in John's Gospel -- Part 21
The Judge on Trial
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
eighteenth chapter of John dramatically depicts the
interview between Pontius Pilate and the Lord Jesus
Christ. Pilate moves with biting brevity and
concealed sarcasm as revealed in his staccato-like barbs
and questions throughout the interview: "Am I a
Jew? Art Thou a King? What is truth?"
contrast the Lord Jesus is seen moving in majesty and
dignity before his earthy judge. Such was His
bearing that though Pilate was to examine Him, the
outcome of the interrogation was that prisoner and judge
exchanged roles. Pilate is revealed in all the
bankruptcy of his condition.
of Christ revealed the moral weakness of Pilate.
Convinced of the innocence of the man before him, Pilate
nevertheless vacillated between acquittal and
conviction, conciliation and accommodation. Righteousness
was an element foreign to his decision making as he was
faced with the most momentous decision of his life.
spiritual indifference is no where more obvious than
when in response to Christís claim to have come to
bear witness to the truth, he retorts "What is
truth?". Pilate is not interested in truth,
spiritual or secular. These subjects may be interesting
The search for truth
carries the heavy price tag of responsibility.
conversation at social
gatherings, but to actually search for truth is very
uncomfortable. The search for truth carries the heavy
price tag of responsibility.
reveals more of the character of Pilate. Even a
cursory reading will show you his inhuman cruelty,
pride, opportunistic approach, and fear of public
opinion. Our purpose however is not to dwell upon Pilate
but to point out a principle: Men brought into the
presence of God are revealed for what they are. The
ultimate light of Godís nature searches out and
manifests ultimate reality.
The... light of
God's nature... manifests ultimate reality.
cases in the Bible substantiate this. Recall how
Peter in Luke 5.8-10 said to Christ, "Depart from
me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord". The Lord
Jesus did not correct him as though he were guilty of
undue exaggeration. Peter recognized the sinfulness of
his own nature when in contact with Christ.
of Israelís greatest voices, pronounced woe after woe
upon the moral degeneracy of his nation (Isa. 3-5). In
the very next chapter, he has a vision of the Lord in
His intrinsic holiness. His declaration now is "Woe
is me, for I am undone..." Before Isaiah could
speak for God, he did not visit a counsellor for
guidance in the matter of self esteem. God cleansed him
from his sin. His assessment was accurate. He needed
cleansing not confidence.
The book of
Job is familiar to all. Frequently read in schools and
colleges for its literary value, it details the
spiritual voyage of a man through his own soul. His
conclusion is given in Job 42.5,6 : "Now mine eye
seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust
desire is to bring us into the light of His presence
that we might measure ourselves against Him. Sadly our
natural instinct is to measure ourselves against each
other , which Paul the apostle reminds us, is not wise
(2Cor. 10.12). We need an ultimate standard to judge and
evaluate. Men claim at times to measure themselves
against Godís standard, yet it is a God of their own
making; a God they have invented for themselves.
The proof of
this lies in the Bible itself. It declares "All
have sinned and come short of the glory of God"
Romans 3.23. All men are declared to be deficient when
brought into the
We need an ultimate
standard to judge and evaluate.
light of Godís
presence. It is here though that God is able to meet men
and provide the salvation they need. By virtue of the
sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary, God is able to forgive
sins and provide men with pardon and justification, as
no loss to His character.
The light of
Godís presence reveals our sin and need. The love of
God reveals the remedy He has provided in the blood of
"...Who was delivered for our offences and raised
again for our justification. Therefore being
justified by faith we have peace with God." Rom.