Subject 16 : The Gospel According to JOHN

[Chapter 18-4] Meditate on God’s Truth (John 18:28-40)

Meditate on God’s Truth
(John 18:28-40)
“Then 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. Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered and said to him, ‘If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.’ Then Pilate said to them, ‘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,’ that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die. Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ 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.’ 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.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘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. 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?’ Then they all cried again, saying, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber.”
We are leading very complicated lives in this world. We struggle with many issues, events, problems and the worries that arise from them to further complicate our lives. So when we worship God, we entrust our troubled minds to the Lord. It’s a tough world out there. As there are so many complicated events happening, we are constantly worried and vexed. A human being is like a tree facing the wind. As a tree sways back and forth in different directions depending on which direction the wind blows, so does everyone also swing left and right depending on his circumstances, thoughts and environments. As everyone lives in this world, everyone is influenced by its affairs.
For example, when a businessman is preoccupied with his business, it’s hard for him not to think about his business affairs even when he is in a worship service. The same goes for everyone else. Keeping one’s faith is not such an easy thing. Nevertheless, we must calm our hearts and put all our worries to rest. Only when we clear our cluttered minds to rest in peace can we truly worship God.
I know very well that just like me, when your mind is preoccupied with something serious, this worry is constantly hovering over your head. As you and I are living in this diverse and complex society that is changing all the time, our minds are very much crowded with many different issues. But in reality, it may be just our outlook that is complicated when the actual situation is not that complicated. After all, if the basic needs for clothing, food and housing are solved, the rest of the problems are not such big worries. Perhaps we humans are trying to solve the problem of basic needs in a needlessly complicated way when it could be solved rather easily and simply.
Nonetheless, I am fully aware how difficult and hard it is for you and me to defend our faith in these end times. But even so, we must lead our lives of faith unwaveringly, clearing our cluttered minds and surrendering them to the Lord, and always listening closely to the Truth of the water and the Spirit.

The Events That Occurred about 2,000 Years Ago

Today’s Scripture passage describes the events that occurred about 2,000 years ago from now. After being arrested, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest at that time, and He was interrogated for His sins. But as we all know very well, Jesus had no sin. Yet the Jews still hated Him.
There is an old Korean saying that goes, “Shake anyone hard enough and you will find dust.” Like this saying, you and I are dusty people. But Jesus had no dust at all no matter how hard He was shaken. He was completely sinless. That is why Caiaphas, who interrogated Jesus, delivered Him to Pilate, the Roman colonial governor. The Jews just could not find any fault with Jesus no matter how hard they tried to impugn Him with sin and judge Him according to the Law of God.
There was only one way that they could find a fault that would justify putting Jesus to death as a punishment for this offence. It was applying the Roman law to Jesus. If the Roman law were applied, it would inevitable to find Jesus guilty of breaking it. At that time, many people were adulating and following Jesus as the King of the Jews. And they actually believed that Jesus would deliver them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. They believed this because Jesus had performed many miracles, including feeding over 5,000 people in the wilderness with five loaves of bread and two fish just by praying.
According to the Roman law, it was clearly a crime for the Jewish people to believe that Jesus was their King. After all, how could there be two rulers in a country? The Roman emperor was the only ruler of the known world at the time, and so even though Israel was a tributary state, it was an act of sedition to crown another king. In other words, Jesus was found guilty of the grievous crime of treason. Pursuant to the Roman law, Jesus therefore had to suffer the punishment of crucifixion that was reserved only for the most hideous criminals. This is what Caiaphas the High Priest at that time had in mind, and that is why he deviously delivered Jesus to the Praetorium of the Roman colonial governor.
The passage that we just read today describes the scene of the last trial of Jesus that occurred about 2,000 years ago. As we read this Word of Truth that shows various ancient events, we can come nearer to God. Although our minds have been cluttered with many complicated thoughts until now, by this true Word of the water and the Spirit, our hearts can return to God to be ruled by Him and find new strength. Our heats are filled with this Truth. Through today’s Scripture passage, you and I are witnessing ancient events, and through this Word of God, we have come to fear God.
Pilate Interrogated Jesus
While Jesus was held in the Praetorium, Pilate went out and asked the Jews, “What accusations do you bring against this Man?” The Jews said, “If He were not an evildoer, would we have delivered Him to you? This Man is an evildoer.” Pilate then said, “But that seems like a religious issue, and so you should judge Him as you like. On just His outside appearance alone, Jesus does not appear to be such an evil man. So you take Him back and judge Him yourselves. Why have you brought Him to me for no reason?” Then the Jews said, “We have no authority to put anyone to death.” This means that they were already determined to kill Jesus. Punishments rendered under the Roman law included crucifixion, an extremely cruel method of execution reserved for the most hideous criminals. As the Jewish law did not have such a provision for execution, God sought to fulfill His Word by applying the Roman law of crucifixion.
Although the Jews wanted to kill Jesus, they were thoroughly ingrained in Judaism and ardent legalists to their bones. As the Law required them to keep the Sabbath Day holy, so they were trying to keep this day holy. Coincidentally the day on which Jesus was put on trial was the sixth day, that is, Friday in today’s terms. When the sun set on Friday, the Sabbath Day began, and according to the Law, the Jewish people were not supposed to do any labor on the Sabbath Day. So they wanted Pilate to execute Jesus before the Sabbath Day arrived, in which case they would not have to do any work to put Jesus to death. The Jews were also forbidden to enter into any Gentile’s house, and that is why they didn’t enter Pilate’s palace and clamored outside demanding Pilate to execute Jesus. In today’s scene, we may say that they were demonstrating in front of a government building.
Returning to his palace, Pilate proceeded to interrogate Jesus. He called Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Someone then probably said, “That Man calls Himself the King of Jews, and many others also call Him the King of the Jews.” In fact, Caiaphas the High Priest had advised the Jews earlier, “It is expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14). Who do you think Caiaphas had in mind when he said this? He was referring to none other than Jesus. In other words, Caiaphas thought that delivering Jesus to the Romans and killing Him would secure peace for the Jewish people. And this was indeed true when political considerations were taken into account.
Many Israelites at that time were following Jesus as the king of the Jews. If a king of the Jews were indeed to emerge, the people of Israel would have been completely destroyed by the army of the Roman emperor. For a colony to establish its own king meant an open rebellion, and the Jews would then have been punished for their sedition. That is why Caiaphas the High Priest said that it was expedient to sacrifice one man for the entire Jewish people.
Prosecutors sometimes ask tricky questions when interrogating suspects. They have a way of asking questions to trap a suspect if he gives one wrong answer, and once the suspect is drawn into the trap, he has no way of getting out. In the same manner, Pilate continued to interrogate Jesus by asking, “Are You the King of the Jews?” This question was asked to trap Jesus, as Pilate was trying to tie Him up on the charge of high treason. But Jesus said to him, “Is this inquiry your own, or did you hear it from someone else? Is it what others said to you about me?” Pilate then continued to ask Jesus, “Your own people and the chief priests have delivered you to me. So what have you done?” Jesus then said, “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 answered Pilate’s question by saying that His Kingdom was not of this earth. So Pilate asked again, “Are you a king then?”

Jesus Answered, “My Kingdom Is Not of This World”

Our Lord Jesus and His interrogator Pilate were speaking in completely different dimensions. Pilate was just interrogating Jesus in the usual way. He followed the standard procedure and tried to induce Jesus into admitting Himself that He was the King of the Jews. Pilate wanted to make Jesus admit to treason and sentence Him to death quickly and so he asked these three short questions. But our Lord Jesus gave completely unexpected answers to these questions. He said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
So Pilate asked Him again, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king.” This was akin to fully admitting to sedition when measured by the secular law. So Pilate now had enough grounds to sentence Jesus to crucifixion. But there is one important issue that stands out here. What Jesus admitted was of a completely different dimension from the act of treason that the people at that time thought. The Lord said, “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.”
When Pilate kept on asking, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him by saying, “You are right. As you say, I am the King, but My Kingdom is not of this world. And for this cause I was born: To save everyone in this world. I came not only for the Jewish people and nation, but for all the people of the world. I was born on this earth to bear witness of the Truth and save everyone.” He also said that everyone who was of the truth would hear His voice. As Pilate could not quite understand Jesus’ answer, he asked helplessly once again what the truth was.
The interest of the worldly people is actually very different from your interest and mine. While the born-again are interested in spiritual things, secular people are interested only in their carnal affairs. Such people of the flesh are only interested in the things happening in the present world; they do not care about ancient Biblical events, which still give us important spiritual lessons. People’s lives are increasingly focused only on visible, materialistic aspects, and their interests are drifting further away from spiritual concerns.
We can see this from the conversation Pilate had with Jesus here. Pilate asked very realistic questions, but Jesus spoke of spiritual things. Jesus was in fact the King of the Jews. The King here means the spiritual King of the Jews. The Jews were Abraham’s descendants, and God called Abraham and his descendants the chosen people. God said that He was the Master of the Jewish people. In other words, God and Jesus are the spiritual Kings of the Jews.
Pilate Could Not Find Any Fault with Jesus
Jesus was the King of the lost in this world, their Leader and their Guide; He had come to testify to them what the Truth was. And our Lord did in fact bear witness to the Truth. What is this Truth then? It is that God the Father loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to this earth, passed all the sins of the world to this Son, delivered His Son to be crucified, and raised Him from the dead. In other words, that Jesus Christ has blotted out all our sins and saved us is the very Truth. Jesus had come to this earth for this work, to bear witness to it.
So, even as He was standing in the court of Pilate, Jesus bore witness to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Truth: “I am the King of the Jews. I have come to save the lost. And I have come to bear witness to the Truth.” The Lord was born on this earth through the body of the Virgin Mary, shouldered the sins of the world by being baptized by John, was sentenced to death and died on the Cross, and rose up from the dead, all done to save us. This is the Truth. We must believe in this Truth of God. The reason why the Lord came to this earth was to fulfill the righteousness of God that saves everyone who believes in it and to testify this Truth.
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” He just could not understand what the Truth was. People today are also equally ignorant of it. They keep doubting and asking, “What’s truth?” At the main entrance to Seoul National University, there is a banner with an excellent motto that reads, “The Place Where the Truth Is Searched.” What then is the Truth? It’s simple. The Truth is that Jesus Christ came to this earth and has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Yet many people still do not know this Truth, just as Pilate asked what the truth was.
Even after interrogating Jesus, Pilate could not find any fault with Him. So He went out of the Praetorium and said to the Jews who were bent on killing Jesus, “I find no fault with this Man at all. But you have a custom that when the Passover comes around, the most important feast among yours, I should release one of the criminals. Should I release this Man, or the famed robber called Barabbas?” If Pilate released Jesus on his own initiative, it would have caused a great deal of unrest. That’s why he asked this question, trying to find a middle ground to listen to the demand of the Jewish people and also release Jesus who was innocent. The Jews then shouted out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a heinous criminal.

Those Doomed to Death Can Find Life through Jesus

When Pilate asked the Jews whom they wanted to be released, they said that they wanted Barabbas, a brutal criminal, to be released instead of Jesus. It is because of Jesus that Barabbas’ life was spared. Barabbas, a robber doomed to death, found new life through Jesus, the real Truth. And it was also God’s will for Jesus to die according to the demand of the Jews. Three years prior finding Himself in the court of Pilate, Jesus had already accepted all the sins of the entire human race by being baptized, and therefore He had to submit Himself to the punishment of crucifixion to pay off the wages of all the sins of mankind. That was to fulfill the Truth, and that was also the way to bear witness of the Truth; and that is why our Jesus accepted this punishment. Through His unjust trial at the court of Pilate, Jesus ensured that this Truth would be testified.
That Jesus saved Barabbas the robber and died in his place shows the Truth that He has saved sinners by bearing all the condemnation of all the sins of the world and mankind. Jesus has saved us by taking upon all the sins of mankind through His baptism, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead—this is the very Truth of salvation. It is this Truth that our Lord is speaking to us through the account of Barabbas.
We are now listening to a very ancient Truth, one going back almost 2,000 years. Living in the 21st century, we go through many different troubles in this world, but we have to turn our cluttered minds around back to the forever-unchanging Truth. We must humble our hearts, believe in this Truth, and once again give glory to God. In short, we must thank God from the depth of our hearts for saving us, and we must lead our lives of faith to spread this gospel of Truth to the entire world.
You and I are both living in a complex time and age. How is everyone? All of our minds are extremely preoccupied. Students are busy with their studies, and entrepreneurs are preoccupied with their businesses. And they all have different circumstances. But there is a forever-unchanging Truth. It is none other than the Truth that Jesus Christ has saved us. And exactly according to this Truth, our Jesus Christ will soon return. We must bring our cluttered minds before the gospel of the water and the Spirit to clear them, and live by faith alone. This is how we can lead a true life of faith.
Faith is all about looking toward God who has saved us. Religion, on the other hand, is about making a god out of our own thoughts and holding onto it by ourselves. In contrast, true faith believes in the Lord who has saved us, meditating on the forever-unchanging gospel of the water and the Spirit, and thinking of and believing in this Truth. Even in our constantly busy lives, we must always think of this gospel of Truth that the Lord has given us and believe in it. That is what the true life of faith is all about.
At this hour, we are meditating on the Word explaining how the Lord came to this earth a long time ago and saved us even though we were like Barabbas. We have once again come across and heard the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit testified by Jesus Christ, who gave up His own body for our sake. Never forgetting this Truth, we should hold onto it and believe in it forever, love and praise Lord in fear of Him, seek help from this King of kings and receive His help in our lives, bear witness to Jesus Christ throughout the whole world, and then go to meet our Lord face to face.
My fellow believers, when your mind gets cluttered, you must return back to the Lord of this forever-unchanging Truth. Only then can your heart be restored to peace to be filled with the Truth. Today, you have once again heard how our Lord bore witness to the Truth on this earth, and how He has saved us from sin. Aren’t you happy to hear this again? Doesn’t your cluttered mind get all cleared up? Or does it get even more cluttered?
Far from being restored to tranquility, do you feel even more vexed? Do you wonder why I am speaking of the same thing time after time when you already know it? I am saying this again because your heart and mine often depart from our faith to venture out into the world. What else could we talk about if not the Lord? Preaching about what the Lord has done for us is the only worthwhile cause.
Let me ask you a question. What satisfies your soul? It is in this Word of Truth that your soul is satisfied. To whom does everything in this world belong? As the Lord’s creation, everything in this world belongs to Him. You and I are also included in this. In whom are we living? We are living in the Lord. No matter how complex the world is and how radically it may be changing, the bottom line is that everything is found in the Lord’s Word. That is indeed true.
The Best Way to Live Is to Always Think of Jesus
It is my ardent hope and desire that the gospel of the water and the Spirit would be spread to the ends of this world as soon as possible, and that Jesus would return quickly. Other than thinking of Jesus and carrying out His work, everything else is boring and tiresome. I love the Lord the most, and I am happiest when I am doing His work. Is this how you also feel? My fellow believers, when your mind is troubled, try doing the Lord’s work. You will then feel the joy of having the fullness of the Spirit in your heart. When you think about the complicated affairs of this world, it will bring you only a headache; but if you think of the things of the Spirit, your heart will be filled with joy.
I truly wish that the gospel of the water and the Spirit would soon be spread all over the world, and that Jesus would return sooner than later. Do you also wish for this? As this world will not last forever, we must do everything we can while we are still able to work, and we must fulfill our mission before Jesus’ return.
What is it that the seekers of faith throughout the whole wide world are looking for in this last age? It is none other than the Holy Spirit. They all want the Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts. This age is the age of the Holy Spirit, one in which the Holy Spirit is received by believing in Jesus, as it is written, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:16-17). So everyone around the world is yearning for the Holy Spirit. The countless books written on the Holy Spirit indicates just how interested people are in the Holy Spirit.
We are now distributing our spiritual books in various languages to people all over the world. Our readers show mixed responses, but most of them agree that these books hold the Truth that explains the most basic elements of faith to Christians who have not been born again. In the last book, I put more emphasis on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for those in this age who are yearning for the Holy Spirit in their lives. I pointed out in that book that for anyone to be filled by the Holy Spirit, he must first believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and after reading this book, many of our readers have come to ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit once again. Soon, they will bring glad tidings telling us that not just they themselves but also many more souls around them have received the true remission of sins, that they have received the Holy Spirit by believing in this Truth.
We must continue to bear witness to the Truth until the day the Lord returns. Every day we gain new strength through this Truth, that the Lord has blotted out all the sins of the entire world by being baptized and crucified to death, and that He has thus enabled His believers to avoid their judgment.
I would like to raise the following point to all of you today: We must defend the gospel of the water and the Spirit until the very end, while we live on this earth fearing God and spreading the gospel, and put our troubled minds to rest with faith.
Let Us Diligently Spread the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit
There is no need to worry even if we get weary from preaching the gospel. We have the Truth that puts our weary hearts to rest. What the Lord accomplished on this earth is what comforts our hearts to rest in peace. In whom do you and I find riches? It is in the Lord. From whom do we find the strength to live in this world? It is from Jesus. Indeed, everything is found in the Lord. All creation belongs to the Lord, as do all the riches and blessings. The best and the most wonderful things come from above. In other words, everything that is good in the world is given by the Lord. Everything bad, on the other hand, is from Satan.
This year, I would like to establish a firm foundation for preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the entire world, so that we may continue to carry out the Lord’s work. You and I must keep our hearts uncluttered before God. Bring your heart preoccupied with worldly affairs to the Lord of Truth. I want your heart and mine to be ruled by the Truth. To do so, we must read and listen to the Word of God, return to His work, and look towards God. The Apostles admonished us to look towards Jesus who made us perfect. True to their call, you and I should look towards Jesus Christ.
We give all our thanks to our Lord. We bow before the Lord and thank Him for bearing witness to the Truth, and for giving us this Truth of salvation. We are all like Barabbas; but to release us from sin and condemnation, the Lord was baptized and crucified to death in our place. He has through this saved us all.
Once again I give all my thanks to the Lord.
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Sermons on the Gospel of John (VIII) - THE LORD WHO HAS GIVEN US BLESSED LIFE