Sermon – November 22, 2020

John 18:28-40 – Missing the Kingdom (mp3)

Many philosophers throughout the ages have considered an interesting thought-experiment: how can we prove the existence of other minds? How do you know that what is around you is real? Or, is there some better, truer reality lurking just behind what you can see? Descartes thought about this in the 17th century, and the film The Matrix considered it popularly just 20 some years ago. What if I told you that there is a deeper, truer reality lying all around you, unnoticed? What if you have been blind to it your whole life? Today, let us consider how so many miss this greater and truer reality; let us see how so many miss the Kingdom of Christ.

1. Mistake your problems
The Jewish leadership is concerned that it will be defiled if they enter into Pilate’s headquarters, yet see no problem in condemning an innocent man. They don’t really understand what defiles them, the thing that really separates them from God. Don’t be deceived into thinking you are just broken, or that you’re just missing good things on the earth. Your problem is sin – and only the King can truly take that away!

2. Mistake the OT
Further, the Jewish leadership doesn’t understand the very celebration they wish to undertake. The Passover shows that they are guilty, but that through faith God will provide mercy. But instead of mercy, they desire vengeance against Jesus. Indeed, they will kill the Passover lamb, but they do not understand how to apply his blood to their hearts. One of the best ways to see the Kingdom of God is to read the OT shadows correctly.

3. Mistake your importance
Pilate seems to use the interview with the Jewish leadership simply as a way to make himself seem more grand and glorious, and to flaunt his power and authority before the Jews. But he misses the one who is truly important here, sitting in his midst. Friends, the more important you think you are, the more you treat Jesus simply as a means to make yourself greater, the more likely you are to miss the Kingdom.

4. Mistake the Kingdom’s importance
Furthermore, Pilate makes it seem as though the Kingdom of the Jews is well below his social level. Why would he consider their king, give him any thought? Friends, while the Kingdom is not readily apparent here in the world, and many miss it, don’t think it isn’t worth your attention. Nothing is more important!

5. Mistake true philosophy
Jesus makes the case that, yes, he is a King wholly unlike any king Pilate could conceive of. He is a King of revelation – he perfectly images God to all of the people. Pilate answers this deep conversation with a deep question – what is truth? – the answer to which couldn’t matter less to Pilate. He uses the question simply to be able to leave the room. Beware lest you use questions like these in this way – simply to excuse your sin or to keep you from faith in Jesus.

6. Mistake humor’s purpose
I think that Pilate’s offer to release Jesus as “King of the Jews” is nothing more than a joke to him – something that he doesn’t believe which he uses simply to humiliate the Jews yet again. Don’t use crude humor to explain away your sin or to hide it in. Not taking things seriously, and seeing the importance of what stands before you, is a great and easy way to miss the Kingdom.

7. Mistake your hypocrisy
Both Pilate and the Jewish leadership are hypocrites here. The Jews don’t care about keeping rioters from bringing down the wrath of Rome against them, or they wouldn’t have asked for Barabbas. Pilate doesn’t care about Rome’s interest, but his own, or he wouldn’t have released an insurrectionist and condemned a man in whom he found no guilt. Friends, find your hypocrisy and kill it – and see the Kingdom!