From the Pastor's Desk
Don't Be a Failure
failure a bad thing? Guess who these
people are. This man was a Harvard
drop-out. He co-owned a business called
Traf-O-Data which was a true failure. Bill
Gates. He missed more than 9000 shots in
his career; lost almost 300 games and 26 times took game winning shots and
missed. Michael Jordan. This guy had poor grades in High School and
was rejected by USC three times. It took
him 33 years to finish his college degree.
Steven Spielberg. Lastly, this
man dropped out of high school in a failed attempt to join the army. His Laugh-O-Gram studios went bankrupt. He was once fired from a newspaper for not
being creative enough. Walt Disney.
might seem like a bad thing at the time, but it's not if we don't let it. Instead, we need to look at failure as an
opportunity to learn and to grow. True,
lasting success can come out of the failures we experience in life.
a worldly perspective, Jesus was a total failure. Yet we know that He was actually the ultimate
success story. As we follow Him and
believe in Him, we will be successful as well.
This morning, as we draw closer to the end of the gospel of John, we're
going to look closer at the Lord's time with Pilate and how that seeming
failure turned into a great success.
week, we looked at John's account of Peter's denials of Jesus. After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of
Gethsemane, they took Him to the private residence of Annas. Annas was a former high priest and the father
in law of the current high priest. While
Jesus was there being illegally interrogated, Peter and John were outside in
the courtyard. Three times, Peter was
asked if he knew Jesus or if he was one of His disciples. Three times, Peter denied it. After his third denial, a rooster crowed,
just as Jesus had prophesied.
going to skip over the last section of chapter 18 and move on to chapter 19 today
instead. Suffice it to say that after being
questioned at Annas' house, Jesus was then sent to Caiaphas, who was the high
priest at the time. After Caiaphas
interrogated Him, He was sent to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. The Jews couldn't legally put anyone to
death, so they needed the Roman governor to approve the execution.
found no grounds for finding Jesus guilty of anything. Every year, Pilate would release one prisoner
for them, to try to stay on their good side.
He wanted to release Jesus, but the people demanded that he release
brings us up to speed on the passage that we're going to focus on this
morning. Let's continue on now by
reading John 19:1-16. Pilate had already
said that he found Jesus to be innocent of the charges that the Jewish leaders
were bringing against Him.
it's kind of surprising at first to read that Pilate had Him flogged. (vv. 1-3).
It's probably nothing more or less from Pilate's perspective a strategy
to set Jesus free. He might have been
thinking that having Jesus flogged would meet the Jews demand that Jesus be
punished. Maybe he's also thinking that
it might even evoke some sympathy for Him as well.
were three forms of flogging that the Romans inflicted on prisoners. There was a less severe beating that was
administered for relatively light offenses such as hooliganism and was often
accompanied by a severe warning. There
was a more brutal flogging given to criminals whose offenses were more serious. Then there was of course the most terrible
scourging of all, one that was always associated with other punishments,
is the last type of flogging that we are most familiar with in association with
Christ's crucifixion. In those cases,
the victim was stripped and tied to a post and then beaten by several soldiers
until they were exhausted or until the commanding officer told them to
stop. It is well-known that Jewish law
limited any sort of beating to no more than 40 lashes. The Romans had no such law and no such limits. For victims like Jesus who were neither Roman
nor a solider the favored instrument was a whip whose leather thongs were
fitted with pieces of bone or lead or other metal. The beatings were so severe that the victims
would appear that at this point Jesus was probably given the least severe form
of flogging. Again, maybe Pilate did
that to appease the Jews and maybe partly to teach Jesus a lesson. If that's the case, that would mean that
later on Jesus would receive a second scourging after the sentence of
crucifixion was passed. That would have
been the worst form of flogging.
beating Him up pretty good, the soldiers then had some fun with Jesus. Basically they were doing nothing more than
mocking Him for who they heard He claimed to be. They made a crown of thorns and put a robe on
Him. After that, they hailed Him as a
king and slapped Him in the face.
Matthew adds that they also spit on Him.
also see here indirect evidence to the charge that the Jews were bringing
against Jesus: that He claimed to be the
king of the Jews. The Jewish leaders saw
Him as a Messianic pretender. They hoped
Pilate would see Him as a rebel against Caesar.
There's also some irony here.
Once again, Jesus' opponents speak better than they knew: Jesus is the true King of Israel.
had already tried to release Jesus once, and that didn't work. Now after having Him flogged, Pilate tries
again to let Him go. (vv. 4-6). So he steps back outside with a beaten Jesus
and proclaims, "Here is the man!"
At this point, Jesus wouldn't have looked like much of a man, let alone
like much of a king. He was swollen,
bruised, bloody and wearing a ridiculous crown and robe. Jesus is presented as a beaten, harmless,
Jewish leaders aren't falling for it.
They hate Jesus and want Him dead.
They want nothing less than Jesus hanging on a cross for what they
considered His blasphemy. They charged
Him with sedition against the state and they knew that charge could only have
one outcome: crucifixion. So they cry "Crucify! Crucify!"
the little game between Pilate and the Jewish leaders continues, it's Pilate's
turn. He isn't formally transferring to
the Jews the legal authority and ability to execute Jesus. Rather, it is a sarcastic taunt: "You brought Jesus to me for trial but
you will not accept my judgment. You
then do something about it. Oh wait, you
the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate, they initially focused on the political
elements of their charges against Him, thinking that's what they would need to
do to convince him to convict Jesus.
That plan didn't seem to be working, so they shift gears and emphasize
the religious element instead. A Roman
prefect was not only responsible for keeping the peace, they were also
responsible for maintaining local law.
the Jews bring up a law that they had that they wanted him to uphold. (v. 7).
This apparently comes from Lev. 24:16.
The Jews were claiming that Jesus was blaspheming by claiming to be the
Son of God. Which was true: He did claim that because He is the Son of
God. The Jews knew full well who He
claimed to be and they didn't like it one bit.
So their new tactic to get Him killed was to convince Pilate that he
needed to help uphold this law.
instead of agreeing with the Jews, Pilate is filled with fear. (v. 8-10).
When Pilate heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he became
more afraid than ever. The Romans were
highly superstitious people. To the
Jewish ear, the charge that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God would be taken
as a messianic claim and a blasphemous statement. But to the Roman ear it would sound quite
different. It would place Jesus in an
ill-defined category of divine men; gifted individuals who were believed to
enjoy certain divine powers. If that is
who Jesus was, Pilate might have been afraid because he just had him whipped.
with that potential thought rattling around in his head Pilate and Jesus go
back inside and Pilate asks some questions to find out who this guy really
is. Maybe he can figure out if this man
really is a son of god or some divine person.
But Jesus is not cooperating.
things shift, as they always do, in Jesus' favor. (v. 11).
Pilate claims to have power to do with Jesus whatever he wants, but
Jesus refutes that idea. Jesus knows
that Pilate only has power because God has given it to him. God is a sovereign God who acts sovereignly
to accomplish His will over all the affairs of man. That doesn't mean that humans aren't
personally responsible for their sin; we are.
Pilate only had the power God gave him, but he's still responsible for
his actions, or his non-actions.
all of that, Pilate still finds no guilt in Jesus. He is not swayed by the charges of sedition
against the state. He doesn't seem to
care too much about the charges of blasphemy or the local laws Jesus has supposedly
broken. Instead of condemning Him to
death, Pilate does everything he can to release Jesus. (v. 12).
response to that the Jews play their trump card. They accuse him of not being a friend of
Caesar. Pilate had good reason to be
afraid of that threat. Tiberius Caesar
was the Emperor at that time. He was
known to be quick to entertain suspicions against his subordinates. He was also quick to exact ruthless
Jewish authorities had earlier communicated their displeasure with Pilate to
the Emperor. Now they are threatening to
do it again. How could Pilate defend
himself to a paranoid ruler against the charge that he had failed to convict
and execute a man arraigned on charges of sedition, charges brought by the
highest court of the land, a court that was known to be less than enthusiastic
about the Emperors rule? Everyone knew
that the claim to be a king signaled opposition to Caesar.
with such pressure, Pilate caves. (vv.
13-14). He finally renders his final
judgment on the original charge of sedition.
Even as he capitulates on this matter, he continues to mock the Jews by
proclaiming Jesus to be their king. He
knew that the Jews allegiance of faith to Caesar is simple political hypocrisy
deployed to ensure that he will condemn Jesus to the cross. He mocks their vassal status by saying that this
bloodied and helpless prisoner is the only king they are likely to every
have. Yet, what Pilate says is true and
he didn't even know it.
we see where the chief priests take their blasphemy further. They declare, "We have no king but
Caesar." The only true king of
Israel is God Himself. By claiming
Caesar as their only king, they are rejecting Jesus' messianic claims; they are
abandoning Israel's messianic hope and they are finally disowning the kingship
of the Lord Himself.
see failure all over in this story.
Pilate failed to do what he knew in his heart was the right thing to
do. Yes, what he did was exactly what
God wanted him to do; it was part of God's plan of salvation from before time
began and Pilate could do nothing else.
But he still had a personal responsibility that he didn't carry out. Pilate failed.
course, the nation of Israel also failed miserably. It is sad to see the Jewish people and
especially the Jewish leaders, reject their Messiah. They were the ones of all of the people on
earth who had been given the most light.
They were God's chosen people and they fully and totally rejected Jesus
and what He came to do. They
want to close this morning by encouraging and urging each and every one of you
to not fail. We have already won because
Jesus won the victory for us. Because of
His death and resurrection, we have victory over death; we have victory over
the grave; we have victory over sin. In
that sense, we cannot fail because it's not up to us and there is nothing we
can do and nothing anyone else can do to change or alter our eternal salvation.
that doesn't mean we can just coast through life, living on Jesus' coattails so
to speak. How do we succeed? How do we participate in the victory that
Christ has already won for us? How do we
ensure that we don't fail?
aspect of our victory is faith. One of
the great hymns that we have sung for years as Baptists is "Faith is the
victory." We are saved by grace
through faith and as we place our faith in Jesus, we will have victory in life.
11:1 gives us a direct, biblical definition of faith. "Now faith is the assurance of things
hoped for the conviction of things not seen." Faith is living in a hope that is so real it
gives absolute assurance. Faith is not
wistful longing that something may come to pass in an uncertain tomorrow. True faith is an absolute certainty, often of
things that the world considers unreal and impossible. Christian hope is belief in God against the
world. The faithful followers of God act
as if His promises have already happened; we take God at His word and live on
that basis. That is what faith is and
that is what helps us to succeed in life.
aspect of our victory is trust. Not only
do we need to put our faith in God and in His promises, but we also need to
exercise trust on a daily basis that He is in control and that His will and
purposes are going to be done in our lives.
40:31. When we trust in God, He renews
our strength. Life can get us down. How often do you feel beat up, abandoned and
bruised by the trials and difficulties of life?
Don't you just get to that point where you want to quit and give up
because you can't do it anymore? You've
got nothing left to fight with?
a good place to be. When we get to that
point is when we need to all the more trust in God and lean and depend upon
Him. When we are weak and faint, He
renews our strength. When we feel like
giving up He strengthens us so that we can continue on fighting the good fight
of faith. Because of God and who He is
and what He does for us, we will run and not become weary; we will walk and not
faint. Through whatever is going on
around us in our world, we need to trust God.
Trust Him with your cares; trust Him with your worries; trust Him with
your future. He's got this! Trusting God will help us succeed in life.
also need to confess. Ps. 32:5. This is the psalm that David wrote after his
affair with Bathsheba and killing her husband.
He had done some horrible things and was in a bad place in his
life. But he acknowledged his sin; he
owned up before God to what he had done; asked for forgiveness and received it
from a gracious, merciful God.
is vitally important to our spiritual health and well-being that we acknowledge
our sins to God. We need to not ever try
to hide or conceal anything from God.
For one, we can't because He is all-knowing. Also, it's detrimental to our spiritual
health and well-being. It is good for us
to admit to God the things that we have done against Him. It's good for our own souls; it's good for
our relationship with Him; it's good for our relationship with others as
well. If we're going to be successful
and not fail in our walk with the Lord, we need to be confessing our sins.
last aspect of a victorious life that we're going to look at this morning is
repentance. Not only do we need to be
confessing our sins to God, we need to repent of them as well. Acts 2:38.
is the very foundation of our salvation and the very foundation of our
relationship with the Lord. It speaks of
a change of purpose; of turning from sin and turning to God. It is an essential component of a genuine
conversion. Repentance is much more than
a fear of consequences. True repentance
hates sin for what it is: an affront to
Almighty God. Knowing that sin is evil
and that God hates it motivates the truly repentant person to forsake it. When we repent we forsake sin and turn in
total commitment to Jesus Christ.
just feel sorry for your sin; don't just feel bad about the negative
consequences you may be facing because of it.
Hate sin. Hate it enough to turn
from it and to start fully and totally loving and obeying the Lord Jesus
Christ. If we are truly saved, we will
seek to repent of our sin. If we don't
repent then that is evidence of a lack of salvation. The truly victorious will repent.
never fails at anything He does; never has and never will. Jesus never fails; never has and never
will. Because of that, as believers, we
will never ultimately fail either. The
victory is already won for us and it was done because of and through the work
of Christ on the cross and through the empty tomb.
we still have work to do. If you're
going to live a life of victory, we encourage you this morning to have faith in
God; trust Him at all times for all things; confess your sins and repent. Those are some keys to living a victorious
our singers and musicians come now, we invite you to life a life of
victory. If there are any decisions or
professions that you need to make this morning, we invite you to respond now as
we stand and sing.
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