Truth Teller

(John 19:28-37)



“David Greenglass was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Soviet Union and then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Soviet ambassador in Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital. Greenglass was to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no possibility of making a mistake. The signs were: (1) once in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as ‘I. Jackson’; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City, and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.


The six prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics, it was impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper contact. How true, then, it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah if he had 456 identifying characteristics well in advance and fulfilled them all.”


John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Walter Kaiser Jr., "If Specific Prophecies Were Fulfilled by the Messiah, Does the Science of Probability Consider This Proof There Is a God?"; submitted by Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York.





  • ME

    • Completing something

        • Puzzle

          • Several months ago I started a Thomas Kinkaid puzzle of DC Comic Superheroes

          • It took me quite a few evenings to complete it, but there was such excitement and satisfaction when I was done

          • I took a picture of it and sent it to our boys

          • I told Judy, “It is finished!”

        • Sermon

          • Every week, as I prepare God’s Word for Sunday, I’m excited when it’s done

          • Now, I don’t shout, “It is finished!” to Pastor Marc, but I still feel a sense of satisfaction and anticipation to share it on Thursday evening and Sunday morning

        • Master’s degree

          • Those two were short-term victories for me

          • Completing my Master’s degree was a long-term victory

          • It took me several years of late nights, reading, writing, and studying, to complete my degree

          • I was glad when I could say, “It is finished!”


  • WE

    • Completing something

        • What short-term things have you completed? (book, puzzle, exercise, laundry, lesson plans, lunch preparation, video game, etc.)

        • What long-term victories have you completed? (degree, job search, marriage, family, etc.)


Last week we saw Jesus hanging on the cross, but He had not yet died. ​​ Today we’ll see Jesus’ last words and deeds and His death on the cross. ​​ He was completing a long-term victory – redemption of humanity. ​​ There are three more prophecies fulfilled in these ten verses. ​​ In fact, there were twenty prophecies fulfilled during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 361]. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 19:28-37)

    • Prophecy of the drink (vv. 28-30)

        • Completed

          • Last week we saw that Jesus completed His first-born male responsibility to make sure His mother would be taken care of, after His death

          • Later

            • The NIV translation of “later” makes it sound like an undetermined amount of time passes, from Jesus putting His mother in John’s care, and His statement about being thirsty

            • Most every other translation says, “after this”

            • John is simply letting us know that he is transitioning to another memory of Jesus’ crucifixion

          • Jesus had completed everything that God had given Him to do while on earth

            • He is obviously not referring to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension – those were still to come

            • “Others may unconsciously play their part in the divine plan of redemption (e.g. vv. 23-24; cf. Acts 13:29), but not Jesus . . . Jesus’ knowledge that all was now completed is the awareness that all the steps that had brought him to this point of pain and impending death were in the design of his heavenly Father, and death itself was imminent.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 618-19]

            • What Jesus completed

              • He had taught crowds of people about the Kingdom of God

              • He had prepared His disciples to carry on the Gospel mission to both Jews and Gentiles

              • He had prepared the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit

              • He had lovingly taken care of His mother’s future

            • It’s time for Jesus to return to the Father

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we obey Him completely.

            • Jesus modeled for us what it looks like to obey God completely

              • Jesus told His disciples and the religious leaders on multiple occasions that He was not doing or saying anything that was not from the Father

              • Philippians 2:8, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

              • Jesus was willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey God completely

            • Are we willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey God completely?

              • 1 Samuel 15:1-35 (The Lord Rejects Saul as King)

                • Samuel gives Saul a message from the Lord about completely destroying the Amalekites and all their possessions

                • Saul attacked the Amalekites and completely destroyed all the people, except Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good (1 Sam. 15:9)

                • When Samuel confronted Saul, he joyfully greeted him and told him he had carried out the Lord’s instructions

                • Samuel was confused, because he heard the bleating of sheep, and lowing of cattle

                • Saul had not completely destroyed the Amalekites and all their possessions

                • He did not completely obey the Lord, so the Lord rejected him as king of Israel

              • Mark 10:17-28 (The Rich Young Man)

                • The rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life

                • Jesus reminds him of the ten commandments, which he says he has kept since his youth

                • Jesus then says this, “One thing you lack,” he said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. ​​ Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

                • The young man went away sad, because he had great wealth

              • In our western culture, we struggle to sacrifice everything in order to be completely obedient to God

                • Many times we want to hang on to a little of our past, instead of completely sacrificing it to the Lord, and then we wonder why God is not blessing us or answering our prayers

                • Sometimes we only obey the parts of the Bible we feel are easy to do and we ignore the other parts that are more difficult to do

                • We determine that we can’t afford to tithe, even though God has commanded us to give from the firstfruits of our labor

                • We are commanded not to gossip, but we “share” a prayer request about another person

                • We know we should forgive others and work towards reconciliation, but it’s so much easier to just leave and find another group of friends, another job, or another church

                • We know that looking at a woman with lust is just like committing adultery with her in our heart, but we justify it in our minds, because we haven’t actually done the physical act (Matt. 5:27-28)

                • We know that being angry with someone is just like murdering them in our heart, but we still allow ourselves to justify being angry with them (Matt. 5:21-22)

                • We know that we are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we don’t (Matt. 5:43-44)

                • The list could go on and on

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit that I am not obeying God completely and ask Him to help me obey Him completely, each day.

                • Luke 9:23-25, Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. ​​ What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

                • We can trust that when we completely obey God, He will always fulfill His Word and keep His promises

          • We see the fulfillment of God’s Word in Jesus’ next statement

        • “I am thirsty”

          • Physically

            • We have already seen in verse 24 the connection to Psalm 22

              • Psalm 22:15, My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

              • Every one of us knows what it’s like to be really thirsty and to have a dry mouth, where our tongue sticks to the roof of our mouths

            • David, in Psalm 69, again references thirst and what was offered to quench thirst

              • Psalm 69:3, I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.

              • Psalm 69:21, They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

            • Jesus was certainly physically thirsty at this point

              • The beatings He’d endured, and having to carry His own cross to Golgotha resulted in dehydration

              • Jesus already knew what was coming next, so I believe He was preparing for His triumphant announcement – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves

            • Many scholars believe there is also a spiritual side to Jesus’ statement about being thirsty

          • Spiritually

            • Jesus knew that His departure from this world would usher in, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, on all His disciples

            • He was ready to return to heaven and see the ongoing fulfillment of the redemption story

            • Psalm 42:1-2, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. ​​ My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. ​​ When can I go and meet with God?

            • Paul understood this desire to be with the Lord

            • 2 Corinthians 5:6-9, Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. ​​ We live by faith, not by sight. ​​ We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. ​​ So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

            • We see then what the soldiers do in response to Jesus’ thirst

          • Relieving Jesus’ thirst

            • Wine vinegar

              • The soldiers would have had a jar of wine vinegar right there to keep themselves hydrated during the crucifixion

              • In most cases, it took days for the crucifixion to be completed

              • The wine vinegar was a cheap sour wine

              • It was different than the wine mixed with myrrh

                • John doesn’t mention this wine, but the Gospel writer, Mark, does

                • Mark 15:23, Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

                • As Jesus is being led through the city streets, there would have been charitable people, who had mixed this wine, to help those being crucified

                • It was considered a sedative and helped to dull the pain and agony of crucifixion [Carson, 620]

                • The wine vinegar would have helped to hydrate the individual, prolonging life, pain, and agony [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 550]

              • The soldier uses a sponge and a hyssop stalk to offer the wine vinegar to Jesus

            • Sponge and stalk of hyssop

              • Some people try to claim that Scripture is false, because of this reference to the use of a stalk of hyssop

                • Hyssop was a bush that could grow just about anywhere [show picture of hyssop]

                • It could grow from the crack in a stone wall

                • Its stalks/branches were very thin and flexible

                • So, how could a wine vinegar-soaked sponge be supported by a stalk of hyssop?

                • Two things to consider:

                  • Many of us think about the images we’ve seen in movies about the crucifixion [show first crucifixion picture] where the feet of the person being crucified is at head level with those on the ground

                  • More realistically, the individual’s feet were probably between 2-4 feet off the ground [show second crucifixion picture]

                  • The hyssop stalk would probably have been strong enough for the soldier to lift it just above his head to Jesus’ mouth

              • We weren’t there, so we don’t know exactly how it happened, but we can trust God’s Word – it is accurate and true

          • After Jesus has His thirst quenched, He makes a powerful proclamation

        • “It is finished”

          • Victory!

            • Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that after Jesus received the drink, He cried out in a loud voice

            • John is the only one who mentions that Jesus said, “It is finished!”

            • The drink enabled Him to loudly announce victory

            • “This confirms the sense we have seen throughout the Passion story that here Jesus is accomplishing what he intends. ​​ He is not a victim, but a servant doing God’s bidding. ​​ This is not a cry of desolation (‘At last it is over!’) but an announcement of triumph (‘It is accomplished!’).” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 529]

          • Handed over

            • “The verb ‘handed over’ comes as the last in a chain of occurrences of this verb. ​​ The devil through Judas Iscariot (13:2), ‘handed over’ Jesus to Caiaphas and the Jewish authorities (18:2), who ‘handed him over’ to Pilate (18:30), who ‘handed him over’ again to the Jews again for crucifixion (19:16). ​​ Now, Jesus himself ‘hands over’ himself – that is, his ‘Spirit’ – to someone, but to whom? . . . Quite clearly, Jesus ‘handed over the Spirit’ to the Father, just as in the other Gospels.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 965]

            • Jesus was not a victim, because He willingly laid down His life

            • God had given him the authority to do it

            • John 10:17-18, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. ​​ No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. ​​ I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. ​​ This command I received from my Father.”

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ death is our victory!

            • Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross and His triumphant announcement, “It is finished!”, we are able to be saved from our sins

              • Isaiah 53:6, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

              • Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

              • We can be healed from the scars of sin through Jesus Christ

              • We can be at peace with God, instead of rebellion against Him, through Jesus Christ

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit that I have turned to my own way, accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and be at peace with God.

          • Jesus’ death on the cross brings us victory over sin and death

          • God has promised us peace with him and healing from our sins when we turn to Jesus Christ

          • We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.

        • The second fulfillment of prophecy is found in verses 31-33 and 36

    • Prophecy of the bones (vv. 31-33, 36)

        • Special Sabbath

          • The day of Preparation was just that, the Jews were preparing for the Sabbath

            • This is one positive aspect of the Jews, mixed in with their betrayal and rejection of Jesus

            • They were preparing for the Sabbath

            • Sabbath was on Saturday and actually began Friday evening at sunset

            • We should pay attention to this important practice of preparing for the Sabbath

              • Our preparation for Sunday worship should begin Saturday evening

              • For many years we practiced this with our boys and taught them about the importance of preparing for Sunday

              • We usually didn’t have friends over on Saturday evenings to spend the night, unless they were going to church with us on Sunday

              • We rarely scheduled parties or other activities on Saturday evenings, so that we could prepare for Sunday

              • We would go to bed at a reasonable hour, so we would be able to get up and go to church on Sunday

              • If you aren’t preparing the night before for Sunday worship, I want to encourage you to consider making it a priority in your life

              • It can make all the difference!

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to preparing on Saturday evening for church on Sunday.

          • This was a special Sabbath because it fell during Passover and they had the special sheath offering during this time

        • Request of Pilate

          • Background

            • Roman crucifixion

              • It most instances, death by crucifixion took days

              • The impact was greater when criminals were left on the cross for multiple days

              • In fact, many times wild animals and carrion birds would come and feed on the rotting bodies still hanging on the cross

              • If the Romans needed to speed up the dying process, they would smash the legs of the individual with an iron mallet, so they would not be able to push themselves up and take a breath (they would die from suffocation)

            • Jewish law

              • The Jews were asking Pilate to speed up the dying process, because they didn’t want the bodies hanging on the crosses during the Sabbath

              • Their desire for this comes from their own laws

              • Deuteronomy 21:22-23, If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. ​​ Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. ​​ You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

              • The Jews obviously didn’t want the land to be desecrated, especially on this special Passover Sabbath

              • The Jews were aware of the Roman practice of breaking the criminal’s legs to speed up death, so they request that it be done and the bodies be taken down before sunset

            • Pilate agrees to their request and informs the soldiers

          • Broken bones

            • They begin with the two criminals on either side of Jesus

            • Why did they work from the outside in and not in a row?

            • We don’t know why they did it in this order, other than the sovereignty of God

          • No broken bones

            • When they came to Jesus, they recognized that He was already dead

              • We know that He had bowed His head

              • His body would have been still and He would not have been making any noise, at this point

              • Perhaps the other two men were still moving around on the cross and crying out in pain

            • John tells us in verse 36 that the soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs, because it was a fulfillment of Scripture

              • It is the sovereignty of God at work once again

              • We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.

              • Jesus was fulfilling and completing the sacrificial system that the Jews had lived under from the beginning

                • They were required to bring a perfect lamb, without blemish, as a sin offering (this only covered over their sins)

                • This lamb was not to have any broken bones and while they ate the sacrificial lamb, before the exodus, they were not to break any of its bones

                  • Exodus 12:46, “It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. ​​ Do not break any of the bones.”

                  • Numbers 9:12, They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. ​​ When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.

                • Jesus is identified as the Passover Lamb by Paul and Peter, so it’s appropriate that none of His bones were broken

                  • 1 Corinthians 5:7, Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – ​​ as you really are. ​​ For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

                  • 1 Peter 1:19, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

                  • Jesus was the perfect lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

                  • His sacrifice was once for all and it didn’t just cover over our sin, it took it away

              • We also see the fulfillment of Psalm 34:19-20

                • David is writing and explains that the Lord will protect the bones of a righteous man

                • Psalm 34:19-20, A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones.

                • Jesus was perfect, without sin (a righteous man) and the Lord protected His bones during the crucifixion

        • While two of the criminals had their legs broken, Jesus’ legs were not broken, which fulfilled Old Testament Scripture

        • Instead of breaking Jesus’ legs, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear

    • Prophecy of the piercing (vv. 34, 37)

        • When they pierced Jesus’ side blood and water came out

          • There are all kinds of speculation about the meaning of blood and water flowing from the spear wound

          • What did the spear actually pierce? ​​ (heart, lungs, etc.)

          • We know that it did not break any of the bones in His chest or side

          • Most scholars agree that John’s intention in mentioning blood and water flowing out, is to remove any doubt that Jesus was dead – He died a human death

          • Had He still been alive, only blood would have flowed out [Gangel, 354]

        • Fulfillment of Scripture

          • We see again that this act of piercing Jesus’ side happened to fulfill Scripture

          • God was in control of every circumstance surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection

          • We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.

            • Past: ​​ Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. ​​ They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

            • Future: ​​ Revelation 1:7, Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. ​​ So shall it be! ​​ Amen.

        • Jesus’ body being pierced instead of breaking His legs was a fulfillment of Scripture

        • John’s statement in verse 35 is really a fulfillment of Scripture too

    • Prophecy of the Gospel (v. 35)

        • Most scholars agree that John is the one who is being referred to here as the testimony giver

          • We already know that John was at the foot of the cross and had watched Jesus’ crucifixion and death

          • He was an eyewitness to the trial, flogging, crucifixion, and eventually resurrection and ascension

          • He would be the best person to give a testimony, as a first-hand observer/witness

        • John gives his testimony, so that those he is writing to will believe

          • The “you” in the Greek is plural

          • John is writing to us also – he is sharing his testimony of what he saw, so that we will believe in Jesus

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s desire is that we testify about Jesus, so others may believe.

          • This is His Great Command and Commission for His disciples (that’s includes us!)

          • Mark 16:15-16, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. ​​ Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

          • Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ​​ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

          • John was obediently fulfilling this command and commission and through that he was fulfilling the prophecy of the Gospel

          • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Testify about Jesus to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, so they may believe and be saved.


  • YOU

    • Are you obeying God completely?

    • Will you prepare on Saturday evening for Sunday morning?


  • WE

    • Are we making disciples?



“Frieda van Hessen was one of Holland’s foremost opera singers, but during the Nazi invasion she, as a Jew, was forced into hiding. ​​ In the providence of God, her life was spared. ​​ After the war someone told her she should convert from Judaism to Christianity, just in case something else was to happen. ​​ This suggestion nagged at her until she finally gave in and spoke to a minister. ​​ He set up a meeting for her with a Christian lady named Elizabeth who had converted from Judaism. ​​ Their Bible study turned into an argument. ​​ Frieda just couldn’t believe what she was reading from the Gospels. ​​ She accused Elizabeth of believing in fairy tales. ​​ After six weeks of fruitless arguments, they decided the next week would be their last meeting. ​​ Elizabeth asked Frieda to read two chapters from the Old Testament before their last meeting – Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. ​​ Frieda writes about that week:


Six days went by, and I could no longer procrastinate. ​​ I went to a small room in the house, closed the door, and opened up the Bible. . . . God, in His wisdom, had said to Elizabeth, ‘Tell her to read Psalm 22.’ ​​ . . . I found it, and what did I see: ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ ​​ I . . . remembered that in Bach’s ‘St. Matthew’s Passion,’ the basso, portraying the Lord, sings, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ ​​ Still in my rebellion, I said, ‘What do you know, they stole this from Bach!’


Oh, God is so wise! ​​ This finally got my attention. ​​ Now I wanted to continue reading to see what else had been ‘stolen’ from Bach! ​​ Then I came to verse 16, and read, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet.’ ​​ Almost in shock, I literally yelled out ‘That’s Jesus!’


I knew that Jesus died in that devastating way. ​​ The Jews stoned people to death but did not crucify them. ​​ Crucifixion was a Roman death penalty. ​​ Yet David wrote Psalm 22, prophesying this form of death hundreds of years before crucifixion was ever invented and practiced by the Romans.


Then I reread Isaiah 53, and clearly understood that it described the whole crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. ​​ Instantly, God had taken the blinders off my eyes and Satan was defeated! ​​ I called Elizabeth, who came over immediately, and together we read Isaiah 53. ​​ Then, all of it became very clear to me: ​​ how ‘He was despised and rejected of men,’ how He was a ‘man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’ how ‘we hid our faces from Him,’ how ‘He had been afflicted and wounded for our transgressions,’ and how ‘with His stripes we are healed.’


I realized how ‘all of us, like sheep, have gone astray,’ and how ‘He died for our iniquities.’ ​​ Yes, for my sins too.


I reasoned that if David . . . and Isaiah . . . both knew Him, and Paul, a Pharisee, saw Him and knew Him, then I needed no further proof. ​​ I accepted Him too, as my Lord and Savior. ​​ (Roos-Van Hessen, Life, 190-92).


[Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 374-75].




King of Kings

(John 19:16b-27)



“Richard Dawkins is the author of The God Delusion. He was formerly Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He once debated John Lennox who is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. They debated the existence of God. At one point Dawkins says of John Lennox:


He believes that the creator of the universe, the God who devised the laws of physics, the laws of mathematics, the physical constants … that this genius of mathematics and physical science could not think of a better way to rid the world of sin than to come to this little speck of cosmic dust and have himself tortured and executed so that he could forgive.


That, says Dawkins, is profoundly unscientific. Not only is it unscientific, but it doesn't do justice to the grandeur of the universe. Why would God bother entering into our small and broken planet? Dawkins chided Lennox and all Christians for believing in that kind of God.


God’s only and eternal Son on a Roman cross? Despised and rejected by men on this tiny planet. It’s like being blind-sided in the subway station on a Friday morning in Washington DC in a hurry to get to work and you pass by one of the most brilliant violinists in the world playing some of the most beautiful music in the world on one of the most expensive violins in the world. You don’t expect to see the master violinist performing in such a dirty, undignified place. But that is the very point. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners.”


Charles Price in his sermon: “God's Power in Unexpected Places,” PreachingToday.Com (March, 2014).





  • ME

    • Confused by teenagers

        • I’ve been confused by teenagers and how and why they do things

        • What doesn’t make logical sense to me, makes perfect sense to them

          • They just ate, but now they have to run to a restaurant or convenience store to get more food, because they’re hungry

          • There’s perfectly good food in the house, but there’s nothing good to eat

          • They just left spending time with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but now they have to text them, Snapchat them, Instagram them, call them, etc.

          • They have friends over to hang out, but either play a one-player game on their game system or they all sit around spending time on their phones, not talking to each other

    • Confused in a conversation

        • There have been times when I’m confused in a conversation, because the person started the conversation in their mind and when they begin to verbalize the conversation they are part way through it

        • I always have to stop them and asked a few questions, to get caught up with the “private” part of the conversation

    • God’s sovereignty

        • There have been times in my life when I have been confused by God’s plan for my life

        • I entered college without knowing what I wanted to major in

        • I’ve left jobs, without knowing where God was leading

        • But what I’ve found is that while I may initially be confused by God’s leading and His plan, His sovereign will has always been what is right for me


  • WE

    • Perhaps we have all experienced at least one if not all three of these scenarios in our own lives

    • It can be frustrating, but God’s sovereignty is always best for us


As Jesus is led away to be crucified, we’ll see God’s sovereignty at work as Scripture is fulfilled again and again and as Pilate gives Jesus the correct title. ​​ Through this passage, John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – God is sovereign.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 19:16b-27)

    • Christ’s Cross (vv. 16b-18)

        • The Roman soldiers take charge of Jesus (NIV)

          • This makes the most sense as we continue to look at this passage

          • Most other translations simply say that “they” took charge of Jesus

          • As a condemned person of the Roman state, it would have been the task of the Roman soldiers to lead a prisoner through the city streets, making sure that everyone saw the sign that identified their crime(s)

          • Since crucifixion was the punishment, it was the responsibility of the Roman soldiers to take charge of Jesus

        • Jesus is carrying His own cross at this point

          • The soldiers and Jesus would have left the praetorium and started their journey through the city streets

            • After being beaten, the soldiers would parade the prisoner through the city streets, using the longest route possible, to the location of the crucifixion

            • This served two purposes:

              • It allowed for the largest number of people to see the charges of the accused

              • It would prolong and increase the suffering of the prisoner

            • The Roman soldiers perhaps found great satisfaction in causing the greatest amount of pain and suffering

          • Simon of Cyrene

            • While John doesn’t mention Simon of Cyrene, it doesn’t mean that John’s Gospel is in conflict with the Synoptic Gospels

            • John simply says that Jesus was carrying His own cross, which is true when they started out

            • At some point along the arduous route, the Roman soldiers force Simon of Cyrene to finish carrying Jesus’ cross

          • The cross

            • Most images of Jesus carrying His cross show the horizontal and vertical pieces together [show image]

            • It was most likely that Jesus was only carrying the cross beam (the horizontal part) [show image]

            • “The upright piece normally was stationed at the execution site, and the victim would then carry the heavy cross piece to which he would later be attached at the site. ​​ The cross piece with the victim attached to it would then be raised and fixed or dropped onto the upright pole through a slot in the cross piece.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 262]

          • Jesus is carrying his cross to a location just outside the city gates

        • The location

          • This would have been a high traffic area for people coming and going into the city

            • Choosing a high traffic area was intentional

            • The Roman officials wanted to make sure that as many people as possible would see what happens to those who disobey Roman law

            • It was designed as a visual deterrent for anyone thinking about rebelling or pursuing evil

          • Several names, same meaning

            • Primary – place of the Skull

            • Aramaic – gulgoltâ (Golgotha is an English transliteration of the Greek, which is a transliteration of the Aramaic) [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 609]

            • Latin – calvaria also means “skull” and is where we get our English word “Calvary” [Carson, 609]

          • John also tells us that Jesus was not crucified alone

        • Between two others

          • There were two other men who were crucified at the same time – one on either side of Jesus

          • “The ‘two others,’ identified more explicitly in Matthew (27:38) and in Mark (15:27) as ‘terrorists’ and in Luke (23:33) as ‘criminals,’ are introduced abruptly, with no explanation as to why they are being crucified . . .” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 949]

          • Some believe that they were friends of Barabbas and had been arrested for being insurrectionists/rebels

          • Some see a fulfillment of the Isaiah and the Psalmist’s words

            • Isaiah 53:12, Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. ​​ For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

            • Psalm 22:16, Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. ​​ (it could also represent the soldiers)

          • If Isaiah and the Psalmist are speaking of the two criminals in these passages, then we see the sovereignty of God through the fulfilling of Scripture

          • God is sovereign!

        • John gives us an aside that helps us continue to understand God’s sovereignty in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus

    • Christ’s Crown (vv. 19-22)

        • Pilate’s notice

          • Pilate probably told the soldiers what to write about Jesus

            • It’s unlikely that Pilate wrote the notice himself

            • It was then attached to Jesus cross

          • Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews

            • The first part is the identification of the prisoner

              • They listed His name

              • They also listed where He was from

            • The second part was His crime

              • Pilate put down what the Jews had determined in their trial, but had refused to tell him

              • The Jews had determined that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, because He said He was equal with God

              • Matthew 26:63b-65, The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: ​​ Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” ​​ “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. ​​ “But I say to all of you: ​​ In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” ​​ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! ​​ Why do we need any more witnesses? ​​ Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. ​​ What do you think?” ​​ “He is worthy of death,” they answered.

              • Pilate, through the sovereignty of God, makes Jesus equal with God – he exalts Him to the throne

              • While Jesus is certainly King of the Jews, He is far more than that – He is King of kings!

            • “This notice serves to indicate at least three things: (1) Jesus’ conviction on the charge of treason; (2) Pilate’s resentful exacting of a small measure of revenge upon the Jews; and (3) symbolism regarding Jesus being the Savior of the world (Carson 1991: 611).” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 544]

            • John tells us that many Jews read the sign, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city (again in a high traffic area, during Passover, with hundreds of thousands of people in Jerusalem)

          • Written in three languages

            • Common languages of the day

              • Pilate’s notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek

              • Aramaic was the language of religion (the Jews, Judea)

              • Latin was the language of government (the Romans)

              • Greek was the language of commerce (everyone spoke Greek)

              • Having the notice written in the three common languages of the day served to make sure that everyone knew the charges against the accused

              • No one could claim ignorance

            • Symbolism of the three languages

              • Many scholars see symbolism in the notice being written in the three common languages of the day

              • The symbolism is that while Jesus is accused of being King of the Jews, His kingdom, once established, would be for everyone!

              • We know this to be true even 2,000 years later

              • Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension made a way for all of humanity to be in a right relationship with God

                • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

                • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

                • 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21, We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. ​​ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins, believe in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, and receive God’s eternal life.

          • While Pilate exalts Jesus to the throne, the Jewish religious leaders are not happy about it

        • The chief priests protest

          • The chief priests understood the significance of Pilate’s notice

            • It wasn’t lost on them that the notice was being read by thousands of people

            • They wanted Pilate to change it, so that everyone who read it would not associate Jesus of Nazareth with their religious beliefs and practices – He was not their king!

            • That was the whole purpose in why they wanted Him dead

            • They wanted Pilate to change the notice to read that Jesus said, “I am the King of the Jews.” (NASB, NLT, ESV)

            • It was a way of differentiating between Jesus and the Jewish religion

          • Pilate’s response

            • “No, I’m not going to change it.”

            • “What I have written, I have written.”

            • We see God’s sovereignty again!

              • With whatever intentions Pilate wrote the notice, God, in His sovereignty, used it to announce Jesus’ kingship, authority, and power

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is King of kings; no matter what others think or say.

                • Scripture tells us this

                  • Philippians 2:9, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name

                  • Ephesians 1:19b-21, That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

                  • Revelation 19:16, On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

                • Our culture

                  • Over the years, our educational system has tried to rewrite history, by taking God and religion out of the lives of our founding fathers and out of our textbooks

                  • They have also tried to take God and Jesus out of schools, by eliminating prayer and telling students they can’t bring their Bibles to school

                  • There are individuals who try to say that Jesus was a good person, a great teacher, a prophet (perhaps), but not the Son of God

                  • Unbelievers don’t want to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives

                  • But no matter what our culture thinks or says, it doesn’t change, eliminate, or remove the fact that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords

                • We can and should rejoice in this fact today

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the sovereign God, who established Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

        • We saw the sovereignty of God through Pilate’s notice, but we also see it through the dividing of Jesus’ clothing

    • Christ’s Clothing (vv. 23-24)

        • God used a tradition that had probably been established for years in order to accomplish His sovereign will and plan

          • However this custom began, it was well established by the time of Jesus’ crucifixion

            • I can imagine that, initially, the pieces of clothing were probably discarded

            • Then one day, one of the soldiers realizes that an article of clothing from someone who was crucified was in better condition than the piece of clothing he owned

            • He decides to take the piece of clothing and before you know it, the other soldiers are looking at the condemned criminals in a different light (we need to make sure we flog them after we get that nice robe off)

            • Maybe they’re even talking about who is going to get which article of clothing as they’re parading the criminal through the streets of the city

            • All of this happens under the divine sovereignty of God Almighty

          • Jesus’ clothing

            • There were obviously five articles of clothing and four soldiers who were tasked with crucifying Jesus

            • The four articles of clothing that were divided were probably His head covering (turban?), a belt, possibly sandals, and an outer cloak [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 527]

            • The fifth piece of clothing would have been His tunic (“undergarment”)

              • John tells us that it was woven as one piece from top to bottom

              • There were no seams, because it was one piece

              • This was a common practice in the 1st Century

              • It also protected Jews from breaking Jewish law

                • Deuteronomy 22:11, Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.

                • If the tunic was woven in one piece, with no seams, they could ensure that it would not break this law

            • Instead of cutting the tunic into four pieces, the soldiers decide to cast lots to see who would get the full tunic

          • Fulfillment of Scripture

            • The casting of lots for Jesus’ tunic happened to fulfill Old Testament Scripture

            • Psalm 22:18, They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

            • God is sovereign!

          • God’s sovereignty is still evident today

        • Application

          • What is God’s sovereignty?

            • Sovereignty is power and authority displayed by God

              • Sovereignty – God has the right to rule and He rules rightly

              • Sovereignty – God has the right to plan my life. ​​ He has the right to rule and make any decision He wants to. ​​ He has the right change things.

              • Psalm 22:28, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.

              • Isaiah 44:6, “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

            • Do you believe that God has the right plan for your life?

              • Perhaps you’re looking for a husband or a wife and you’re wondering if God is every going to bring the right person into your life

              • Maybe you’re trying to decide about college or entering the work force

              • You may be trying to figure out the next step in your career

              • Some of you may be trying to decide whether or not to move

              • Others of you are struggling with financial decisions

              • There may be someone here who is struggling with spiritual decisions (submitting to Jesus, determining where you should be going to church, trying to decide whether or not to go to church at all)

              • Everyone is probably struggling with how to act and react to COVID-19 and the civil unrest in our country

              • Our church is praying about the next step that God wants for us

            • In God’s sovereignty, He has the right plan for your life

              • Are you trusting Him for the right plan?

              • Are you asking Him to reveal to you His plan?

              • Are you sacrificing other things (food, recreation, etc.) in order to seek His face about His plan for you?

            • God’s sovereignty is always best for us!

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek God for His sovereign plan for me and then trust Him to fulfill it.

        • God fulfilled His sovereign plan of redemption through Pilate two criminals, and four soldiers, so He can fulfill His sovereign for you

        • In the final three verses, this morning, we see the beautiful fulfillment of a Son’s commitment to His mother

    • Christ’s Commitment (vv. 25-27)

        • Faithful followers

          • There are four women and one man who are at the place of the skull – they are right there with Jesus until the very end

          • Matthew and Mark state that there were more woman there, but John only mentions these four

          • Four woman

            • Jesus’ mother, Mary

            • Mary’s sister, perhaps Salome (James and Greater and John’s mother)

            • Mary the wife of Clopas (the mother of James the Less and Joses)

            • Mary Magdalene

          • One man

            • John doesn’t mention his own name, but uses the term that Jesus used for him – the disciple whom He loved

            • If Jesus’ mother’s sister is Salome, then John the Beloved would have been Jesus’ cousin

            • This would make Jesus’ next statement more understandable

          • Jesus was the first-born son of Mary and with that distinction came some responsibility

        • Fulfillment of first-born responsibility

          • Most scholars agree that Mary was probably widowed at this point, otherwise Joseph would have provided for her and taken care of her

          • Jesus’ half-brothers were not yet His disciples

          • “The traditional role of the oldest son in a Jewish family was to provide for the care of the mother when the husband or father of the house was no longer around to care for the mother. ​​ It seems clear that Jesus here fulfilled his family responsibility as a dutiful son.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 269]

          • Jesus completes His commitment as the first-born son and ensures that His mother will be taken care of after He is gone

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we honor our parents.

          • Jesus gave us a beautiful example of honoring His mother to the very end

          • Scripture support

            • Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

            • Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ​​ “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

            • 1 Timothy 5:8, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

          • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Honor my parents by taking care of them.


  • YOU

    • Have I accepted God’s sovereign of redemption?

    • Have I worshiped God for establishing Jesus as the King of kings?

    • Am I trusting God’s sovereign plan for my life?

    • Am I honoring my parents by taking care of them?


  • WE

    • God’s sovereign plan is always best for us, so will you commit to pray with the leadership of the church for His next step for us?



“In her book The God Who Hung on the Cross, journalist Ellen Vaughn retells a gripping story of how the Gospel came to a small village in Cambodia. In September 1999 Pastor Tuy Seng (not his real name) traveled to Kampong Thom Province in northern Cambodia. Throughout that isolated area, most villagers had cast their lot with Buddhism or spiritism. Christianity was virtually unheard of.


But much to Seng's surprise, when he arrived in one small, rural village the people warmly embraced him and his message about Jesus. When he asked the villagers about their openness to the gospel, an old woman shuffled forward, bowed, and grasped Seng's hands as she said, ‘We have been waiting for you for twenty years.’ And then she told him the story of the mysterious God who had hung on the cross.


In the 1970s the Khmer Rouge, the brutal, Communist-led regime, took over Cambodia, destroying everything in its path. When the soldiers finally descended on this rural, northern village in 1979, they immediately rounded up the villagers and forced them to start digging their own graves. After the villagers had finished digging, they prepared themselves to die. Some screamed to Buddha, others screamed to demon spirits or to their ancestors.


One of the women started to cry for help based on a childhood memory—a story her mother told her about a God who had hung on a cross. The woman prayed to that unknown God on a cross. Surely, if this God had known suffering, he would have compassion on their plight.


Suddenly, her solitary cry became one great wail as the entire village started praying to the God who had suffered and hung on a cross. As they continued facing their own graves, the wailing slowly turned to a quiet crying. There was an eerie silence in the muggy jungle air. Slowly, as they dared to turn around and face their captors, they discovered that the soldiers were gone.


As the old woman finished telling this story, she told Pastor Seng that ever since that humid day from 20 years ago the villagers had been waiting, waiting for someone to come and share the rest of the story about the God who had hung on a cross.”


Doris I. Rosser & Ellen Vaughn, The God Who Hung on the Cross (Zondervan, 2003), pp. 35-37.




God is sovereign!




Choosing Sides

(John 18:28-40)



“While serving as a missionary in Laos, I discovered an illustration of the kingdom of God. Before the colonialists imposed national boundaries, the kings of Laos and Vietnam reached an agreement on taxation in the border areas. Those who ate short-grain rice, built their houses on stilts, and decorated them with Indian-style serpents were considered Laotians. On the other hand, those who ate long-grain rice, built their houses on the ground, and decorated them with Chinese-style dragons were considered Vietnamese. The exact location of a person's home was not what determined his or her nationality. Instead, each person belonged to the kingdom whose cultural values he or she exhibited. So it is with us: we live in the world, but as part of God's kingdom, we are to live according to his kingdom's standards and values.”


John Hess-Yoder, Portland, Oregon. Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.





  • ME

    • Calvinist or Arminian

        • When I first started working in ministry over 24 years ago, I was asked about my doctrinal beliefs

        • There are basically two main branches, Calvinism and Arminianism

        • I didn’t know how to answer, because I had never been taught what they were or their differences

        • So, I called my Dad, who had been my pastor for all of my life up to that point and asked him

        • He had never specifically taught us about those two doctrinal beliefs, but instead taught us about the Gospel of Jesus Christ

        • After spending time studying the two doctrinal beliefs, I can say with confidence that I am neither

        • I am simply what my Dad taught me growing up, a Christian!

        • I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, which is better than claiming either of the other two doctrinal belief systems

          • Here is why – Calvin and Arminius were both human beings, and as such, struggled as fallible sinners, just like me

          • Jesus is holy and perfect, without sin

          • That is why I am His disciple and adhere to His doctrine taught in His Word

        • When pressured to choose sides, I did, but it wasn’t in the way that the individuals thought I would

        • I chose truth, by choosing to obey and follow Jesus instead of man’s understanding

        • This statement is not original to me or the person who told it to me, but it’s powerful nonetheless – “I pray like a Calvinist, like it’s all up to God, and I work like an Arminianist like it’s all up to me.”

        • I think that covers it


  • WE

    • When was a time when you were forced to choose sides?

    • Perhaps it was a choice between truth and falsehood

    • What was the outcome?


The Jews and Pilate both have a choice to make when it came to Jesus. ​​ Pilate would have to choose whether or not to side with truth or be swayed by the crowd. ​​ The Jews would have to choose between innocence and guilt. ​​ John wants us to wrestle with the same thing. ​​ Will we choose truth or not?  ​​​​ Will we choose innocence or guilt? ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Obeying Jesus’ words shows we have chosen truth.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 18:28-40)

    • Charges (vv. 28-32)

        • Movements of Jesus

          • Trial with Caiaphas (v. 28a)

            • We saw last week that Annas sent Jesus, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest (John 18:24)

            • John’s Gospel does not record the trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, but Matthew (26:57-68) and Mark (14:53-65) do

            • Many scholars believe that Peter’s first denial came while Jesus was being questioned by Annas and the final two denials came while Jesus was being questioned by Caiaphas

              • It’s probable that the same courtyard serviced both Annas and Caiaphas’ residences

              • So, Peter would have been warming himself around the same fire, while Jesus would have been shifted from one residence to the next

          • Trial with Pilate

            • After Jesus agrees that He is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One (Mark 14:61b), the Jews condemn Him as worthy of death as a blasphemer (Mark 14:64)

            • They transition Jesus from Caiaphas’ residence to the Roman governor’s palace

              • The Roman governor normally resided in the praetorium at Caesarea Maritima with the Roman soldiers on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea

              • He would come to Jerusalem during the high feast times to ensure peace

              • There are two potential locations for the governor’s palace or praetorium [show map]

                • Herod’s Royal Palace with its three great towers that helped with defense on the Western Gate [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 237]

                • This location would have been closer to the traditional site of Caiaphas’s house

                • The other, less likely, location would have been the Fortress of Antonia on the northwest corner of the Temple

          • John gives us a timestamp and an interesting ironic situation with the Jews

        • Religion over relationship (v. 28b)

          • It was early morning

            • While the Greek word for early morning is ambiguous, it is probable that Jesus was taken to Pilate before 6:00 am

            • The last watch of the night was called “early morning” or “dawning” and included the hours of 3:00 am to 6:00 am [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 588; Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 523-24]

            • This would not have been considered inappropriate or egregious to call on the Roman governor at this early hour, because many of the Roman officials would rise early and complete their work by 11:00 am or 12:00 pm

            • Pilate would probably have already been awake and perhaps working by this time

          • Choosing religion over relationship

            • The Jews were so concerned about the religious practice of remaining ceremonially clean, so they could eat the Passover, that they failed to see how condemning an innocent man to death would make them unclean before God

            • They were willing to use a Gentile governor to accomplish their goal, but would not set foot in his palace for fear of becoming unclean [Köstenberger, 524]

            • The irony should be striking to us – they were choosing religious practice over a relationship with Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ

              • I want to caution us not to be too harsh with the Jews, because God was using their rejection of Jesus, and focus on religion, to bring about salvation for all of humanity

              • This salvation would include Jews and Gentiles

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people choose relationship over religion.

              • We too can get caught up in choosing religion over relationship

              • It happens with our relationship with God and Jesus

                • We can focus so much on the disciplines associated with being a Christian that we neglect the relationship with God and Jesus

                • We can become legalistic about reading the Bible, praying, attending church, serving others, giving to the Lord, and so much more

                • “Receiving baptism (by whatever mode), taking communion (in whatever church), attending worship (with whatever regularity), offering prayers (of whatever length), giving money (of whatever amount), in themselves do not, have not, will not, and cannot save us from our sins and their inevitable judgment. ​​ ‘Religion’ cannot achieve redemption; ceremonies cannot save.” ​​ [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of John, 264]

                • We can do these things with the wrong attitude and with the wrong intentions

                • We focus on the act instead of the reason for the act

                • Spiritual disciplines should be done not to be accepted by God, but because we love God and value our relationship with Him

                • Anytime we want to get to know someone, we spend time with them, we ask questions, we participate in things that they value and enjoy

                • The same should be true of our relationship with Jesus and God

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Practice spiritual disciplines out of love for God, instead of a desire to be accepted by God.

              • It can also happen with our relationships with other believers

                • We can become judgmental and critical of other believers who are not living out their faith like we are

                • In an attempt to “help” them we actually hurt the relationship, because we don’t confront in love

                • Confrontation is needed, but let me tell you, it’s hard to do, in love, with pure intentions

                • We are sinners, first and foremost, and those sinful desires, thoughts, feelings, and actions tend to surface before the godly, humble, and loving desires, thoughts, feelings, and actions

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Holy Spirit to help me, when I need to confront other believers, to do it with a godly, humble, and loving attitude, so they will know that I value the relationship over religion.

                • When we approach confrontation this way, we are obeying Jesus’ words and showing that we have chosen truth

          • While Pilate was not a Jew, he understood Jewish culture and their religious practices, so he came out to talk with the Jews

        • What charges? (vv. 29-32)

          • Pilate asked the Jews what charges they were bringing against Jesus

            • They could have listed at least seven [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 335]

              • He threatens to destroy the temple (Matt. 26:61)

              • He is an evildoer (Luke 23:2)

              • He perverts the nation (Luke 23:2)

              • He has forbidden the Jews to pay taxes (Luke 23:2)

              • He is a revolutionary agitator (Luke 23:2)

              • He makes himself king (Luke 23:2)

              • He claims to be the Son of God (John 19:7)

            • Instead they don’t list any of those charges

          • Their response says volumes

            • Notice that they don’t answer Pilate with any charges

            • They say they wouldn’t have handed Him over to him if weren’t a criminal

            • They’re hoping that Pilate will simply rubber-stamp the decision of the Sanhedrin, but he doesn’t

            • If you remember, the Sanhedrin had many false witnesses that came forward to testify against Jesus, but none of their testimonies matched

            • Even the two witnesses that testified that Jesus said He would destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it again in three days, did not agree

            • The high priest eventually asks Jesus, directly, if He is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One

            • When Jesus answers affirmatively, they charge Him with blasphemy, which wasn’t a crime in a Roman court of law

          • Pilate sees through their smokescreen

            • He knows that Jesus has not broken any Roman law, so he challenges the Jews to judge Jesus by their own law

            • This wouldn’t work for two reasons

              • First, the Jews did not have the power to execute anyone

                • The right to execute someone was highly prized and protected by the Roman Empire in the 1st Century

                • It provided a level of power that no one else had

                • Certainly we see in the book of Acts that the Jews stoned Stephen

                  • Jews certainly killed people in the 1st Century for breaking Jewish law, but most of the time it came as a result of a mob mentality and not something organized and planned

                  • The Jews were given authority by Rome to kill anyone who violated the Temple area whether Jew or Gentile, whether a Roman citizen or not (there was no need for a trial, because justice was enacted immediately, probably by the Temple guards)

                  • The form of execution that was available to the Jews was stoning and not crucifixion on a cross

                  • The Old Testament outlined that stoning was the appropriate form of death for anyone who blasphemed

                • So, the Jews didn’t have the authority to execute Jesus, but there is a much greater reason why this wouldn’t work to judge Jesus by Jewish law

              • Second, the form of execution would not have fulfilled what Jesus had already said about how He would die

                • Jesus mentions multiple times throughout the Gospels about the fact that He would be lifted up

                  • This was a reference to the fact that He would be crucified

                  • Matthew 20:18-19, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. ​​ They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. ​​ On the third day he will be raised to life!”

                  • John 12:32-33, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” ​​ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

                • Both Jews and Gentiles were under Roman law, so when Jesus died the Roman death, crucifixion, He was dying for all of humanity and not just the Jews

            • Pilate knew the Jews intentions for bringing Jesus to him and he knew why they were being evasive when he asked them about the charges they were bringing against Jesus

              • In a far greater and more perfect way, God knows the intentions of our hearts

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God knows the intentions of our hearts.

              • He knows when we are genuinely seeking a personal relationship with Him instead of doing spiritual disciplines for His approval

              • He knows our intentions when we confront other believers about their walk with the Lord – whether those intentions are selfish or selfless

              • He even knows our intentions for befriending someone, giving to an individual or organization, serving the poor, seeking riches, etc.

              • God is all-knowing, so nothing we think, say, or do is lost on Him

              • Perhaps we all can remember a situation where our intentions were not pure and genuine, but rather self-seeking

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to reveal if I am thinking, saying, or doing anything with selfish intentions and then confess that to Him.

        • John transitions the scene by telling us that Pilate went back inside the palace to question Jesus

    • Truth (vv. 33-38a)

        • Pilate was doing his due diligence instead of just taking the Jews word for it – he wanted to know for himself if Jesus was guilty of any crime against the empire

        • Pilate’s questions

          • Question 1 – “Are you the king of the Jews?”

            • Pilate and the Jews must have had an additional conversation about Jesus, for him to ask this question of Jesus

              • Where would Pilate get the idea of Jesus being king of the Jews”

              • Luke 23:2, And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. ​​ He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”

              • Pilate is trying to determine if Jesus is going to be a political threat to the Roman Empire [Köstenberger, 527]

              • “Are you a claimant-king challenging Rome?” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 500]

              • That would change everything – it would be Pilate’s problem and not a Jewish law issue at that point

            • Jesus’ response to the question

              • Did you come up with that question on your own?

              • Have you talked with others about me?

            • Pilate’s response

              • Pilate seems to be saying, “It’s obvious that I’ve spoken with others about you. ​​ I’m not Jewish, so how would I know if You are king of the Jews?”

              • Pilate reminds Jesus that it was His people and His chief priests who handed Him over to Pilate

                • This is an interesting statement

                • Pilate is simply saying that it was the Jews and their leaders who are accusing Jesus

                • Pilate realized that Jesus was also Jewish

            • Pilate then asks his second question

          • Question 2 – “What is it you have done?”

            • Jesus doesn’t answer Pilate’s question directly

              • Instead He continues to answer Pilate’s first question about being a king and kingdom

                • Jesus reassures Pilate that He is not starting a rebellion against the Roman Empire

                • He is not a political revolutionary agitator

                • Jesus lets Pilate know that if His intentions were political in nature that His servants would fight to prevent His arrest by the Jews

                  • Peter did attempt to fight for Jesus, but we learned that his power was misplaced

                  • Jesus quickly took care of Peter’s misplaced power by telling him to put his sword away

                  • That was not how Jesus was going to initiate and begin His kingdom

                  • His spiritual kingdom was going to be established in a way that was completely opposite of how the world established their kingdoms

                • Jesus’ kingdom is from another place, it is not of this world (both positive and negative)

                • Pilate could rest easy that Jesus was not gunning for His position or the emperor’s position

              • Pilate then makes the statement about Jesus being a king

                • Jesus affirms Pilate’s statement – “You’re right!”

                • The reason that Jesus was born and came into the world was to establish His spiritual kingdom in the hearts of humanity

                • He does this by testifying to the truth

                • Jesus then tells Pilate that everyone on the side of truth listens to Him

                • Obeying Jesus’ words shows we have chosen truth.

                  • This is key (the Jews have a choice, Pilate has a choice, we have a choice)

                  • Are we going to choose truth as Jesus has testified about it?

                  • We have His Words in Holy Scripture – we know what He said – we can and should listen to Him

                  • Have you chosen truth today?

                  • Have you chosen Jesus today?

                  • Jesus came into the world, so that we could choose truth and restore a right relationship with God

                • The Jews were not choosing Jesus’ truth, but rather their own version of truth

                • What would Pilate choose?

            • We don’t have to guess what his choice was

          • Question 3 – “What is truth?”

            • Pilate probably asks this question as he is turning to go back outside to address the Jews

            • He doesn’t wait for Jesus’ answer to his question

            • Perhaps he thought that truth was relative and there was no solid answer for that question

            • It seems as though Pilate is cynical about truth

        • Pilate still has a choice to make at his point – will he do what he knows is right or will he compromise?

    • Choice (vv. 38b-40)

        • Innocent

          • Pilate’s verdict, after questioning Jesus, is that He is innocent

          • Pilate can’t find any basis, in the Roman law, for a charge against Jesus

          • He isn’t going to try to judge Jesus based on Jewish law – that’s not his area of responsibility

          • He is trying to protect his position by avoiding any kind of riot or uprising from the Jews, so he offers what he believes is a compromise that will ensure Jesus’ release

        • Compromise

          • Pilate is willing to honor the custom of releasing one prisoner at the time of Passover

          • He recommends releasing “the king of the Jews,” Jesus

          • The crowd shouted back that they didn’t want Jesus released, but rather Barabbas

            • Barabbas was actually guilty of insurrection/rebellion against Rome

            • They wanted a guilty man to be released instead of an innocent one

          • Pilate’s hope of releasing Jesus through the custom had backfired on him

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Doing what’s right is better than compromising.

            • Pilate realized that too late – he couldn’t back out now

            • He valued his position more than doing what was right

            • Application

              • We are just as guilty of doing the same thing

              • We may know what the right thing to do is, but out of fear of losing our position or status, we compromise and give in to the loudest voices

              • There are times when compromising actually backfires on us and we still can lose our position and status

              • We should always do what is right, even if it means sacrificing our position or status

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose to do what is right in every situation.


  • YOU

    • What’s the reason why you are practicing in spiritual disciplines?

    • Are you valuing relationships over religion?

    • Are there any selfish intentions that you need to confess to the Lord?

    • Will you choose to do what is right in every situation?


  • WE

    • We need to choose truth



“When Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, George Shultz kept a large globe in his office. When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them. He would say, ‘You have to go over the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country.’ They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent--unerringly.


When Shultz's old friend and former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan, even he was put to the test. This time, however, Ambassador Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: ‘That's my country.’


On June 27, 1993, Shultz related this to Brian Lamb on C-Span's ‘Booknotes.’ Said the secretary: ‘I've told that story, subsequently, to all the ambassadors going out. ‘Never forget you're over there in that country, but your country is the United States. You're there to represent us. Take care of our interests and never forget it, and you're representing the best country in the world.’’”

Dr. Wallace Alcorn. From the files of Leadership.






Under Fire

(John 18:12-27)



“Sports fans around the world can rely on one fact about their sport: the home team wins more often than the visiting team. A 2011 Sports Illustrated article concludes: ‘Home field advantage is no myth. Indisputably, it exists …. Across all sports and at all levels, from Japanese baseball to Brazilian soccer to the NFL, the team hosting a game wins more often than not.’ What explains this fact?


A wealth of evidence disputes the most common theories behind home team advantage. For instance, thousands of cheering or jeering fans didn't change a team's performance. On a number of statistics—such as pitch velocity in baseball or free throw percentage in basketball (which over two decades was 75.9 percent for home and visiting teams)—home field advantage didn't make a difference. Their research also eliminated other likely theories based on the rigors of travel for the visiting team or the home team's familiarity with their field, rink, or court.


So what drives home field advantage? According to the authors of the article, ‘Officials’ bias is the most significant contribution to home field advantage.’ In short, the refs don't like to get booed. So when the game gets close, they call fewer fouls or penalties against the home team; or they call more strikes against visiting batters. Larger and louder fans really do influence the calls from the officials. The refs naturally (and often unconsciously) respond to the pressure from the crowd. Then they try to please the angry fans and make the calls that will lessen the pain of crowd disapproval. In the end, the refs’ people-pleasing response can have an impact on the final result of the game.”


Matt Woodley, managing editor of; source: Tobias Moskowitz & L. John Wertheim, "What's Really Behind Home Field Advantage," Sports Illustrated (1-17-11).





  • ME

    • Toilet papering a friend’s house


    • Being offered some vodka in high school


  • WE

    • We can all probably think of a time when we have folded under the pressure of family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.?

    • Perhaps we can all remember a situation when we held our ground when no one else did


After Jesus was found in the garden, He was arrested and taken to Annas for questioning. ​​ He denies nothing during the questioning and stands strong under pressure. ​​ Peter, on the other hand, denies everything when questioned in the courtyard. ​​ Because of Jesus’ great love for Peter and for us, we can trust that . . .


BIG IDEA – Jesus will defend us even when we deny Him.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 18:12-27)

    • Jesus holds (vv. 12-14, 19-24)

        • Jesus is arrested

          • Commander of the soldiers

            • The commander was not mentioned until now, probably because it was assumed that there was a commander with the 600 soldiers

            • Judas had led the detachment of soldiers to the garden where Jesus was, but now we see that the commander of the soldiers is in control of leading them back to the Fortress of Antonia

          • The commander and his soldiers, along with the Jewish officials, arrest Jesus

          • They bound Jesus even though they wouldn’t have had to, because Jesus willingly offered Himself in exchange for His disciples

        • Jesus is brought to Annas

          • Who is Annas?

            • He was the Jewish high priest from A.D. 6-15

            • He was appointed to the position by Quirinius

            • The high priest position was a life appointment, just like the United States Supreme Court Justices

            • The Roman Governer, Valerius Gratus deposed him in A.D. 15 (he was the governor right before Pilate)

            • Annas’ five sons had all held the position of high priest and now his son-in-law, Caiaphas, held the position

            • While the Roman Governors kept shifting the position, most Jews would have still considered Annas as the true high priest

            • “Thus Annas enjoyed great power and was the patriarch of an influential priestly family, well known for its wealth, power, and greed.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 493]

          • Side note about Caiaphas

            • John gives us a few important notes about Caiaphas

              • As I already mentioned, he was Annas’ son-in-law

              • He was the “acting” high priest that year

                • This simply means that he was high priest when Jesus was arrested and tried

                • It did not mean that his appointment as high priest only lasted for a year

              • He was the one who spoke more profoundly than he realized

                • John reminds us of Caiaphas’ prophecy about Jesus

                • John 11:49-52, Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! ​​ You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” ​​ He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

                • Caiaphas did not realize that he was prophesying about God’s redemptive plan

                  • He was only concerned about not losing their political and religious freedoms with the Roman Empire

                  • He was plotting with the other religious leaders to have Jesus killed, so they could protect their status and rights with Rome

                  • God’s redemption plan was to have one man die for the Jews and Gentiles, so they could be reconciled to Him

                  • Romans 5:12-13, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. ​​ But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.

                  • We have all sinned, no one is exempt

                  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ​​ For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. ​​ For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

                  • Those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life

                  • 1 John 5:11-12, And this is the testimony: ​​ God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. ​​ He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit to God that I’m a sinner, believe in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, and receive Jesus into my life.

            • John transitions to Peter and John following Jesus, but we will look at those verses during our second point

            • There are two story lines happening at the same time and two people who are being questioned

            • We see in verses 19-24 the questioning that Jesus is experiencing from Annas

          • Annas asks about Jesus’ disciples and His teaching

            • Jewish trial

              • “In a formal Jewish trial, the judge never asked direct questions of the accused but rather called forth witnesses whose words determined the outcome. ​​ If two or more agreed with the charges, the verdict was sealed.” ​​ [Burge, 495]

              • Annas would have been aware of this, which could mean that he did not see his questioning as a formal trial

              • Nevertheless, he may have been trying to gather information that could be used against Jesus in a formal trial

              • That seems to be the intent, since Jesus deflects his questions, as we’ll see in a moment

            • Disciples

              • Annas’s questions about Jesus’ disciples probably centered around whether or not they were unified as a group and ready and willing to continue His teachings if He wasn’t in the picture (He would be dead) [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 904]

              • Annas was probably also trying to determine how large Jesus’ following was, so he would know if they were a threat to the Jewish faith [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 583]

              • Annas wasn’t just concerned about Jesus’ disciples, he was also concerned about His doctrine

            • Teaching

              • We know from all the Gospel writers that the Jewish religious leaders did not believe that Jesus came from God or that Jesus was God

              • Annas, and the other religious leaders, were probably concerned that Jesus was leading the Jews and others away from the God of Israel

              • They were concerned that He was just another false prophet

              • The Jews knew the consequences of being a false prophet who tried to lead God’s people away from Him

              • Read Deuteronomy 13:1-11

            • Jesus knows exactly what Annas is trying to accomplish with His questioning, so He answers appropriately

          • Jesus responds to Annas

            • No secrets

              • Jesus wasn’t trying to create a secret cult where He only shared the “greatest truths” with those who had moved through the various levels

                • There were those types of cults in the 1st Century

                • They were called mystery religions and “stressed one’s ability to be joined in a mystic relationship with a deity, secret mystery rites, and frequently a religious enthusiasm or ecstasy.” ​​ [Carson & Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 373]

                • Mystery cults still exist today, but we call them “secret societies”

                  • They have varying levels that each person works through

                  • At each level the initiate is given more history and background about the organization

                  • They seem pretty innocent because they do a lot for the community (community service projects) – ​​ but don’t be fooled, they’re still considered a cult

              • Jesus reminded Annas that He had spoken openly to everyone

                • He had taught in synagogues or at the temple

                • These two places were where the Jews came together to worship and learn

                • He had not said anything in secret

                  • There will be some people who will push back on this idea that Jesus didn’t say anything in secret

                  • They’ll tell us that Jesus did teach His disciples in private, but we have to remember that what He was teaching them in private was nothing more than what He had taught in public

                  • Many times, the disciples were asking for clarification concerning Jesus’ public teachings

                  • He wasn’t sharing secret truths with the disciples, but only what He had already shared with the public

              • Jesus knew Jewish law, which is why He directs Annas back to the fact that he should be questioning witnesses to His ministry and not questioning Him

            • No witnesses

              • Jesus knew that Annas was trying to sneak around the back door of Jewish law by questioning Him privately

                • Burge likens Annas’s questioning to the modern day police interrogation of someone recently arrested

                • We’ve all seen video footage of those interrogations

                • They can last for hours and are designed to get the accused to fold and incriminate themselves

                • The police officers are trying to get a confession

              • Jesus wasn’t going to let Annas get away with it, which is why He asks him why he is questioning Him

              • If Annas wanted to know what Jesus had been teaching and what His theological and doctrinal beliefs were, all he had to do was question those who had witnessed Jesus teachings

              • I like how confident Jesus is in His teachings and in those who had heard Him teach

              • “Jesus is not being uncooperative and evasive, but rather he urges a proper trial in which evidence is established by interrogation of witnesses; the present informal hearing did not meet such qualifications (Morris 1995: 669).” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 517]

              • Jesus was going to make sure that Jewish law was followed and in no way was He going to incriminate Himself (He couldn’t have anyway, because He is holy/perfect without sin)

            • No mention of the disciples

              • Before we look at Jesus being struck by one of the high priest’s officials, I want us to recognize that Jesus never mentioned anything about His disciples in His response to Annas

              • This may seem insignificant at first, but it’s not

              • Jesus had already protected the eleven disciples in the garden by instructing the soldiers and temple guards to arrest only Him and let the other men go

              • Jesus continues to defend and protect His disciples

              • He is defending Peter even when He knows what Peter is doing in the courtyard at the same time

              • We can rest in the fact that Jesus defends us even when we deny Him (we’ll continue to develop this big idea when we learn about our second point

            • When confronted with truth, it’s hard to not be defensive and strike back

          • Jesus struck by an official

            • We don’t know if Annas instructed the official to strike Jesus, or if he did this on his own

            • Most likely the official acted on his own, because he accuses Jesus of answering the high priest in a way that doesn’t show respect

              • The official took it on himself to defend Annas against what he felt was Jesus being disrespectful

              • Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful, but rather He was being truthful

              • Henry Rollins is quoted as saying, “Sometimes the truth hurts. ​​ And sometimes it feels real good.” ​​ []

              • For Annas, the truth hurt, because Jesus had exposed his true intentions

              • It’s likely that the official who struck Jesus was not aware of Annas’s true intentions

            • Jesus was being treated unfairly

              • In order for God’s plan of redemption to be accomplished, Jesus was going to be mistreated and falsely accused

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – Christians should never expect a completely fair trial in the courts of this world.

                • I don’t know if you have experienced this or not, but recently Judy and I shared a video from Facebook to our timelines

                • Within a couple of days, we received a notification that the video had been “fact checked” by an independent organization that considered the information in the video and post to be false

                • A conservative non-profit news organization is currently asking people on Facebook to sign a petition telling Facebook to stop censoring their entire Facebook page. ​​ They have been labeled as a “fake news media outlet” and Facebook is restricting their reach to their own audience.

                • These two examples are not specifically religious, but it shows, how those who don’t agree with the current cultural rhetoric, aren’t treated fairly by the culture

                • As Christians, we see in our culture the push and expectation that we be tolerant of everyone else and their opinions, viewpoints, and passions, but that the truths and values of God’s Word, that we hold to, are not tolerated

                • There are multiple examples of how Christians have been treated unfairly in the court system and the court of public opinion (Baker in Colorado, Florist in Washington, Chick-fil-A in San Antonio, TX)

              • We need to stand firm and hold on to truths and values that are taught in God’s Word, even if it means being treated unfairly by the world

              • We’re in good company when the world persecutes Christians, because that is what they did to Jesus

            • Jesus challenges the official

              • Many times we are prone to strike out at someone who speaks truth, simply because it goes against what we have been holding to or believing about someone or something

                • We want to be right, but when we realize that we aren’t, it takes a great deal of humility to calmly apologize and seek forgiveness

                • Our normal reaction is to strike back

              • Jesus challenges the official to testify about what He said that was wrong

                • The official wasn’t going to be able to testify at all, because Jesus had only spoken truth

                • The official was going to have to explain why He struck Jesus out of ignorance and anger

              • Application

                • It takes incredible humility to admit when we are wrong

                • It takes herculean discipline to not strike back when confronted about something we have said or done that is wrong

                • As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to help

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Humbly apologize when confronted about something I have said or done that was wrong.

            • Annas knew that what he was attempting to do – ​​ questioning Jesus – was wrong

          • Jesus sent to Caiaphas

            • We see in verse 24 that Annas doesn’t try to continue to question Jesus

            • He doesn’t fight, argue, or strike back at Jesus, but rather, he sends Him to Caiaphas

            • Caiaphas would be able to begin the actual trial of Jesus with members of the Sanhedrin in attendance

              • We know that eventually they had to bring in false witnesses in order to condemn Jesus

              • Had they brought in any other witnesses, it was likely they would have confirmed Jesus’ teachings

        • Jesus held on and didn’t deny anything while being questioned and struck in the face

        • Peter on the other hand was coming under fire

        • “Someone has said that Peter’s ministry career could be summarized in three stages – at the fire, under fire, and on fire.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 333]

    • Peter folds (vv. 15-18, 25-27)

        • Peter and John follow Jesus

          • John tells us that Peter and another disciple were following Jesus as He was being led away by the temple guards and Roman soldiers

            • I don’t know about you, but if Jesus sacrificed Himself for me and cleaned up an impulsive mess that I made by reacting hastily to a situation, I’m not sure that I would be following Him, even at a distance

            • I wouldn’t be pressing my luck by hanging around the Jewish officials and the high priest’s courtyard

          • Unnamed disciple

            • Most scholars agree that the unnamed disciple is probably John the Beloved

            • Peter and John and seen together throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts

            • John was a fisherman, by trade, and some people question how a simple fisherman would have been known by the high priest – their assumption is that John and the high priest were not in the same economic stratus

            • We know that John’s father, Zebedee, had servants, which leads us to believe that he had some wealth and was not on the bottom of the economic scale

            • Perhaps Zebedee’s fish business had a loyal customer in the high priest and his family, so John would have had a working relationship with Annas and Caiaphas

            • It’s also conceivable that it was another disciple of Jesus and not one of the eleven (if that’s the case, then we have no way of knowing who this disciple was and why they were tight with the high priest)

          • Peter did not have the same relationship with the high priest that John or the unnamed disciple had with him, so he had to wait outside the courtyard until the other disciple came to get him

        • Peter’s first denial

          • For the sake of this message, we are going to assume that John is the unnamed disciple

          • He comes back to the gate keeper, who was a girl, spoke to her, and then brought Peter inside the high priest’s courtyard

          • Before he gets inside, the girl at the gate asks him a question

            • “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” (NIV)

            • “We might paraphrase: ‘What’s this? ​​ Not another of this man’s disciples, is it?’ ​​ Or: ‘You couldn’t be another one of this man’s disciples, could you?’” ​​ [Burge, 495]

            • The form of the Greek question implies the answer would be “No!”

            • Peter just follows the implied answer and says, “I am not.”

          • John then gives us a side note about a fire

        • Side note about a fire

          • “Jerusalem is built on a mountain and is on the edge of the desert. ​​ That means when the sun goes down, it gets chilly.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 231]

          • Peter joins the other servants and officials around a fire they’ve made to stay warm

          • Perhaps this was a mistake, since he was sharing a fire with those who opposed Jesus and His ministry

        • Peter’s second denial

          • John picks up right where he left off by saying in verse 25, As Simon Peter stood warming himself . . .

          • John was using a good story telling technique to keep his readers engaged – he was combining two story lines at the same time and going back and forth between the two

          • Peter is again asked the same question while standing around the fire

            • “You are not one of his disciples are you?”

            • The form of the Greek sentence again implies a negative response

            • Peter obliges again, “I am not.”

          • While it was easy to deny being Jesus’ disciple the first two times, the third time would not be as easy

        • Peter’s third denial

          • One of the high priest’s servants who had been at the garden challenged Peter

          • He said, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?”

          • This servant was a relative of Malchus, the guy who lost his ear to Peter’s sword

          • While it probably wasn’t as easy to do with this inquiry, Peter denies knowing Jesus

          • Peter had given in to the fear of man three times in a row

        • Application

          • We shouldn’t be too hard on Peter, because we are just as easily swayed by peer pressure to do the same thing

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Fear of man can cause us to deny knowing Jesus.

            • The social pressures of going to school are already enormous without being a follower of Jesus Christ

              • We want to fit in, be liked, and accepted by the “in” crowd

              • It’s easy to deny knowing Jesus when the people we so desperately want to be accept by, reject Him

              • It’s also difficult when the administration and some teachers pressure us into giving up our freedom to carry our Bible, pray for our meal, etc.

            • Work environments are also filled with social and political pressures and from time-to-time we may give in to the fear of man of deny knowing Jesus

            • Social media is also a hot bed that can cause us to fear man and deny knowing Jesus

            • There is hope!

              • Peter denied Jesus three times in one night and yet Jesus used him as the rock of the early church, because he was repentant

              • In the other Gospels we learn that Peter immediately left the courtyard and wept bitterly

              • Jesus restored Peter after he failed to stand up for Him

              • Jesus will do the same for you when you repent and turn to Him for forgiveness

              • He will empower you to stand strong for Him through the Holy Spirit that lives in you

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that I have denied knowing Jesus, because of my fear of man.

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Holy Spirit to help me stand up for Jesus where I work, play, and live.

          • Jesus will defend us even when we deny Him.

        • Jesus’ prediction comes true

          • After Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, a rooster began to crow

          • The Synoptic Gospels tell us that after rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus’ words

          • John 13:38, Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? ​​ I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”


  • YOU

    • Will you humbly apologize when confronted with something you have said or done that is wrong, instead of striking back?

    • Do you need to take time today to confess the times that you have denied knowing Jesus, when pressured by the world?

    • Are you ready to ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to stand up for Jesus instead of giving in to the fear of man?


  • WE




“I once read a book called The Book of Failures. It was filled with all kinds of failures that people have made. For instance, the book introduces Arthur Pedrick, who patented 162 inventions, but not one of them was ever taken up commercially. These inventions include a car that could be driven from the back seat, a golf ball that could be steered in flight, and a plan to irrigate the deserts of the world by sending a constant supply of snowballs from the polar region through a massive network of giant peashooters. I kid you not.


My favorite story in the book was about an elderly lady in South London who called a group of firefighters to rescue her cat from a tree. They arrived with impressive speed and carefully rescued her cat. The lady was so thankful that she invited them in for tea. So they had tea, received another round of thanks from the woman, and drove off, waving goodbye. And as they backed out of her driveway, they drove right over her cat!”


James Emery White is founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a consulting editor to Leadership Journal. He is author of Serious Times and A Search for the Spiritual, and blogs at






True Power

(John 18:1-11)



“Imagine a basketball game. It's almost the end of overtime; it's time for one last shot. Who do you want to have the ball? You want the calmest and best player out there. Or imagine the security of the nation is threatened. Threat levels have gone through the roof, and an attack is imminent. Who do you want to have the nuclear codes? Who do you want making the final call on what to do or not to do? You want someone who is calm under pressure. Or here's one more example. Imagine you need a crucial surgery to save your life or the life of a loved one. Who do you want behind that scalpel? Who do you want performing the surgery? Of course you want the best doctor available.


That's how the Gospels present Jesus as he faces the cross. He's under extreme pressure—pressure that we will never even fathom. He's actually sweating drops of blood. And yet at every stage Jesus is calm. He is in control of himself.


But Jesus also leaves every sports star, every politician, every surgeon far behind. It's not just that Jesus is in control of himself; Jesus is in control of the events themselves. It's not just that he's able to handle his own adrenaline; he's able to dictate the result. It's not just he's able to act wisely under pressure; he's able to determine the outcome. Jesus isn't just able to respond skillfully to what he finds; he already knows what he will find, and has already mapped out the solution to the deepest human problem of all. Jesus stands out in this because he is in control of the entire sweep of human history, even as he goes through his death.”


Gary Millar, "Jesus, Betrayed and Crucified," sermon on





  • ME

    • Power in a name

        • We have been working to get a co-op set up, with a mechanic, for Levi for his senior year

        • He will take a couple of classes and then be released to work with a mechanic on cars

        • I needed help finding a mechanic that would potentially be willing to help with a co-op

          • I emailed two different pastor groups that I’m a part of to see if any of them knew of a mechanic that would help

          • I received three responses with two recommendations

          • When I contacted the first mechanic, I used the name of the pastor who had recommended him, since they have an 18-year relationship – the pastor’s name carried power and influence that I didn’t have with the mechanic, since I had never met him before

          • When I contacted the second mechanic, I used the names of the other two pastors, because they have had a long time relationship with him – again those two pastor’s names carried weight with the mechanic, that I didn’t have

        • In both of those situations, I was given an opportunity that I might not have otherwise had, if I had contacted them by myself


  • WE

    • Power in a name

        • When have you used someone else’s name in order to gain a hearing with an individual that you didn’t have a relationship with?

        • What was the result of using their name instead of trying to make the contact on your own?


John begins the section where Jesus completes His earthly mission. ​​ Today we’ll learn about Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. ​​ The arresting party presumes they have power by the sheer number of men they’ve brought to arrest Jesus. ​​ Peter also presumes to have some kind of power, but it was misplaced. ​​ Through both of these we’ll see that . . .


BIG IDEA – Jesus’ power far exceeds the power of this world.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 18:1-11)

    • Presumptive Power (vv. 1-3)

        • Introductory content (transitional information)

          • Finished praying

            • The NIV provides the word “praying,” but it’s not actually in the original Greek

            • The Greek word is hoytos and means, “this” or “these”

            • Most other translations say, “these words” or “these things”

              • When Jesus had spoken these words . . . (NASB)

              • After saying these things . . . (NLT)

            • It seems to be the general consensus that what is being referred to here is all of Jesus’ upper room discourse (chapters 13-16) including His final prayer (chapter 17)

            • When Jesus had finished His final teaching and prayer, then He and His disciples left for the Mount of Olives

          • Crossed the Kidron Valley

            • Many of the modern translations say they crossed the brook or ravine of the Kidron [show map of Jerusalem with Kidron Valley and Mount of Olives]

              • That just helps us to understand what was there

              • Most the year the brook or ravine was dry (no water running through it)

              • It was only during the rainy season that the brook with run with water (mostly in the winter)

              • This same brook would have run red as the fluids from the Temple sacrifices would flow into the valley, especially during the various feasts and festivals throughout the year [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 216]

              • Perhaps as Jesus and His disciples crossed the brook, it was running red

            • They were headed to a place that Jesus had taken His disciples many times

          • Entered the olive grove

            • On the other side of the Kidron Valley was the Mount of Olives

            • “On the side of the Mount of Olives were many private enclosed gardens, where the well-to-do people of Jerusalem would go to escape the heat of the city.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 582]

            • These enclosed gardens would have been filled with vegetables, flowers, palms, fruit trees, and obviously olive trees. ​​ The reason for the private gardens on the Mount of Olives was because they were forbidden in city limits of Jerusalem [Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek News Testament, 221]

            • Gospel writers, Matthew (26:36) and Mark (14:32) refer to it as the garden of Gethsemane, which is appropriate, because Gethsemane literally means “oil press” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 576; Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 504]

            • The fact that Jesus and His disciples “went into” and Jesus “came out of”, is evidence that they probably had access to a wealthy benefactor’s personal garden on the Mount of Olives – they weren’t just entering the Mount of Olives as a whole (the eastern slope rising above the Kidron Valley)

          • Judas had been to this private garden on many occasions, so He knew exactly where to find Jesus

        • Show of power

          • Judas Iscariot

            • John is letting us know which Judas he was talking about by mentioning that it was the one who betrayed Jesus

            • Obviously John is writing after the fact, so he can describe Judas this way

            • Judas had already been to see the religious leaders and had gotten his 30 pieces of silver

            • Now all that remained was to lead the group to where Jesus was, so they could arrest Him

          • Detachment of soldiers

            • The Greek for detachment is a “band, cohort, company, or squad” of soldiers

              • The normal use of the Greek word refers to 600 soldiers

              • It could also refer to a maniple which was 200 soldiers

              • “The Romans could use surprisingly large numbers of soldiers even in dealing with a single person (like the 470 soldiers protecting Paul in Acts 23:23), especially when they feared a riot.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 505]

              • The Jewish religious leaders were aware of Jesus’ popularity with the masses, so it’s no wonder that they sent a cohort of Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus

              • The Roman cohort would not normally have been stationed in Jerusalem

                • They were stationed at Caesarea Maratima on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea [show image of Caesarea Maratima]

                • They would be deployed to Jerusalem during the busy feasts and festivals to help maintain order and to deter any rioting from taking place

                • They were there as a show of force so that the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) would be maintained

            • I believe that this presumptive show of power was necessary to highlight the true power of Jesus, as we’ll see in verse 6

          • Officials from the chief priests and Pharisees

            • Not only is there between 200 to 600 Roman soldiers, but there are also officials from the chief priests and Pharisees

            • Most likely these were the Temple guards, who would actually be the arresting officers

            • It was their responsibility to take Jesus into custody and bring Him to the chief priests for questioning

          • Equipment

            • Torches

              • These were strips of wood that were bound together

              • They put resin on them to provide a longer burn time

            • Lanterns

              • Köstenberger describes them as a terracotta cylinder with an opening on one side so that a household lamp could be placed inside with the wick facing out [Köstenberger, 506]

              • An image search reveals that they could also be made of bronze [show image of bronze lantern]

            • Weapons

              • It’s likely that the Roman soldiers were carrying shields, short swords, long swords, and spears

              • The Temple guards may have been carrying some of the same weapons

        • While the group, led by Judas Iscariot, is coming out in a show of power, this power was really presumptive, especially when compared to Jesus’ power

    • True Power (vv. 4-9)

        • Jesus’ knowledge (v. 4a)

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)!

            • Jesus hadn’t gone to the private garden on the Mount of Olives to hide from the religious leaders or to try and avoid the inevitable events that were unfolding

            • Rather, He knew everything that was happening and was actually orchestrating everything according to God’s will and plan

            • He went to the garden where He had taken Judas many times

            • He was creating the perfect environment where God’s plan could be fulfilled without the concern of having large crowds trying to interfere and stop His arrest

            • This was all happening, because Jesus is all-knowing

              • This principle is important for us, because we can trust that Jesus knows everything that is happening in our lives

              • He knows the struggles we’re experiencing and the joy that is coming

              • He is also sovereign, so He knows how to guide and direct our lives

              • We can trust completely in Jesus and turn to Him when we feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, hurt, angry, confused, frustrated, and so much more

              • When we can’t see how things are going to work out, we can turn to the One who knows everything and rest in His plan for us

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in Jesus’ ability to know everything that’s going on in my life and rest in His perfect, sovereign plan for me.

            • He even knew when they would be arriving, so He goes outside the walled-in garden to greet those who were coming to arrest Him

          • He asks them a question

        • Jesus’ question (vv. 4b-5a)

          • Who is it you want?

          • Jesus already knew the answer to His question, but it wasn’t the question that was most important, it was His response to their answer

          • They were looking for Jesus of Nazareth

          • His response was going to prove who was in control and had the real power

        • Jesus’ power (vv. 5b-6)

          • In response to their answer, Jesus says, “I am he”

            • In the Greek it’s actually “I Am!” (egō eimi)

            • God used the same self-identification with Moses in Exodus 3:14

            • Jesus is making it clear that He is God

          • Those two words carried incredible power

            • Judas is counted with the Roman soldiers and the officials from the chief priests and Pharisees – he is not part of the disciples anymore

            • As the arresting group hears Jesus’ response to their answer to His question, they all stumble backwards and fall to the ground

              • Imagine for a moment what that would have looked like

              • Anywhere from 200 to 600 Roman soldiers, the officials from the Temple, and Judas Iscariot all fall down

              • That must have been a sight to see

              • That video would have won America’s Funniest Home Videos and would have gone viral immediately on social media

              • Whatever power the Roman soldiers and Temple officials thought they had, probably left by this point

              • Jesus’ power far exceeds the power of this world.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent)!

              • “Falling to the ground is regularly a reaction to divine revelation. ​​ This striking response also conveys the powerlessness of Jesus’ enemies when confronted with the power of God.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 508]

              • Jesus was completely in control of when and how He would be arrested and tried

              • “The effect within John’s Gospel is to put a very large exclamation point after Jesus’ words spoken eight chapters earlier, ‘I lay down my life, that I might receive it back again. ​​ No one took it away from me, but I lay it down on my own’ (10:17-18a). ​​ ‘No one!!’ – not even six hundred Roman soldiers, plus ‘officers both from the chief priests and from the Pharisees’ – can take Jesus’ life from him. ​​ The ‘authority to lay it down,’ like the ‘authority to receive it back’ (10:18b), is his and his alone. ​​ This he will do freely and voluntarily, ‘for the sheep’ (10:15), as he will quickly demonstrate (v. 8).” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 891]

              • This is great news for us as His disciples

                • While the soldiers and officials were experiencing the negative effects of Jesus’ power – stumbling backwards and falling down – we can experience the positive effects of His power

                • There is nothing too hard for Jesus or God

                • They can handle anything you’re experiencing or going through

                  • Are you dealing with difficult relationships at home, in your neighborhood, at work or school? – Jesus can handle that!

                  • Are you struggling financially? – Jesus can handle that!

                  • Are your emotions all over the place and you feel frazzled and hopeless? – Jesus can handle that!

                  • Is your health failing? – Jesus can handle that!

                  • Are you questioning your relationship with God and Jesus? – Jesus can handle that?

                  • He is waiting for us to humbly come to Him for help

                  • He knows all about our struggles and hardships, because He is all-knowing, and He stands ready to help us, because He is all-powerful

                  • Turn to Him right now!

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn to Jesus and humbly ask Him to help me with whatever struggle(s) I’m currently experiencing.

          • Because Jesus is all-powerful, He can protect us

        • Jesus’ protection (vv. 7-9)

          • Jesus asks the arresting party the same question again and they answer Him the same way

          • My guess is that they braced themselves for His response this time – they leaned in as He responded with “I told you that I Am!

          • Jesus goes a step further this time

            • He tells the arresting party to let His disciples go

              • We know, from Scripture, that they obeyed His request

              • They were probably ready to comply with whatever Jesus said, after they had experienced the power of His name

              • It was also in fulfillment of what Jesus had said in John 6:39, And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is our protector!

              • Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the One who protects us

              • “Whatever the wolf may represent in our lives today – guilt and shame from past failures, the accusing voices of criticism, sudden paralyzing feelings of inadequacy as they come snapping and snarling at our heels, the good shepherd is there to meet them and to issue his word of command, ‘Let my disciple go!’” ​​ [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today: ​​ The Message of John, 255]

              • This should give us hope as disciples of Jesus Christ

              • “Just as Jesus protects the disciples on that dark day, he will protect and preserve all who follow him.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 354]

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the promise that Jesus will protect me from the “wolves” in my life.

          • We can hold on to that truth and know that He will accomplish it in our lives, because He did it for the first disciples – He is faithful and unchanging!

        • Jesus’ true power proved that the arresting party’s power was simply presumptive and not true

        • Jesus’ power far exceeds the power of this world.

        • John completes this section of Scripture with information about Peter’s misplaced power

    • Misplaced Power (vv. 10-11)

        • Throughout Scripture we know Peter to be a man of action and not just words

          • He had already told Jesus that he would lay down his life for Him (John 13:37), but Jesus checked him on that, “Will you really lay down your life for me? ​​ I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three time!” (John 13:38)

          • Perhaps Peter was still trying to prove to Jesus that he would lay down His life for Him

          • Peter shows either great courage or perhaps extreme stupidity

            • He steps up with his sword and swings it wildly at the high priest’s servant, Malchus

            • I don’t know if he intended to kill Malchus, but the result was that he cut his right ear off

            • That must have been a pretty sharp blade

          • Jesus commanded Peter to put his sword away

            • Matthew records these words of Jesus, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. ​​ Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? ​​ But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

            • Peter had misplaced power, because He thought that Jesus needed Him to help with the situation

            • Peter was not following God’s plan at this point, but was trying to take matters into his own hands

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God’s desire is that we follow His plan.

            • How often do we try to run ahead of God and His sovereign plan for us?

            • Remember, He is all-knowing, so He knows what’s coming and is all-powerful, so He has the power to handle it

            • Judy and I just experienced this in the last week

              • Let me tell you the rest of the story about trying to set up the mechanic co-op for Levi

              • The first mechanic we contacted was very excited about the opportunity to help Levi out

              • I called him back to try to schedule a time for him to meet Levi and sign some paperwork for the school

              • He told me that he had contacted his insurance agent about worker’s compensation and that he was trying to work out the details of that

              • The next time I called him, he said that, because of the cost of worker’s compensation, he wouldn’t be able to have Levi do his co-op with him. ​​ He was frustrated, because he really wanted to help

              • Judy and I discussed, very briefly, about covering the cost of the worker’s compensation insurance, but Judy also added, “Would that be forcing something, that God doesn’t want?”

              • Long story short, when I contacted the second mechanic, he said that they really needed the help and that they had done at least four mentorships with the Carlisle schools in the past, and totally understood the minimum hours required and everything else

              • We met with them on Friday and toured their facility

              • We are working through the paperwork to get the co-op set up for Levi

            • Have you ever tried to “help” God with His plan for your life?

              • How did that end? ​​ (positive or negative?)

              • Can you trust the Lord is to have the prefect plan for your life?

              • Have you talked with Him about revealing that plan to you?

              • Are you following that plan now?

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God and follow His plan for my life.

          • Jesus knew God’s plan of redemption for humanity

        • God’s plan of redemption must be fulfilled

          • Imagine if Peter would have successfully defeated 600 Roman soldiers

          • Jesus wouldn’t have been arrested and tried

          • Jesus wouldn’t have died on the cross to take our punishment for sin

          • We would have to take our own punishment for sin and be separated from God for all eternity

          • Praise the Lord that Jesus did drink the cup the Father had given Him


  • YOU

    • Will you trust Jesus’ ability to know everything that’s going on in your life and rest in His perfect sovereign plan?

    • Will you humbly turn to Jesus and ask Him to help you with whatever challenge you are experiencing today?

    • Will you claim the promise that Jesus will protect you from the “wolves” in your life?


  • WE

    • When we trust Jesus and His sovereign plan, humbly turn to Him with our challenges, and claim His promise to protect us, it’s a powerful testimony to the world that we truly believe what we say we believe about God

    • It will be what draws them to a relationship with Jesus Christ



“Set in A.D. 180, Gladiator tells the story of General Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell Crowe), who was about to be given reigning authority in Rome by the aging emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before this could take place, however, the emperor's son, Commodus, killed his father in order to establish himself on the throne. He then ordered the murder of Maximus and his family. Maximus escaped, and the movie follows him as he is sold into slavery, becomes a nameless gladiator, and finally seeks justice against wicked Emperor Commodus.


The turning point comes late in the movie. After Maximus wins a great battle in the Coliseum, Emperor Commodus decides to meet this unknown gladiator face to face. The crowd watches as the emperor in full pomp strides with his soldiers onto the sands of the Coliseum.


The emperor asks the simple question: ‘What is your name?’


Maximus, streaked with blood and dirt from the battle, takes off his helmet and says: ‘My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, general of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.’


The crowd erupts with a deafening roar, while the emperor visibly shakes under the weight of the true identity of a man he thought was a mere slave. The emperor flees the Coliseum, only to face defeat and death later at the hands of Maximus.”


Elapsed time: 01:29:09 to 01:33:08 (DVD scene 16).


Content: Gladiator is rated R for violence.


Gladiator (DreamWorks, 2000), rated R, written by David Franzoni, directed by Ridley Scott; submitted by Bill White, Paramount,.






Spiritual Unity

(John 17:20-26)



“Archeologist Dr. Jim Strange from the University of South Florida (Tampa) visited a Buddhist temple in Tibet. ​​ As he watched the flow of people come and go, he noticed a group of teenagers gathered at the temple. ​​ They were dressed like American teenagers from the 1980s, and he thought it peculiar that they would light incense and bow in the traditional manner. ​​ So he asked his guide, ‘What are they praying for?’ ​​ The guide responded, ‘They’re not praying. ​​ They’re wishing for money, good relationships, and success.’


When a person bows before a temple with lighted incense and intently ‘wishes,’ that is praying, even though it may be mistakenly aimed. ​​ Many modern people in a plethora of languages and cultures pray for money and success. ​​ But the ‘good relationships’ angle is interesting. ​​ In a very real sense, that was part of the essence of Jesus’ prayer. ​​ And he was not ‘wishing’ either but devoutly committing himself to the Father for a return to heaven and the ongoing empowerment of his disciples.


We learn a great deal about prayer from this chapter but perhaps even more about relationships. ​​ A relationship to the Father and the Son is primary, but our relationships with other believers in the world gets significant attention in this high-priestly prayer. ​​ We can activate this chapter in our lives by praying in the pattern of Jesus. ​​ But perhaps even more important is for the modern church to allow the Spirit of God to activate his love through us to other believers.


The result of Christian unity on earth is a radiance of the love of the Father and Son in us. ​​ I remember an old chorus from the days of my youth:

May Christ be seen in me, O Lord.

Hear thou my earnest plea.

O take me, fill me, use me, Lord,

‘Til Christ be seen in me.”


[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 322].



  • ME

    • Differences in our marriage

        • Judy and I don’t always agree on everything (I know, that may come as a shock to some of you)

          • I like sushi and she doesn’t

          • Her favorite ices cream is mint chocolate chip and mine is either grapenut or teaberry

          • I like Hawaiian pizza and most everyone else doesn’t

          • I like video games and she doesn’t

        • Unity in our marriage

          • We don’t have to agree on everything in our marriage to be unified in our marriage

          • We realize that most of our differences are personal preferences

          • What unites us as husband and wife is a mutual love and relationship with Jesus Christ

          • Unity comes, not from within us or in our own strength, but through Jesus


  • WE

    • I realize that no one else has differences in their marriage or other relationships – it’s just Judy and I

        • We all experience differences in our relationships, no matter what relationship that may be (family, friends, coworkers, fellow believers, church attenders, etc.)

        • Those differences don’t mean we can’t be unified, especially within the body of Christ

        • We have to determine that the relationship is more important than the personal preference we hold to


In this last part of Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, He is praying for future believers (He was praying for us!). ​​ There are repeated themes of love and being one (unity) throughout these seven verses. ​​ The key to being one, as followers of Jesus Christ, is modeled for us by God and Jesus. ​​ We will learn today that . . .


BIG IDEA – Body unity comes from activating divine unity.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 17:20-26)

    • United in Him (vv. 20-23)

        • Future believers (v. 20)

          • Pastor Marc shared last week about Jesus’ prayer for His disciples – those eleven men who had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry

          • We see that Jesus’ prayer for them will be fulfilled as He continues praying for future believers

          • This should have given the eleven disciples incredible confidence and hope for the future

            • Jesus had already told them that they would experience the same things He had experienced on earth (hatred, persecution, separation, and death)

            • The mission He was giving them would not be easy, and yet His prayer here shows that they will be successful

            • Jesus is praying for people who will believe in Him through the message that the disciples would share with them

            • Jesus’ prayer stands the test of time

              • The generation of believers that heard the message from the eleven disciples could also claim the promise of this prayer as they shared the Gospel

              • The generation that followed them could claim the same promise and have the same hope that the Gospel would be successful in transforming the lives of individuals

              • We can claim the same promise and have the same confidence as the first disciples that when we share the Gospel, people will believe in Jesus through our message

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people share the Gospel

              • When we share the Gospel, it means that God’s promise and Jesus’ prayer are fulfilled from generation to generation

              • We can have confidence that even though we will be hated and persecuted by the faithless world, that God’s redemption plan will continue to transform the lives of those who hear it and accept it

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confidently claim the promise that when I share the Gospel, people will believe in Jesus.

                • We may not witness the transformation taking place immediately, but we can have hope and confidence as we plant and water the seeds of faith

                • 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, What, after all, is Apollos? ​​ And what is Paul? ​​ Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. ​​ I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. ​​ So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. ​​ The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. ​​ For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

          • So, Jesus is praying for every person who will believe in Him through those who share the message of the Gospel – generation upon generation!

          • He prays for their unity

        • Complete unity (vv. 21-23)

          • Divinity, Divinity relationship

            • What we see in these verses is an incredible love between the Father and the Son (God and Jesus)

            • This love has been expressed throughout John’s Gospel

            • Jesus has been modeling this love for His disciples, so they will understand its importance

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God and Jesus are One!

              • The Father is in Jesus (vv. 21, 23)

              • Jesus is in the Father (v. 21)

              • Jesus has been telling His disciples, the religious leaders, and everyone else, that He and God are One

              • As we’ll see in just a couple of weeks, this claim will be one of the reasons why He is crucified

            • The next relationship we see in these three verses is between the disciples and Jesus and God

          • Disciple, Divinity relationship

            • We have to be in Jesus and God (v. 21)

              • “Like a set of matched mixing bowls, we are the smaller one that fits into Christ who fits into the Father.” ​​ [Gangel, 319]

              • The relationship that Jesus is praying about here is perfectly summed up in His teaching about the vine and the branches (John 15:1-11)

              • John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. ​​ If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me to can do nothing.”

              • We’ll talk about the fruit of unity in just a moment

            • Jesus has to be in us (v. 23)

              • This is the relationship that is most important, because it guarantees spending eternity with God

              • John 14:23, Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. ​​ My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

              • Revelation 3:20, Here I am! ​​ I stand at the door and knock. ​​ If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (this is a picture of a close relationship)

              • John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

            • This leads us the final relationship between disciples

          • Disciple, Disciple relationship

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus’ desire is that His disciples are one (unified).

              • Defining unity [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 343-45]

                • Unity is not compromising the truth

                  • “[Unity] is not achieved by hunting enthusiastically for the lowest common theological denominator, but by common adherence to the apostolic gospel, by love that is joyfully self-sacrificing, by undaunted commitment to the shared goals of the mission with which Jesus’ followers have been charged, by self-conscious dependence on God himself for life and fruitfulness.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 568]

                  • We have to keep the main thing the main thing

                  • Most evangelical churches agree on the Gospel of Jesus Christ even when they don’t agree on other secondary issues – we can still be unified with them around the Gospel

                  • The same in true within every local body of believers

                • Unity is not outlawing any diversity

                  • Just as Judy and I don’t agree on everything and have our own personal preferences, every one of us will have our personal preferences and not agree when it comes to church

                  • The key is found in this classic quotation: “In essentials, unity. ​​ In nonessentials, liberty. ​​ In all things, charity.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 344]

                  • We may think that certain things should be done a certain way at church, but in most cases those things are related to personal preferences

                  • In some extreme cases, individuals make their personal preferences higher and more important than Biblical truth and unity and will fight to the death in order to get their own way

                  • This only cripples the local body of believers in accomplishing God’s purpose and will

                • Unity is participation in a shared relationship with Jesus

                  • Jesus prays about giving His glory to His disciples

                  • We don’t have any glory on our own, it only comes from God and Jesus

                  • “Child of God, don’t you know only you share the glow. ​​ It’s the light from within, when the blood covers sin. ​​ It’s the wonderful glory of God.” ​​ [Gangel, 319]

                  • We can only experience true unity in the body, as disciples of Jesus Christ, when we keep our focus on loving Jesus and God

                  • Body unity comes from activating divine unity.

              • Four evidences of a unified church [Carter & Wredberg, 346-49]

                • A shared commitment to Biblical instruction

                  • Acts 2:42-44, They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ​​ Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. ​​ All the believers were together and had everything in common.

                  • “If every member of the church is willing to ask, ‘What does the Bible say?’ and commit to obey it no matter what, that church will experience unity.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 347]

                  • Are you willing to ask that question when confronted with conflict and disunity in the church? ​​ 

                  • Are you willing to commit to obeying God’s Word no matter what?

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Study God’s Word and commit to obey it when confronted by conflict and disunity in the church.

                • A shared understanding of our new identity

                  • At the moment of our salvation, we are immediately in Christ

                  • We are children of God, family members

                  • This membership in God’s family creates unity across ethnic, racial, economic, and social lines

                  • Unfortunately, even within the Christian community we still see division, hurt, anger, and disunity in all of those areas

                  • We need to make sure that we are agents of Christian unity with everyone

                • A shared pursuit of sacrificial love

                  • Jesus’ prayer highlights the fact that God loves us the same way He loves Jesus (that’s a perfect love)

                  • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

                  • Philippians 2:1-2, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

                  • What does the pursuit of sacrificial love look like? [bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:1), instructing one another (Rom. 15:14), forgiving one another (Eph. 4:2), praying for one another (James 5:16), submitting to one another (Eph. 5:21), encouraging one another (1 Thess. 4:18), provoking one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24)

                  • It means putting aside our personal preferences and seeking what is best for others

                • A shared discontentment with selfish division

                  • We should never get to the point where we say “We’re unified enough.” [Carter & Wredberg, 349]

                  • Imagine for a moment that someone put arsenic in your cup. ​​ Would you feel confident to drink from that cup if you didn’t know that every last drop of arsenic was removed?

                  • “Disunity and broken relationships are like poison in the church. ​​ We can’t be content until every last drop of division is removed – not by getting rid of someone or leaving ourselves but by dealing biblically with division.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 349]

                  • I’m really passionate about reconciliation within the church, but unfortunately it rarely happens, because there is a church on every street corner in America. ​​ When someone doesn’t get their own way (whether a congregant or a pastor) they just move on to the next church and never resolve the conflict. ​​ Church discipline is really weak in most churches. ​​ The thing that’s frustrating is that the issue that drove the individual away from the church follows them to the next church. ​​ It eventually surfaces again and the process continues, indefinitely.

                  • I’ve had people ask me if I want them to leave the church and my answer has always been, “No.” ​​ I want them to be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. ​​ I want there to be submission to the Lord and His Word and changed attitudes and hearts. ​​ I want there to be reconciliation and unity.

                  • “Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks wrote, ‘Discord and division become no Christian. ​​ For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous’ (“Legacies”).” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 349]

                  • How do you deal with differences and disagreements within the church?

                  • Paul (Read Philippians 2:5-8)

                  • Jesus (Read Matthew 18:15-20)

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to resolve any differences and disagreements I have in the church and strive to reconcile with the individuals involved.

              • Hurting the purpose of unity

                • “Divisions in the church breed atheism in the world.” ​​ [Thomas Manton cited by Carter & Wredberg, 349]

                • “The effectiveness of the church’s evangelism is devastated by dissension and disputes among its members.” ​​ [John MacArthur cited by Carter & Wredberg, 349]

                • “The gospel proclaimed from the pulpit is either confirmed, and hence immeasurably enhanced, or it is contradicted, and hence immeasurably weakened, by the quality of the relationships in the pews. ​​ In this sense every Christian is a witness. ​​ Every time we gather together we either strengthen or weaken the evangelistic appeal of our church by the quality of our relationships with our fellow church members. ​​ The biggest barriers to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus are not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a ‘root of bitterness’, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness.” ​​ [Milne, The Bible Speak Today: The Message of John, 250-51]

            • Jesus explains the purpose of this incredible unity that He has been praying about

          • Purpose of unity

            • The world will believe (vv. 21b, 23b)

              • It’s all about God’s divine plan of redemption for the world

              • Our unity, through love for one another, is a powerful testimony that God sent Jesus from heaven to earth to take our punishment for sin

              • It’s also a powerful testimony of the everlasting, loving kindness of God, with which He draws sinners to Himself (Jer. 31:3)

            • I don’t know about you, but I want to have that kind of testimony with our neighbors and community

              • We’ve been praying for salvations and I want to see God answer those prayers

              • Our effectiveness in leading others into a discipling relationship with Jesus is based on our unity as a body of believers

              • Body unity comes from activating divine unity.

        • Jesus was so concerned about our unity, that He prayed about it over two thousand years ago and has continued to intercede for us before the Father

        • He not only prayed that we would be united in Him, but also that we would be reunited with Him

    • Reunited with Him (vv. 24-26)

        • Being with Jesus (v. 24a)

          • Home improvement shows

            • Judy and I love to watch home improvement shows and tiny house shows

            • When the house is complete, the homeowners usually invite their family and friends over for an open house, so they can show everyone what it looks like

            • Perhaps you’ve done that when you’ve moved into a new home, or have made improvements to your current home

            • You want everyone to see how attractive it is

          • Jesus is looking forward to the time when those, that God had given to Him, would be able to be with Him in heaven

            • The attractiveness of heaven will far exceed any home improvements that we can do here on earth

            • Our heavenly home will be perfect!

          • The magnificence of heaven will be highlighted by the glory of Jesus and God

        • Jesus’ glory (v. 24b)

          • As Jesus continues with His request, about being reunited with His followers, He expresses His desire for His followers to see His glory

          • This is the pre-incarnate glory that He had with God before the world was created

            • 2 Corinthians 3:18, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

            • 1 John 3:2, Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. ​​ But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

          • Jesus concludes His prayer by reaffirming that He has made the Father known to the world

        • Making God known (vv. 25-26)

          • Jesus addresses the Father as righteous

            • This is one of His many attributes

            • It means that He does everything right – He does everything perfectly

          • Jesus had made the Father known to the world

            • John 15:15, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. ​​ Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

            • John 17:6, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. ​​ They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.

            • The fact that the world does not know the Father, doesn’t mean that they hadn’t heard

            • “The problem is not the world’s access to the knowledge of God . . . but that the world refused to acknowledge that God had sent Jesus.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 469]

          • Jesus continues to make the Father known through us

            • Jesus, and His love, living in us, is the key to making the Father known to the world

            • We are Jesus’ ambassadors to those in our world who don’t know Him


  • YOU

    • Are you sharing the Gospel of Jesus with your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors? ​​ (You can do it with confidence knowing that God will give the increase)

    • Are there any relationships in the church where you need to work towards reconciliation and unity?

  • WE

    • The body unity that comes from activating divine unity will accomplish God’s purpose of transforming individuals in our world



“The church can be a taste of heaven. ​​ When people with different preferences, hobbies, jobs, genders, backgrounds, skin colors, accents, and tastes love one another with a love surpassing all human love, they open a window to heaven, and people begin to feel a breeze from a far-off country and in their souls awaken a long-dormant hope. ​​ They want to go to that place and be with those people who know, see, and feel something different, something beyond, something more.


The love of God assures us we have a home and a country on the other side of the sea. ​​ This knowledge binds us together and spills out in a love that feels strangely foreign but still familiar. ​​ When people see this love displayed in a million little ways, they will hope it’s real, and when the hope is confirmed, they will understand the story is true. ​​ They will know Jesus lives and Jesus loves.”


[Carter & Wredberg, 351].





(John 17:1-5)



“As a child I recall lying in bed at night, listening to my mother praying aloud in the next room. ​​ Along with the prayers I could also hear at times the curses and anger of my atheistic father, who tried to interrupt her communication with God. ​​ I always felt on those occasions that I should not be able to listen, since prayer is a private and sacred domain one ought to maintain in secret. ​​ It does not seem right to be able to listen to your mother praying, especially when she is praying for you.


Yet that is precisely the type of experience every Christian can have when reading the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel. ​​ Here, of course, it is not a mother but the Son of God praying aloud, praying for the record. ​​ And not only for the benefit of disciples who may have been within earshot but for every reader of the New Testament right up to the present time.


The Lord was just hours from the cross. ​​ A final evening of instruction began in the upper room at mealtime, and Jesus had explained to his disciples all the matters recorded in chapters 13-16 of this Gospel. ​​ Foremost among the themes of the evening had been an emphasis on the coming of the Holy Spirit and the continuing relationship the disciples would have with their Lord, even though he would be in heaven while they would extend his work on earth.


These five chapters of John are a golden repository of truth to which Christians have come for guidance and blessing for almost two thousand years. ​​ The capstone of the unit lies before us now as we listen to what one member of the Trinity says to another about what it is like to live ‘in the world.’ ​​ In this moment of grief as well as triumph, our Lord turned his eyes from earth to heaven and asked the God of the universe to heed his petitions on the authority of his relationship to his Father.”


[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 311].



  • ME

    • Listening in

        • As a young teenager, I remember one night sitting outside my parent’s bedroom door and listening to them talk before they went to sleep

        • I know, it wasn’t right for me to do that

        • What I heard was their concern about immoral things their children would probably do, that they never did

        • Their concern came from cultural shifts they had identified as becoming normalized instead immoral

        • I didn’t take their concerns as permission to go ahead and do those things, but rather I took it as a challenge to prove them wrong – I wasn’t going to allow the culture to dictate what I did

        • By the way, I did prove them wrong


  • WE

    • Two paths

        • We can choose how we will react to the doubts, expectations, and criticism of others

        • ​​ “Howard Hendricks tells how he came from a broken family and was a problem kid. During his first day in fifth grade the teacher said, ‘Oh, Howard Hendricks. I’ve heard a lot about you. I understand you are the worst kid in school.’ That year Howard did whatever he could to prove her right. When the next year rolled around his sixth grade teacher said to him, ‘Oh, so you are Howard Hendricks. I’ve heard you are the worst boy in this school.’ Hendricks thought, ‘Here we go again.’ But then the teacher continued, ‘And you know what? I don’t believe a word of it.’ And Howard said that year that woman did everything she could to help him and encourage him and praise his work; she believed in him. Hendricks credits her with changing his life forever.” ​​ (Source: Spiritual Stamina, Stuart Briscoe, p 231-232). ​​ []

        • We can live up to their doubts, lowered expectations, and criticisms, or we can strive to prove them wrong

    • Trending today

        • We want people to know what we are thinking, but we don’t want to talk with them about it

        • We use social media to talk about people instead of to them

        • We will also talk to another person, while the person we are talking about is right there (Judy saw this happen at the grocery store the other day as it pertains to the wearing of masks)

        • It’s a passive-aggressive way of communicating our point without directly confronting someone

        • We are hoping that they will listen in on the conversation


Recorded in John 17 is Jesus’ prayer to the Father. ​​ It happens at the end of his discourse with His disciples in the upper room. ​​ While He is talking to the Father, the disciples are right there listening to the whole prayer conversation. ​​ “After talking about the Father to His disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus talks to the Father about His disciples.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 572]. ​​ As we’ll see over the next several weeks, Jesus is going to pray for Himself, His disciples, and for future believers. ​​ The great thing is, we get to listen in on this conversation between Jesus and the Father. ​​ As we look at Jesus’ prayer for Himself, today, John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Eternal life comes by knowing God and Jesus.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 17:1-5)

    • Glorify (vv. 1, 4-5)

        • Jesus mentions the word glorify or glory five times in these five verses

          • We see a simple chiastic structure in the fact that Jesus talks about glory in verse 1 and then returns to it again in verses 4-5

          • Verses 2-3 really flesh out how the Son will be glorified, which in turn brings glory to the Father

        • After Jesus said this

          • The NIV’s translation could make it sound like Jesus is only referring to what He just said in John 6:33, but the Greek word for “this” is actually plural and not singular

          • The NLT translates it this way, After saying all these things

          • We don’t have to worry, though, with the NIV’s translation, because if we look at John 6:33 it makes it clear that Jesus is talking about His entire discourse from chapters 14-16

          • John 6:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. ​​ In this world you will have trouble. ​​ But take heart! ​​ I have overcome the world.”

        • Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed

          • This would have been a common Jewish posture for prayer and it may have included raising His hands to heaven [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 462]

          • We see in John 11:41 that Jesus did the same thing when praying for Lazarus to be raised from the dead – He looked up!

          • The Psalmist talks about this same posture of prayer when he says, I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven (Psalm 123:1)

          • We normally encourage everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads, when we pray, but perhaps we should be lifting our eyes to heaven and raising our hands

        • The time has come

          • Hour had not come [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 335]

            • Throughout the book of John, we see Jesus telling different groups that His hour had not yet come

            • In John 2:4 he reminded His mother that His time had not yet come (He still turned water into wine at the wedding)

            • In John 7:30 we read that although the crowd tried to seize him, because of His teachings, no one was able to lay a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come

            • Jesus teaches that He is the light of the world in John 8:12-20, which made the Pharisees angry, but they weren’t able to seize Him, because His time had not yet come

            • Jesus expresses in John 12:27 that His hour is getting closer, but hasn’t arrived yet

          • It’s time!

            • Jesus knows that within a few short hours His glorification will begin, in a way that would be antithetical to how the world would glorify someone

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

              • In all of this we see that God is sovereign – He has the right to rule and He rules rightly

              • God’s plan of redemption was not going to be hijacked by the emotions and desires of the Pharisees or religious leaders

              • His timing and plan were going to be executed perfectly, because He is sovereign

              • We can rejoice in God’s sovereignty in our lives

                • He has the right to rule and He rules rightly in every circumstance in our lives

                • His plans for us will not be hijacked by our emotions and desires

                • We may run ahead of Him sometimes, which causes Him to adjust the timeframe in which we will learn what He is trying to teach us, but His plans will always be fulfilled

                • He knows what’s best for us and earnestly desires for us to learn and grow through His guidance and direction

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s sovereignty over the plans for my life.

            • Jesus’ time had come

          • His glorification was about to begin

        • Glorification of the Son (vv. 1a, 5)

          • On earth – through crucifixion (v. 1a)

            • In verse 1, Jesus is asking the Father to glorify Him – the Son

            • We have to understand God’s glory in order to understand what Jesus is asking for here

              • “The ‘glory’ of God is a noun and means his majesty or his splendor, his ‘display of divine goodness’ (Carson, John, 129). ​​ When we talk about God’s being glorified (the verb), we mean the appropriate response to his goodness displayed. ​​ So the glory of God (noun) is his goodness displayed, and glorifying God (verb) is his goodness celebrated . . . Here when Jesus prays to be glorified, it means his goodness must be seen and celebrated. ​​ For God to answer this request means the greatness of Jesus will need to be understood and acknowledged.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 336]

              • Jesus is about to go to the cross, which in the 1st Century was considered disgraceful – a death worthy of criminals (Roman citizens were never put to death on a cross, that’s how disgraceful this kind of death was)

              • Anyone hung on a tree was considered to be under God’s curse

                • Deuteronomy 21:22-23, If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. ​​ Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. ​​ You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

                • Galatians 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

              • How was God’s goodness going to be displayed and celebrated through Jesus’ disgraceful death?

                • God was going to transform the disgrace of the cross, so that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice could be understood and acknowledged, and so that His glory could be seen and celebrated

                • The analogy of the woman in labor that we studied in John 16 is exactly what will take place so that God’s glory will be seen and celebrated

                  • The disciples would experience a time of grief at Jesus’ death

                  • But their grief would turn to joy when God raised Jesus from the dead, and no one would be able to take away their joy

                  • When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples they understood everything that Jesus had taught them and they celebrated the fulfillment of God’s redemption plan

            • When Jesus is asking the Father to glorify Him, He is saying, “I’m ready to fulfill Your plan of redemption by dying on a cross.”

              • He is asking the Father to sustain Him through the passion events that will be unfolding in the coming hours and days

              • “‘The deepest passion of the heart of Jesus was not the saving of men, but the glory of God; and then the saving of men, because that is for the glory of God.’ (Morgan, p. 270).” ​​ [G. Campbell Morgan cited by Gangel, 312]

            • The transformation of the cross is what enables us to be transformed – it is God’s goodness displayed and celebrated!

          • In heaven – through ascension (v. 5)

            • As Jesus continues His prayer to the Father on His own behalf, we see that in verse 5 He asks again for the Father to glorify Him, but the setting is different

            • He is praying, in advance of His resurrection, about being glorified in God’s presence

            • In reality, He is requesting that the glory, He had before coming to earth, would be restored to Him after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension

            • This glory was something that He had before the world was created

            • John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ​​ He was with God in the beginning.

            • We know that the Father answered this prayer

              • Acts 7:56, “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Stephen’s stoning)

              • Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

          • Jesus’ glorification brought glory to the Father

        • The Father glorified (vv. 1b, 4)

          • In verse 1b we see that Jesus’ request to be glorified will in turn cause the Father to be glorified

          • In verse 4 we see that Jesus has brought the Father glory by completing the work He had given Him to do

            • The work Jesus did was His death, burial, and resurrection

            • It also included teaching and preparing His disciples to continue the work of the Gospel after His ascension into heaven

            • Jesus modeled an important principle for us

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people finish the work He has given them to do.

              • “Think of pastors leaving churches before their work is finished. ​​ Think of missionaries returning from the field before God’s actual release. ​​ Think of the many times you and I have started some task for the Lord with great enthusiasm only to abandon it – unfinished – in the busyness of our lives.” ​​ [Gangel, 313]

              • Evaluating our lives

                • Individually

                  • What has God given you to do for His glory?

                  • Have you completed that?

                  • Have you put it on hold, because of the busyness of life?

                  • Have you forgotten about what He has given you to do?

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize the work that God has given me to do and recommit to complete that work for His glory.

                • Corporately

                  • What has God given us (Idaville Church) to do for His glory? (The Great Command and Commission)

                  • Have we completed that? (the work is never done)

                  • Have we gotten distracted by the Coronavirus? (perhaps)

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Continue the work of the church by loving God and others and making disciples for Jesus Christ.

              • Whether individually or corporately, we should all be striving to hear the words of the Master from the parable Jesus told about the loaned money, “Well done, good and faithful servant! ​​ You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. ​​ Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

        • Jesus has surrounded the most important of this section of His prayer by talking about God being glorified through Him and His work

        • The middle two verses really speak to His work

    • Eternal life (vv. 2-3)

        • Jesus’ sovereign work (v. 2)

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is sovereign!

            • We see that the Father granted the Son authority over all people

            • Jesus also has the right to rule and rules rightly in our lives

          • We can trust Jesus’ sovereignty to provide eternal life for us

            • That is exactly the work God had given Him to do

            • The Father gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to those the Father had given to Him

              • In the current context, those whom the Father gave to Jesus were the disciples

              • But we also know that in a general sense it applies to us, because we are Jesus’ disciples too

              • Jesus’ work was for all humanity

          • Jesus then gives a simple explanation of what eternal life means

        • Eternal life explained (v. 3)

          • Eternal life comes by knowing God and Jesus.

          • The Greek word for “knowing” is ginōskō and means more than intellectual assent or necessary information

            • Just knowing or believing that God exists is not what Jesus is talking about here

            • It’s not just believing that Jesus existed and walked on the earth for 33+ years before ascending to heaven

            • It’s much deeper than that

              • It’s experience and intimacy in relationship with the Father and the Son

              • The Greek word is in the present tense indicating that it’s an ongoing personal experience and relationship with the Father and Son [Gangel, 313]

              • 1 John 5:11-12, And this is the testimony: ​​ God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. ​​ He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

              • 1 John 5:20-21, We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. ​​ And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. ​​ He is the true God and eternal life. ​​ Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

              • Read John 14:6-11

          • How do we have eternal life through the Son?

            • Admit that we are sinners (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)

            • Believe that Jesus completed the work the Father gave Him to do (Rom. 5:8)

            • Choose to have a personal relationship with God and Jesus (John 3:16)

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin a personal relationship with God by believing in Jesus and receiving eternal life.

          • Eternal life comes by knowing God and Jesus.


  • YOU

    • Are you trusting God and Jesus’ sovereignty over the plans for your life?

    • Have you completed the work that God has given you to do?

    • Have you started your relationship with God by believing in Jesus?


  • WE

    • Have we completed the work that God has given us to do as a church?

    • Prayer is the key and Jesus modeled it for us



“How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.”


S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.






The Overcomer

(John 16:25-33)



“When he was seven years old, his family was forced out of their home on a legal technicality, and he had to work to help support them. At age nine, his mother died. At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. He wanted to go to law school, but his education wasn't good enough. At 23, he went into debt to become a partner in a small store. At 26, his business partner died, leaving him a huge debt that took years to repay. At 28, after courting a girl for four years, he asked her to marry him. She said no. At 37, on his third try he was elected to Congress, but two years later, he failed to be reelected. At 41, his four-year-old son died. At 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. At 47, he failed as the vice-presidential candidate. At 49, he ran for the Senate again, and lost. At 51, he was elected president of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln, a man many consider the greatest leader the country ever had. Some people get all the breaks.”


Unknown, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.




He overcame a lot in this world, to eventually be seen as one of our countries greatest leaders



  • ME

    • Peace in job transitions

        • Laid off from Child Evangelism Fellowship

        • Resigning from Every Generation Ministries

    • Peace in serving

        • Several weeks ago I was having trouble sleeping

        • I woke up every half hour from midnight to 3:00 am

        • I finally cried out to the Lord and said, “Please tell me what you what to say, so I can go to sleep!”

        • I immediately fell asleep and had a dream about our first Sunday back after the pandemic

          • Every pew was filled to capacity

          • After the service, I was trying to make my way to the back of the church to get outside, so I could greet everyone

          • I got stopped two times in the foyer

          • The second person who stopped me, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “great message, today.”

          • When I finally saw who the person was, I realized it was Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement and the person who highly influenced me to preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible

          • I told him that I preach the way I do, because of him

          • He asked me to tell him more, which I did

          • That dream gave me peace about preaching God’s Word

          • I’m also excited about the fulfillment of the first part of the dream, where every pew will be filled


  • WE

    • Think of a time when you experienced peace through a difficult situation (child, spouse, family member, coworker, neighbor, school, work, etc.)

    • Where did you find your peace? (God, worship, the Bible, prayer)


The disciples had struggled with understanding Jesus and His words. ​​ After teaching the people, Jesus would explain the meaning to His disciples. ​​ He tells them that a time is coming when He will speak plainly to them and they will understand. ​​ They would experience peace of mind instead of confusion. ​​ Jesus also explained that they would experience trouble in the world, but He would bring them peace through fear and hardship. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can have peace through Christ.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 16:25-33

    • Doubt Turns To Faith (vv. 25-30)

        • Speaking plainly (v. 25)

          • Jesus used parables a lot while ministering on earth

            • If we look through the Synoptic Gospels (Mathew, Mark, and Luke), we can find multiple parables that Jesus used to teach the people

            • Matthew 13:34-36, Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. ​​ So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” ​​ Then he left the crowd and went into the house. ​​ His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

            • So, we know that Jesus used parables every time he spoke with a crowd of people

            • But that’s not what is being referred to here

          • “Jesus had taught ‘figuratively’ (16:25), but the Greek word used here (paroimia) does not simply mean illustrative speech or the use of metaphor and parable; rather, it is speech that is obscure and enigmatic (difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious) . . . For the Middle Easterner, this is the ‘dark saying,’ which typically possesses prophecy or wisdom” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 442]

          • Jesus wasn’t using a metaphor or parable here

            • He was speaking about the future, but the disciples were not going to be able to understand what He was saying until after His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 478]

            • John 16:12-13, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. ​​ But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. ​​ He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

            • An hour (time) was coming when Jesus would speak plainly

          • An hour is coming

            • We know that after Jesus’ resurrection, He spent 40 days on earth, before ascending to the Father

              • He obviously used that time to speak plainly to His disciples

              • He did that not only with the eleven disciples, but with other disciples, as well

              • Last week, I mentioned the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and how Jesus taught them from Moses and Prophets concerning everything that would happen to the Christ

              • Luke 24:30-32, When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. ​​ Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. ​​ They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

              • Their hearts were burning within them, because they were starting to understand Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection – the Scriptures (prophecies) began to make sense to them

            • The coming of the Holy Spirit

              • While Jesus began to speak plainly to them before He ascended into heaven, I believe He is referencing the coming of the Holy Spirit here

              • We see that in John 16:12-13 – the Spirit of truth will guide them into all truth

              • We know that when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, the disciples spoke boldly and with confidence about Jesus

          • Jesus continues to reference the future as He talks with His disciples

        • Direct access to the Father (vv. 26-27)

          • In that day,” refers to a time in the future, after Jesus has returned to the Father

          • Asking in Jesus’ name, but speaking directly to the Father

            • The disciples will ask the Father in Jesus’ name

            • Last week I mentioned that praying in Jesus’ name means coming to the Father with Jesus’ authority and in conformity to His nature

            • Jesus is not saying that praying to the Father in His name means that He will ask the Father on their behalf

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – As disciples of Jesus, we have direct access to the Father.

              • Biblical history

                • After the Israelites came out of Egypt, camped at Mt. Sinai, saw the top of the mountain enveloped in smoke and fire, and heard God speak, they were afraid and asked God to speak directly to Moses – Moses would then speak to the people for God

                • When the tabernacle was built, the most Holy Place was where the ark of the covenant was kept and God’s presence dwelt, between the two cherubim

                • Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the most Holy Place

                • The High Priest was the intermediary between God and the people

                • The Israelites would take a perfect lamb to the temple to be sacrificed by the priests in order to cover over their sins

                • The people did not have direct access God, but had to approach Him through the priests

              • Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, the Israelites and all of humanity, now, have direct access to the Father

                • We don’t have to bring a perfect lamb to church and have the pastor sacrifice it to cover over our sins

                • We don’t have to go to a confessional and ask the priest for forgiveness of our sins

                • We can go directly to God

                • Matthew 27:50-51, And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. ​​ At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. ​​ The earth shook and the rocks split.

                • Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for us to have direct access to the Father

                  • Read Ephesians 2:11-18

                  • Ephesians 3:10-12, His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. ​​ In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

                  • Read Hebrews 10:19-25

                • This direct access is only available to those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ

                  • Admit that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)

                  • Believe in Jesus (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3b-4)

                  • Choose peace with God (Romans 5:1-2, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.)

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus, by faith, and have peace with God.

                  • We can have peace through Christ.

              • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have direct access to the Father

                • When we struggle with sin, even as disciples of Jesus Christ, we can confess that directly to God (1 John 1:9)

                • If we are struggling with a relationship at home, work, school, etc., we can go directly to God

                • Those of us who are struggling financially, go directly to God

                • When we have health concerns, either long-term or recently diagnosed, we can go directly to God

                • Whenever we experience anxiety and depression, because of life circumstances and everything that is happening in our world, we can go directly to God

                • Whatever we’re dealing with right now, we have a Father who is poised and listening to our cries for help – we just have to go directly to Him

                • Psalm 34:17-18, The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. ​​ The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Go directly to God in prayer about whatever is troubling me.

            • We can go directly to the Father because He loves us

          • Love of the Father

            • Jesus explains that the Father loves us because we love Jesus and believe that Jesus came from God

            • “God’s loving openness to our prayers is in fact the outworking of God’s prior love to us in ‘giving’ Jesus (cf. 3:16). ​​ Our prayers, based on our having entered a state of loving (pephilēkate, perfect) and believing (pepisteukate, perfect), are therefore premised on God’s prior loving and Jesus’ self-giving implied in the important words ‘I came from God.’” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 178s]

          • Jesus explains again God’s plan for Him

        • Returning to the Father (v. 28)

          • It’s pretty straight forward

          • Jesus came from the Father and entered the world to accomplish God’s redemptive plan, through His death, burial, and resurrection

          • When He perfectly completes that plan, He will leave the world and return to the Father

          • The disciples hadn’t experienced that yet, because they were living through it

          • We understand it, because we have God’s Word, the Bible, that tells us the whole story from beginning to end

        • The disciples’ understanding (vv. 29-30)

          • The disciples now believe/understand, or do they?

          • Jesus was telling them that a time/hour was coming in which He would speak plainly to them

            • They thought that hour had come, yet it wouldn’t come until after Jesus’ resurrection

            • Perhaps, for the first time, it finally sank in that Jesus had come from God and would be returning to God, but they still didn’t fully understand His death, burial, and resurrection

          • Powerful theological truths

            • While the disciples make some powerful theological statements, it’s doubtful that they fully comprehended what they were saying

              • Jesus knows all things

                • While on earth, Jesus relied on God to tell Him things that He needed to know

                • This was part of setting aside some of His divine attributes

                • But Jesus, as fully divine, is omniscient (all-knowing)

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is omniscient! (all-knowing)

                • That’s a truth and principle that we can hold on to as disciples of Jesus Christ

                  • The COVID-19 pandemic did not catch Jesus by surprise

                  • The racial tensions we’re currently facing in our nation is something He already knew about before we did

                  • The health issues or death of a family member are already known by Him

                  • The financial struggles and relational issues we will face in the future are current knowledge to Jesus

                  • He knows what’s best for us and will never leave us alone

                  • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

                • We can have peace through Christ, because He knows all things

                • The disciples may not have fully understood this when they made the statement, but it would become evident and a truth they would live by in the future

              • Jesus can anticipate our questions without us having to ask

                • “In Jewish thought, the ability to anticipate questions and not needing to be asked is a mark of divinity (see e.g., Josephus, Ant. 6.11.8 §230) . . . In the present instance, the disciples acknowledge that there is no further need to ask Jesus questions to test his religious knowledge; he has often been shown to know others’ thoughts and intentions (e.g., 2:23-25; se Carson 1991: 548).” ​​ [Köstenberger, 479]

                • Because Jesus is all-knowing, He is aware of what we need before we ask

                • When Jesus taught His disciples about prayer, He said this right before giving them the model prayer, Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:8)

            • Jesus’ omniscience and ability to anticipate their questions without them having to ask, leads the disciples to say that they believe Jesus came from God

          • The disciples’ belief

            • “The disciples had arrived at the point of a ‘belief’ that they could express. ​​ But typical human words and adequate believing may be far apart in real life. ​​ People may say they believe in Jesus, but that does not mean they have arrived at the point where their life patterns follow their beliefs.” ​​ [Borchert, 180]

            • This is true of people today

              • When we talk with individuals about a relationship with Jesus, many times they’ll admit they believe in God

              • A belief in God does not guarantee spending eternity with Him in heaven, because even the demons believe in God and they shudder (James 2:19)

              • A relationship with Jesus can and should transform us completely – people should be able to recognize a life style/pattern change through the power of the Gospel

            • The disciples may be able to say the words “We believe,” but Jesus tells them that their actions will prove differently

        • This transitions us into the second point

    • Fear Turns To Peace (vv. 31-32)

        • Question instead of statement (v. 31)

          • In the 1984 translation of the NIV, they have the beginning of verse 31 as a statement, “You believe at last!”

            • When we read that, it sounds like a statement of triumph or relief

            • It seems like Jesus is rejoicing with the disciples, but that’s not what is intended here

          • Most translations and scholars agree that it should be a question instead of a statement

            • “Do you now believe?”

            • I came imagine that Jesus’ face showed shock or disbelief when He asks the question

            • Perhaps the question could be stated like this, “Do you now believe, really?” ​​ (it adds the dimension of doubt)

          • The reason that Jesus would be asking the question with doubt in His mind is because He knows what is going to happen in just a few short hours

        • Foretelling the future (v. 32a)

          • We know the events in the garden, because they have been recorded for us

          • After Jesus was arrested, all of the disciples deserted him and fled (Matt. 26:56b; Mark 14:50)

          • While the disciples left Jesus alone, He was not truly alone – the Father was with Him

        • Never alone (v. 32b)

          • The Father was with Jesus throughout His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is always present with His people (omnipresent).

            • The writer of Hebrews quotes Moses

              • Moses spoke to the Israelites as leadership was transitioning to Joshua

              • In Deuteronomy 31:6 he says this, Be strong and courageous. ​​ Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

              • We can hold on to this principle, promise, and truth as disciples of Jesus Christ

                • God is always present with us

                • He is there through every trial and triumph in your life

                • Even when you feel like He is distant, the truth is, He is right there with you – truth triumphs over feelings every time

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the promise that God is always with me.

            • We can have peace through Christ, because we know that God is always present with us

          • Jesus’ final thought for His disciples

        • Peace in Christ (v. 33)

          • Peace

            • Jesus has told the disciples about His leaving, about the fact that they would experience the same things He did, about their scattering and leaving Him alone, so that in Him they would have peace

            • Aside from being in Christ, they would not experience true peace

            • “Inner peace is conditional; it can come only through Jesus.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 305]

          • Trouble

            • We live in two realms or realities

            • In the world we will experience trouble – that is inevitable

            • We can experience peace even while going through trouble, when we are in Christ

            • We have to remind ourselves about being connected to the vine – Jesus – and what they means

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – Jesus is all-powerful! (omnipotent)

            • Jesus tells His disciples and us to take heart! – be courageous! – have hope!

            • Even though we will go through trouble in this world, Jesus has overcome the world

            • While we will experience the same things that Jesus did on earth (persecution, hatred, kicked out of the church, etc.) we can have hope, because He has overcome the world

            • His perfect sacrifice on the cross satisfied God’s standard for redemption

            • His resurrection meant that He won over sin and death

            • He has overcome and because of that we can have peace through Him no matter what this world throws at us (COVID-19, racial tensions, relational struggles, health issues, financial strain, fear, anxiety, depression, etc.)


  • YOU

    • We can have peace with God, because of Jesus perfect sacrifice

    • We can have peace through Christ, because He knows everything

    • We can have peace through Christ, because He is always present with us

    • We can have peace through Christ, because He is all-powerful and has overcome


  • WE

    • These are the truths that we should be sharing with the world as disciples of Jesus Christ



“In his book Hidden in Plain Sight: The Secret of More, author and pastor Mark Buchanan illustrates God's love through the story of Tracy. He writes:


Tracy is one of the worship leaders at our church. One Sunday, as she sat at the piano, she talked about the difficult week she'd just been through. It was chaotic, she said—a mess of petty crises on top of a rash of minor accidents, all mixed up in a soup can of crazy busyness. It had left her weary and cranky. She got up that Sunday to lead worship and felt spent, with nothing more to give.

However, Tracy's 8-year-old daughter, Brenna, helped her gain new perspective earlier that morning. When Tracy had walked into the living room, the window was covered with scrawl. Using a crayon, Brenna had scribbled something across the picture window, top to bottom and side to side.


At first, it seemed like one more mess for Tracy to clean up. Then she saw what Brenna had written: love, joy, peace, patience, kindnece, goodnece, faithfulnece, gentlnece and selfcantrol (in Brenna's delightful spelling).


Mark writes: ‘Tracy stopped, drank it in. Her heart flooded with light. It was exactly what she needed to be reminded about: the gift of the fruit of the Spirit that arises, not by our circumstances, but by Christ within us.


And then Tracy noticed one more thing Brenna had written at the edge of the window: Love one another. Only Brenna, in her creative spelling, had written: Love won another.’


As Mark concludes: ‘It's what Jesus has been trying to tell us all along. You were won that way. Now go and do likewise.’”


Mark Buchanan, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Secret of More (Thomas Nelson, 2007); submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky.






Labor Pains

(John 16:16-24)



“Do you know what the word gospel means? Euangelion. It means literally the joy news. J.R.R. Tolkien, says there’s a kind of story … that brings us unbelievable joy … He says these stories always have a certain kernel to them. There’s always some incredibly hopeless situation, and victory is snatched out of the jaws of defeat. But how? Always through someone who comes in, and whose weakness turns out to be strength, someone whose defeat turns out to be a victory. He says it’s those kinds of stories that just seem to bring us joy. He called them eucatastrophes.


Do you know what the word eucatastrophe means? The joyful catastrophe. The tragedy that turns out to be a triumph. The sacrifice that turns out to bring joy. He said, however, there’s a Eucatastrophe of the eucatastrophes. There is a Story in all of the stories. He believes there’s a bass string to the human heart, and those stories can kind of make it reverberate a little bit but can’t pluck it.


Tolkien says the gospel story is the only story that will pluck that string so the whole heart never stops reverberating and vibrating with joy. The reason it will reverberate is … this is the reality to which all of the other stories point. It happened. It really happened. There really is a hero who defeats the villain. There really is Jesus. The word gospel means the joy news. Joy. It’s real. You have to have it.”


You can read the sermon here.


Tim Keller sermon on “The Joy of Jesus” from the Series: The Fruit of the Spirit—The Character of Christ, (May 3, 1998).





  • ME

    • Seth’s labor and delivery

        • We were expecting Seth, but he was trying to come early

        • For weeks leading up to his birth, the doctor was telling Judy not to have the baby

        • She had been on medication to stop contractions

        • So, when they finally said she could deliver the baby, she was not as mentally prepared as she had been with Wade’s delivery

        • Everything happened pretty quickly from there

        • I remember that Judy was laboring through her contractions, but I also remember that I needed to use the restroom, because my bladder was full

        • When I told Judy I was going to step into the bathroom, she told me I wasn’t going anywhere

        • She grabbed my hand and I stayed right there with her until Seth was born

        • I’m certainly not comparing the discomfort of a full bladder with labor, but I also remember not having to go to the bathroom after Seth was born

        • What discomfort I had was transformed by the birth of our second son

    • Tears of joy

        • Aside from my salvation experience and my marriage to Judy, the birth of my three boys has brought me the greatest joy

        • I tell people that I cried at the births of all three boys, but they were tears of joy

        • If you’ve never experienced the birth of a child, it’s hard to explain the sheer joy that fills your heart

        • The fullness of joy has to spill out of your body somehow and for me it spilled out through my eyes


  • WE

    • Women

        • If you have given birth, you understand what Jesus is telling His disciples in this passage today

        • The birth of your child is what caused you great pain, but the same child is also what brought you great joy

        • I suspect that most women don’t forget the pain associated with child birth, but I also think that the joy that fills their heart and life following the delivery, is what gives women the strength and courage to go through it again and again

    • Men

        • With technology today, we can also experience a little bit of what labor pains are like (we’ll never understand it fully)

        • They have machines that try to simulate contractions

        • They also have weighted belly suits that let us know what it’s like to carry the extra weight of a baby

          • I tried one of those on when we were expecting Wade

          • The instructor dropped a pencil on the floor and asked me to pick it up

          • When I bent my knees and squatted down to pick it up, both of my knees popped

        • While we can’t truly understand and experience the pain of childbirth, it doesn’t diminish the joy associated with the birth of our children


Jesus is trying to help His disciples understand that He is going to be leaving them soon. ​​ They will experience grief and heartache as He goes to the cross, but their grief will only last for a short time. ​​ He uses the illustration of a woman in labor and the joy she experiences at the birth of her child. ​​ God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain, in childbirth. ​​ Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it [Wiersbe, 363]. ​​ The same was going to be true for the disciples. ​​ God was going to transform their grief into joy. ​​ He wasn’t going to remove it or substitute it with something else. ​​ God is doing the same thing in our lives even today. ​​ Jesus wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – God brings joy through transformation.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 16:16-24)

    • Resistant Joy (vv. 16-22)

        • Jesus’ statement (v. 16)

          • “In a little while you will see me no more . . .”

            • This part of the statement should not have taken the disciples by surprise or caused them confusion, because Jesus had been alluding to this for quite some time

            • John records at least three times when Jesus mentioned that He would be with them for only a short time

              • John 7:33, Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.” [NIV]

              • John 12:35, Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. ​​ Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. ​​ The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.” [NIV]

              • John 13:33, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. ​​ You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: ​​ Where I am going, you cannot come.” [NIV]

            • Just like the disciples

              • When we’re faced with a situation that we don’t want to accept, it’s easy to block out the truth

              • We hear only what we want to hear

              • We struggle with denial, because we don’t want it to be true

              • So, it’s not difficult to understand why the disciples, even after being told multiple times by Jesus about His eminent departure, are still confused by His statement here

              • They’ve blocked out the truth, because they don’t want to accept His departure

              • My guess is that when they agreed to follow Him, they believed He would be with them longer than three plus years

            • In a few short hours, the disciples would not see Jesus, because He would be buried in a tomb

            • While the disciples should have understood Jesus’ impending departure, the next part of the statement would have confused anyone

          • “. . . and then after a little while you will see me.”

            • Most scholars agree, and John’s first readers would have understood, that Jesus is referring to His resurrection here – this is the benefit of hindsight

            • The disciples didn’t have that benefit when Jesus was making this statement to them

            • Resurrection was not a common activity in the 1st Century – resurrection was not common prior to Jesus’ resurrection or since His resurrection

            • On the last day (the end of times), resurrection will be common

              • John 5:28-29, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” [NASB]

              • 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. ​​ After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. ​​ And so we will be with the Lord forever. [NIV]

            • Since resurrection was not commonplace, it’s not hard to see why the disciples struggled with the second part of Jesus’ statement

          • What we see next is their confusion

        • Confused disciples (vv. 17-18)

          • Because the disciples have blocked out Jesus’ multiple references to His departure (His death), they don’t understand the first part of His statement

          • And, because resurrection was not commonplace, they definitely didn’t understand the second part of His statement

          • Talking about Jesus instead of to Jesus

            • It’s fascinating that the disciples are talking amongst themselves about Jesus, instead of talking directly to Him

            • They’re all together at this point, with Jesus

            • But isn’t this just like us

              • Whether it’s something spiritual or non-spiritual, we find it easier to talk to someone else instead of the person who has the solution or can actually affect change

                • We spend time talking about our boss to another colleague at work instead of talking to our boss

                • We spend time talking to other neighbors about the neighbor, who is causing problems in the neighborhood, instead talking to them

                • We spend time talking to another family members about the family member we have a problem with instead of talking to the family member directly

                • We spend time talking about other believers in the Church (the universal Church) instead of talking to them about their beliefs

                • We spend time talking about church leadership with other church members, instead of talking to church leadership about our concerns

              • And most of the time we neglect to talk to God, first, about all of these situations, when He is the One who can and will transform our perspective and keep us from saying something that we may later regret

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to talk to God, first, about individuals and situations that I am struggling with, and then go and talk with the individual(s) who can affect change.

          • While the disciples started out talking to each other about Jesus, they ended up acknowledging that they needed Jesus’ help to understand His statement

          • Jesus didn’t need to have any supernatural knowledge to know that the disciples wanted to ask Him about His statement, because it was obviously written all over their faces – Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, . . .

        • Jesus’ explanation (vv. 19-22)

          • Jesus asks them what they are discussing (v. 19)

            • Jesus doesn’t keep them waiting in agony

            • Instead He asks them if they are questioning each other about His statement

            • Jesus then repeats the statement

          • Jesus tells them they will weep and mourn while the world rejoices (v. 20)

            • Jesus starts with the 23rd “Amen, amen” saying found in the book of John [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 842]

            • He begins to explain what His statement meant

            • Weep and mourn while the world rejoices

              • This is again a reference to His death and burial that would happen within a day

              • The disciples were going to be shocked, confused, hurt, and scattered, because their Rabbi, their Teacher, their friend, their Messiah would be dead

              • This would cause rejoicing by the world

                • The world would be the Romans and the Jews

                • Jesus had been exposing their sin and making them culpable (responsible) for their own sin

                • John 15:22, If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. ​​ Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. [NIV]

                • They knew right from wrong and would have to make a conscience choice to either follow what was right or choose to continue in their sin

                • With Jesus dead, the world would rejoice, because they would no longer have to constantly experience the feelings of guilt every time they saw Jesus in the Temple courts or throughout the Roman Empire

                • What they didn’t understand was that Jesus’ death was part of a divine plan to bring redemption to the world

                • They also didn’t understand that part of God’s plan was to bring Jesus back to life, and in doing so, conquer sin and death

                • This was all part of God’s plan to enable us to be in a right relationship with Him, again

                • Humanity’s relationship with God had been severed since the time of Adam and Eve

                • God was restoring that relationship through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus

              • Jesus was only going to be separated from His disciples for a short time – three days

            • Grief will turn to joy

              • When Jesus came alive again, He showed Himself to certain disciples (Mary Magdalene, Peter) and then to the eleven disciples, and eventually to around 500 disciples

              • What the disciples thought was the end, was just the beginning

              • The grief they would experience would only be short-lived

              • They didn’t understand that when Jesus told them, but Jesus told them nonetheless – He was preparing them ahead of time

              • “OT Israel knew that it is God who is able to ‘turn their mourning into gladness’ and to give them ‘comfort and joy instead of sorrow.’” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 475-76]

                • Jeremiah 31:13, Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. ​​ I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. [NIV]

                • Isaiah 61:2-3, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. ​​ They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

              • The disciples would only grieve for a little while, because Jesus would be coming back to life and seeing them again

            • “Confusion turns to truth and grief turns to joy when we understand what Jesus has said.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 302]

            • Jesus then uses a woman’s labor and the birth of a child to help the disciples understand that God would bring joy through transformation

          • Birth illustration (v. 21)

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God brings joy, not by substitution, but by transformation.

              • “The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 363]

              • Relief of pain in childbirth

                • Perhaps in the 1st Century there was some kind of root that a woman in labor could chew on to relieve pain, but they didn’t have an epidural or intravenous pain medication like we have today

                • They had to go through the intense labor pains associated with childbirth

                • In the 1st Century there was not a substitute that a mother could use to relieve the pain

                • All the pain and hardship of labor was overshadowed by the joy that the mother experienced once the baby was born

                • The pain that the mother was experiencing was transformed into joy after the baby arrived

              • Jesus uses this birth analogy to help the disciples understand what they will be going through shortly

            • Jesus uses something the disciples understood to help remove their confusion about His original statement

          • Application of the illustration for the disciples (v. 22)

            • Just as a woman’s pain is transformed into joy once her baby is born, so it will be with the disciples and their grief

              • They’ve already been experiencing apprehension and anxiety about Jesus leaving

              • When He is crucified, their apprehension and anxiety will turn to grief and mourning

              • When He appears to them, after His resurrection, their grief will be transformed into joy

              • The same Jesus who had died, would be alive again!

              • God did not substitute another person in Jesus’ place, rather He transformed Jesus by allowing Him to come alive again

              • In Luke 24:17-27 we read about two disciples heading home after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (read the passage)

              • They had lost hope, but Jesus transformed their disappointment into joy, when He revealed Himself to them

              • Thomas’s doubt was transformed into belief when He saw the risen Lord

            • No one will take away your joy

              • The joy that the disciples would experience after seeing Jesus resurrected, would never be able to be taken away from them

              • The memory and joy that I experienced at the birth of my three sons cannot be taken away from me

              • As parents, the joy you experienced at the birth of your children cannot be taken away from you

              • As believers, the joy of our salvation experience cannot be taken away from us