2826. The King In Pilate’s Hall

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The King In Pilate’s Hall

No. 2826-49:169. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, May 4, 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, April 12, 1903.

Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” {Joh 18:37}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1086, “Jesus, the King of Truth” 1077}
   Exposition on Joh 18:28-40 Ps 2 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2826, “King in Pilate’s Hall, The” 2827 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 27:15-54 Joh 18:28-38 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2824, “Mocked of the Soldiers” 2825 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Our Lord was being cross-examined by an unscrupulous, vacillating, contemptuous Roman official. So, since our blessed Lord and Master did not escape the ordeal of malicious questioning, let no disciple of his imagine that he will escape. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he is like his master, and the servant like his lord.” Sooner or later, the day will come when the profession that you have made shall be questioned and tested. To some of Christ’s followers, this time of trial comes very soon after their conversion; others are assailed at a later time. The cool, calm, calculating doubter suggests a question about this or that, and everything that can be moved is shaken. Just as Pilate said to Christ, “Are you a king then?” so men will say to you, “Are you a Christian? Are you really believing in Jesus? Have you been born again? Are you a new creature in Christ Jesus? Are you fully sanctified?” And they will make these enquiries in such a tone of contemptuous ridicule that you will need all your strength, and all your patience, and an increase in your faith, and in all your graces, if you are to witness a good confession, as your Master did before Pontius Pilate.

2. When such a time happens to you, I cannot suggest to you a better model for your answer than what your Lord gave to the Roman governor. At first, he did not answer Pilate: “Jesus gave him no answer.” And a large portion of the inquisitive questioning to which we have to submit is not worth answering; nor is it worth while for you and me to go up and down the world fishing for questions, or inviting the objections and criticisms of sceptics, because we think ourselves so extremely clever that we are easily able to answer them. Believe me, you will have quite enough to do if you stop all the fiery arrows on your shield that come without your invitation. You will have no need to ask to be led into temptation, or to seek permission to rush into it. Our Saviour invited no questions from Pilate; he did not even condescend to answer all that Pilate had to say to him; and the best thing for a Christian to do, in many of his times of trial, is to say, with David, “I was dumb with silence. I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.”

3. When the Master did reply, he set us an example that we may safely follow. Observe how he replied, — without any tartness, without even the appearance of anger. He was very courteous towards Pilate; he put what he had to say in a form which would commend itself to him. He knew that Pilate’s chief jealousy was about his being a king, and he tried to remove it by explaining that his kingdom was not of this world, otherwise his servants would fight for him so that he should not be delivered to the Jews. I cannot conceive of replies to such a man as Pilate, more suitable, more calculated to have done him good if there had been any soil in Pilate’s heart on which the good seed could have fallen with the hope of growth. I pray that you and I, when we are assailed and questioned, may be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves, giving a reason for the hope that is in us with meekness and fear, answering, not with the object of displaying our own skill or learning, but always with the motive of seeking the good of the questioner, if, perhaps, God may grant to him repentance so that he may come to the knowledge of the truth. I admire, and hold up as an example to you, the very sweetness of our Saviour’s replies to his carping critic.

4. Note, however, how bold he was, as well as wise and gentle: “You say that I am a king.” He does not flinch from admitting the truth, however distasteful it may be to his hearer. If this truth troubles Pilate after our Saviour’s explanation that his kingdom is not of this world, he cannot deny the fact that he really is a king, for he must speak the truth come what may. I fear that, sometimes, in our endeavours to be sweet in disposition, we have not been strong in principle. “Charity” is a word that is greatly extolled nowadays; but, often, it means that, in trying to be courteous, we have also been traitorous. Our speech has been soft and smooth, but it has not been sincere and true. Did you never catch yourself wishing to trim off the corners of a truth, — or, at least, seeking if you could not omit something that might prejudice your hearer? If so, let me tell you plainly that he who wishes to alter any truth has already begun to lie. Though he may not actually do it, yet the very wish to change the truth in any degree is a proof of perversity of heart which needs to be repented of and forgiven. We have already turned aside from the right path when we do not dare to say what God has taught us. Our Saviour never acted like that; he was always true, transparent, clear, faithful. There was never in him any holding back even in the least degree; as he said to Pilate, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth.” Oh, that we might learn from our Saviour the sacred art of blending Christ-like gentleness with holy courage, and Christ-like courage with gentleness such as his!

5. Observe, too, — for it is worthy of notice, — how modestly and unobtrusively our Saviour answered Pilate’s questioning. It is an unhappy circumstance that some men seem as if they cannot speak boldly without having some pride mixed with their courage. Very often, our very virtues lie quite near to the borders of vice. We aim at what is right; but, alas! we go beyond it, or we fall short of it, or hit the target where our shots do not count. Ah, Lord, what imperfect creatures we are! But our Saviour was perfect in every respect. He only answered the questions of Pilate when it was right for him to answer them, and even then he seemed to take the words by which to form his answer out of Pilate’s own mouth: “ ‘You say that I am a king.’ It is even as you have said.” Our gracious Master is very straightforward, yet how modest he is! He seems to hide himself even behind Pilate’s words. He does not hide the truth; yet, in a perfectly sinless way, he somewhat conceals himself. I wish we could imitate him in that respect. Even when we are, like Bayard, “without fear, and without reproach,” we are very apt, at the same time, to be without any desire for the conflict against evil, or any wish to obtrude ourselves, in the least degree, on the attention of others, even if a protest would be right from us. We never see any of this false shame in our Saviour; so, if we have at all given way to it in the past, let us never repeat that sin.

6. The words of Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, are very properly rendered in the 1881 English Revised Version, “Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession.” It was more than a good confession that our Lord Jesus witnessed before Pontius Pilate, so the definite article is rightly used, and “the good confession” stands out prominently as an example for all his followers. It is concerning that good confession that I am about to speak as the Holy Spirit shall graciously guide me.

7. I. First, let us ask, — WHAT WAS “THE GOOD CONFESSION” THAT JESUS WITNESSED BEFORE PONTIUS PILATE?

8. I think the good confession of our Lord was, first, his affirmation of his kingship: “You say that I am a king.” Dear friends, do not forget that our Saviour was, at that time, a prisoner in bonds, on trial for his life. As far as the eye could see, he appeared to be absolutely in the power of Pilate, — a man who was destitute of any kind of conscience, and who cared nothing about what means he employed as long as he could attain his own evil ends. There stands Jesus, a bound prisoner, before one who can order him to be put to death; and the judge contemptuously says to him, “Are you a king then?” and he answers, with great gentleness, but most decidedly and undoubtedly, “I am a king, even as you say.” I think I see Pilate’s lip curl; I can imagine the supreme contempt with which he looked on the miserable victim before him, disowned by his own countrymen, who had brought him there because, in their hate, they wished to have him put to death; yet he talks about being a king! It may have been a merry jest for Pilate at the moment, but he did not dare to make it one afterwards. His wife would have stopped him had he sought to find amusement in Jesus of Nazareth. At the time, it must all have seemed very strange to him. It takes a great deal of courage for a man to affirm what seems to be improbable; and, indeed, impossible. He knows it is true, but the other man thinks it is a piece of fanaticism. “Ridiculous nonsense,” he says; and he scorns the idea with a sardonic grin. It is not easy, then, for a humble-minded spirit just as determinedly to affirm it. I believe that there is many a man, who could stand on a public platform, and announce his convictions to an infuriated crowd, who would not dare to say the same things to a single individual. It took more courage for Christ to speak to Pilate alone as he did, than it has done for many a man to stand and burn at the stake; yet the Saviour did it. Calmly, and deliberately, he affirmed the truth, blessed be his holy name! “I am a king,” he said, and so he is. In our hearts, we acknowledge his sovereignty over us as individuals, and his supremacy over the entire Church. Indeed, more, his Father has given him power over all flesh, so that he should give eternal life to as many as he has given to him. He has said it, “Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion,” “and he shall reign for ever and ever,” and all loyal hearts cry, “Hallelujah!” It was a good confession for the Nazarene, clothed in the common smock-frock {a} of a Galilean peasant, with gory sweat still on his brow, with the ropes that still bound him on his wrists, with the howling savagery of his countrymen behind him, to say to Pilate, “I am a king.”

9. Next, Christ’s “good confession” was his announcement of a spiritual kingdom. Pilate could not comprehend what he meant when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” A spiritual kingdom! Pilate would not have given the smallest Roman coin for such a kingdom as that. Our Saviour’s own countrymen did not understand what he meant by a spiritual kingdom “not of this world.” They were looking for a temporal prince, an earthly leader who would deliver them from the Roman yoke; but Jesus asserts that his kingdom, whatever it is, and wherever it is, is a spiritual thing. This is the testimony that we also are trying to bear today; and, sometimes, we have to bear it before the very temporal power that thinks the church to be an instrument to be used for its own purposes, — a kind of mental and moral police force to keep people in order, the officers themselves to be kept in order, and dressed, governed, fed, and maintained by an Act of Parliament, and not able to lift so much as a little finger should the State forbid them to do so. This is a doctrine which needs some courage to utter it even now; but it is to be spoken, and must be spoken, more and more loudly. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world; it borrows no power from the secular arm, and would not accept it if it were offered. It is a rule of spirit over spirit, of mind over mind, of truth over the souls of men; and that man is a faithful witness for Christ who can unflinchingly bear this testimony even before the greatest and the proudest of the land. Our Saviour did so when he said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

10. Another part of Christ’s “good confession” was a declaration of his life purpose: “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth.” There is many a man who is pursuing a calling which he would scarcely like to acknowledge, and there are others who think that their calling can be best pursued by stealthy, crafty, Jesuitical plans; but it was not so with the Saviour. He boldly declared the purpose for which he had come into the world; why should he conceal it? He who seeks to bear witness to the truth should himself be true enough to affirm what the object of his witness is; and the Saviour did so, before Pilate, and wherever he was. All his lifelong he was a witness to the truth, he was himself the truest man who ever lived. It is beautiful to notice the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, even in small matters. There is no rhetoric about our Saviour’s speech, because rhetoric is too often only a lie. He speaks as simply as a child; there is no attempt at any display of learning in our Saviour’s teaching. Because it is all solid truth, and divine revelation, there is no need that he should use the jargon of the schools, or call himself a Rabbi, or doctor. He spoke with authority, and you can see how simply, how plainly, how heartily, he did it. There was no particular garb to attract attention to the Saviour, no priestly robes with which to dignify a kind of babyish authority; but he was a man among men, speaking what he knew in the language of the people which they could understand. There was no pomp, or ceremony, or show about his life; and, especially, there was no sham or pretence. He was what he seemed to be, and he seemed to be just what he was. If you look at any other man, you can see some attempt to hide his deficiencies, or to increase his influence by an appearance of greater strength than actually exists. In the Saviour, you see him altogether as he is. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He speaks straight out, and never turns aside to crooked ways. He never blushes or stammers, why should he do so? What does he have to conceal? His teaching is delivered as from a mountaintop, and men may stand, and gaze; and, the longer they gaze, the better they will see what he wishes them to see. He has no curtain behind which there is something concealed; everything is as plain as day. As a truthful man, he was a fit witness to bear testimony to the truth. And what a breaker of idols, what a smasher of all shams, he was! Pharisees, and Sadducees, and Herodians only got a short shrift from him. Nothing false could stand before him. Even a scourge of small cords, when it was held in his hands, sufficed to sweep the buyers and sellers from the temple; but when he used the sledge-hammer of denunciation, who could resist him? His fan was in his hand, and he thoroughly purged his floor. And this was his life purpose, — that he might bear witness to the truth, and he affirmed that purpose even before Pontius Pilate.

11. Our Saviour also witnessed “the good confession” by his affirmation that there is such a thing as positive truth: “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth.” There is need of just a such witness as that today. “Now be very careful on that point,” one says; “do you mean to say that there really is such a thing as the ‘truth’?” with your permission, dear sir, or without it, I will venture to assert that there is. “That reply is a very bigoted one; because, if there is a doctrine that is the ‘truth’, then what is contrary to it is a lie.” Precisely so; and with your permission, or without your permission, again I say that it is so, and it must be so in the natural order of things. If this doctrine is true, then what contradicts it cannot be true. If God has spoken like this, what is opposed to God, and his truth, is not from him, and cannot stand on the same footing with what is divinely revealed. It takes a good deal of courage to say that nowadays. If you go into society, you will get three cheers if you declare that you are an Agnostic, — that you do not know anything, you are not sure of anything. Others say that, whatever a man believes, or does not believe, it really does not matter provided he is perfectly sincere; that is to say, if a man sincerely takes prussic {hydrocyanic} acid, it will not kill him; and if he sincerely goes without food, he will not starve; and if he sincerely refuses to breathe, he will do as well as those who do breathe, which is another lie. The statue of Christ was set up among the statues of Plato, and Socrates, and other notable men; and some thought it was an honour to Christ, but it was not. They would crown Christ, so they say, among the great ones of earth. Ah! but they cannot crown him unless they “crown him Lord of all.” Our blessed Saviour is honestly intolerant. He says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned.” Because he loves the souls of men, he will not bolster up the fiction of universal charity, and even before the Broad-Church or No-Church Pilate, he says that he has come to bear witness to the truth; so there is the truth, and what is contrary to it is not truth.

12. One other point in our Lord’s “good confession” was his separation of characters, for he went on to say to Pilate, — and I fear that most of us would have left out that sentence, — “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Do you hear that declaration, Pilate? You are the Roman procurator, — a very great man, and this poor prisoner of yours, whose life is now at your mercy, tells you plainly that everyone who is of the truth hears his voice. Then, Pilate, if you are of the truth, you will have to sit at his feet, and listen to his words, and learn from him. I can well conceive what Pilate thought as he turned on his heel, and contemptuously asked, “What is truth?” He had heard quite enough of such talk as that; he did not want any more of such close dealings. But in this lies the glory of the Master, that he is not content with merely teaching truth, but, in his good confession before Pontius Pilate, he presses it home even on his judge, and divides and separates between the precious and the vile. So must you and I do, dear friends, if we are faithful followers of “the faithful Witness.” I dare not preach to this congregation as if you were all Christians, for you are not. I dare not deliver even one discourse under the delusion that all my hearers are saved; for, alas! they are not. This is the fault with multitudes of sermons, — that they seem to carry the whole congregation to heaven when, possibly, the majority of those present may be going down to hell. That will not do. Remember what the Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah, “If you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth.” But if there is no winnowing fan in our hand, to separate the chaff from the wheat, we are not like Christ, nor has Christ sent us on his service. In this “good confession” of his, we see how clearly and solemnly, — gently, I admit, but still most decidedly, — he made a division and separation of characters, and gave a test by which Pilate could judge himself if he had been willing to do so.

13. II. The time will not suffice for me to go fully into all the teaching of my text, but I want to ask, in the second place, — TO WHAT TRUTH DID OUR LORD WITNESS?

14. He said to Pilate that he was born; that proves his humanity. He also said that he came into the world; and that, I think, shows his divinity as well as his humanity. He came on purpose to bear witness to the truth, and I believe that the life of Christ witnessed, not only to all doctrinal truth, but also to everything that is true, especially to true-heartedness, simplicity, sincerity. His life was a testimony against all guile, craftiness, cunning, concealment; in that sense, it was as testimony to the truth.

15. But with regard to special truths to which he testified, did not his very coming here, and being born, bear witness to the grand truth that God is love, and that God loves men? The Infinite takes on himself the nature and form of an infant. The Illimitable is encased within a human body. “The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.” We never can have a clearer testimony to the thoughtful care of God for men than we find in the coming of the Son of God as the Son of man, except this, — that, being found in the form of a man, he proved the love of God for sinners by the tears which he wept over the guilty and perishing, and, best of all, by the blood which he shed for many for the remission of sins. As you see Christ dying on the accursed tree, say, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us.” He does not will the death of any, but longs that they should turn to him and live. The Saviour’s death for the guilty proves that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” All his lifelong, the Saviour was bearing witness to this grand truth. Oh, that none of us may dare to doubt it after he has backed it up by a life of self-abnegation, and a death of sublime self-sacrifice!

16. He also bore witness, all through his life, to the spirituality of true religion. He was always teaching truth like this: “God is a Spirit: and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” He wore no phylactery, he assumed no airs of an ascetic; even in his eating and drinking, he was like other men, insomuch that they said of him that he was “a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber,” — a vile charge, without a bit of truth in it. He taught that true religion consisted not in long prayers, but in entering into the prayer closet, and sincerely seeking the Father’s face; it was not fasting three times in the week, but it was truly praying, “God be merciful to me a sinner”; it was not giving alms in public, and sounding a trumpet before him, and in secret devouring widows houses; but it consisted in love for God and love for man. It was the work of the Holy Spirit on the heart that Jesus preached, and he grandly witnessed against all the idolatrous and false forms of faith which, even down to this day, prostitute his blessed name.

17. In that sad hour, our Lord Jesus was also a wonderful Witness to the enmity of men to God. He in whom there was no roughness or sternness, as there was in John the Baptist, came as the Messenger of love and mercy, for God did not send him into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He was the great Householder’s Son, who was, “last of all” sent to receive the fruits of the vineyard, but the husbandmen said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” The men of this world were never so base — they never displayed so much of their utter malice against God as when they took his Son, and put him to a cruel and ignominious death. This was the culmination of human guilt. All the adulteries, and murders, and unnatural vices and accursed blasphemies, that had ever defiled the race of mankind have not so certainly proved it to be a desperately fallen thing as the murder of the Son of God, the Saviour and the Friend of men. This appalling crime of Deicide stands out without a parallel in the history of the universe. There was no guilt in the Lord Jesus for which he deserved to die; yet, with wicked hands, they crucified and killed him.

18. Our Saviour was also always a Witness to the great necessity of a new creation, a change of heart, a regeneration. To Nicodemus he said, “You must be born again”; and to his disciples, “Unless you are converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” He also preached the absolute necessity of faith in himself, and did not mince the matter in the least: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life: and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests on him.” To all this, Jesus steadfastly witnessed in life and in death.

19. And he also bore witness to this truth, that salvation was to be found only in him. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me, and drink.” His teaching was always concerning himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He never hesitated to bear witness to the truth, so it was only natural that part of his “good confession” before Pilate should be this plain declaration, “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth.”

20. III. Now I will try briefly to answer a third question, — WHAT HAD THIS “GOOD CONFESSION” OF JESUS TO DO WITH PILATE?

21. I answer, first, that it gave Pilate a reason for acting justly. It ought to have helped to stir any little conscience that Pilate still had left, and also to allay the jealousy which he may have felt because of the Saviour’s royal claims. Our Lord spoke like this out of kindness to Pilate.

22. I think, however, that the main reason for our Saviour’s testimony was that it gave Pilate an opportunity to learn the truth. Had his soul been like the good soil, had he really ever been the subject of sovereign grace, he would have said to Jesus, “I will gladly hear what this truth is if you will tell it to me.” He would, at least, have spared enough time to hear from his strange prisoner what this truth was. There must have been an unusual force about our Saviour’s few short sentences that ought to have convinced even Pontius Pilate of his evident sincerity. Those eyes, so gentle, yet so piercing, must have looked Pilate through and through. The tones of his voice must have been very different from anything to which Pilate had been accustomed in the courts of Nero. Jesus spoke as no other man had ever spoken in Pilate’s hall before; and had there been anything hopeful about him, he would have said, “Good Master, tell me what that truth is to which you bear witness.”

23. And I say to you, who are not converted, if you desire to be right with God, you will need to know what this truth is for which the Lord Jesus lived and died. And when you do know it, if there is the right principle in your heart, then you will believe it; and, believing it, you will be assuredly saved. There is such life-giving truth in the Saviour’s teaching that you only have to hear it, and think it over in your mind, and weigh it with the best judgment that you have, to be convinced that it is most certainly true. So I challenge you, if it is true, will you not believe it? Believing it, will you not yield to it, and let it reign over your whole being, for it is truth from the mouth of the King? It is the sceptre in the hand of King Jesus, with which he rules over the hearts of all his loyal subjects.

24. IV. Now, to finish, I have to ask, — WHAT HAS THIS TO DO WITH OURSELVES?

25. It has something to do with every one of us, whether we acknowledge Christ or not. First, it suggests to our hearts this question, — Are we of the truth? For, if we are of the truth, we shall hear Christ’s voice. It is the voice of the King eternal, immortal, invisible. He is the King of truth, and he rules over truthful minds. Coming to be the chief Witness to all truth, he really occupies the throne of truth. Now, dear friends, are we of the truth? For, if we are not, we shall not accept Christ; but if we are, we shall be glad to have him as our King. I ask any man here, who has so far refused Christ, whether he is not conscious of something missing from his life. Are you not sometimes half inclined to believe in Jesus? Do you not have to do violence to your conscience by what you call reason, but by what I venture to say is a most unreasonable travesty of all good reasoning? If you would only let that reason of yours go its own way, and follow the track of truth, I believe that, before long, by God’s grace, you would be sitting at the Saviour’s feet, and learning from him.

26. The next thing that this testimony of Christ has to do with us is this. If, on our behalf, he witnessed “the good confession” for the truth before Pontius Pilate, then it behoves you and me, not only to believe, but to bear witness to the truth. Brothers and sisters in Jesus, this looks to me to be only a little thing for us to do. If the Son of God has come into this world on our behalf, and has not been ashamed to call us brethren, and to espouse our cause even at the cost of his life, I say that it looks to me to be only a little thing that he should ask of us that, if with our heart we believe in him, we should with our mouth make confession of him; — that, if we believe in him, we should also, be baptized in his name, for it is his will that we should make a public confession before men if we really are his disciples.

27. There are new fashions in theology, and new gods recently come up, and new Christs, and all kinds of nonsense and novelty; but I am a follower of the old Christ, who is the same, yesterday, and today, and for ever; and I glory in being a fool for Christ’s sake if it is a foolish thing to follow the Man of Nazareth, the Christ of Calvary, who died as the Substitute for all who believe in him; so that, by the shedding of his precious blood, he might reconcile them to God for ever.

28. I appeal to some, whom I believe do really love my Lord and Master, but who are, like Saul of old, hiding away out of sight. Are you never going out to fight for your King? Will you still continue in the ways of the world, and yet profess to be a lover of the Lord? Cowards that you are, come out boldly for Jesus! If you are on Christ’s side, affirm it. There, never was a cause that better deserved to be openly confessed than his. If Christ is God, follow him; but if Satan is God, serve him. If the world is worth your love, give your love to the world, and say so, and do not come sneaking in among Christians as if you belonged to them. But if the Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of your love, give it to him, and say that you have done so. Come to the forefront, unite with his people, share the scorn that falls on them; and whenever any man wishes to set Christ in the pillory, say to him, “Put me there, too, for I am one with him, and have taken up his cause.” When he comes, — and he soon will come in all the glory of his Father and of his holy angels, he who has denied him before men he will deny before the assembled universe; but he who has confessed him before men, he will confess him in the presence of his Father and of his holy angels. May that be my lot, and yours, dear friends, without a single exception, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

{a} Smock-frock: A loose fitting garment of coarse linen or the like, worn by farm labourers over or instead of a coat and usually reaching to midleg or lower. OED.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 18:28-40 Ps 2}

18:28; Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment:

That is to say, Pilate’s hall. Pilate, at that time, was probably residing in one of the old and sumptuous palaces of Herod, there holding his court during the time of the Passover.

28. And it was early;

They were very eager to prove their enmity to Christ; they had spent the night, and the earliest moments of the dawn, in examining their illustrious prisoner, condemning him, and abusing him, and now they were off to Pilate.

28. And they themselves did not go into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled and not be able to eat the passover.

What could defile such wretches at these? Yet they were afraid of ceremonial defilement, though neither afraid nor ashamed to imbrue their hands in the blood of Jesus.

29. Pilate then went out to them,

He loathed and detested them, yet, for his own evil purposes, he would yield to their wishes and whims.

29, 30. And said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered and said to him, “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to you.”

As much as to say, “You may take that for granted. We would not have brought him if he had not done wrong. You need not examine into the matter, we have already heard the evidence, and convicted him, and so saved you all the trouble of trying him; we only bring him here for you to condemn him.”

31. Then Pilate said to them, “Take him, and judge him according to your law.”

“That is your way of doing such things, but it is not a method into which we shall fall. Our law does not condemn a man before it hears the evidence against him. I am not going to be your tool to put this man to death without hearing what is laid to his charge, and the proofs of his guilt. If you want that done, you must do it yourselves.”

31. The Jews therefore said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death”:

“You Romans have taken the power of life and death from us, and we want him put to death.” There was a clear confession that nothing short of Christ’s death would satisfy them.

32. So that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, indicating what death he should die.

Crucifixion was a Roman, not a Jewish method of capital punishment, so God overruled the wanton wickedness of the worst of men for the accomplishment of his own eternal purposes, without, however, diminishing their responsibility and guilt in the least degree. It was “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” that Christ was put to death, yet it was “with wicked hands” that they took him, and crucified him.

33. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

He did not look much like it. There was little enough about his appearance or his apparel to suggest the idea of royalty.

34, 35. Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew?

I can imagine him throwing all the scorn and contempt possible into the question. It was characteristic of the Romans, as we learn from the works of their great writers, that they utterly despised and detested the Jews.

35-37. 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, then 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 that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

We might have expected that he would have said, “I came into the world so that I might be a king.” But he explains that, as a Witness to the truth, he was a King.

38. Pilate says to him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and says to them, “I find in him no fault at all.

He did not want an answer. He merely thought it such an unnecessary piece of trifling to talk about truth, he himself had so slight an idea of what the word might mean, that when he had said, “What is truth?” “he went out again to the Jews, and says to them, ‘I find in him no fault at all.’ ” That was the truth about the Truth, from the lips of a man who cared nothing about truth, yet who was compelled to bear this testimony, “I find in him no fault at all.”

39. But you have a custom, that I should release to you one at the passover: therefore do you wish that I release to you the King of the Jews?

Now, Pilate may have thought, if Christ was their King, they would certainly prefer him to a thief and a robber; so he was putting before himself an opportunity of escaping from judging Christ, and before them a test concerning whether there really was in them any liking for the Christ, or any possibility of his becoming their King.

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

Reading from the Psalms: —

2:1,2. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his Anointed, saying,

This raging company of the Jews was only an example of the universal opposition which there is to the reign of Christ; for it is not only in Israel, but among the heathen, and among all people, that there is this opposition to the Christ of God.

3. “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

The bands of Jehovah, and the bands of the Christ, his Anointed.

4, 5. He who sits in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. Then, he shall speak to them in his anger, and vex them in his severe displeasure.

His word, it seems, vexes them; there is no need for a sword or javelin. The weapons of God’s warfare are his words.

6-12. “Yet I have set my king on my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron: you shall smash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” Be wise now therefore, oh you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he is angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled only a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.

 Sermons in this series: —
 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2820 “Christ Before Annas” 2821}
 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2822 “Christ In Bonds” 2823}
 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2824 “Mocked By Soldiers” 2825}
 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2825 “Majesty In Misery” 2826}
 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2826 “The King In Pilate’s Hall” 2827}

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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