International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 1, 2012
Purpose: To discover the power and the danger of testifying to the truth
Scripture Text: John 18:28-37
John 18:28-37 (NRSV)
(28) Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. (29) So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" (30) They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." (31) Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews replied, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death." (32) (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) (33) Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" (34) Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" (35) Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" (36) Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." (37) Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Once again our lesson text begins in the middle of the story. Our text begins in the home of Caiaphas, the high priest. After Jesus was arrested by the temple guard, John reports that he was taken to the home of Annas. Annas had been the high priest prior to his son-in-law Caiaphas, assuming the position. Annas would have been a much respected consultant to the temple guard, because of his past position and age. After Jesus was bound and taken to Annas's home Annas sent him and the contingent of temple police and some Roman soldiers to the home of Caiaphas, it may well have been just a different area of the same house where there was a large courtyard. The only two disciples to tag along was Peter and an unnamed disciple, which was evidently, acquainted with Caiaphas the high priest. I personally think that the unnamed disciple may have been Nicodemus, the young Pharisee that came to Jesus in last week's lesson, and became a follower of Jesus although he was never considered to be a disciple or Apostle. It also could have been the writer John that was an acquaintance of Caiaphas.
Our text starts from the point where Jesus is taken from the home of the high priest to the praetorium or the modern day courthouse that was the seat of Roman authority. The praetorium sat next to the Temple and overlooked the plaza of the Temple. The writer points out that this is all happening very early in the morning and was still part of the Jewish celebration of Passover, which would last for seven days, and for this reason those Jew in attendance did not want to defile themselves by being in contact with non Jews or their home of offices. This created for Pilate a bit of inconvenience; he had to address the Jewish officials outside while talking to Jesus inside. You get that sense as you read the account as John recorded it. The other problem you get from John's writings (John 13:1) is that Jesus orders the last super to be held on Wednesday the day prior to the Passover) The Passover meal had yet to be observed by those in attendance in Pilates court. John has the crucifixion of Jesus actually happening on Passover and Jesus becomes the Pascal Lamb that takes away our sins. So Jesus may have been crucified on Thursday or Passover day rather than Friday the day prior to the Sabbath. Over the years, there have been several different explanations for the conflict between the Gospel of John and other three gospel accounts. The one thing we know for sure is that John was an eyewitness to all that happened.
You can sense Pilate's frustration as he questions Jesus and tries to appease a crowd of angry Jews outside his palace. He could not find a legitimate charge that could warrant the death penalty the crowd was demanding. The Romans had just imposed a law this same year that the Jews could not order death by crucifixion but would have to use death by stoning as the only means of capital punishment. Jesus had already foretold how his death would be, and crucifixion was what he prophesied in John 3:14
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up.”
Jesus and Pilate have a discourse and Pilate asks an interesting question, “I am not a Jew am I?” In a sense because of his unbelief he is certainly identified with the Jews. The unbelieving Jews as well as Gentiles become condemned by their unbelief; they have no place in this kingdom that Jesus is talking about. Jesus affirms that he was sent to earth to be a king, and all of those that believe can become a part of that kingdom.
Becoming a part of Jesus kingdom is really simple, recognize the truth, listen to his voice and follow him. I love this quote from C. S. Lewis "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."