The Trials of Jesus Christ
The Trials of Jesus Christ
The Gospel of John
John 18:12-24, John 18:28-40
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 16, 2018
(Revised June 2, 2020)
*Please open your Bibles to John 18. Here Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested by an army of probably over a thousand men. The Lord was in control. We know this because when Jesus identified Himself in vs. 5-6, He miraculously put that whole force on the ground.
*After the Lord allowed that army to arrest Him, vs. 13 tells us "they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year."
*Last week we focused on how Peter denied the Lord, but thank God, that wasn't the end of Peter's story. We went on to see how the Lord restored Peter after Jesus rose again from the dead. We also saw how the Lord empowered Peter with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
*Tonight, we will go back to the trials of Jesus Christ and see three crucial truths for today. For context, let's begin by reading vs. 12-24.
*Ungodly, cruel, corrupt politicians have been one of the worst plagues of mankind. Take Lavrentiy Beria for example. Beria was the most ruthless and longest-serving secret police chief in Joseph Stalin's Communist reign of terror in the Soviet Union. Beria's famous boast was, "Show me the man and I'll show you the crime." He led the expansion of the slave-labor camps and secret detention facilities for political prisoners.
*I've seen estimates of 100 to 148 million people killed under brutal Communist dictatorships, including 65 million in China and up to 60 million in the nations once controlled by the Soviet Union. (1)
*We see the same callous disregard for life on display at the trials of Jesus Christ. We know this because the Lord's appearances before the members of the Jewish supreme court were strictly illegal. Their supreme court was called the Great Sanhedrin. It was made up of 70 men plus the high priest. And during this time it met in the Temple in Jerusalem. (2)
*John Phillips explained that according to their law "death-penalty offenses could be tried by a quorum of twenty-three, but a case concerning a false prophet had to be brought before the entire Sanhedrin of 71 members. The judges were to sit in a semicircle with the president in the middle, so that the faces of each judge might be seen by each of the others.
*The witnesses were to be strictly separated and examined individually. If the testimony of two agreed, it was taken as valid. When the case involved the death penalty, the witnesses were cautioned as to the consequences of their testimony. They were not allowed to inject their own conjectures or hearsay.
*Death-penalty cases could only be tried in the daytime, but Jesus was hauled before the high priests at night. Everything was supposed to be done to give the accused the benefit of the doubt. And death sentence could not be given until the next day, to allow time for a change of mind. . .
*On the way to execution, further efforts were made to establish the prisoner's innocence. They gave him 4 or 5 opportunities to name new witnesses who might prove his innocence. They also sent a herald ahead of the procession to urge anyone who could prove his innocence to step forward." (3)
*Some of these basic laws were surely violated by the Sanhedrin, and why? Because they had murder in their hearts. Jesus spoke to some of the same rulers in John 8. It was at the Feast of the Tabernacles, about 6 months before these trials. Then, as always, God knew their hearts, and here is part of what Jesus said to those men:
44. "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
45. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
46. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?
47. He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.''
*The judges at the trials of Christ were ungodly, cruel, corrupt politicians. But through these trials, God gives us vital spiritual truth for today.
1. FIRST: WE SEE THE EVIL RESULTS OF REJECTING JESUS CHRIST.
*The greatest tragedy in the world is that so many people have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior. Yes, in John 4 the Lord said that the fields of evangelism are white for harvest. And truly they still are ripe for harvest, so we must do everything we can to reach more people with the good news about Jesus.
*But many millions of people have rejected Christ for the false teachings of atheism, Communism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and the other false religions of this world. Communism, atheism and humanism all replace God with a man. Under these false teachings, I'm either accountable to myself alone, or to the godless men who rule over me.
*False religions may believe in one god or many gods. But they all have this in common: They have rejected the one and only true God, and that's the God of the Bible: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
*False religions also may believe in Heaven or some state of perfection. But getting there is always based on my works. It's something I've got to do for myself. I've got to cleanse myself, be good enough, and earn acceptance by keeping some set of rules. But the truth is that it's not possible for people to earn God's acceptance.
*Man cannot save himself. King Duncan explained: "There are some situations in which we cannot deliver ourselves. If a large ocean liner stops in the middle of the Atlantic, the passengers simply cannot get out, get behind the boat, and push. Or as one old time preacher put it: 'If a man is drowning, he cannot save himself by grabbing his hair and pulling himself up.'" (4)
*Man cannot save himself. And there are many religions in the world, but there is only one Savior. His name is Jesus Christ! So, think about the awful results of rejecting Jesus.
 FIRST: REJECTING CHRIST LEADS TO CRUEL BEHAVIOR.
*Rejecting the Lord can make people cruel, hateful, and vicious. There are countless examples in society today: cruel parents, teachers, bosses, neighbors, strangers, law enforcement officers and more. We see a small example of this cruelty in vs. 19-23:
19. The high priest (former high priest, Annas) then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
20. Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.
21. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.''
22. And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?''
23. Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?''
 WHY DID HE HIT JESUS? BECAUSE REJECTING CHRIST TENDS TO MAKE PEOPLE CRUEL. IT CAN ALSO MAKE PEOPLE MURDEROUS.
*In vs. 24, "Annas sent (Jesus) bound to Caiaphas the high priest." God's Holy Spirit did not lead the Apostle John to record this part of the story. But Matthew shows us the murderous hatred in the hearts of Caiaphas and the religious rulers with him.
*Matthew 26:62-68 says:
62. . . the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it that these men testify against You?''
63. But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.''
64. Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.''
65. Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!
66. "What do you think?'' They answered and said, "He is deserving of death.''
67. Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,
68. saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?''
*Those evil judges were happy to abuse and murder the most innocent man who ever lived, the only person who ever lived a perfect life: Jesus Christ.
 REJECTING JESUS CAN LEAD PEOPLE TO MURDEROUS HATRED. IT ALSO LEAVES PEOPLE DEFILED BY THEIR SIN.
*In vs. 28, "They led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover."
*Those religious rulers were unwilling to go into the Roman Judgment Hall. Why? Because that would have made them ceremonially unclean to eat the Passover meal. They were totally focused on the outward trappings of religion, but had no concern about the envy and murder in their hearts.
*They chose the symbols over the substance. They chose those symbolic lambs, when they could have had the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. They cared about ceremonial defilement when they should have cared about eternal defilement.
*Remember what Jesus said to the Christ-rejecting Pharisees in John 8:21-24:
21. . . "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.''
22. So the Jews said, "Will He kill Himself, because He says, 'Where I go you cannot come'?''
23. And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
24. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.''
 REJECTING JESUS LEAVES PEOPLE DEFILED BY THEIR SIN. AND IT IS BASED ON DECEPTION.
*We can see the judges deceit in vs. 29-30:
29. Pilate then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?''
30. They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.''
*Well, that was a lie. Jesus never committed a single sin in thought, word or deed. And rejecting Jesus is rejecting the truth, because Jesus is the ultimate truth. Rejecting Jesus is choosing to believe lies, and it turns me into a liar.
*Matthew's Gospel shows us how dishonest these evil judges were. This happened earlier at the kangaroo court under Caiaphas the high priest. Matthew 26:59-62 says:
59. Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,
60. but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward
61. and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'''
62. And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it that these men testify against You?''
*These wicked judges were like the men Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:13. There Paul said, "Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." In Matthew 15:14, Jesus called the hard-hearted Pharisees "blind leaders of the blind." Their lives were based on lies.
 PEOPLE WHO REJECT JESUS ARE DECEIVED, AND THEY CHOOSE DARKNESS OVER THE LIGHT OF GOD.
*We see this happening down in vs. 38-40, where:
38. Pilate said to (Jesus), "What is truth?'' And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.
39. But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?''
40. Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!'' Now Barabbas was a robber.
*They chose a murderer over God's promised Messiah. And John 3:17-19 helps us understand why. There Jesus said:
17. . . "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
*All of these evil results come from rejecting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
2. BUT THE TRIALS OF CHRIST ALSO GIVE US SOME EXCELLENT REASONS TO RECEIVE JESUS.
*There is no one else like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
 AND WE SHOULD RECEIVE JESUS BECAUSE OF HIS KNOWLEDGE.
*Verses. 31-32 remind us of the Lord's miraculous knowledge. There Pilate said this to those evil, Jewish rulers:
31. . . "You take Him and judge Him according to your law.'' Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,''
32. that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
*Matthew 20:17-19 gives us a clear example of Jesus knowing the future. This happened about 3 months before the cross:
17. Then Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,
18. "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,
19. and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.''
*Jesus knew that He was going to die on the cross. In fact, the Lord planned to die on the cross from all eternity past. That's why a thousand years before Jesus died, King David could prophesy these words of the Lord. In Psalm 22:15-18:
15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.
16. For dogs have surrounded Me; The assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;
17. I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.
18. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
*If the Jews could have legally executed Jesus, they would have stoned Him to death. But the cross was God's plan from all eternity past, so God arranged for the power of capital punishment to be taken away from the Jews and turned over to their Roman conquerors.
*This reminds us that God will move Heaven and earth to carry out His plan for our lives. And if Jesus says something is going to happen, it's going to happen!
 WE SHOULD RECEIVE JESUS BECAUSE OF HIS KNOWLEDGE, ALSO BECAUSE OF HIS KINDNESS.
*Again in vs. 32, we see that Jesus spoke about "what death He would die." He spoke of His death on the cross for us. In John 3:14-15, Jesus said this to Nicodemus: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
*In John 12:31-33, Jesus also said, "'Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.' This He said, signifying by what death He would die."
*Jesus died on the cross for all people! Jesus died on the cross for all of us, to take the punishment for our sins, so that we could live forever in Heaven with Him.
 ALL OF US SHOULD RECEIVE JESUS BECAUSE OF HIS KINDNESS, AND BECAUSE OF HIS KINGDOM.
*Verses 33-36 tell us that:
33. . . Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?''
34. Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself on this, or did others tell you this about Me?''
35. Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?''
36. Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.''
*Jesus spoke with royal authority there. And His message to Pilate was clear: "You are not really in charge here. I am. I am the King of a Kingdom that you cannot begin to comprehend. I am the King of a Kingdom that is bigger than this world and bigger than time."
*There is no King like Jesus Christ! And everyone should receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. And the trials of Christ give us some excellent reasons to receive Jesus.
3. BUT THE LORD'S TRIALS ALSO REMIND US OF THE ESSENTIAL REVELATION WE HAVE IN JESUS.
*After Jesus spoke of His kingdom to the governor, vs. 37-38 tell us that:
37. Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?'' Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.''
38. Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?'' . . .
*"What is truth?" Jesus Christ is THE TRUTH, so He is the ultimate source of all other truth. Only Jesus can honestly and boldly say: "For this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth." And "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.''
*Think of the wonderful, miraculous difference it makes when we believe the truth about Jesus Christ. His eternal truth changes our lives forever. Please listen to this testimony of some lives that were changed by the Lord:
*In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and much of the Gulf coast. Some of us got to go down to Folsom on the North Shore to help with the clean-up. Many thousands of trees were down. We were there just a couple of days to help remove fallen trees. We also helped serve the people who came by the First Baptist Church every day for food and supplies.
*One of the greatest blessings of those trips was meeting a 13-year-old named Jordan. Jordan played drums in the praise band at First Baptist. His dad Wayne played too.
*But even though Jordan's dad is a devoted Christian today. Jordan told us of the time when his dad was everything but a follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, Wayne was a crystal-meth dealer in New Orleans. And he got busted. But they offered Wayne a deal: Either he could go to jail, or turn-in the ring leader.
*Wayne chose to turn-in the guy who was over the whole operation. It was a huge turning point for Wayne, and he recommitted his life to the Lord. But the drug boss put out a contract on Wayne's life, and he lived under a cloud of danger.
*One day about 7 years later, Wayne's wife got a heavy burden for the family's safety. And she asked some prayer warriors in their church to make it a matter of urgent prayer.
*A couple of months later the family was eating at a fish place way out in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly Dad told the family that they needed to go to the car right away. In that crowded, out-of-the-way restaurant, Wayne had spotted his former drug boss, and the drug boss spotted him.
*The man came over, put his hand on Wayne's shoulder and asked, "Do you know who I am?" Wayne said, "I do." Then the drug boss said, "I want you to know that you and your family don't ever have to be afraid of me again. God got hold of my life when I was in prison. And I have been saved!"
*What a testimony of salvation, of answered prayer and God's special care! What a great testimony of victory over sin. That former drug boss would tell us: "We can trust in the truth of Jesus Christ!" Jordan, his mother and his father would also tell us: "We can trust in the soul-saving, life-changing truth about Jesus Christ!"
*So put your trust in Jesus. And thank God for showing us:
-The evil results of rejecting Jesus.
-The excellent reasons for receiving Jesus.
-And the essential revelation we have in Jesus Christ.
-"Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime" - by Michael Henry - Published 2:49 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018
-"Lavrenti Beria Executed - Stalin's security chief was executed on December 23rd, 1953" by Richard Cavendish - Published in History Today Volume 53 Issue 12 December 2003
-"How Many People Did Joseph Stalin Kill?" by Palash Ghosh - @Gooch700 - 030513 AT 8:55 AM
(2) https://www.gotquestions.org/Sanhedrin.html - Recommended Resource: Bible Answers for Almost all Your Questions by Elmer Towns
(3) Adapted from EXPLORING THE GOSPELS: JOHN by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Jesus Was Arraigned" - John 18:13-19:15)
(4) Adapted from Sermons.com email illustration 02222004