The Gospel of John, The Period of Consummation, Part VIII, John 18:36-40 - Lesson 185
Background notes: Jesus was brought to trial six times before he was crucified.
The first three of those trials were handled by the Jews - before Annas (18:12-14), and before the high priest, Caiaphas (18:19-24), and before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:1,2).
The last three were handled by the Romans.
First, Jesus was brought before Pilate, the governor of Judea (18:28-38).
Christ was then delivered to Herod between verses 38 and 39 when Pilate learned that Jesus was a Galilean. (Luke 23:4-12).
The third Roman trial (the second before Pilate) begins in John 18:39 and ends in Jesus' crucifixion.
Read Verses John 18:36 for review: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate, take note of how Jesus Christ was taken by your Roman soldiers.
No doubt he had received a report of the taking.
Had Pilate heard how Jesus gave himself to them even after exhibiting the power of his word in causing the soldiers to fall back?
And yet with this power Jesus had kept his disciples from fighting and had meekly surrendered to the authorities.
This is not typical of a kingdom of this world.
By this statement Jesus Christ acknowledges that he has a kingdom.
Jesus Christ says that his kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world.
In saying that his kingdom is not of this world he means that his kingdom is not like the forms of kingdoms that the Romans were concerned with.
They were concerned with kingdoms that are established and destroyed by force.
They were concerned with kingdoms that are established by the strength of man.
They were concerned with kingdoms that they could see and destroy with the weapons of this world.
Had Jesus' kingdom been like the kingdoms of this world his followers would have fought to keep the Romans from taking their king.
The kingdom of Jesus Christ does not originate with man, as man's kingdoms do.
Jesus never said that people are to build the kingdom of God.
The establishment of the kingdom is a work of God.
God will reign, and people can contribute nothing to that reigning of God.
The kingdom of Jesus Christ is received from God as we are told in Dan 7:13,14: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Jesus not only says "My kingdom is not of this world:" but he amplifies this statement by saying "now is my kingdom not from hence."
My kingdom is not from here.
My kingdom is far from here.
There is no resemblance of my kingdom to what you think of as a kingdom.
My kingdom does not in any way draw support from earthly forces.
Your mind Pilate is filled with what the world offers as a kingdom but there is nothing on this world that is like my kingdom.
Your mind dwells on the physical as do the kingdoms of this world but my kingdom dwells on the spiritual, the realm of the heart.
You can only think of kingdoms as you see kingdoms on the earth but the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a kingdom where God rules men.
John 18:37, Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
It is astounding that Pilate had no curiosity about this amazing statement of Jesus Christ. My kingdom is not of this world:
But this blindness on Pilate's part is typical of the natural man.
Pilate could not think spiritually but only naturally.
His mind was limited to that which he could see and he could not see a kingdom that was not of this world.
Why didn't Pilate ask about such a kingdom?
How could this be? What do you mean when you say that your kingdom is not of this world?
But he simply avoids knowing and tries to pin down the Lord Jesus Christ to admit that he is a king.
An admission of this sort would certainly open this Christ to ridicule.
So Pilate infers: You have said that your kingdom is not of this world so does it not follow that you are a king?
It appears that this question was put in a scornful way as if to say you call yourself a king but you are merely my prisoner.
Pilate's mind could only see a king clothed in the trappings of the world.
He could only see a king as the world presented a king, and this man did not look the part of a king.
Pilate depended upon appearance which is what a man of the world will do.
How limited a man is without faith!
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Jesus Christ here confesses to Pilate that he is king.
Paul called this confession a good confession when he made mention of it in 1 Tim 6:13 when he gave charge to Timothy:
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
Jesus Christ told Pilate that He was born (Son of Man) to be king and came (Son of God) into the world to be king.
He attaches to his admission the character of his kingdom.
Truth is the character of the kingdom of God.
You asked me "What I have done." I bear witness unto the truth.
Jesus Christ bears witness that truth is not in man but truth must come from above.
He bears witness that truth must come from a person sent from God and that he was that person.
In other words truth must be revealed to man because in man dwelleth no good thing.
Truth does not dwell in the natural man.
He bear witness that truth is the underlying foundation of the kingdom of God.
This certainly is unlike any kingdom of the earth.
The truth of earthly kingdoms can only be based upon appearance and therefore is faulty.
The underlying foundational principal of the kingdoms of this earth is the lie.
The kingdoms of this earth are built upon the lie.
The kingdoms of the earth are based upon man's standard but the kingdom of God is based on God as the standard in everything and that standard is expressed in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ said I am the Truth. Truth is a person.
He said, My word is Truth!
Jesus Christ reveals the truth of God and Jesus Christ as king will rule a kingdom with truth as the foundational principle.
His kingdom will be as different from that which we know as night is from the day.
It will not be built on the deceitfulness of the human heart but will be built on the truth of God, Jesus Christ.
Do you think you could function in such a place?
As we read in John 1:17,18 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Jesus tells Pilate "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."
Paul picks up on this statement in Eph 1:13, In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Believers are truth lovers.
Believers are therefore lie haters.
That is why all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
Liars are lie lovers and truth haters.
A believer has no part with liars because a believer has ears that hear Jesus Christ, the Truth!
And liars do not have ears to hear.
"Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."
When Peter in the book of Acts declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name he was saying that God was separating unto himself those who were of the truth.
There are individuals on this earth who will hear the truth and there are individuals on this earth who will not hear the truth.
Those that hear the truth will be part of the kingdom of truth, the kingdom whose king is Jesus Christ.
And only those who partake of the divine nature will know the truth.
John 18:38, Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when
he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
It is not surprising for Pilate to ask "What is truth?"
In fact it may reveal an understanding by Pilate that man cannot know truth.
Man in his natural state knows not truth.
It is obvious to anyone who half way observes this world system.
This world system operates on the senses and the senses cater to image and the eye instead of the ear.
Truth is simply relative to the world.
Pilate was not of the "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."
His actions reveal that truth.
So with ridicule Pilate asks the question "What is truth?"as if to infer it is foolish for anyone to consider giving up their life for something called truth.
At least Pilate admitted that this earth does not know truth.
And right before Pilate's eyes stood Truth.
He had no patience to stay and hear an answer from this Galilean peasant who stood before him so he left the room.
He did not want to know the truth as those who do not have ears to hear do not want to know the truth.
So "he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all."
Luke records this conversation in this manner in Luke 23:13-16
And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him.
Pilate had full authority in this case and he now gives his verdict.
Not guilty by the Roman authority and he should be released.
Pilate had no right to detain him any further.
He had now been examined by legally constituted authority and been found guiltless.
For anything to happen to him now constitutes the greatest injustice the world has ever known.
Imagine a courtroom of our age where the defendant after hearing a not guilty verdict is taken from the courtroom and executed because the crowd in the courtroom pronounced their own guilty verdict.
Unimaginable but that is what happened to the sinless Son of God!
John 18:39, But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
Pilate had no right to include Jesus Christ in this deal making.
He had declared him not guilty.
But Pilate, being the politician he is, continues to try to placate the Jews.
He wanted to avoid a confrontation with the Jews.
He was now living our the fear of man bringeth a snare.
He was afraid of their faces and what report would get back to Rome.
He knew that regardless of the fact that Israel was an occupied country he did not want reports of turmoil to get to Ceasar.
He was interested in giving the Jews something.
The mark of a politician. Compromise is his life.
Perhaps he could get them involved in the release of Jesus under their custom of releasing one prisoner at the Passover.
Certainly they would participate in the release of one claiming to be their king.
Certainly as a gesture of grace and deliverance symbolic of the passover could not be passed up.
Let Christ be the one to go free.
Show your passover custom of deliverance through this man.
Let your wish for the death of this man be passed over.
But he misjudged these men who were only to be satisfied by shedding the blood of this one who claimed to be king.
John 18:40, Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Luke records this event in more detail as he writes in:
Luke 23:18-25, And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Pilate saw the justice of releasing Jesus Christ but the Jews would have none of it.
What a revelation of the depravity of the human heart.
Jesus Christ had done nothing, absolutely nothing to justify such hatred that the Jews expressed.
He had healed multitudes, he had performed miracles, he had preached deliverance.
But his truth had collided with error and error hates light.
Be careful when you shine light on error.
Hatred such as you have not thought existed will be revealed.
Only the elimination of this one who shined light on error was sufficient as the Jews thirsted for the blood of the sinless Son of God.
Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Luke records that Barabbas was cast into prison for sedition and murder.
The Jews chose a robber and a murderer (a taker of property and of life) instead of one who gave life.
The history of the Jews since then has revealed that the robber and murderer that they chose has ruled over them ever since.
Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap!
"Thou who condemnest Jewish hate,
For choosing Barabbas, a murderer,
Before the Lord of glory;
Look back upon thine own estate,
Call home thine eye, (that busy wanderer)
That choice may be thy story."