Explore the Bible Study: I Find No Fault

11:52 AM

The accusation and conviction of innocent people isn’t anything new. While our justice system is designed to convict the guilty and protect the innocent, it isn’t perfect. However, courts and justice systems in other countries and throughout history are sometimes designed for other motives. Determining guilt or innocence is not the goal, but the goal is to protect cultural or personal agendas or to elevate one’s own personal reputation or standing in society. This was the case for Jesus as you will discover in the Explore the Bible Study: I Find No Fault. 

Jesus was brought to trial on that dreadful day leading up to His crucifixion. By torchlight, an armed mob seized and bound Jesus and brought Him  to Annas, a former high priest, who retained a significant amount of power. Jesus was falsely accused, cruelly treated, and the sent to Caiaphas for more interrogation. The subsequent hearings violated lawful procedures, but justice and truth were not the goal. There was an agenda in play intended to destroy Jesus and protect the powers of religious and political leaders. 

Because the Jewish leadership could only go so far with their hearings, they knew they had to move Jesus to another venue so their agenda could be complete. The Jewish leaders took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pilate, who refused initially to hear the case. Finally, Pilate agreed to question Jesus. It’s at this point that we will examine in John 18:28-40 the events surrounding the ongoing trial of Jesus. As we examine this, we will see how people will reveal their hypocrisy when accusing Jesus. We will see the dilemma Jesus’ innocence presents to those who try to seek the truth. And we will see the callous response from people who choose to reject Jesus. Perhaps, through Jesus’ experience, we can learn something about how people might view us as we strive to live for Christ.

People will reveal their hypocrisy when accusing Jesus – John 18:28-32

We all know that wicked people often find someone else to do their dirty work. This was certainly the case with those who brought Jesus to Pilate. These were religious leaders and followers, yet their own actions revealed an empty and hypocritical heart. Not only had they previously mocked and mistreated Jesus which violated all that was moral about Judaism,  but now they wanted someone else to do what they wanted to do but couldn’t—kill Jesus.

This crowd of soldiers, temple guards, and religious officials marched Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem in the early morning hours, most likely just after dawn. Even though they had murder in their hearts their hypocrisy is revealed:

  1. They wouldn’t enter the main building because they would be defiled, yet they had already defiled themselves in the way that they treated an innocent man. The leaders’ hypocrisy was exposed, as they cared more about contact with a Gentile than about falsely accusing Jesus and demanding His death.
  2. They didn’t give an honest answer to Pilate about the charges against Jesus because they had none that were legitimate. They misled Pilate by leading him to assume Jesus was guilty of crimes against the Roman government or they wouldn’t have brought Him before Pilate.
  3. Finally, they wanted Pilate to do their dirty work of killing Jesus. They had already conspired in their hearts to kill Jesus but apparently, they didn’t view this as a sin. 

John reminds us in verse 32 that, “They said this so that Jesus’ words might be fulfilled indicating what kind of death he was going to die.” While we see the hypocrisy of the crowd and the seemingly hopelessness of Jesus’ situation, God was still in control. Jesus was on mission to fulfill God’s plan and His words regarding His death were going to play out exactly as He had foretold, revealing that Jesus truly is who He says He is. The fulfillment of Jesus’ words when He would die on a cross would reveal that God was in perfect control, even in the death of His Son.

Today our culture uses words such as tolerance, love, choice, and even truth. What are some examples of ways in which Christians might be accused falsely that reveal the hypocrisy of culture as it relates to these words?

When we honor Christ by lovingly living our faith in a hostile world that continues to try to destroy Jesus, we will be accused and people will seek to silence us. It is during those times that we can’t forget that God is still in control! When this takes place in our lives, we might encounter what Jesus encountered when He came before Pilate. It is the dilemma Jesus’ innocence presented to those who try to seek the truth.

The dilemma Jesus’ innocence presents to those seeking truth – John 18:33-38a

What do you think was the dilemma for Pilate in this situation? What can we learn from how Jesus presented the truth without compromising or denying who He was?

Imagine Pilate looking at this man called Jesus. He has been beaten, mistreated, accused, and now this shell of a man stands before Pilate for more interrogation. Pilate directly asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Commentators note an emphasis on the word you. Given Jesus’ condition at the hands of the Jewish leaders, Pilate found it incredible that this man could claim to be royalty. 

Notice how Jesus responds. His questions to Pilate were meant to challenge Pilate’s thinking about the nature of the charges against Him. Pilate had a dilemma on his hands. He wanted to get to the truth about Jesus because the Roman authorities had little concern for the internal grievances and petty squabbles among the Jews. The governor needed to find the truth so that he could rule. Jesus’ response revealed to Pilate that He and his followers were not a threat to the Roman government because His “kingdom was not of this world.” If it was, then His followers would fight for Him.  The fact that He was standing in bonds before Pilate testified to the truth that He was not an earthly king. 

Jesus acknowledged He was born to reign as a king. He went further to reiterate the kind of king He came to be. He came to testify to the truth. Obviously, Jesus’ ultimate purpose was the salvation of human beings, but that involved revealing the truth about sinful people, a righteous God, the necessity of repentance, the primacy of faith, and salvation through His sacrificial atonement.

Do you struggle with knowing what is truth and what isn’t? Is it getting harder or easier to discern truth from fiction in our world?

Pilate asked, “What is truth?” This is a question that is asked daily all around this world. Life is a search for truth. In Pilate’s case, his experience with the political and religious intrigues in Rome and in Jerusalem had hardened him to assertions of truth. He may have considered philosophical aspects of the question, but more likely his question expressed cynical bewilderment. 

How can we reveal the Truth in a world that is asking, “What is truth?” 

You will discover next that, when people are determined to define their own truth that excludes the Truth of Jesus and the Scriptures, their hearts will become so hardened that they will do unimaginable things in order to have their own way with their "own truth."

Those who reject Jesus have callous hearts – John 18:38b-40

Pilate had heard enough. He found no grounds for charging Jesus. He concluded that Jesus’ kingdom was no threat to Caesar politically or militarily. In truth, Pilate found no basis even to charge Jesus, much less convict Him, but this wasn’t the outcome the Jews desired. Their hearts were so calloused toward Jesus and the Truth of the Scriptures that they chose a murderous rebel over Jesus.

What do people today say they want instead of Jesus? How would our culture complete this phrase today? —“Don’t give us Jesus; give us _________________________.”

 We are guilty but declared innocent

Jesus was innocent, yet he was found guilty, not by Pilate but by those who callously chose their own agendas, desires, and preferences over those presented by Jesus Christ. They chose a murderer so that they might murder the Savior. This situation can lead us to feel as if life wasn’t fair for Jesus, yet we know that Jesus went through all this so that those who receive Christ could be proclaimed innocent before another judge, God Himself. Romans 8:1 reminds believers of their innocence: “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

How should knowing that you, if you are a believer, are proclaimed innocent impact the way you live for Christ daily?

How can knowing this help you when you observe the hypocrisy of those who falsely accuse followers of Christ?

How can knowing this help you when someone seeks the truth from you about Christ?

How can knowing this help you as you observe the callousness of those who openly and defiantly reject Christ and His followers?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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