The Ultimate Power Struggle
(John 19:1-16) Warren Payne
This Sunday we are one week from Easter.
In the New Testament John records for us what happened the days before the crucifixion. For those who may not be familiar with the story let me outline John's record for you.
PP photo of each scene
- Jesus and his disciples are in the garden of Gethsemane when a contingent of Roman guards and temple guards arrive with Judas the betrayer to arrest Jesus.
- Simon Peter then attempts to protect Jesus by cutting off the rig
- ht ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s slave. Jesus then states he is willing to suffer and die.
- Jesus is tied up and taken to the home of Caiaphas the High Priest.
- Next we have the record of Peter's first denial that he even knew Jesus.
- Jesus is then slapped across the face and questioned by the High Priest Annas.
- Peter's second and third denials are recorded next.
- The trial before Caiaphas and the whole Jewish Council then ends in the early hours of the morning.
- Jesus is next taken to be tried before the Roman Governor, Pilate. Pilate questions Jesus and there is a discussion about truth and what it is. But Pilate can not find any crime that deserves the death penalty and tries to release “The King of the Jews”. At this point the crowd shout “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas. (Barabbas was a revolutionary)
It is at this point we come to our passage for today Chapter 19 where the trial continues and Jesus is sentenced to death. Let me read it for you.
PP - Read John 19:1-16
PP - There is the story of a young boy in the UK who had terminal cancer and was given just a few days to live. When a large demolition company heard about this, they invited the young boy to the site where they were about to demolish a large high-rise building. The explosives had been set in the building and all that was required was for the button to be pushed on the remote control device and the building would explode and collapse.
The company invited this young boy to push the button and so demolish the building. This the boy did. The instant he pushed the button there was a mighty explosion and this very large multi-story building came crashing down.
This young boy had been given the authority to push the button and when he exercised his given authority, the dynamite exploded, the power was released, and the building collapsed.
The whole Easter story is a demonstration of the exercise of authority that released the power of God for the salvation of all peoples. Easter was the ultimate power struggle.
In John 19: 1-16 we see this power struggle played out in three worlds. These three worlds fought to exercise authority over Jesus, the Son of God.
- Authority and power of the Jewish religious world
- Authority and power of the Roman political world
- Authority and power of the Satanic, spiritual world.
Authority is a concept known to some degree by every responsible person. It is appreciated by most of us, for without it society would be chaotic. Some however, detest it, and refuse to live by it. The world’s prisons are full of people who fight authority.
'Authority' is a major biblical theme. The most popular Greek word for 'authority' is exousia (sometimes translated as 'power'). This term, with a variety of usages, is found some 102 times in the New Testament.
PP - In Matthew 28: 18 – 19 Jesus says to his disciples “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations.” Yes, the Bible is very clear that Jesus Christ has authority over all religious, political and spiritual worlds. He has all authority in both heaven and here on earth.
Ephesians 1: 21 -22 reads “He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.”
Why is all authority given to Jesus? The answer is amazing for it is to bless the church, you and I. It is for our benefit that all authority is given to Jesus Christ.
This is why the Easter story is a story of the struggle of the Jewish leaders, Roman leaders and the leader of the realm of death, Satan. All three wanted to have authority over Jesus.
Our salvation was so important to God that through Jesus Christ, for one brief period of time at Easter, Jesus Christ allowed the religious world, the political world and the evil spiritual world of Satan the authority to exercise their powers.
At Easter Jesus gave these three worlds the authority to push the button as it were. That is to kill the one who promised eternal life to all who would believe. It was time for the God of all creation to die on the cross at the hands of sinful men. Behind it all was Satan, whose one aim since the creation of the world has been to destroy all God has done and is doing.
Now, before we look at the Easter story in John chapter 19 there is one other important fact we need to understand. That is, that this is a story of ultimate love, sacrifice and obedience.
PP - In John 10: 17 Jesus says, “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
In this verse Jesus predicts his death and resurrection all in the context of a love relationship with his Heavenly Father and the authority Jesus has from his Heavenly Father.
- Authority exercised without love becomes cruelty.
- Authority exercised without love becomes oppression.
- Authority without love destroys that for which the authority was given.
History is full of examples of this kind of misuse of authority. Any leader who exercises authority over people without love, justice and mercy soon destroys the very people and society he has control over.
PP - In John 19 we see the struggle for authority played out between the Jewish leaders in verse 7 “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God” and Pilate who said in verse 4 “Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.”
This struggle between the authority of Rome and the authority of the Jewish leaders was mixed with the soldiers actions of placing a crown of thorns and purple rob on Jesus (v5) and there sarcastic claim “Hail King of the Jews”. Again, this is another reference to God’s authority that the Jews and Romans refused to recognise. Neither the Jews nor the Romans wanted this King to rule over them.
So in V15 the cry of the people was “Away with him! Crucify him!”. Then, finally the religious world and the political world come together with the convenient but untrue claim of the leading priests in verse15 b “We have no king but Caesar.” The Jews were very cunning for they had already pitted the authority of Pilate against the authority of Emperor Caesar. Pilate was trapped between religion and politics.
V12 “Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar” Here was the ultimate authority power play. The Jewish leaders played off the authority Pilate exercised over the small region of Galilee in the north, Samaria and Judea in the south, against the authority of the whole Roman world and the authority of Emperor Caesar.
Because the Jews were under the political control of Rome they had no authority to put a person to death. In John 18:31 the Jews state this to Pilate. Their religious understanding from the Old Testament was that a person who claimed to be God should be stoned to death. But because they were under the authority of Roman Law they could not do this. Hence, their twisted desire to use Rome to kill this Jesus who claimed to be their Messiah.
And so Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified - Read v16.
Now, in the midst of all this turmoil, shouting, false claims, and power struggle we have the authority of God at work.
In answer to Pilates question in v10 “Why don't you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don't you realise that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
PP - Jesus replied in v11a”You would have no power (authority) over me at all unless it were given you from above.”
PP - Philippians 2: 6-8 “Though He was God he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges (his authority), he took the humble position of a slave and was born as human being. When appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross”
Authority is power, and the power is the love of God shown through Jesus Christ's death on the cross for you and I. God gave the authority for sinful men to kill the author of life but through that giving up of this authority, came the authority for Jesus to rise again and give all who believe the gift of eternal life.
PP - Through the cross Jesus showed his authority over all other worlds - the political world, the religious world and the spiritual world. Jesus has authority over the world below and the world above.
In the days of Jesus the Romans were almost always victorious in battle and conquered may nations. One of their customs was to parade the defeated enemies through the city. Not only did they parade the captured solders but they did it in a very embarrassing way. They stripped the enemy down to his underwear and shamed them in front of the jeering crowd. In some cases they were even stripped naked!
When Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again he destroyed the power of the enemy Satan. He showed his power and authority over the unseen world of Satan and his angels.
In Colossian 2:15 Paul uses this picture to describe the victory of King Jesus “In this way (Jesus death on the cross), he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publically by his victory over them on the cross”
In other words he paraded Satan as a defeated enemy! We are no longer condemned to die in our debt of sin, Christ has cancelled our debt, satan has no grounds to accuse us. He is paraded as helpless and defeated.
Accusation of God's people was the devil's great work before Easter. After Easter this authority and power were taken from Satan.
- Satan accusation is: You sin so you are condemned to live a defeated life and die.
- God blessing is: Yes, you sin but your sin is forgiven and you live in my victory now and for eternity.
PP - In Revelation 12:10 John wrote “I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ”Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser (satan) has been thrown down.” This is the defeat and disarming of all rulers and authorities that stand against Christ.
Roman 8:1 puts it like this, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
We are free from the penalty of sin!
This Easter, to experience the full impact of Jesus death and resurrection, we must submit to the authority of Jesus Christ in all parts of our life. What a blessing to know that the one who has all authority in heaven and earth asks us to follow him. I can now, as a Christian, exercise God's authority by blessing others with the message that Jesus died and rose again. I can tell MY world of God’s great love. Authority is given to every believer for this very reason.
Like the story of the little boy with cancer who was given authority to release the power of the dynamite in the building, so God gives you the authority, in His name, to pray for people, to heal people and to release people from spiritual bondage. Jesus gives each one of us who believe the authority to make disciples of all ethnic groups.
Today, let’s stand in that authority. Let us exercise that authority with a humble heart and with deep love for those who do not yet know Christ. If you do this the world will know how much you love Jesus.
PP - Let us listen again to what Jesus said to his disciple as the suffering of the cross grew nearer: John 14: 30-31 “ I don't have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power (authority) over me. But I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come let's get going.”
Loving and following Jesus is living under the wonderful, loving authority of God and knowing the wonderful victory of sins forgiven, a purpose for living and the sure hope of heaven made certain by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.
This week may I challenge us all to exercise the authority Christ has given us. One way is to offer to pray for someone you have a relationship with. Pray in the name of Jesus with the authority given by God, and trust God to release his mighty power in and over the life of the one you pray for.
This Easter let us continue to live in the victory and authority given to us by our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ.
PP God loves you. The Easter story - John 3:16 -17 and Matthew 28: 18