The whole world is in crisis, we are all free falling, with our anxiety levels up, with jobs being lost and with everyone feeling vulnerable. Coronavirus has put a big dent in our collective confidence. Every day we have new directives based on the best wisdom and we have never been more hungry for the truth.
For a long time many of us were happy to live life as if there is no absolute truth. All there are, are just opinions, you’re right from your side and I’m right from mine. But truth now seems to matter more than ever.
It’s why the early cover up of the Coronavirus was so dangerous.
On the first Good Friday there was a commitment to cover up the truth about Jesus, and nothing has changed! Jesus has been betrayed, arrested and tried by the Jewish leaders and the high priest. They wanted him DEAD, but they couldn't make it happen because Israel in the 1st century was under the rule of Rome. Only the Roman Governor, Pilate, could authorise his execution. What is clear is that no one was interested in truth. Turn back a chapter to 18, verse 37.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (NIV)
Jesus makes the most radical if not the most arrogant statement. Everyone on the side of truth listens to who? Jesus. Jesus is the benchmark for what is true and what is false. Jesus. Not your parents, not your priests, not your professor nor your present instagram hero, He the measurement for truth.
It was only 3-4 weeks ago that we heard of those saying, “I don’t believe that the Coronavirus is true.”’ They believed that COVID19 was made up by the media and that it was a conspiracy by the government. But now that they have seen the news, there are:
The same folk are finally admitting that maybe the Coronavirus is true. Isn’t it good they were not running government policy. In a world where everyone wants to decide for themselves what is truth, Jesus says: Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.
Truth is a person and that person is Jesus.
Notice how in verse 38 Pilate avoids the truth of Jesus, he uses one of the oldest trick in the trade. The philosopher’s question.
“What is truth?” Pilate asked. (NIV)
Philosophy can ask ultimate questions but it struggles with the ultimate answer. Most philosophy courses teach that there is no absolute truth, but we all live like truth exists. Pilate knew one truth, that Jesus is innocent. Verse 38
“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. (NIV)
Three times Pilate says “I find no basis for a charge against him. You want me to kill an innocent man? Never is truth more precious than when you’re falsely accused.
Years ago my friend got married in Coogee and the car park meter was broken. So I phoned the number on the meter and asked ‘Is it alright if I park?’ She said 'Yes' and I got a number to confirm the conversation. A month later I got a fine of $68 and I couldn’t believe it. I phoned up and explained. The lady said no problem just write up your story and that should be ok.
A month later the appeal was knocked back. Apparently I did not fit within the terms of leniency. But I didn’t want leniency, I wanted justice. Now, I was so upset that I phoned a shock jock on 2GB to have my grievance heard and the manager asked me to fax the details. I got no response and it’s still a cold case.
It feels so wrong when you’re falsely accused. I wanted the truth to come out! Then I remembered all the times I did the wrong thing but was never penalised. I didn’t go to the police and ask to be booked for speeding. Really, I might have been innocent of that case but I was guilty of a lot more.
Jesus alone stands as the truly sinless one. Jesus’ innocence was an inconvenient truth for Pilate, for he had the Jewish leaders wanting Jesus dead and a crowd crying out for blood. To keep them happy, as a concession, he sent an innocent man to be flogged. Verse 1. Such a simple sentence.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged (NIV)
That is what happens when truth doesn’t matter, you can punish the innocent and sleep at night. This Roman flogging was so bad that it was called the death before death. They would have tied Jesus’ arms around a stone to stretch the skin on his back. The whip had sharp pieces of bones and metal sewed into strips of leather and each of the 39 lashes would rip the flesh off his back, exposing veins and organs. The one who made the world, being whipped by the hands he created. But it continues in verse 2 and 3.
The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (NIV)
Bored soldiers deciding to have some fun with Jesus. He was the butt of their jokes and the butt of their fists. A pretend crown, dressed up in purple and laughing at this pathetic looking king. This would not be the last time Jesus was the butt of jokes.
We live in a world that acts like everything is funny. Stand up comedians will laugh their way through the big issues of life. Don’t get me wrong! I love the medicine of laughter and I’m a laugh out loud sort of guy and laughter helps us get through self isolation. One former member of MBM on a Facebook feed said, “My kids woke up calling from the bedroom “Mum what did Gladys (The premier of NSW) say? “Gladys said, you’re going to school, so get your butts out of bed.” I can’t find the meaning of life in laughter and I’ve realised my laughter covers a lot of pain and it also covers up a lot of truth.
You can't laugh your way through a job loss when you have to feed your kids, you can’t laugh at the death of a grandparent you love. We need to stop laughing long enough to see that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. God's judgment on sin will pass over us not on us. Jesus is our passover lamb taking the judgment our sins deserve. And one day as followers of Christ death will be destroyed and we can laugh at death for eternity. Only this servant king can do that. In verse 6 and 7 Pilate brings Jesus out hoping for a change of mind.
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (NIV)
Now it’s religion’s turn to suppress the truth of Jesus. You would think religion is a sincere attempt at finding God but the moment the truth came in person to earth it was religion that was on a mission to take Jesus out. Jesus exposes the lies of man made religion. Every religion has to re-position itself against Jesus. Jesus who said, “Everyone on the side of truth, listen to me”.
Jesus who said “I am the way, the truth, and life” then said it in reverse “No one comes to the Father except through me” In one sentence he has shut the door on every religion that denies that truth, Jesus is God’s way to God. “I am the son of God” you can see why they wanted to kill him. So they pull out the old blasphemy rule. We know that Judas, out of greed, hands Jesus to the Jewish Leaders. The Jewish leader, out of envy, hands Jesus over to Pilate. Pilate, out of fear, hands Jesus over to the Soldiers to be killed. Pilate was now more afraid. Verses 8-10.
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (NIV)
Pilate demands answers to his question, Jesus is choosing to be silent as He has already answered Pilate’s Questions, “I am king, my kingdom is not of this world” “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” Pilate didn’t like those answers. Notice Pilate’s response to Jesus' silence, “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Sounds familiar?! How many of us have tested God? “Prove to me that you are Lord!” or, “Show me a sign!” or, “Perform this miracle or answer my prayers" or "Respond to my questions" or "Fulfil my expectations" or "For I have power to accept you Jesus, I have power to reject you" Jesus replied in verse 11.
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (NIV)
Jesus is reminding us that whatever power we think we have either great or small, it is both given and will be taken away. Pilate wanted more evidence when the evidence was staring him in his face, and they are staring in our face right now. The resurrection will prove Jesus' case.
They say that the Coronavirus, like the bushfires in January, brought out the best and worst of humanity. But in the death of Jesus, we only see the worst of humanity. In verse 14 to 16 Pilate brings Jesus out again.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally, Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (NIV)
Did these Jewish leaders really say “We have no king but Caesar”? Think about it, they accuse Jesus of blasphemy but in the process, they blaspheme God by saying, “We have no king but Caesar”. I thought God was their king. They would prefer to side with Rome who has enslaved them rather than side with a Saviour who wants to set them free.
Be careful who you want to be friends with, for within a few decades the Roman emperor will authorise the death of 1 million Jews. Can you see a little of Pilate in you? Pilate is a weak, insecure little boy who fears losing his power, who avoids taking responsibility, who caves to the pressure of people, who ignores the truth before him and who sacrifices the innocent and fears humans more than God.
The difference between a boy and a man is that boys only care about themselves and men take care of others. Coronavirus will expose whether we have men or boys in our families.
Pilate was no more than a boy with lots of power who was interested in taking care of himself, and fearing people more than God. Jesus was the True man and the True king, having total power and then giving up that power so that he may die for us and provide full forgiveness.
At age 20 I became a follower of Jesus Christ. I went from knowing about Jesus to personally knowing Jesus. I did that by reading the Bible for myself, with an open mind, as an adult, to see if Jesus truly was the Son of God. I was overwhelmed by the truthfulness of Jesus. It truly has the ring of truth. It was then that I realised how much my soul ached for truth in a world of lies. There was someone I could fully trust. It was like from the moment I was born, I was free falling until I landed on the truth of Jesus.
Let me put it another way, Jesus is the only person who will never lie to you. Truth is such a precious commodity. It can seem inconvenient because a relationship with Jesus is on his terms. He is King and he is Servant King. That is the truth that will set you free.
Can I invite you to accept Jesus as your King.
Lord my soul aches for your truth
Forgive me for ignoring the truth all my life
The truth that your one and only Son, the Lord Jesus, is truly the King of kings
Thank you Jesus for carrying my sins at the cross
Thank you for providing full forgiveness
I want to side with you
I want to take your view of the world and make it mine.
I pray this in Jesus name.