Sermon – November 1, 2020

John 18:1-14 – How Jesus is Greater (mp3)

The great liberal scholar project was to search through the rubble, remains, and ramblings of the Bible and to try to reconstruct the picture of the “real” Jesus. Certain that what we have in the Bible is skewed history (at best!), liberal scholars sought to find out who Jesus really was and what he really taught. Today, let us do better, and try to find something about the “real” Jesus of Scripture! As Jesus begins the march toward his trial and crucifixion, we have a nice series of contrasts between him and the principle characters of that scandalous event. Today, as we begin to read through John 18, let us see how Jesus is indeed greater than them all.

1. Jesus is sovereign and Judas is sinful
John is at pains to show that Jesus is fully in charge of all that is happening to him. He goes where he knows Judas can find him, he interrogates his arresters, he demands the apostles go free. All things are in his control, just as John has shown and, surely, will continue to show. This sovereign control does not excuse Judas’ sin, however. He is still guilty; the betrayer who will be forever condemned for his faithless action. Ultimately, no philosophical objections to God’s sovereignty will allow you to escape the penalty of sin; no complaint will be upheld. The only cry that will allow one to escape is the cry of faith: Jesus died for me!

2. Jesus is majestic and the soldiers are meager
Jesus, with two small words, makes the Jewish officers and the Romans soldiers fall back in what we are right to think is something of reverence. Somehow, someway, the majesty of Jesus was heard, even faintly, through his small confession. This small glory, this small portion of majesty, is enough to repel an armed battalion. Think of his full glory! Yet, these men continue on their stated path, and end up arresting Jesus. Let us never settle for only seeing the glory of Jesus, but let it be seared on our hearts forevermore. And, further, let us never fear the nations. Jesus is majestic in glory – if he can make these fall down with two words, think of what his immortal and glorified self can do now!

3. Jesus is constant and Peter is confused
Jesus has shown himself constant and faithful, both to the disciples and to the calling of his Father. Even here, he refuses to let them be taken. He alone must suffer for them – as he does now before the power of the world he will do forevermore before the power of heaven. But Peter is confused about the nature of that Kingdom, and thinks that he can help through the power of sword. But the power of the world, no matter how great, cannot advance the Kingdom of Jesus by an inch. It is only through the preaching of the gospel, the preaching of the power of the cross, that the Kingdom is advanced. Let us have the consistency of Jesus, and not the confusion of Peter!

4. Jesus is perceptive and Caiaphas is phony
Jesus, as we have already said, is quite perceptive, knowing “all that would happen to him.” On the other hand, Caiaphas seems to have knowledge and wisdom. Certainly, thinking that one man should die for the nation seems right, and in line with something that Jesus might say. But for Caiaphas, it is nothing but trying to excuse the injustice of killing Jesus for political expediency. Friends, watch out for phony wisdom that leads us away from Christ!