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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
“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying His own cross,” the way this would happen is, actually, He is carrying His own crossbeam, the vertical post would already be where the crucifixion is going to happen. The crossbeam would be placed on the shoulders and would be tied around His shoulders.
And so, Jesus is being traipsed through the city, no one is coming to His defense, and then Pilate sort of has his moment back at the religious leaders. He knows it’s out of jealously, he knows it’s not true… and so he writes on, above the cross, in three languages. “‘JESUS OF NAZARATH, KING OF THE JEWS.’
Many of the Jews read this sign, on this place, and the chief priests and the Jews protested. They said, ‘Say that this man claimed to be the King of the Jews,’” and then Pilate has this classic statement, “‘What I have written, I have written.’ When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from the bottom to the top. ‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. So they decided by lot,” like dice, “who would get it. And this happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ‘They divided My garments among them and cast lots for my clothes.’” That’s from Psalm 22.
Crucifixion, what you died was usually from suffocation. It has been said it is the most excruciating torture ever invented for human beings upon one another. And so Jesus will experience that and, notice, it’s willful.
Notice the text goes on and we find out what happens. The death of Jesus, verse 28. “Later, knowing that all had been completed,” Jesus was on a mission and an assignment, “and so that,” you might notice, “the Scriptures would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ And a jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge on it, put the sponge on a stalk of hyssop plant, and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips. When He had received the drink, He said, ‘It is finished.’ And with that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
“Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. And because the Jews did not want bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to break the legs of the bodies and the soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those on the other side. But when they came to Jesus, they found that He had already died. They did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of both blood and water. And the man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies to you, that you may also believe. These things happened so the Scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of His bones was broken,’ and as another Scripture says, ‘They will look on the One whom they have pierced.’”
And so you have this moment where Jesus, first of all, He voluntarily dies. This phrase that all three other gospels say that when He ended His life, He shouted. And it’s in a tense of the verb, it’s in the perfect tense. Something that is done that continues on into the future. And He says, “It’s finished!” And it’s a financial term. In our day, it would be like, “Paid in full.” And that’s what He shouts because that’s what He did. Paid in full.
Because in the moment that He died, the just wrath of God, your sin, my sin, the sins of all people of all time was upon Jesus. And as it was put upon Him, that’s why the other gospel writers tell us He said, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?” Because something happened in the Triunity of God, for the first time in all eternity, is that the Father turned away from the Son because God is holy and allowed the just wrath of God for your sin and mine to be placed, and Jesus would be an offering.
And when He did that, He paid for your sin so that any person in all the earth who would turn from their sin and, in the empty hands of faith, ask God for forgiveness based on the work of Christ, could have their sins forgiven and have eternal life. That’s what happened.
Now, let’s look at the evidence. What’s really going on here? Is Jesus the unique Savior of the world?
What is John, he is writing it 100 A.D., a number of years later. It’s a time where a group of heretics are floating around called Gnostics that say that spiritual things are good and pure and holy, but physical things are evil. And they were even saying that Jesus never had a physical body. And they were even saying things like when Jesus walked on the sand, He didn’t leave any footprints.
Part of John and the graphic detail, he wants you to know he was a real man – fully man, fully God – that a real, physical body died. And so, notice the testimony.
The testimony of Jesus is one word. It’s: love. It’s love. Sometimes we can get all carried away or amazed by the crucifixion and what happened and the day and the empty tomb and swoons and theories but Jesus, earlier in the evening, in John 15, said to His disciples, “Greater love has no man that this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
It was just earlier in the evening! He was talking about what really matters. And then what did He do? He modeled it. He willfully laid down His life for them and for us.
In Mark chapter 10, Jesus would talk about His life purpose. And He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many.” His purpose clause, in other words, “I came to buy you back out of the slave market of sin. I love you so much that I died and gave My life for you,” but what it did was it paid the price, your debt that you owe God of falling short of the absolute perfection of God is paid in full by Christ.
I want you to visualize what it would be like to be sitting on the sidelines and watching them spit on Jesus and take the thorns and put them on His head and then mock Him with that robe. And what it would be like to watch Him agonize and hurt.
And then what He knew was the greatest pain wasn’t the physical. It wasn’t even the emotional. It’s total humiliation. They stripped Him naked and put Him on a cross of a world that He made as a display, as a spectacle. And He endured all that and here is why: it’s Him saying, “I love you that much. You matter to Me and the Father and the Holy Spirit that much.” That’s the evidence.
Talk is cheap, right? We all have people that say, “Hey, I’m there for you and no matter what, I’ll be there.”
“God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died in our place.”
The second testimony is interesting. It’s the testimony of Pilate. And Pilate’s testimony is truth. In verse 4 he says, “I find no charge against Him.” In verse 6, he comes back again. After interviewing Jesus, he goes, “I find no charge against Him.”
If you read all the other gospels, between Pilate and Herod, five different times the Roman government says, “He’s not guilty.” An innocent man was killed. There’s truth! It’s verified.
In fact, even the sign. Pilate was kind of jabbing the religious leaders when he put, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS,” in Latin, in Greek, and in Hebrew. The three great languages.
So what is the most powerful nation in all the world’s testimony about: why was Jesus killed? Because He is the King of the Jews. He was, in fact, a king. And guess what, that’s treason, because in Rome there is only one king, and it’s Caesar. And so He really did die for what was true, written above Him.
Third is the testimony of Scripture. I don’t know if you noticed, but two or three different times it said, “That the Scripture would be fulfilled.” “That the Scripture would be fulfilled.” I put in John 19, verses 24, verses 28, verses 36. Now, underneath that in parentheses I put: Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. And I don’t have time to go through each one of them but here’s what I want you to get.
Both of those passages are quoted. Well, why? I mean, John is writing, this is a historical document. Here’s why: Psalm 22 was written by David, a Messianic psalm. It’s written a thousand years before this event. And as you read it, you will think it’s an actual, clear description of crucifixion. It will talk about His thirst, about His tongue, about His joints falling out of place. It will describe crucifixion to a T. The only problem is it wasn’t invented until far later. Most think by the Persians and they passed that on to another group who passed it on to Rome.
Isaiah was written seven hundred years before this event. Now, I want you to do something. I want you to open your Bibles to Isaiah 53, because I want you, with your own eyes to read something that seven hundred years before this event happened, here’s the testimony of God’s divine plan. This wasn’t an itinerant person who claimed to be God. This wasn’t some teacher who did a few miracles. This is someone that, seven hundred years earlier, this specifically is prophesied about what is going to happen.
Isaiah chapter 53. Let’s pick it up at verse 4. And as I read this, here’s all I want you to ask: Who in the world could this be about if it’s not Jesus?
“Surely he took our infirmities and carried our sorrows: yet we considered him stricken by God and smitten by men, and afflicted. 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 all like sheep have gone astray; each one of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and afflicted, yet he didn’t open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to slaughter, as a sheep before the shearers is silent, so he didn’t open his mouth.
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living: for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; though he had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him; and cause him to suffer. And through this the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
“After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied: by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 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 transgressors; for he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for transgressors.”
Seven hundred years before what you read that was before eyewitnesses, that has been given to us today. It is absolutely an amazing, historical testimony of the evidence of who Jesus is and what He did.
And, finally, we have the testimony of John. And John’s testimony is in verse 35, and I put it on your notes. John is looking at all of this and over and over what he has done: testify, testify, testify.
The book is about testifying in miracles, testifying by different interviews, testifying Jesus in truth. And now he is summing it up and he says, “The man who saw it has given testimony and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth and he testifies so that you may also believe.” And so his testimony is one of life. One of life. Jesus’ testimony is of love. Pilate’s testimony is of truth.
But God, when He wants to make a point, He often uses one thing to say, The way that you can separate Me from any other truth-claim, any other religion, anyone who claims to be God is a very, very simple way. And over and over in the Old Testament and Jesus would say the same, Don’t compare Me to any other gods. And then the proof is in this.
Just this, again, written seven hundred years earlier. Isaiah, filled with the Holy Spirit, God is speaking through him. “To whom will you compare Me?” Isaiah 46. “Who is My equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god for it. They bow down and they worship it. They carry it around on their shoulders and when they set it down, it stays there; it can’t even move. And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble. Do not forget this, keep it in mind, remember this you guilty ones.
“Remember the things that I have done in the past, for I alone am God. I am God, and there is none like Me.” And then get this, “Only I can tell the future before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” God says the proof is that: I am not an idol, the proof is this. I will tell you exactly what is going to happen a thousand years in advance, seven hundred years in advance, down to the very details so that you’ll know it’s Me.
So you have the evidence of the Savior who loves you. You have the evidence of a corrupt Roman official who examines the evidence and says He is innocent, the truth. We have fulfilled prophecy in Scripture. And we have an eyewitness.
And so, as you turn to the back page, here’s the question: Is Jesus guilty of being the unique Savior of the world, or not? There are two boxes. You’re the jury. There are not twelve people on this one, there’s just one, and it’s you.
This is not an intellectual exercise. There are huge implications. You either believe and trust, Yes, He is guilty of being, notice, the unique, as in “only,” Savior of the world, or He’s not.
I would say the evidence is overwhelming. And so, depending on what you believe and where you’re at at this moment, check box “yes” or check box “no.” Or leave it blank and be an honest seeker that says, You know something? This is very, very interesting. I don’t know. I’m not sure right now. But there is enough evidence here that I ought to check this out, because life and death and eternity depend on it.
Second question is: Have you repented and – the key word is – received Jesus to be your Savior and Lord? See, it’s one thing to believe, intellectually, that, Oh, yeah, the evidence is pretty overwhelming. I intellectually believe He is the Savior of the world. That’s different than, I personally have turned from my sin, repented, and I have received Him as my Savior and my Lord.
So, depending on where you’re at, check “yes” or be really honest – check “no.” I’m open to it. I’m not sure. I’m exploring. But for right now, no.
See, there is something that Jesus does all through Scripture and something God does for us. There is no gray with Jesus. He said, “Those who are for Me and those that are against Me.” He made outrageous claims and then He rose from the dead.
Third question: What implications are there for your family, friends, and coworkers if you know this truth and they do not? As I am talking, I would like you to think about the one or two people that you have been praying for. I’d like you to think about who you work with. I want you to visualize walking in. And whether it’s a job site, a construction site, or whether there are a bunch of cubicles or whether you’re in this corner suite or whether it’s mostly in your car and you’re going to make a lot of stops and interact with a lot of people.
I want you to think about a family member, think about work. I want you to think about maybe where you live and the apartment below you, the condo on the right, the houses on the right and the left. You know this and they don’t. All I want to ask is: What are the implications?
Question number four: What of the evidence presented most moved you? This is a private one. I want you to think about, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, relationally – which of the evidences presented, out of this passage, just did something inside of you? Because I want you to think about that. And then, finally, I want you to act on it.
How will your verdict inform how you live, pray, and interact with others this week?