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Jesus Unfiltered - Testify
Testify is the 4th and final volume of Chip Ingram’s series, Jesus Unfiltered, an exposition of the entire Gospel of John. Testify reveals Jesus’ last days on earth and His final words to His followers, from then to today. It’s a bold, gritty assignment – far from the ease and prosperity of content religion. Jesus tasked His followers with a mission to testify; He promised a future of tribulation; He provided the limitless power of the Holy Spirit; and He guaranteed the hope of victory. Testify will encourage and challenge you to take your faith to the next level – to be strong and courageous – for the sake of His Kingdom to come.More from this series
As we continue our series in the gospel of John, chapter 18 if you want to get a head start and get there. I want you to finish a sentence the best you can. I will get right up to the end and how would you finish?
The sentence goes like this: For this reason I was born and came into the earth, to…you fill it in. For this reason you were born and you came into the earth in order to…what would you fill it in? If you had just to jot that in or say, “The reason that I am on this earth, the reason that I was born, the reason that I am here at this time in history, the reason that I for reasons I don’t understand live at this time with who I am, where I live, what I know is…” What would you say? It’s kind of tough, isn’t it?
Let me state it another way. How about this: I was born for this purpose, in order to…what would you say your purpose is?
I realize without much time to think, some of you might have a very quick, clear answer, but a lot of you might be going, Man, that’s a big, heavy question. You just dropped it on me. Let me give you a little help here. Jesus actually will answer this question for Himself very specifically and when you see the answer, what you’ll realize is there is a lot of instruction about why you’re here and why I’m here.
Jesus will say, “For this purpose I was born and came into the earth, to testify to the truth.” He said the reason He came was to testify to the truth. “Everyone on the side of truth,” – are you ready for this? – “listens to Me.”
Now, pull out your notes, and I want to do something. Open your notes very quickly. We’ll start from the beginning. But I want to move and I just want you to see graphically, the notes.
If you just read through John chapter 18, you would be tempted to think, Oh, this is the chapter where Jesus gets arrested and Peter denies Him three times and then He gets in front of Pilate. And you would be right. But you would miss what John the writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has tucked inside this, the climactic message of the whole chapter is exactly this: “I was born for this purpose, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.”
And then what you’re going to see is we are going to see a list of people who testify. Some courageously and some cowardly, some truly and some falsely. And what is embedded in this passage – are you ready for this? – is why we do what we do. Why I do what I do; why you do what you do.
And what we are going to see is it will be determined primarily by one of two words. There is going to be people that will be courageous and will testify to the truth, and there will be people who will be cowardly and they won’t testify to the truth and their whole life and their complete trajectory of their future and purpose will be determined by whether they are courageous or whether they are cowardly.
Theologian Lyman Abbott put it this way: “Every life is a march from innocence through temptation to either vice or virtue.” And each one of us will make a decision about our destiny. And our destiny will be primarily determined by whether we courageously respond to the truth or cowardly.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when was the last time you ever heard anyone call another person a coward? Right? I mean, we don’t even use those terms anymore. So notice on the front of your notes, let’s to a little definitional work so that when we use these words, I want you to get them in your mind and in your heart and then we are going to go through the passage and I am going to show you all the people who testify in different ways, and you will be very quickly be able to say, “Coward/courageous.” Are you ready?
Courage: the ability to do something that you know is right or good even though it is dangerous, frightening, or difficult. The synonyms are: brave, daring, heroic. An example: someone who acts in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism or even danger.
Cowardice: a trait where fear and excessive concern override doing or saying what is right, good, and of help to others or one’s self in time of need.
Now, there is no joke. These synonyms I got right out of the dictionary. Synonyms: weakling, milksop, namby-pamby. Example; this is very interesting: a person who runs the other direction after seeing a person who needs help.
Before we look at Jesus’ last night and the interviews of different people, I want to do something because some of us don’t have a lot of Bible background, and all four gospels piece together Jesus’ last night. John gives us a unique perspective. But what I want to do is just give you, like, okay, here’s exactly. I want you, in your mind’s eye to think, This is what Jesus went through and these are all the things that happened. And then we will read right through John 18 and watch different people testify. So Jesus’ final night looks like this.
First, He is arrested. Next, He is tried before Annas who is the chief priest’s father-in-law. He has a unique relationship. Annas, it’s an illegal trial, he will send Him to Caiaphas, who is the actual high priest. And then during this time, Peter denies Jesus.
Next, he goes through these trials through the night and then it’s dawn. And the Sanhedrin of the council, at dawn, will then have a third trial and they will convict Him of blasphemy and they say He should be killed.
And Judas learns of that, he goes out and commits suicide.
Then they take Him to Pilate, because the Jews don’t have the power to kill under Roman law. And so they bring Him to Pilate and Pilate realizes, This is politically not the best thing to do, so I’ll see if I can get Herod to do it. So he sends Him to Herod. Herod says, “I don’t want to touch it.” He sends Him back to Pilate. And then, eventually, Pilate, as we will read, condemns Him to death. Have you got it? That’s His evening. Are you ready?
Open your Bibles now to chapter 18 and let’s examine the testimonies and some of them are by just actions and others are by words.
Chapter 18, verse 1, “When He had finished praying, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed over the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and He and His disciples went into it. Now Judas, who was betraying Him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. And they were carrying torches, and lanterns, and weapons.”
The first person who testifies is Judas. It’s a false testimony and it’s a hypocritical one. The other gospel writers say the reason they have lanterns, it’s very dark and it says there is a detachment. A very unique Greek word for detachment. It could be a whole battalion or it could be a smaller group of six hundred. But at a minimum it’s two hundred soldiers. So there are two hundred Roman soldiers along with some officials.
Judas is leading and it’s kind of dark and they have got their lanterns, so his testimony, after how does he respond to the truth in Jesus? He comes to Him with “Rabboni,” which means: “you are my Teacher and my Rabbi who I have followed,” and then he gives Him a greeting of warmth and kisses Him so that now the soldiers know who to arrest. He is a betrayer. He doesn’t listen to the truth.
“Jesus, knowing what was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, ‘Who do you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. He said, ‘I am He.’” Notice what happens. “Jesus said, (And Judas the traitor was standing with them all.) And when Jesus said, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and they fell to the ground. And again He asked them, ‘Who is it that you want?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ ‘I told you I am He,’ Jesus answered. ‘If you are looking for Me, then let these men go.’ This happened so that the words He had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those that You gave Me.’”
This is a very, very interesting passage and we miss it in the English here. First of all, you’ll notice that Jesus went voluntarily. After He was in the garden, they didn’t catch Him. It says He went out to meet them. Second, He wants to make sure His disciples are safe. And so you see that He gets them off the hook. But three times, did you notice the witness of Jesus? “I am He, I am He, I am He.”
The Greek word is: ego eimi. If you would go to Exodus chapter 3, and the Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, when you would find God revealing Himself to Moses, and gives His covenant name: I AM THAT I AM, guess what it is in Greek: Ego eimi. Jesus is saying, “I AM THAT I AM.” I am Jehovah, I am the Messiah. And when the words come out of His mouth, there is such power that two hundred soldiers, bam! Flat on their face, along with Judas.
They all get up and He says again, “Who are you looking for?” And He repeats it again, and even a third time. The first testimony is a false one; it’s Judas, a betrayer, a hypocrite. The second one is the Son of Man and His testimony is He verbally identifies, it’s a powerful one, that He in fact is Jehovah God.
We move on. Testimony number three, “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword,” the word for sword here could, literally, be like a long fishing knife and that’s probably the case. It could be used for a short sword or a long fishing knife. And notice what Peter does.
“He drew it and he struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.” And I’m guessing he was not aiming for his ear. “The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?’”
Now, Peter takes a lot of flak in the New Testament. He is the big mouth, he’s impetuous, he’s impulsive and he is going to deny the Lord a little bit later. But can we just get our arms around what is going on here? He has earlier said, “Lord, I will die with You.” And Jesus said, “You don’t really understand what you’re talking about.” We get all that side, right?
But there are two hundred soldiers. There’s Peter, there’s ten other disciples, and there’s Jesus. And we know from the text earlier that all these men, now, are all in. They believe. “The Father sent You. You have the words of eternal life. You’re the Messiah. You are fully man; You are fully God.”
And I don’t know what the odds are, but two hundred soldiers, ten guys with no weapons, me with one weapon – Peter said, “I am all in. I am going to defend You.” It may have been misguided, but it was heroic. It was courageous. It was daring. He was willing to give his life right then and right there. His testimony, by his actions was: I believe. There is nothing more important than my relationship with You. And we know Peter was married.
So he is laying down his life. And what I want you to observe, he is laying down his life in the presence of Jesus. He is laying down his life after he has seen the power. I mean, can you imagine being one of the disciples and there are two hundred guys and lanterns and all this stuff. And he goes, “I am He.” Bam! They all fall down. I don’t know about you, I’d be, like, “Hey, dude, this is good. We’re with you, man.”
They don’t know what is going to happen. But there is great boldness in the presence of God and the fellowship of other believers, and when you see the power of God’s Word.
Well, the story continues. Open your notes as you can see the outline as we are walking through the story. Jesus has been arrested. And now He is going to go before Annas, who is the father-in-law of the high priest. “Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound Him, brought Him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.”
Now, you’ve got to get some background here. Annas is the father-in-law but he had five sons and this is his son-in-law.
The history here, is this is one of the biggest crooks of all time. Annas, basically, was in cahoots with the Roman government. He had one of his sons, he bought the high priesthood so one of his sons, one of the five sons was the high priest and now it’s his son-in-law, but he is the power broker. So, the reason they are taking Jesus to Annas is it’s kind of like some of these dictatorships where the guy might step down, but he is really pulling all the strings. This is the power guy. He is very, very wealthy; he is very connected; he is very powerful.
And so no matter who the high priest is, this is the guy deeply calling the shots. He was also in charge of a thing called the Bazaar. And the Bazaar was where all the animals,
you could, when you went, people would come for Passover for miles and miles and miles around.
So rather than bringing all their own animals, there was, I mean, sometimes they would sacrifice You know, sixty-five, a hundred thousand, a hundred and fifty-thousand sheep. Well, what they would do is these people would come from anywhere, and rather than bring their own sheep, they would buy one.
Well, he had a monopoly on all the animals and he would do a surcharge. And so this guy is getting filthy rich and placing his sons and sons-in-law in all these situations so that’s the background.
Caiaphas is his son-in-law. And, notice, there is a testimony. The testimony is John just mentions. “This is the one who said, ‘It is better for one man to die for all the people.’” And if you remember your gospel history, it came at a time when they were debating about what to do with Him and then the author says, “He said this, but as the high priest, it was prophetic.” He said it with this in mind, Hey, you know what? Rather than Him taking our position and Rome coming down on us, we will just get rid of Him. But, in fact, as the high priest, God spoke through him that, in fact, it is better for one man to die, because Jesus would die and pay for the sins of all people of all time, a true testimony.
And we pick up the story in verse 15. “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. ‘Surely, you are not another of this Man’s disciples,’ the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, ‘I am not.’ It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire that they made to keep warm. And Peter was also standing with them, warming himself.”
You pick it up in the English, but the phrasing here in the Greek is she is asking a question, expecting a negative answer. This happens to us sometimes too. It’s like, “You’re not one of those evangelicals, are you? You’re not one of those people that actually really believe in the Bible and that Jesus was a literal person and raised from the dead, do you?”
Now, and by the way, this is so interesting that God would allow us, it’s such a God-given book because no one writing a book to start something would ever allow the leaders to look like this. Moments ago, he would take on two hundred trained Roman soldiers. And now, circumstances have changed and a servant girl just asked a question, “You’re certainly, I mean, you’re certainly not one of His followers, are you?” And what does Peter say? He was courageous and now he is a coward. “No, I’m not.”
We pick up the story. It continues. The high priest begins to question Jesus, verse 19. “Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching.” Now, notice Jesus’ focus and His response is going to go back to how openly He testified, how openly He shared and taught and what He is going to call on them to do is do what? Bring witnesses in who heard My teaching, let them testify about what is true and what I spoke.
“When Jesus said this, He said, ‘I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews came together. I said nothing in secret. Why question Me? Ask those who heard Me. Surely they knew what I said.’ When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck Him in the face. ‘Is that the way they answer the high priest?’ he demanded.”
Now, notice the theme the author keeps bringing up. “‘If I said something wrong,’ Jesus replied, ‘testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?’ Then Annas sent Him still to be bound to Caiaphas the high priest.” Are you catching the drift? Are you catching and realizing there is a series of people and the issue is: how do they testify to the truth? Are they courageous or are they cowardly?
Verse 25, “As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, ‘Surely you’re not another of His disciples?’ And he denied it, saying, ‘I am not.’ One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, ‘Well, didn’t I see you with Him in the olive garden?’ Again, Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster crowed,” as prophesied, three times.
And, by the way, the other gospel writers, a little bit more graphic. Peter doesn’t just say, “No, it wasn’t me.” He says, “Blankety, blank, blank! I don’t know the guy!” He actually curses and completely disowns any relationship with Jesus. And this is the same guy who was willing to die an hour or two or three before.