John 18:12-27 | Jesus is the Object of Injustice | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 18:12–18:27
Please turn to John 18. John 18. Our text for the morning will be verses 12 through 27. And already you’re saying, yeah, right. This will be a two-parter, so I’ll just lay it out for ya. John 18:12-27, we’re looking at the final moments of Jesus’ life, and we’ve said that from here on out, from John 18-21, we’re going to find out about Jesus’ arrest. Last week his trial. This week his death by crucifixion, his burial, his resurrection, his commissioning of the twelve disciples and more beyond that.
We’re going to look at all that and then see his final restoration of Peter. And we said that you can see a lot in the last days of Jesus. We learn a lot about him in his final days. And so we’ve entitled this series through the rest of the gospel of John “Jesus is …” And we’re going to highlight all that he is based on these texts.
This morning I want us to see that “Jesus is the Object of Injustice.” Jesus is the object of injustice. I believe there’s a lot to learn in this passage. There’s a lot for us to learn in this passage if we really try to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, or if we claim to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ. It’s important to see how he suffered wrong.
You all are aware of—well, not all of you—some of you are aware of the O. J. Simpson trial. How many of you watched that longer than you wish to admit? Yes, okay. Yes. Some of you even remember the Watergate hearings. That was—for those of you who are younger—see your history books. But some of the people next to you lived through that history. The Watergate hearings where basically everything on Capitol Hill stopped other than that. And the nation was transfixed about what was going on in these Watergate hearings.
Well, this portion of Scripture that we come to is the most famous trial in human history, and it’s one that I don’t think a lot of people really understand. They don’t really understand the injustice of the trial. They don’t understand the complete innocence of Jesus Christ. They don’t understand all that was going on. And so in a couple of weeks I want to kind of unpack this trial for us.
John gives a unique perspective on it. John’s perspective, as we’ve come to see, is a little different than Matthew, Mark and Luke’s, the synoptic gospel writers. So John’s perspective is a little different. He in this section will bounce around between trial, Peter’s denial, trial, Peter’s denial. He bounces around, whereas the other writers do it differently. But he’s trying to send a message. He’s trying to tell a story and make a point.
And so this morning we’re going to see just this, that Jesus is wronged by false trials and by a faithless disciple. Jesus is wronged by false trials and a faithless disciple. Really this week we’re going to focus a little bit more on the trial. We will get to Peter. But then in the following message we’ll spend more time on Peter. But Jesus is wronged by false trials and by a faithless disciple.
The first thing to see—and we’ll kind of read the passage as we go along and as I explain it—is found in verses 12 through 14. The false trial commences. The false trial commences. Now, remember last week we were in the garden. Jesus is shown to be the one who is sovereign even over his arrest. So in that sense Jesus is not a victim, but he’s a willing prisoner. This had been part of the Father’s plan from before the foundation of the world. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen in that garden. John tells us that. And Jesus steps out to be arrested.
I told you last week Matthew, Mark and Luke focus on the kiss of Judas, where Judas steps forward and kisses Jesus, betrays him with a kiss. John wants us to focus on the fact that Jesus stepped out and was a willing prisoner. Nothing about the kiss in the gospel of John.
So Jesus is arrested and now we find out he’s brought to trial, or actually a series of trials. And so verses 12 through 14 show that the false trial begins. Verse 12:
So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
Now, I’m going to give you some background on these people and on the happenings around this trial. Annas, the first man that Jesus is brought to … Annas was not the high priest. Annas actually had no official capacity, but he had been the high priest about 20 years before, and the people of Israel viewed him as really the high priest. He was really the one with authority. He was the leader they wanted to hear from. In a time of crisis, they wanted to hear from him because he was wise, he was the one they looked up to, and Caiaphas, his son-in-law, just happened to be the high priest that year. But they wanted to hear from Annas.
It’s kind of like today where you might call President Bush or President Obama, you might refer to them still as President even though we have a new president. So they’re still calling him high priest even though he’s not currently the high priest.
So they bring him to Annas. Again, he had been high priest about 20 years previously. Since then five of his sons had been high priest. Now often Rome would tell the Jews who their high priest was to be. They’d get tired of one high priest or he’d get sideways with them so they’d appoint another person as their high priest.
So Annas, the father of five sons who had then been high priest in his line, and now Caiaphas, his son-in-law, is high priest. So John tells us that Jesus is brought first not to Caiaphas but to Annas. This is more of an informal hearing. Now, what you need to know is that Annas and Caiaphas most likely lived in the same compound.
All of these things as we jump from Annas to Caiaphas, and John doesn’t actually spend a lot of time in the main part of the trial. Caiaphas is part of the trial. The other writers do. But they would have been living in the same compound, so Jesus might have been shuffled from one side to the next, from Annas to Caiaphas and then following that to the Sanhedrin after daybreak.
So there’s these parts of the Jewish trial, and it starts with Annas. And John’s the one that tells us about that portion, not the other writers. So Jesus is brought to Annas, and he’s about to go through the first of a number of false, wrong, unjust trials.
Now, just to kind of set the stage for you. Jesus would go through six trials in these few hours. Three by the religious leaders of Israel and three by Rome. Six unjust trials. John, for our text in this week and then the following time I’m in this passage, John is going to focus us on this section the Jewish trials. Then we’ll get to Pilate later on.
But the first trial was by Annas, and this is what we’re going to see in this passage. Then there was a trial by Caiaphas. Annas sends Jesus to his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Again, John doesn’t tell us much about that trial. The other writers do. And then finally there is this final, formal trial, the one that should have taken place among the Sanhedrin, the 71 leaders of Israel, made up mostly of the Sadducees, but some Pharisees as well. The Sanhedrin, the final 71, who gave this final third stage of the Jewish trial.
So two big trials, the Jewish trial and the Roman trial, each of them having three parts to them. So John’s going to focus on the first part of the trial under Annas. The trial by Rome, we’ll see later, came under Pilate, then Pilate sent Jesus to Harrod, and then Harrod sent Jesus back to Pilate for a final trial. So those are the three trials by Rome.
Now, how do the religious leaders of Israel follow these court proceedings? What is their law? What is their authority that tells them how to follow these proceedings? How to try a convicted criminal? Well, there are two real sources of authority over this Jewish body, the Sanhedrin. One is the Pentateuch, the first five books of our Old Testament. And secondly was their oral tradition, the Mishnah, which actually happened to be a lot bigger than the Pentateuch. They sought to improve upon the Pentateuch and explain the Pentateuch or the Torah as they would know it.
And so they have these two authorities under them that shows how they’re supposed to carry out this trial, and it won’t surprise you that they break all sorts of laws. Doesn’t matter to them. They’ve got a common enemy that they need to have dead—Jesus Christ.
Now, I’m going to tell you quickly 11 wrongs with these Jewish trials, 11 moments of a corrupt justice system. These are the things that were wrong with what would go on for the next couple of hours.
First, his arrest happened at night. That was technically illegal. They were not supposed to arrest a criminal at night.
Secondly, these arrests came about by the agency of a traitor—Judas.
Now, what you need to know before I get to the rest of these is that they sought to protect the accused as much as they possibly could. The one thing this system feared was wrongly accusing someone who is actually innocent. So all these provisions were put in place to keep them from that, but they actually do the opposite in this case.
So they arrest Jesus by night. The arrest comes about by the agency of a traitor.
Third, the arrest is without a formal accusation. They don’t accuse Jesus of anything in the garden, and they were supposed to. You can’t just come and arrest someone. You’ve got to tell them why you’re arresting them. They don’t do that.
Fourth, the examination before Annas was at night. Again, illegal.
Fifth, the exam was done by a single judge—Annas. Again, illegal.
Sixth, the accused was not to be compelled to testify. What you would normally see is judges, the Sanhedrin, sitting before the accused, and they would turn their questions to the people next to the accused—the witnesses. They had a high value on witnesses in this system. The witnesses—witness testimony would be the thing that condemned a criminal, not his own testimony. Annas begins speaking to Jesus. Again, illegal.
Seventh, the trial before Caiaphas was held at night.
Eighth, they conducted this trial on the day before the Sabbath. See the Mishnah. Illegal.
Ninth, they completed this trial in one 24-hour period. Here’s an interesting note: Trials where they would accuse a criminal and condemn a criminal to death were supposed to happen in two stages. If they accused him and found him to be guilty, they were supposed to go home, pray, meditate, and re-try the case again a second time to make sure he was actually guilty. The normal pattern was to make sure that if they were going to condemn someone to die, they’d better be sure, so they’d do it twice. They didn’t do it twice. They should have taken more than one 24-hour period to do this.
Number ten, they secured a conviction by the defendant’s own confession. We see this in Matthew, Mark and Luke. They ultimately accused Jesus of blasphemy because he answers them when they ask if he’s the Son of God; he says yes, he is. And that’s the reason they condemn him to death, which would have been illegal. Should have been witnesses that pointed to what he did as wrong. They secured a conviction by the defendant’s own confession.
And number eleven, the final act of wrongdoing in this criminal trial was that every single man in the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus to die. Every single man said that he was guilty. Now, we think, well, of course. When 12 jurors agree on something, agree on the guilt of a man or woman, they are guilty. Not in their system. They actually feared that. You know why? Because they were afraid of a mob mentality.
Certainly with 71 people someone might find a fault with an eyewitness. Someone might come to his defense. If there was a 71-to-nothing vote, they thought something’s up here. There’s some sort of bribery going on here. That was their system. And 71 men in the Sanhedrin condemn him to death, and they go with it.
This trial is all about a miscarriage of justice. All the way through from the arrest all the way through the crucifixion. And Jesus doesn’t lawyer up. He takes it. And aren’t you glad he did or else you and I would still be in our sins because no adequate substitute would have died for us. This trial is illegal all the way through and John reminds us about something the current high priest, Caiaphas, had said earlier in the gospel of John. John reminds us about Caiaphas in verse 14.
So Annas, the high priest that year, is the one Jesus is brought to, and he is the high priest, and he is the father-in-law of Caiaphas.
And verse 14:
It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.
John doesn’t say much about the trial in front of Caiaphas. What John does say about Caiaphas is that he reminds us about what Caiaphas once said earlier in the life of Jesus. Do you remember after Lazarus has been raised from the dead, the Sanhedrin forms an impromptu meeting.
So after Lazarus had been raised from the dead by Jesus, the Sanhedrin gets together. We’ve got to do something about this man. How about just believe that he can raise a man from the dead and submit to him? But no, they won’t do that. So they get the 71 together. Caiaphas is the leader of that group. And Caiaphas says that it’s better, gentlemen, it’s better that one man die for the nation. Better that he die rather than everyone else. Caiaphas didn’t even know what he was saying. That’s what Jesus would do. He would die for his people.
So this is the Caiaphas that we’re dealing with. John says to keep in mind, by highlighting that statement that Caiaphas made maybe a few weeks earlier, by highlighting that statement, John wants us to remember that this is all part of God’s plan, that Jesus would die for the people.
The false trial of Jesus commences and John reminds us that this is all part of the plan. Jesus is mistreated by those presiding over the case and now we find out that Jesus is not only mistreated by his enemies, he’s also mistreated by those who call him friend. He’s mistreated by Peter. Verses 15 to 18 show us that not just a false trial commences, but faithless denials commence. Peter’s going to deny Christ three times.
And here’s the first of the denials. John talks simply about this first one in verses 15 through 18.
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in.
Almost everyone and their brother thinks that this is John. This is Peter and John. John was known by the high priest or known by the associates of the high priest. John evidently had some sort of standing in the Jewish nation, in Jerusalem at the time. So John is known and so when those who arrested Jesus are bringing him to Annas at his compound along with Caiaphas, they’re bringing him to this trial. There is a gate there and you can’t get in, but John could because he knew the people at the door.
So John’s allowed to get in, and the only reason Peter’s allowed to get in is because John vouches for him. He’s with me. So Peter is able to come in. On his own he wouldn’t have been. Now, what’s interesting to note is that the other disciples still are nowhere to be found. This is part of prophecy in Isaiah 53.
This is part of Old Testament prophecy that you strike the shepherd and the sheep scatter. Well, they all scattered. Jesus, in a sense, reminds those arresting him, you come for me, not for them. Those men scatter but John and Peter are together kind of following behind the group. They see them lead Jesus into this courtyard area or into the place Annas was in this compound. And John and Peter are with them and they go to the door, kind of trailing behind everybody. John’s allowed to come in. He sees to it that Peter comes in, and the servant girl lets Peter in.
The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?”
Now it’s interesting, the way she phrases that expects a negative answer. She’s not accusing him of being a disciple of Jesus. She thinks that he’s probably not. You’re not one of his disciples, are you? And Peter, instead of saying, yes, I am. Peter, instead of remembering what he had said to the Lord just maybe hours earlier—Lord, I’ll even die for you. Peter forgets all of that and basically says, no, I’m not with him. I’m not his disciple. She expects a negative answer, and Peter says, I am not.
Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
Isn’t this interesting? John wants us to know that it was a cold night. John wants us to know that there was a fire. John wants us to know that there were people warming themselves. Why? Because Peter is choosing comfort with those who stand against Jesus rather than commitment to Christ. I don’t care how cold it is, I’m with him. But, no, Peter’s cold, so he’s going to stand with those who are against Christ and warm himself.
He chose comfort, and in the words of Psalm 1, he stood amongst the scoffers and those who disregarded the Lord and was led into temptation. Beware of always wanting comfort. Peter wants comfort. He stands with this group of people who are then, as Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us, going to ask him more questions about his association with Jesus and every time he’s going to deny, deny, deny.
Peter wants to go where it’s warm, and he goes to a place where the enemies of Jesus are, and they are wondering if Peter is actually with Jesus. Notice those words—Peter also was with them standing and warming himself. That’s not just kind of some facts. John’s reminding us of something. Remember last week who Judas was standing with—what John says about Judas. John 18:5: Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
Peter also was with them standing and warming himself. This is John’s way of showing us Jesus is alone. We often think about Judas abandoning Christ. Peter, for a time, did the exact same thing, and he didn’t just abandon Christ. At this point you would wish Peter was more like Thomas or one of the other apostles who just didn’t follow Jesus to the courtyard. Just scatter and go somewhere else.
But now Peter’s not just abandoned his Lord, he’s gone and stood with the Lord’s enemies just like Judas did. By the way, if you just look at Judas and Peter before John 21, before Jesus’s restoration of Peter, if you just look at Judas and Peter before John 21, you’re going to see more similarities than you see differences. These men at this point are almost the same, both denying Christ.
Christ, in this section is alone. Alone humanly speaking. Peter is standing there for warmth, standing with the enemies of Christ, denying Christ, and isn’t this the nature of temptation. Temptation allures us because we think we need something. Peter needed warmth so he’s going to go and stand in a compromised position. This is what putting yourself in temptation looks like.
Peter desired warmth because he thought he needed it. He didn’t. It would have been better for Peter to almost freeze that night than to be around people who tempted him to sin. But he goes because he thinks he needs the warmth and he puts himself in a place of temptation. He thinks he needs something and it leads him to temptation.
Think of Eve. She sees that fruit and she hears the whisper of the serpent and she thinks she needs that to be like God, all the while failing to trust in God. You might think you need sexual fulfillment when you’re not married. You need something, but God says, no, you don’t. Follow me and trust that my commands lead you to flourish. We think we need something. We put ourselves in a place of temptation and we give in.
This is Peter. This is Eve. This is us. When tempted, for us, when we are tempted, it’s good to identify what we think we need. Peter thought he needed warmth and so he would go and stand in a compromised position. Eve thought she needed to be like God, so she compromised and listened to someone tempting her. We think we need more this, more that, and so we compromise and start coveting.
We’ve been wronged, and we think that we need a prayer partner to pray for the way that we’ve been wronged, so we slander the person who wronged us to another party. We think we need something, so we put ourselves in a place of temptation and we give in. This is Peter. This is us. So easily tempted. But more about Peter next time.
John abruptly moves us on. I mean you read that last verse of 18, Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself. If you never heard this account before, you want to know what happened next. And John goes to commercial. John interrupts your thinking, interrupts your curiosity, and goes back to the trial. If this were a movie, you’d see the trial before Annas, and then it would focus you, the camera would pan to the courtyard. You’d see the courtyard. You’d see Peter. And then at this moment of wanting more, he’d go back to where Jesus is before Annas. And that’s what he does.
Point number three: the false trial continues. The false trial continues. Verse 19:
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
Now we know that this is still Annas. John is calling Annas the high priest even though technically he wasn’t the current high priest that year. That was his son-in-law, Caiaphas. The reason we know that he’s referring to Annas is because just a number of verses later in verse 24, it says that Annas then sent him down to Caiaphas the high priest. So we know that John’s still referring to Annas because he hasn’t sent him to Caiaphas yet.
And notice what Annas asks him. The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Tell us about the men following you. Remember, the Sanhedrin is very fearful of people following Christ and causing a ruckus. If they can condemn Christ and get rid of him, we’re good. The temple system moves on and we become rich and everything is good.
But if they arrest Jesus and his disciples don’t shut up, then there’s still a problem for them. So Annas questions Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Remember, it was illegal for Annas to go right at Jesus. Annas should have had witnesses there and said tell us what this man says. Do you corroborate her witness? Yes, I do. Do you corroborate her witness? Yes, I do. Great. We’ve got three witnesses. The man is condemned.
That’s not what happens. Annas goes to Jesus and seeks to have him incriminate himself. So he asks about his disciples and he asks about his own teaching. He’s looking for Jesus to incriminate himself.
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world.
I love that answer from our Lord. Hey, what I said, it’s on record. Go read the transcript. I’ve said it. I haven’t hidden it. It’s open.
I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple,
I’m not teaching at an underground home Bible study. I stood up in the temple and said I’m the light of the world. I’ve said it plainly. I said it openly. I haven’t hidden anything. There’s no secret to my teaching. It’s all out there. It’s all on record.
where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.
This is Jesus pointing them back to the rules of court procedures. Why are you asking me? Ask the witnesses. Most people think at this time because the arrest was late at night, they bring him to Annas late at night, the henchmen of the high priest, the henchmen of the Sanhedrin were somewhere going through Jerusalem trying to wake up witnesses. We need witnesses. Get out of bed. Come here.
There are no witnesses evidently at this point. They’re trying to incriminate Jesus because there aren’t any witnesses there yet. So Jesus says, why are you asking me? Ask the people who heard me. Bring the witnesses. Bring ‘em. There’s no hidden agenda. There’s no secret teaching. This is all public record.
This reminds me of the Proverb: Do not answer a fool according to his folly. Jesus doesn’t answer Annas the answer that Annas wants. Doesn’t give him that. He just—I’m on record. Ask the people who heard me.
When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong [again, bring the witnesses]; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?”
He’s showing the man who slapped him that you’re wrong either way. You should be asking witnesses (wrong number one); and if I am right, why do you strike me (wrong number two)?
Jesus receives a blow which would have been a slap with an open hand. Now, if I were to be hit in the face, I’d rather have a slap with an open hand rather than a fist, wouldn’t you? Pleasant thing to think of on a Sunday morning. But either way, Jesus is not punched. It’s not that the physical force is the big deal here. The slap is more degrading. And this is what this is—an open slap to the face. An open slap to the face says, shut your mouth; how dare you.
And this is what a man created by Jesus himself does to his Creator. Slaps him in the face and says, how dare you.
Jesus is clearly the innocent one here. We see this as we go through the trial. Jesus is accused, forced to speak for himself instead of going to witnesses. Jesus has said, everything I said is open. It’s on public record. Examine the record. Examine the witnesses. Jesus is innocent, standing there as the object of wrongdoing.
That’s probably why verse 24 comes. Annas, probably so fed up, sends him off to his son-in-law. Sloughs him off to his son-in-law. He’s not getting the answer he wants. He’s not able to get out of Jesus what he wants to hear, so he sends him to his son-in-law, Caiaphas the high priest.
Now, it’s so important to realize that our Lord did not prize being treated fairly. He seemed to not really care about that. He didn’t say, I’m going to go on appeal and find my own attorney. I’m going to get out of this. He let his words previously spoken speak for himself. He highlighted to them, you should be calling witnesses.
But Jesus is okay with being wronged. Why? Because that was his Father’s mission for him. That was his Father’s work. Remember what he said in John 4, it’s my food to do the will of the Father. I thrive on doing the will of the Father even though it might mean the betrayal, arrest, condemnation, crucifixion by my enemies.
You see this in Jesus’ life. You see this in Jesus’ teaching. Turn the other cheek. You see this in the apostle’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6. Remember 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul tells the Corinthian church, stop suing each other. It’s better that you would be wronged than to do that to each other.
This is the teaching of our Lord and our Lord’s Holy Spirit through the apostles. Christians, you can be wronged, and it’s okay. But I really think that we are not good at this. How dare she say that to those people about me. I need to set the record straight. Instead of entrusting the whole situation to God who judges (Romans 12).
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, declares the Lord. This is the teaching of Jesus. You turn the other cheek. You suffer the wrong. Why? Why do you do that? They’ve been so harsh. They’ve been so unfair. Because you believe that you’re going to be somewhere greater than this earth. Because you believe he actually will keep his promises and right all wrongs.
We’re not very good at this. We need to be right. We need to appeal. We need to get our case out. We need to let everyone know. We need to seek out prayer partners to help—we need them to come on our side. Not Jesus. He’s okay with being treated poorly.
I told you recently that I’ve been coaching youth soccer, and I think maybe the number one reason I’m doing that is because it provides a lot of helpful sermon illustrations. Lots of them. More than I share with you, trust me.
We were recently doing a drill and a practice, and I said, okay, this team needs to get seven points to win, and this team needs to get four points to win the drill. And immediately this group over here—that’s not fair, say the 8- and 9-year-olds, to which I turned to them and said, life’s not fair kids. Suck it up. [Laughter] I didn’t say that. I didn’t. I didn’t say it out loud. I didn’t say it out loud. I didn’t.
Just trying to teach them a little lesson. You can see me about my coaching philosophy later. Send all the emails to BradPenner@g … no. [Laughter]
But they just said what we all say in a more refined manner. They yell, it’s not fair. We don’t yell, it’s not fair. We just send emails to our close friends and tell them about the wrongs that we’ve suffered, all the while slandering the people who did wrong to us instead of actually believing that Jesus will handle all this and actually believing that it’s good to suffer with him. It’s good for us.
We don’t do this well. And I think it’s important to admit that to the Lord. Can you be wronged and be okay with it? If you can, you’ll look a lot like Christ. Consider how you respond when you’re mistreated. Here’s a test: Would people around you say that you entrust your future to a faithful God when you’re wronged, or do they see you fighting to be treated perfectly?
Listen, no one has ever been treated perfectly. Even the perfectly righteous Son of God. What makes us think that we’re going to be treated perfectly? How do you respond when you’re mistreated? Whether it’s being cut off in traffic, whether it’s not getting the deal at the store that the person in front of you got, whether it’s your kid not getting what you think they deserve in the class.
How do you handle being treated imperfectly? Are you okay with it? Because you know I’ve got an eternity somewhere else, and my God will right all wrongs, and I’ll never be treated imperfectly again. And I’ll never treat him imperfectly either. Or do you not see this world as just a rest stop on the way to eternity, and do you put all stock you have in this world? And therefore, when you’re treated poorly, you’re going to make sure that everyone knows about it because you can’t have that happen because this world is so important.
It’s not the thinking of the New Testament. Turn if you will to Hebrews 10. Now Jason’s going to preach this passage to you next week, and so I just want to set him up without preaching it. So, Jason, I’m doing my best here. But Jason wanted to preach this passage and we hadn’t even talked about what we were preaching, and I was already thinking about this passage in looking at Jesus here and the way he received his false trial. So I just have a feeling the Holy Spirit wants to teach us in the next couple weeks. So come ready, all right, next week.
This has been so helpful for me recently as well. Hebrews 10. Look at verse 32. Now, I’m just going to set this up. Hebrews—written to people who have said that they have put their faith in Christ, but there are reasons that they haven’t fully done that yet. They’re still holding back. They’re being persecuted, and they’re wondering, is it better to go back to Judaism and not receive persecution? Because right now I’m saying that I’m connected to Christ, but I’m receiving a lot of persecution. I’m not sure where I’m going to end up. I might go back.
And Hebrews is a call. Jesus is better than the Jewish way before. Jesus is better—the New Covenant is better than the Old. Jesus is better than all the symbols of the Old. Stay with Jesus. Commit to Jesus. Be all in with Jesus.
Hebrews 10:32: “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened,” after you were taught by Jesus, after you understood Jesus. “Remember the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.”
So when you first said that you would come to Christ, you started receiving persecution. And you were standing alongside people who were receiving persecution. Verse 34: For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.” I’m going to read that again. “[A]nd you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.”
Now that plundering of their property was probably done in an unjust manner, and they didn’t say, oh, I’m writing a letter. They said praise the Lord. In the words of Acts, we’re counted worthy to suffer with him. He brings us into his sufferings so that we can share with him, and if we share in his suffering, how much more are we going to share in his glory one day? Because he’s going to say, you endured your cross, here’s a crown.
The writer of Hebrews is just expecting that this is normal Christian living. I’ve been wronged—yes! I understand a little bit more about my Lord and I trust him.
Verse 34: “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” You see the key to being wronged in the way that Christ was wronged? You see the key? Think about the future. That’s the key. Lord Jesus, the one who endured the suffering for the joy set before him. You’re looking to the future. You’re believing the promises of God.
“[S]ince you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Really the message here is keep enduring wrong. No, no, no, no. Keep joyfully enduring wrong. No, no, no, that’s still incomplete. Keep joyfully enduring wrong because you know one day it will all be made right and you will receive the reward.
That’s how you deal with someone gossiping about you. That’s how you deal with little forms of injustice that we go through every week. That’s how you do it. Why in the world do martyrs today, our brothers and sisters imprisoned in Iraq—why do our brothers and sisters going through that around the world do this so much better than us? It’s because in great suffering you’re forced to remember what’s coming because it looks like what’s coming might be here soon.
Us, we think, man, this is great. We’re comfortable. We’re just going to live this way a long time, and any little suffering—no, we can’t have that. This is not heaven. This is not heaven. It’s okay to be wronged. And I would even say it’s probably good in many ways to be wronged.
Turn to 1 Peter 4. This is one of those verses to highlight if you do that sort of thing. And if you don’t, highlight the person’s Bible next to you. 1 Peter 4:19. And ladies, you’re studying this in women’s Bible study. This is a book written to exiles. This is how to thrive spiritually in a world that hates you.
1 Peter 4:19: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will …” By the way, you’re suffering is all according to God’s will. It’s all his plan. Remember who the sovereign one is. “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
There it is. That’s how to be wronged. That’s how to have a nasty email written about you that’s sent to five other people. That’s how to be thrown in prison for your faith if you live in Iraq. This is how to suffer wrong. Lord, my soul is yours. You made it. You’re the one that brings life from the dead. My everything is in your hands.
This suffering is part of your will. I don’t understand it, but I know it’s part of your will. You’re my Creator. You’re my faithful Creator. I entrust this whole thing to you. And I want to suffer without gossip, without slander, without being critical, without complaining. I want to suffer while doing good. While doing good.
Where have you been suffering? Who has wronged you? What group of people has wronged you? What family member? What church? What government agency? What friend? What disciple has wronged you? Can you entrust your soul to a faithful Creator while doing good? What would good look like?
Loving your enemies. Rehearsing 1 Corinthians 13 to yourself and saying, I’m going to be patient with them. I’m going to be kind to them. I’m going to be longsuffering rather than short suffering. I am going to love like Jesus loved his enemies. I’m not going to say a negative word about them. I’m going to serve them. I’m going to pray for them. I refuse to gossip about them. See your Lord.
And here’s the good news. One of the things he determined to do when he went back to heaven was to quickly send his Spirit to his disciples. I’m going to see to it that I am in them so that they can obey all these commands. If you say you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ himself is with you. The one who stood amidst an unjust trial and received unfair treatment, was the object of abuse, is the same one that lives inside you. Same one.
What did the Sanhedrin fear? They feared Roman control of Jerusalem. They feared their economic system crumbling. Their temple economy crumbling so that they would no longer be wealthy. They feared a lot. What did Peter fear? He feared being arrested and condemned along with Jesus. He feared being mistreated.
Who did Jesus fear? Jesus feared God his Father. He said my will is to do the will of the Father. Listen to these two Proverbs. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. That’s our Lord. That’s our Lord. Another Proverb: The fear of man lays a snare. It traps you. The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
We could add—I’m not suggesting we do this because that would be a sin—but we can add a thought to that passage in Proverbs. The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord, even when being falsely accused by Israel and Rome, is safe. Whoever fails to fear man or will not fear man, but whoever trusts in the Lord, even when persecuted in Afghanistan, persecuted in Eritrea, next to Ethiopia where so much Christian persecution happens. Even the one who is persecuted in that nation, if they fear the Lord, they’re safe. Safe.
The one who trusts in the Lord when their friends begin to gossip against them, when their leaders fail them, the one who trusts in the Lord is safe. You could say that the way to endure all wrongs is simply to trust in God. Trust in God. I’m not getting what I want, I’m not treated like I want, but I trust in you. You’re my Father. You’re my shepherd. I trust you.
When we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I think you could say humanly speaking that if men and women would not have stood the abuse that they received, we might not be where we are today. You read of Lady Jane Grey who went to the stake willingly. You read of Ridley and Latimer and Hooper and Rogers, men who were willing to go to the stake and not always appeal, not always gossip, willing to go.
You hear a common refrain in how they died. Lord Jesus Christ, into your hands I commit my spirit. I commit my eternal soul to you. You’re in charge. You’re everything. And the men and women of the Reformation stood for the truth.
Listen, when we came and started this church I was convinced that a pastor should do a few things for his people. He needs to prepare them for how to resolve conflict because I don’t think the church does that well today. We look more like the world than we do like what he wants us to understand in the New Testament. So we need to prepare people to resolve conflict.
Secondly, we need to be clear about the gospel. There’s so many false gospels, wrong gospels, twisted gospels. We need to be clear about the gospel. We also need to be clear about the person of Jesus Christ, who he actually is, who he isn’t. He’s not Santa. He’s the Lord. We need to be clear about Christ.
But there’s one other thing that I was convinced that we need to do as pastors and elders for our people, and it’s this: to prepare them to suffer. We don’t suffer a lot here, and in the little suffering we do receive, we don’t always do that well. You know that we might be under actual persecution quicker than we might have expected ten years ago. How in the world are we going to endure that when we can’t even endure someone lying about us? We have to conquer the little areas with the Spirit of Christ if we’re ever going to stand in the big areas that could be coming soon.
Will you be ready to stand? Or will it be completely foreign to you? I think you can do this. I know you. I know the Spirit of Christ in you. We can do this together. Stand for Christ. Suffering the injustices. Showing people we’ve got a better hope. How do you endure what he said about you? I know what God says about me. I know my future. It’s okay. Pray for him.
What a testimony that would be. What a testimony. And I don’t think the world sees it enough from us. It’s not an easy thing to do, and that’s why Luther wrote this verse in what’s been called the hymn of the Reformation. We sung it this morning. A Mighty Fortress is Our God. We need the strength of the Lord to suffer like he did.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
The Lord of Hosts His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
When you suffer for Christ, you are on the winning side. He endured a cross, an unjust trial, and he received a reward. Same thing we’ll receive when we identify ourselves with him. May the Lord give us strength. Let’s pray.
Father, strengthen your people. Give us an eternal perspective. Lord, I’m even asking this week that whenever we suffer any sort of wrong, that our first instinct would be to thank you because we understand a little bit more of what you went through. We’re sharing in your sufferings. The world can’t get to you so they come after us. Let us rejoice that you’re not ashamed to call us brothers. We’re with you.
And Father, give us the Spirit of your Son to trust in something greater than this world. And I think in this whole prayer request, I’d say finally, Lord, make us a testimony. Allow people around us who we might hurt for and long to see come to salvation, let them see us suffer well because in that they will see that we are counting on something greater.
So Father use us. Make us like your Son. Make us like our Lord. And give us joy in whatever thing it is that you bring us to. We pray this in your Son’s name. Amen.
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