John 18:28-40

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 3, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

We have gone through the night when Jesus was arrested, and we are in the early hours of the morning.

18:28-40 First Trial before Pilate

As I’ve mentioned before, John doesn’t always tell the story the same way the other gospel writers do. There’s a reason for this – John is writing thirty years later, and so John’s gospel is all about filling in the gaps that the other gospels didn’t cover.

When we put all the gospel accounts together, we find that Jesus actually had quite a few “trials” before being crucified.

He was tried before Annas, sort of the “godfather” of the high priests.

Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, the actual high priest, where Jesus faced an official Jewish trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council.

John didn’t record the trial before Caiphas. He only mentioned it in passing.

Caiaphas sends Jesus to Pilate, and we pick up the story with Jesus’ first of two trials before Pilate.

:28 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.

:28 Praetoriumpraitorion – A Latin/Roman word. This was originally the name for the commander's tent or house in a Roman fortification. The word was used later for the palace of a governor or procurator.

Though there are differing views among archaeologists, we think in Jerusalem this was the structure known as the Antonia Fortress.

The Antoinia Fortress was built by Herod the Great when he renovated the Temple Mount and enlarged the Temple. It was built on the corner of the Temple Mount and had towers that were tall enough to look over the Temple walls into the courtyard.

The idea was for the Romans to have the ability to monitor what was going on in the Temple without having to actually go into the Temple (which would upset the Jews).

(Play Caesarea map vid) Normally the Roman governor spent most of his time in the coastal city of Caesarea. But during Jewish high holidays like the Passover, it was common for the Roman governor to stay in Jerusalem to keep an eye on things.

When you visit Israel, there’s a church built over the spot that used to be occupied by the Antoinia Fortress. When you enter the church, they take you downstairs to the “stone level”, the level that dates back to the time of Jesus. There are pavement stones dating back to the time of Jesus. Some even have Roman games etched into the stones.

This is the place where Jesus stood on trial before Pilate.

:28 early morning – remember that the rooster has already crowed. When Peter denied Jesus the third time, the morning rooster started crowing.

:28 defiledmiaino – to dye with another color, to stain; to defile, pollute, contaminate, soil

:28 that they might eat the Passover

There were some rules concerning the celebration of the Passover, and one of them had to do with being “clean” in order to participate in the Passover (Num. 9)

On the 1st anniversary of the original Passover, there was a problem (Num. 9). Some men had become “defiled” by having touched a dead human corpse. The question came up, should these men keep the Passover? What do they do?
God’s answer was that they could keep the Passover, but they had to wait a month. (Num. 9:9-11)
(Nu 9:9–11 NKJV) —9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord’s Passover. 11 On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

These Jewish leaders didn’t want to become contaminated and “unclean” by coming into the Gentile Praetorium.

They wanted to be able to participate in the Passover supper.

Do you see the irony here?

They didn’t want to “miss out” on the Passover.
Yet Jesus Christ was the actual fulfillment of the Passover.
The Passover was how God delivered the nation of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt.

Each family would slay an innocent little lamb and sprinkle it’s blood on the doorposts of their house.

When the Angel of Death came by in the night, their houses were all spared because of the blood.

Jesus was like that Passover Lamb, a perfect sacrifice whose blood would save us from death, if we will learn to cover or sprinkle our hearts by believing in Him.

John the Baptist described Jesus:

(Jn 1:29 NKJV) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Paul wrote:

(1 Co 5:7b NKJV) …For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

The Passover was not only an actual, historical event, but it was also a prophetic event.

It painted a picture of the Messiah, the Lamb of God who would take away our sins.

These religious men were blinded by their own religiousness. They were concerned about their religious Passover, when the actual Passover Lamb was standing before them.  They were “self-deceived”.


Blind Religion

Florence Foster Jenkins, a soprano, loved to sing—especially the great operatic classics. She inherited money when she was in her 50s, which funded her musical career. It wasn’t long before her popularity skyrocketed, holding annual recitals at the Ritz-Carlton in New York throughout the 1930s and 40s. But as one writer puts it, “History agrees, with hands held over its ears, that she couldn’t sing for sour apples. Jenkins’ nickname, behind her back, was ‘the Tone-Deaf Diva,’ or ‘The Terror of the High C’s.’” The writer adds that if you ever hear one of her old recordings, all that you’ll hear will be “squeaks, squawks, and barks.”
Play a sample video/audio of Ms. Jenkins
But get this: she didn’t ever grasp that she was bad! When people laughed and hooted as she sang, she took it to be delirious enthusiasm for great music. She thought they loved her and her music.
In 1944, when she was 76-years-old, she did a benefit concert for the armed forces at Carnegie Hall in New York. Thousands lined the streets to get tickets, and the performance sold out in minutes. The recording of that concert is still the third most requested album from Carnegie Hall recordings, punctuated by a painful rendition of “Ave Maria.”
What can we learn from Ms. Jenkins? People will say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you’re sincere.” But it does matter. Belief must match reality, or it is laughable, a delusion, “self-deception”
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were “self-deceived”.  They thought they had all their “god” bases covered.  They were looking to be “clean” for the Passover, when the actual Passover Lamb Himself was standing in front of them.
Why do you do “religious” things? Why do you go to church? Why do you take communion? Why do you pray?
These are pretty important questions.
There’s something inside us that likes religious things.

Some people just don’t feel complete unless they see stained glass, hear organ music, and listen to a man dressed up in fancy robes say things they don’t really understand.

God didn’t make you to be religious, He made you to know Him.
There can be value in “religious” things, but not if they keep you from knowing the True God Himself.

Following after a man dressed in a robe isn’t a bad thing of itself, unless you stop with the man in the robe and never actually connect yourself to God Himself.

The Pharisees were so caught up in their religious ritual that they missed the very One that the ritual spoke about.

:29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

:29 accusationkategoria – accusation, charge

Note:  kategoros, the root word, is the name given to the devil by the rabbis, used in:

(Re 12:10 NKJV) —10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

:29 Pilate

For many years, the critics used to claim that Pilate was not historical. In 1961, archaeologists digging in Caesarea found a stone with Pilate’s name on it.

Pilate was not known as the Jews’ favorite governor.

(From Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18:3) On one occasion, Pilate moved his Roman troops from Caesarea to Jerusalem to spend the winter there. The Jews had pretty strict customs against having anything with any sort of images of animals –stemming from the Ten Commandments. But Pilate had his troops bring their traditional banners and signs that contained all sorts of animals on them. When the Jews found out about this, they staged a protest before Pilate in Caesarea. Pilate had the group of protestors surrounded by soldiers and threatened to put them all to death. When the protestors said they would gladly die for what is right … Pilate was confused about these crazy Jews. He ordered the soldiers to back off.
On another occasion, Pilate appropriated some of the Temple funds for a municipal water project. The Jews objected to Pilate using Temple funds. This time when the protestors stood before Pilate, the soldiers began to beat up the protestors, and quite a few of them died.
By AD 36, the Jews were able to get Pilate recalled to Rome because of their dislike for him.

The point? Pilate didn’t like the Jews and the Jews didn’t like Pilate.

Pilate is more than suspicious of the Jews.

:30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”

:30 If He were not an evildoer

Not much of a reason. They are basically saying, “Trust us, you will want to put this guy to death”.

:30 evildoerkakopoios – an evil doer, malefactor

:31 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,”

:32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

:31 according to your law

Pilate senses that there is more to this than meets the eye. Something doesn’t seem right that the Jews would turn over one of their own to him.

Pilate doesn’t want to get in the middle of it.

:31 It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death

In the Jewish law, there was provision for certain crimes to be punishable by death.

But historically, somewhere around 30 AD, the Roman government took away the Jews ability to pronounce and carry out death sentences.

Of course, it’s not that they didn’t still do it, just not officially. (Acts 7)
In the case of Stephen (Acts 7), Stephen was brought up before the Sanhedrin, but before any verdict was given, the crowd was so enraged at Stephen, that they rose up, carried him outside, and stoned him to death.

But here, in the case of Jesus, it is technically correct that they do not have the authority to pronounce a death sentence.

But it also seems that they want to make an example of Jesus, and have Him die the horrible, painful, shameful death of a common criminal with Roman crucifixion.
Perhaps they want to make it clear to the Roman government that they are willing to turn in any traitor to the Roman government, like a person claiming to be a king.

:32 signifying by what death

If the Jews had been allowed to put Jesus to death, He would have been stoned.

Jewish stoning involved breaking bones.
Yet the prophecies of the Messiah’s death was that not a bone would be broken (Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20).

Jesus had said over and over again that He was going to be crucified, not stoned.

(Mt 20:18–19 NKJV) —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.”
(Jn 12:32–33 NKJV) —32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

:33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

:33 the King of the Jews

It is interesting that each of the gospel writers record Pilate asking Jesus this question (Mat. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3)

How does Pilate come up with this question? Luke tells us that this is what they accused Jesus of when they turned Him over to Pilate:

(Lk 23:2 NKJV) And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

:34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”

:34 Are you speaking for yourself

It could be that Jesus is trying to find out if Pilate thinks that Jesus is a credible threat to the Roman Empire, or if perhaps it’s just a problem that the Jews have with Him.

It almost sounds as if Jesus is probing Pilate a little to see where he stands regarding Jesus.

If I didn’t know better, I might begin to think that Jesus wasn’t the one who was on trial here, but Pilate was on trial before Jesus.


Who do you think Jesus is?

(Mt 16:13–17 NKJV) —13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
It’s one thing to know what other people are saying about Jesus, but the real question is “Who do YOU think Jesus is?”

:35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”

:35 Your own nation …

John recorded at the beginning of the gospel:

(Jn 1:11 NKJV) He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

:35 What have You done?

It sounds like Pilate is saying, “What have You done to tick these guys off??”

Perhaps Pilate has a little bit of compassion on Jesus, since he has ticked off the Jews a few times himself.
Perhaps Pilate says it like this, “What have You done”, as in “We probably could swap some stories about ticking off these Jewish religious leaders”

Matthew records:

(Mt 27:18 NKJV) For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

: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.”

:36 servantshuperetes (“under” + “rower”) – servant

What strikes me about this word is that this is the same word used several times to describe some of the men that had come to arrest Jesus.

(Jn 18:12 NKJV) Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.

The Jews sent their “servants” to arrest Jesus. If Jesus’ kingdom was of this world, then His “servants” would have been allowed to fight back.

Peter tried to fight, but Jesus wouldn’t let him. (John 18:10-11)

:36 fightagonizomai – to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaph. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers

;36 My kingdom is not of this world

Jesus is not a threat to Pilate or the Roman Empire.

His kingdom doesn’t come about by provoking rebellion against men, but by provoking submission to God.

Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t come about by acts of violence by men, but from a new birth from heaven.

: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.”

:37 You say rightly that I am a king

In other words, “Yes”.

:37 I have come into the world

Jesus hints at His “other-worldly” origin, that He came from heaven.

:37 Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice

This is the essence of what Jesus’ kingdom is all about.


The importance of truth

Jesus’ whole ministry has been about “truth”
Do you remember the phrase we’ve seen several times, “most assuredly”?

The Greek words are “amen, amen”, and can be translated, “surely” or “truly”. We’ve talked about how it means, “Hey, I’m telling you something important here, I’m telling you the TRUTH”.

Twenty five times in the gospel of John Jesus says this.

We live in a world that is increasingly growing farther from caring about objective, rational, truth.
(2 Ti 4:3–4 NKJV) —3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Play E.R. and Post Modernism clip
Truth does not equal “feel good”, it’s not about what makes you “feel” good.
(1 Jn 1:8 NKJV) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes the truth is, “I’m wrong”. Sometimes it’s “I’m a sinner”.

Truth changes us. Jesus said,
(Jn 8:32 NKJV) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

In context, Jesus was talking about being freed from sin.

Paul said that truth is one of the ingredients that grows us up:

(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Truth finds Jesus
The person who embraces truth will come to the realization that Jesus is the only way to God.

(Jn 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

:38 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.

:38 faultaitia – cause, reason; cause for which one is worthy of punishment, crime; charge of crime, accusation

:38 What is truth?

We don’t know how Pilate said this.

Was it a philosophical cynicism that nobody tells the truth anymore?
Was he frustrated at what seemed to be a philosophical reply when he wanted concrete answers?
Was he just irritated at Jesus’ response?

It is interesting to note that Pilate doesn’t wait around for Jesus to answer.

:38 I find no fault in Him at all

The fulfillment of the proper Passover lamb:

(Ex 12:5 NKJV) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

You could make a case that Pilate should have released Jesus right then.

: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?”

:39 customsunetheia – custom; a being used to, accustomed

:39 the King of the Jews

I wish we had the audio tapes of this.

Was there cynicism in Pilates reply?
Was he genuinely thinking that they would respond positively to him calling Jesus the “King of the Jews”?

:39 I should release to you

Peter tells us that Pilate was actually reluctant in putting Jesus to death.

(Ac 3:13b NKJV) … he was determined to let Him go.

He’s trying to go over the heads of the priests and get the crowd to vote to release Barabbas.  The problem is, people don’t always to what you expect them to do.


Dressed for Church
Members of the Methodist women’s church circle in one Wisconsin town were disturbed because a widowed church member and her three small daughters were staying away from services. A member of the ladies group carefully approached the widow to find out what was going on. During a conversation she politely asked about their absence from Sunday services. It seems the woman and her kids were staying away from services because they had a lack of suitable clothes. The Methodist ladies group quickly corrected the situation by generously providing new clothes for the entire family. When the kids and their mother still failed to appear at Sunday School the next weekend, another of the Methodist women called to inquire about their absence. The mother sweetly offered thanks to the Methodist Women for the wonderful new clothing and explained: “The children looked so nice in their new clothes, I took them to the Presbyterian church!”

The problem for Pilate is the chief priests are one step ahead of Pilate. Matthew records:

(Mt 27:20 NKJV) But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.


Passing the buck

Sometimes we face difficult decisions, and frankly we don’t want to face the consequences that come from making tough decisions.
We have the ability to make the choice, but instead we look to someone else to make the decision for us so we aren’t on the hot seat.
I’m not sure this is always a good thing.
You have no guarantee that the other person is going to make the right decision, the one that you know you should make.
Pilate will try again to pass the buck.
It’s somewhere at this point that Luke records that Pilate actually sends Jesus to Herod, trying to see if Herod would take the responsibility of what to do with Jesus. (Luke 23:6-7)

(Lk 23:6–7 NKJV) —6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

But Herod only ends up dressing Jesus up in a robe, mocking Him, and sending Him back to Pilate for a second trial.

Here’s the ultimate decision that you face – what will you do with Jesus?
You can’t look to the crowd to give you the right answer.

They’ll ask for Barabbas to be set free.

You need to be careful about looking to religious leaders.

They were the ones influencing the crowd.

You have to make the decision.

:40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

:40 criedkraugazo – to cry out, to shout; to cry out in contempt

It’s a rough word. It speaks of harshness.

:40 a robberlestes – a robber, plunderer; not a cat burglar who steals secretly, but one who steals openly

Peter said he was also known as a “murderer” (Acts 3:14)

(Ac 3:14 NKJV) But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,

:40 Barabbas – “son of a father”


I am Barabbas

I am simply a son of my father.
Here was a man worthy of death, suddenly being released because another man, an innocent man, takes his place on a Roman cross.
Like Barabbas, I too am a sinner
(Ro 3:23 NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Like Barabbas, I too am worthy of death.
(Ro 6:23 NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Like Barabbas, Jesus took my place.
(2 Co 5:21 NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus said,
(Jn 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Will you give your life to Jesus?