AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH April 8, 2007
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES
THE CRUX OF THE VAINGLORY
AND THE CROSS OF GLORY
CAUGHT IN THE COURT OF PILATE
AND DELIVERED TO DELIVER FROM DEATH
John 18:28-19:30, 20:17
I THE COURT OF PILATE
What a court! From survival crazy Caiaphas (John 11:49-53), plotting murder for convenience, we move to Pilate's court in the imposing Praetorium. Too pure to enter, lest they be defiled and so spoil their Passover condition, they led Christ there but stayed outside.
Consider the irony of this move. In MURDERING, they deliver GOD in human form to a human being whose COURT is too defiled for them to enter, but not too impure for murder at their hands; for they could prove and did prove NOTHING. This Pilate attested: "I find no fault in Him," John 19:6. They tried (Mark 14:53-65), but the ONLY matter on which they COULD nail Him, depended on proving He was NOT the Messiah. Look at Matthew 4-5 and consider this. The power, the healing, the crowds, the all-sufficiency of Christ to heal all kinds of disease, the call, the words fitting Him into the biblical verses from centuries before, the Sermon on the Mount: He was irrepressible, irresistible, King to conquer evil, willing for anything, yielding nothing that was good and right, prepared to sacrifice Himself to achieve His aims of goodness and mercy.
On the assumption that for all this, He was NOT the Messiah, they called Him a blasphemer! What sort of judgment ignores the evidence, and does not even seek to contravert it, but knowing the answer, condemns to death! In condemning, they usher their victim to the secular court, too pure to even enter it, an Everest of hypocrisy and a soaring space-craft of sin, seeking to invest the heavens with their false condemnation, self-serving pride and theological incompetence.
What is the charge ? asks Pilate. If He were not an evil doer, we would not bring Him! they answered. What a fatuous answer! Is there a charge ? It is because he is evil that we charge Him. But that is not the question, it is the answer. They take over the court before it starts.
Pilate asked them to judge Him according to their own laws, but they made it clear they wanted death, and were not empowered to deal it out.
Pilate then seeing their obstinate obstructiveness, and jealous zeal, asked Christ himself, "Are You the King of the Jews ?" Jesus asked him whether the query came from his own heart, or was a relayed question. Pilate emphasised that he knew nothing of such things, but since Christ's own people had accused Him, he wanted to know what He had done!
Christ at once declared that His servants would fight if His kingdom has any relevance to earthly kingdoms, and that it was quite clear that this was all rubbish, any such misconception.
Since he mentioned a kingdom, Pilate asked Him if then His was some sort of a kingdom ?
Yes, Christ indicated, not a political kingdom was His, but the kingdom of truth, and He had come to witness to it. Those who belong to the truth, hear Him. Pilate could not understand even what truth meant, possibly so engaged in diplomatic intrigue, manipulation and artful trickery, but felt sure this was no ground for any accusation. "I find no fault in Him at all!" he cried, evidently very impressed with Christ. This was the first time he cleared Him.
Seeing however that they were incensed, and wanted blood, He offered them to release Him as a pardon, as he did as a custom on the Passover. Did they want Christ or a murderer, Barabbus ?
They chose a murderer and have received the attentions of his tribe of slaughterers ever since. Matthew 27:25 shows their lordly licence to kill, which came to haunt their unconverted descendents in Auschwitz and many pogroms, deceits, treacheries performed by other nations and religiously frenzied persons, against them.
Having cleared Christ, Pilate then, sought to clear himself, washing his hands as a token of his being innocent, as if he were NOT THE JUDGE! (Matthew 27:24), and he again cleared Christ, calling Him 'this just Person.' Indeed, as we see in Luke 23:22, in due course, he further remonstrated with them as they sought to crucify! repeating their lustful cry. "Why," he said, "what evil has He done!" He offered to have Christ scourged and then released. What a pitiable pity was this!
A cultural captive in his post, this governor who thus in three ways had declared Christ's innocence, then had Him scourged (something able to bring near to death), and to this mockery was added, a purple imperial looking robe being put on Him, thorns and emperor's crown, and hands knocking His head, the fealty being so contemptuously scorned. 'Hail, King of the Jews!' they cried, and spat on Him, and pretended to worship Him.
The Jews had improved on this torture, when Caiaphas condemned Christ, for then, as they spat in His face, slapping Him, they mocked, "Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who is the one who struck you!" Similarly, Hitler had great refinement of torture, even using Jewish people for horrific and obscene experiments. Unwise is it to play the fool with God, because truth without mercy, the sacrifice scorned, is irrefutable, uncomfortable to sin and has its own reward to righteousness, as to folly.
II THE COMPLETION OUT OF COURT
Any appearance of a Court had virtually disappeared. Repeatedly pronounced innocent, Christ was yet scourged, mocked, buffeted, spat on and scorned. The Judge washed his hands of what evil they would do the One whom he was supposed to judge, since none other could impose the death penalty. Now, concerned in the presence of One whose domain was truth, he asked a basic question: Where do you come from ?
He had doubtless heard much of Christ, and there was always this question, How did He get the power and what source could be found! Christ having borne the illegal mockery and pain, did not answer. Pilate then stressed that he had power to crucify, or not. Only God above had given such power, Christ retorted, thus making the sin of the one who delivered Him to Pilate, the greater. Stressing Roman paganism to provide justice, in its ignorance, made the referral the more heinous. Caiaphas and Judas alike were contributors to this solemn perfidy to their race, to their religion and to their God.
Chiding him that to be king must mean to compete with Caesar, the people taunted the tainted Pilate into further folly (John 19:12-14). Despite the fact it had been established clearly that this was NOT SO, there being different kingdoms in view, Pilate brought Christ to the people, declaring, Behold your King! What a mish-mash of mishandling confronted their callous eyes! After the scourging, he had shown Him earlier, crying, Behold the Man!
Shall I crucify your King ? he had asked. No king but Caesar came the popular reply. What Caesars then, the Jews inherited over the millenia to follow. This is a symbol for all, for if you do not take Christ as your king, you will find evil rulers enough.
So it progressed, from man to king, and Pilate moving to see more of the truth, did less to exhibit it, betraying Christ like all the rest of the assembled moral assassins. His manner was formal - washing his hands and remonstrating, appealing to their sense indeed of national pride, to HAVE such a being as this Christ; but his rule was misrule and his efforts were devastating to the record of Rome, and seems to seal its coming invasion in the 5th century.
III THE SETTLEMENT FOR SIN AND ON LIFE
How rich, remarkable and deep it all is, the God who made man allowing man to inter Him amidst the most vocal protestations of a Gentile Governor, while the Jew in vociferous passion, denounced his own King! Clearing His name articulately, Christ bared His back in all His vulnerability of the incarnation, performing the vast work of redemption in one single, simple act, like a volcano exploding. Yet this was sin imploding from the sinful hearts of men, to the sinless heart of mercy of the deity, wholly useless to those who still rejected Him, but entirely meeting to the very limitless fields of eternal life, those who received Him.
IF I HAD NOT COME among you and done the works, spoken the words which no one else did, you would not have had sin! Christ earlier had declared (John 15:22ff.). Now, He cried, your sin remains. That was before the crucifixion which intensified the sin; but this same sacrifice in the perfected mercy and love of Christ, opened the door for forgiveness even to His tormentors, if only they received the truth, and with it their pardon!
What dignity was this in desolation, and what functional efficiency in injustice, which was the very vehicle for the deletion of just accounts against sinners, God bearing the injustice by transfer, and so pre-empting judgment with judgment on His own self.
If this is not the subject of worship, then what hope is there ? When it is however, then there is no loss, for the resurrection is the testimony of triumph, and the power that raised the dead, also raising Christ, He remains the world's only hope, and the mercy focus for all.
Reject Him ? It is only to add to the Jewish folly; and the result ? It has much resemblance to what has befallen them; except that there are no longer 2000 years in which it is to be exhibited. Judgment itself is now NEAR! (cf. Luke 21:25ff.).
Indeed, Rome has done its evil work, in particular, and Europe in general, not only on Christ, but on disbelieving Jew and on Gentile believers as well: first in the person of Pilate, by whose authority Christ was first slain in the flesh, then in the Roman Empire, with multiple emperors purging, persecuting, exiling and murdering Christians, some even making a sport of it, then in the Holy Roman Empire, with its European princes making war repeatedly on Protestants and Protestant princes, then in Hitler, that apex of the affair, who helped impoverish the Protestant British Empire and get near to halving the Jewish population in the world.
Now it moves, in its new pagan Constitution, as the European Union, founded in the Treaty of Rome, towards its final day. This is not to criticise Europeans, many of whom are Christians, but to expose the time to come, when once more the European Empire, Union, once Roman Empire, the fourth of Daniel's exposition and the last in the line, partly strong and partly broken as the prophet said, will fulfil and finalise its fateful mission. All this is seen in Daniel 2, 7, and 9 (cf. Highway of Holiness which deals in depth with Daniel).
It is not some American power, already grossly compromised by inordinate and all but inconceivable debt, but Europe which is to hold the reins at that time. To be sure, the USA and the EU with the UN and Russia have heavily compromised Israel's due place as the Madrid Quartet, and interfere just as Zechariah 12 foretold some would do; but this is attrition, not the summit of offence, and this is preliminary, not the foretold European control to come for a brief flash of fire.
It is always necessary to be precise, and not to add, not to subtract from the word of God. Europe does not equal the USA, and this is not the criterion of the case.
It is time to be straight with the Bible, and to take what it says; for as it says, so it goes. It is time to junk cheap political sensationalism, such as has recently been exposed on this site, making satans or spiritual satyrs out of what the Bible does not attest.
It is useless on flamboyantly unsubstantial, and indeed illusory grounds, to add to the word of God by making it say what it has no mind to do. While it is true that the young lions of Ezekiel 38:13 might rationally be construed as including Britain and the US, these are but dim protestors at the coming assault on Israel, not the major agents. And even that in Ezekiel, it is an episode, not the final rule of the antichrist, before the Lord's own actual return (cf. SMR pp. 502ff., 509ff.).
As for the Ezekiel event, it concerns the enemy from the north, not from the fourth and final kingdom which followed that of the Macedonians, which is Rome, in its embrace of Europe. How amazing that it should even be called the Treaty of Rome in the 20th century, which re-instituted in its firstling of power, the 4th kingdom's identity, making it less 'partly broken' and more 'partly strong'! It comes, for it had to come, as did Christ to atone. It goes, as it must go, for Christ comes to rule. All in its time, it comes, it roars indeed, it surmounts obstacles, and comes flitting to the tarmac, gliding into to its place.
As far as clear teaching from the Bible is concerned, then, Europe, the fourth empire in the Danielic series is the one, and it is shaping up in the most artistically aesthetic way, almost like a contrary erected to defy and define by negation, the nature of righteousness, but with an elegance of form that is remarkable. In the depth of wickedness, its day is coming for its ultimate, Danielically defined task (cf. SMR pp. 902ff., 922ff., 946ff.).
To be sure, Rome will be destroyed before the end, and the European union, by whatever name it will then go, will have abased her who for so long had ruled like a 'harlot' (spiritually multiple worshipper of gods, or their issuances), profoundly polluted and unbiblical (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H). This is most clear in Revelation 17, where she no more can sit in her ruling place on the beast's back! She is thrown off as securely as was Rome not so long ago, in the new EU Constitutional proposals.
The day comes, it moves swiftly.
It is time to seek, to know and to live by the Lord, who though crucified, as we now attest this rest day, the first of the week, that on which He rose, is living Lord and soon will reign in visible majesty (Matthew 29:28-29), having completed the atonement and commissioned the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). When the Gospel period is complete, and its aftermath is done, then the history that is to be summed up in sheep and goats, in judgment and in rest, comes in the consummation, and it comes according to the case (Matthew 25, Revelation 20:12ff.).
This is not era for indulging in political fantasies but now, as always before, for seeking the exact teaching of what is written, and rejoicing in its clarity and truth, fearing to add ANYTHING to it, sensing all it means and intimates, and comparing this with other scripture for confirmation, to find in it the choicest of teachings, the best of counsellings in all that is written, and the deliverance from presumption (Psalm 19).
Life eternal, it is in HIM crucified, risen, returning to rule, to remove the earth in its time and to bless in a new heavens and new earth (Revelation 20:11, 21:1, Isaiah 65) the works of His passion, resurrected in reality and individual in continuation (Revelation 7): these enclosed in a body eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5), no more subject to pain (Revelation 21:4), or to death, but in delighted subjection to the Saviour, whose love and grace and truth, are the very criterion of the universe and the solace of man.
Here is Saviour for sinners, from sin and in its place. Thank God for His grace!
May the Lord give to us all who believe Him, believe in Him and rest in His redemption by faith, in His resurrection of the body with expectation and His love, with relish, who wait for Him and His appearing a second time, without sin to salvation (Hebrews 9:28), the grace to change course as often as His word directs, to hold course as it directs, and to rest in His protection while acting in a faith which has the boldness which truth demands (Philippians 1:20-21, Acts 4), and its delight in His purifying power.
Blessed be God, who does all these things!