- Sermon Notes
Peter and Pilate
In John 18 Jesus has finished teaching the disciples and they leave Jerusalem, cross over the Kidron Valley and come to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that Jesus prayed to His Father so intently that He sweated blood. All this was in preparation for the suffering that Jesus would endure; the drinking of the cup of the wrath of God; the cup that we ourselves deserved to drink, but Jesus drank in our place.
As we follow along the story of what happened to Jesus that night, there are other stories unfolding as well. There’s the story of Peter. Peter's role in this story is important for us because we can relate to Peter; we can see ourselves in him. Here is Peter, the one disciple who seems to always put his foot in his mouth, the one with the audacity to actually confront Jesus when in fact he was the one who needed to be confronted.
Then there’s Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, who comes to Jesus that night with Roman soldiers and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees. Judas leads them to Jesus, saying, “The one that I kiss is the one you seek.”
Then there’s Pontius Pilate, Rome’s governor over the region, an unwilling participant in the whole thing, but he plays a critical role in condemning Jesus to die on a Roman cross.
I want us to look at the stories of two men in the story; Peter and Pontius Pilate. As we follow the stories of these men that are part of the events that lead to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, we need to see how personal the story is for us.
I. Walk by the Spirit; the Flesh is Weak
- When Jesus returned from praying and found them sleeping, He said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- It’s wisdom to recognize the weakness of our flesh. Jesus had the flesh as well, but He overcame by the power of the Spirit.
- That night, Peter was completely taken by his anger and had to be rescued by the Lord.
A. Live by the sword, die by the sword
- Peter drew out his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. His name was Malchus.
- Jesus’ correction of Peter is filled with insight for all of us. First of all, Peter could have gotten himself into serious trouble here.
- I think it's a fair assumption that Peter, being a fisherman, was not skilled with a sword was not going for the man's ear. I submit that he was trying to take the man's head off.
- Therefore, when Jesus reached out and healed Malchus, he was saving Peter from himself. Peter could have been arrested and killed for what he did.
- Jesus said to Peter, “The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
- Then He said, “Those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
- When we react in the flesh in times of crisis, we completely miss what God is trying to do through it all.
- Your husband, wife, children, boss, neighbor, are not your enemy; in fact, when we react in the flesh we’re giving the enemy a foothold in our lives.
Ephesians 4:26 -27, Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
B. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh
- The point we need to gain for our lives is that we are in a spiritual battle and the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.
2 Corinthians 10:3, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
II. Our Love Fails; His Does Not
- Peter’s problem is the same as ours, we fail; we get angry; we rely on ourselves.
- Peter was self-confident and hot-headed and that what’s got him into trouble. Earlier when Jesus warned them that they would all fall away that very night; Peter got stuck. When he heard Jesus say they would all fall away, Peter disagreed.
- But even while Peter is failing, Jesus is paying the price for it. Any who look to Him and receive that love are redeemed by the blood He sheds.
A. Don't follow at a distance
- In verse 15, we see Peter following Him at a distance, he's following Jesus, but he doesn't want anyone to know who he is.
- Clearly he's a follower of Jesus, but is following Him at a distance. Many people find themselves in the same place.
- They’re followers of Jesus, but they don't want to stand out, they don't want anyone to know.
- But this is actually a miserable place for a believer to be. Following Jesus at a distance is miserable because you have too much of the Lord to enjoy the world, but too much of the world to enjoy the Lord.
- Being too far from the Lord is what gets us into trouble. It's been that way from the very beginning.
Psalm 73:28, But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.
2 Timothy 1:12, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.
- I have found that it's actually much easier to declare who you are. When I was in the workaday world and got a new job, I wanted it known early on that I was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Otherwise, they will expect you to join them.
Illus - When I worked as a waiter in Bible college and when the church was first started, some amazing things happened when they found out I was a Christian; some became cold and distant. Later, we became friends.
- Then as we return to what's happening with Jesus, we see His love never fails even as He is falsely accused.
B. Don’t be warmed by the world’s fire
- While Jesus is on trial in front of Caiaphas the high priest, Peter was outside in the courtyard warming himself by their fire.
- In fact, in the books of Mark and Luke we read that Peter made himself so comfortable that he was sitting with the officers and servants around the fire.
Luke 22:55, After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them.
- While he is making himself comfortable around their fire, he is accused of being a follower of Jesus, the Galilean.
- But he's in their midst, at their party, warming himself at their fire and so he becomes like them. Immediately, Peter denies that he even knows the Lord; three times Peter denies Him. In fact, the third time, he even does so with cussing.
- Peter had overestimated himself and declared that even if all may fall away, he would never fall away. It was as if Peter was saying, “I love you more than these.”
- But Peter's love fails here; and we can relate to Peter because we know what it means to fail also.
Illus - When you warm yourself by the world's fire, the pressure will be there for you to be like them. But the world’s fire cannot satisfy the soul. Decide early what fire will warm your soul.
III. Everyone Sits in the Seat of Pilate
- Pontius Pilate had never met Jesus before, but he had probably heard about Him.
- By this time Jesus had already developed a reputation for confronting the Jewish leaders which probably pleased Pontius Pilate.
- It would help to know the history here. Pilate was against the Jews and there had been serious confrontations between them.
- Pontius Pilate was known as a man of strength and had a reputation for being quite severe.
- But these Jews were difficult to rule. One time he brought some Roman flags into Jerusalem and they were so offended they began an "occupy Jerusalem" riot. He threatened to slaughter them, but they simply bared their necks in an open challenge and Pilate had to back down.
- Another time he used Jewish money to build an aqueduct and when they protested he sent in men dressed as Jews who beat them.
- Now they bring Jesus to stand before Pilate, but Pilate is actually the one who is on trial.
A. Don’t stay stuck in the middle
- Pilate is in a predicament. You might say he's stuck in the middle. In his heart he knows that Jesus is innocent.
- His wife even sent a message to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
- But he’s also pressured by the Jews to crucify Jesus. He knows they are wrong, but he's stuck. He can't stand up and do the right thing.
- In fact, at one point they pull out a trump card.
John 19:12, As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar;"
- Now they’re bringing up all his sticky problems. Pilate was appointed by Sejanus, at one time the most powerful man in Rome next to Tiberius himself. But Sejanus was executed for trying to become Caesar himself, so Pilate’s past was coming back to haunt him.
- Many people can relate to Pilate's predicament. In their heart they know that Jesus is the righteous Son of God, but they're afraid of what others might think and so they’re pressured by wanting the approval of others.
John 12:42-43, Many even of the rulers believed in Him, but they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they love the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
B. Be a person who is “of the truth”
- In verse 37 Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” “What is truth?" Pilate then asked. Truth is more than the sum of right answers.
- Truth is not just something to have, but something, first and above all else, to be.
- God's desire is not merely to inform us, but to transform us; not to just fill us with truths, but to make us true. This is because Truth is a person; Jesus Christ, the living Son of God.
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Illus - You could do a research paper on truth and be changed not at all. We need a relationship with the Truth. He abides with us in a personal relationship. He transforms as so that we might be made like Him as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.
John 18:1-40 NASB
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. 2 Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" 5 They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am He." And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Therefore He again asked them, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus the Nazarene." 8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way," 9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, "Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one." 10 Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave's name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?"
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always
taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. 21 Why do you question Me? Question those
who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said." 22 When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, "Is
that the way You answer the high priest?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike
Me?" 24 So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.