripture...

- that is why it was so important for our congregation to work through our mission statement and core values...that defines what we believe are the majors...[if time allows, review them from our 5 year plan...]

- and when the congregation gets that, and is committed to that...several things happen...

1) There is a passion, energy, excitement about accomplishing the mission...

2)  There is a willingness to hold one another accountable to following the majors...[develop the place of confrontation...how that sometimes leads to counseling...]

3) We are not going to judge one another in areas where Scripture does not clearly speak...

- that is why passages like Romans 14 are so important in the church...and Colossians 2...

Colossians 2:16-23 - Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.  If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

- now, what else can we learn about their hypocrisy?...

B. Because they sought truth to justify their actions instead of truth to evaluate their actions.

- this is the classic example of making up your mind and then trying to find a source of truth to justify your position...

- and they even come right out and say it...when Pilate asks in verse 29...

- John 18:29 - Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

- what did they say?...

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

- what kind of answer is that?...there’s not even an attempt to deal with the truth...to express the truth, or proclaim the truth...

- your could paraphrase their position like this...we want to execute him, you won’t let us execute him without your permission, so just let us do it and everybody will be happy...

- what kind of trial is that?...what kind of blatant disregard of the truth is that...

- that’s what hypocrisy does...

- sometimes in counseling a couple will come in and they say they want help...and you assume what that means...they want help to learn how to change themselves...

- sometimes you find out that what they really mean is...they want ammunition...they’ve already decided that their problems are all the other person’s fault...they just want you to give them some additional principles to accuse the other person and excuse themselves...

- so you take a great passage like the 4 rules of communication in Ephesians chapter 4...and you carefully teach what God’s Word says...and you call them to repentance and change and you give them homework about how to apply the principles throughout the week...

- and then a week later you meet again and ask...how did things go...how was your communication?...”not so good”...why?...”because we fought all week”...about what...about how the other person was violating the rules...

- until a person gets to the place of submitting himself to God’s truth as a learner...letting it show ways he needs to change...

- he will have great trouble avoiding the ditch of hypocrisy...

- can I ask you this question...are you learning to major on the majors...

- and not to be simply satisfied by adhering to a man-made list of behaviors...but are letting God’s Word help you focus on the areas that matter to the Lord the most?

- do you make up your mind and then find truth to justify your “already arrived at position?”

- are you comfortable being around, and serving with people who might have arrived at a different list of personal preferences than you but who are right with you when it comes to the majors?...

- do you have a healthy, authentic relationship to the truth?...

- what’s a second characteristic?...

II. Cynicism

- Pilate is the quintessential example of this characteristic...

A. What is truth?

- here’s a little hint...if you are ever on trial for something, and the judge says, “what is truth”...indicating he’s not sure there even is such a thing...you are in for a very bad day...

- now let’s be sure we balance this...

- there is nothing wrong with asking hard questions...there is nothing wrong with testing ideas...biblical Christians aren’t people who are gullible or naive or intellectually spoon fed...

- in fact, the Psalms are filled with godly people posing difficult questions to God Himself and they are not chided at all for that...

- in Acts 17, people are actually commended for carefully evaluating what they’ve heard [cf. the story of the Bereans...]

- but please mark this down in your mind...if you cynically conclude that there is no such thing as truth...you’ll miss it even when it’s right before your eyes.

- and isn’t that the lesson of Pilate?...

- who is it who is standing before Him?...

- 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.

- and one of the lessons of this entire chapter is that Jesus demonstrated the accuracy of that description while person after person was rejecting truth...

- Judas betrays Christ with a kiss – throwing truth to the wind for 30 pieces of silver...and what does the Lord do...gently asks a question...are you going to betray the Son of man with a kiss?...

- no bitterness, no uncontrolled anger...simply speaking the truth in love...

- then Peter cuts off the soldier’s ear...Jesus calms him down and explains the plan to him again, and even heals the soldier who is in the process of arresting Him...

- then Peter denies Christ three times...just as the Lord had accurately predicted because He is the truth...

- then there are the trials before Annas, and Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin...and as we’ve said laws are being broken all over the place in what was supposed to be a legal proceeding...a complete disregard for the truth...

- but even while Christ is being betrayed...and being denied...there He stands as the way, the truth, and the life...

- and the Pilate the cynic says...what is truth?...

- when the answer to that question was standing personified a few feet in front of Him...

- and I would just caution anybody here who has chosen to be like Pilate...Just because you have come to a similar conclusion does not mean truth does not exist...and in some cases God may have allowed it to be right in front of your eyes and you have rejected it any way...

- cf. person living with a believing spouse [develop the argument of I Cor. 7 – sanctified...]

- cf. young person living with a believing parent...

- cf. person living with a Christian co-worker...

- now, why do people sometimes adopt the role of a cynic?...

B. Often used to justify a refusal to listen.

- Pilate essentially ignores all that Jesus tells him...

- the Lord explains in verse 36-37 that He has come to be a king...of a spiritual kingdom...and He is has been inviting men and women to trust Him and accept Him as their king...as their Lord...as their Savior...

- and that goes right on by...

- why?...because if Pilate listened to that...it would require a change in his beliefs, and in his lifestyle...

- and some people would rather adopt the role of a cynic instead of listening to truth and making the appropriate changes...

- now, if that is not stopped, where does it eventually lead?...

III. Confusion

- when we compare this with the rest of the gospels, we learn that there is one other secular trial before Herod...but then the Lord is brought back to Pilate...

- and he makes an offer that he assumes will get him out of this jam...the tradition of releasing a prisoner at the time of the Passover...

- and he gives them a choice because this vile prisoner named Barabbas...or Jesus, the King of the Jews...

- and by that time, the people have so completely rejected truth that they scream...give us Barabbas...

- the book of Proverbs says...Proverbs 23:23 - Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

- by the way, this is one of the reasons it is so important for the church to fulfill her role as... 1 Timothy 3:15 - ...I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

- cf, folks taking classes in FCI...

- cf. preparation for the Passion Play...

- this is why it is so scandalous when the church becomes so enamored with the approval of the world that they fail to live the truth, and proclaim the truth...

1. We believe the Word of God is sufficient...

2. We believe biblical truth is the key to sanctification...

3. We are concerned that many in Christ’s church have failed to proclaim the truth from Scripture about everyday life...]

- and we believe there is great potential impact by doing so...

- but, the world is so dark...

- you know, in some ways God would surely agree...

- II Corinthians 4:3-4 - And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

- but please don’t forget the verses before or after...

- 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 - Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

- and also please don’t forget this...we’re not just talking about a book of truth...we’re talking about a Spirit of truth...John 16:7-14 - But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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