Text: John 19:1-15
21 Portraits of John's Gospel

Today I am placing a chair out in front for everyone to see. It will be a chair for witnesses as I will call them up for testimonies. You will have to use your imagination for I am going to call for testimony from characters in the text. Please leave your Bible open to the sermon text as we behold the Man, the on to be crucified.

I.    As we behold the man, we call Pilate to the witness chair. 
When Pilate said, "...behold the man..." he was hoping the blood-thirsty crowd would be satisfied to see the beaten and mocked Christ. Pilate didn't want to crucify Christ. His testament is "...I find
no crime (or fault) in him." On three occasions he gives this testimony. (Verse 4, 6 and 18:38).
Pilate is afraid of the crowd and he finally gives Christ over to their wishes with the most unusual sentence. Notice in verse 6 he says, "...Take Him yourselves and crucify Him for I find no guilt in Him." Matthew's gospel records a message to Pilate from his wife. It says, "...Have nothing to do with that righteous man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him. (Matthew 27:19) Pilate's testimony is one couched in fear.

Pilate's testimony is also politically motivated. He wants favor with the people and he desires advancement in the Roman government. He can't really take a stand, can he? Is there a WIN-WIN situation? Nothing wrong with finding that compromise, is there? Or is there? When both winners fail to exalt truth then both are losers, aren't they?

Let me just inject here that too many Christian men and women are being crowded into the company mold with a disregard for the Christ mold. It is great to advance and have larger responsibilities and influence. But only if it can be kept in a Christian perspective.

We learn from Matthew's gospel that Pilate saw he could accomplish nothing and in the viewing of the people, he took water and washed his hands saying, "...I am innocent of this man's blood;..." Dr. Hershel Ford has a sermon about hell and a tour through it. He has Pilate in hell still trying to wash the blood off his hands. But when I look at verse 19 of this chapter, I'm prompted to ask Pilate if he changed his mind. Did he finally decide to take a stand?

The story of a skilled woodworker who had made a beautiful gun stock. A traveler came into the store and requested to buy it. The man said it's not for sale. The city slicker persisted to make offers to purchase it. The man over and over again said it's not for sale. The traveler then took out a huge wad of bills and said, "I want that stock and everything has it's price; now, how much?" The skilled craftsman said, "Sir, I made this for my grandson and he's coming to visit me tomorrow. No amount of your money can buy it. As I said it's not for sale." Finally getting the
message, the man said, "You know it must be nice to have something that's not for sale. Everybody ought to have something that's not for sale."

Pilate could be bought. He was for sale. However, he did not sell to the highest bidder. How about you and I. Let's now call some other witnesses.

II.    As we behold the man, we call soldiers to the stand
We asked the soldiers, "How did you behold Christ?" They must admit that they made sport of Him. The mocked Jesus by their cries "Hail the King of the Jews." They made a crown for Him. It was a crown of thorns and verse 5 states "...wearing the crown of thorns..." that word means it had been firmly planted down on His brow.

In verse 18 we are told they crucified Christ. The soldiers did the actual dirty work. They drove the spikes and raised His body up to make the cross. Some soldiers would say it was our job. We were just following orders. But sometimes orders are wrong. In verse 23 the soldiers must testify they gambled while Jesus was suffering on the cross. What a true picture of those enslaved by the gambling itch. Nothing matters but the chance to get something for nothing.

Some of the soldiers may say we were different than the rest. We tried to give as much comfort as we could. We lifted up the branch of hyssop; we tried to show some kindness. We heard Him continually saying, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do..."

But just as some gambled, some went to break the legs of those not yet dead. The reason for this action has to do with breaking the Sabbath. What a strange use of the law. Crucify and break legs on Friday without even giving fair trial, but don't break the Sabbath day law. When they came to Christ, they found he was already dead. One of the soldiers has the infamous distinction of being the one who thrust the spear in Christ's side. (John 19:34) It is interesting to note the comment of Rev. 1:7- "Behold He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him;..." God the Father did not allow the thrusting of that spear in the side of Jesus to go unnoticed.

Many of you know the name of Charles Colson. He went to prison for his actions as President Nixon's hatchet man during the Watergate Scandal. His testimony relates the desire for advancement and the saturation of their minds with power. They had the power, but never asked if it was right, moral or ethical much less biblical. He has since become a Christian. Now he is more concerned about the biblical than the political powerful or the opportunity for advancement.

What about you today? Would you have to stand beholding the Man and say yes I compromised my beliefs and conviction but it was my job. You see, Lord, I needed the money. I needed the influence for further advancement.

In your desire for advancement, are you advancing in the Grace of the Lord? Please follow as we call another group of witnesses.

III.    As we behold the man, we call the chief priest, the temple officers and the Jews to the stand
What do they say about the man? They called for his crucifixion. Of all the witnesses that should have known who Jesus was, this crowd should have. It is interesting to notice the most liberal, most conservative and most politically minded group got together to cry for the crucifixion of Christ. Politics does make strange bed fellows.

Notice their charge "...He has made Himself out to be the Son of God." (John 19:7) It is interesting that some today say that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. These Jewish leaders charged Him with that accusation. If you look at John 5:18 they have understood His claim for a long time. But notice the words of Jesus in verse 11 "...for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin." Sin done in ignorance is still sin but willful disobedience is greater sin.

These Jewish leaders were persistent in their desire to get rid of Jesus. They could not explain Him and they would not humble themselves to His claims so the only thing left from their perspective is to get rid of Him. They should have known it is not possible to kill the Son of God for through His resurrection He is very much alive. Over in the book of Acts chapter six and verse seven the report is given that "...a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith." Hopefully some are from the setting of our text.

Are we becoming obedient to the faith? Is our witness positive or negative? Notice now the next witnesses.
IV.    As we Behold the Man, we call John and Mary to the stand. (v26-27) 
Mary is the mother of the Christ child. Of all the people still alive she alone knows if He really is the Son of God. She knows if He is the Virgin; born of God. The fact that she is there in worship and adoration testifies Jesus is the Son of God. If He were just a normal child born like all the others, do you think a mother could linger at the cross without pleading with her son to tell the truth and let her get him off the cross. But she couldn't plead that because she knew He was the Son of God.
John's testimony is one of Lordship. He is the only one of the 12 apostles that we know was at the cross. He is perhaps the most obedient disciple. He has always demonstrated his love more openly and perhaps here he is at the cross to also show concern for Mary. Jesus said to John "...Behold your mother!"... It is a good witness for us to note the action of John as we are told "And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household. This speaks of LORDSHIP. Jesus said it and John did it.
As this testimony acknowledges the divinity and Lordship of Jesus so should our life. Have you acknowledged Jesus the Son of God as your Lord? Look now at a twosome we call to witness.
V.    As we behold the man, we call Joseph and Nicodemus
Both of these men were disciples but until this time they were not that public about their faith in Christ. You will recall Nicodemus coming to Christ at night time and the Lord telling him "You must be born again." Joseph is called "...a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one,..." Can a person really be a secret disciple? Well according to this text yes. But Joseph could not really be happiest while being a secret disciple.

But both of these men are testimonies of the statement when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It is possible to keep quiet until you can't sit still. A real disciple has to speak up. If the heart belongs to Jesus, the mouth knows about it and must confess. These Jewish men would testify like Moses of old "...choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing of pleasure of sin..."(Hebrews 11:25)

We will stand if we're true believers. We cannot remain silent. Pay careful attention now to the next witness.
VI.    As we behold the Man; We call his royal slyness the devil to the stand
Yes, satan was at the cross. He doesn't like the cross and his testimony is not willfully given. But in our authority as believers and with our position "In Christ" we can command him to give testimony.

The first promise of the cross and its effect is in Genesis 3:15. On the cross satan bruises the heal of Jesus. What we can ask satan "What happened to you on the cross." He must reply, "My head was crushed.: Then the cross gained an eternal victory over you? Yes. And any believer has a source of power in Christ much greater than any power you ahve? Satan must testify Yes.

Let me show you an interesting comparison. Follow in your Bible as we look an Matthew 26:53 and Revelation 20:1-3. Do you notice that Christ could call for thousands of angels. Do you notice that one angel takes satan and binds him. We could ask satan if he realizes he is a defeated foe living on borrowed time. He must answer yes.

Satan must agree that Jesus provides the only way of salvation through His death on the cross. What do we say? Do we agree with God or satan? Listen carefully as we hear the following words of testimony.
VII.    As we behold the Man, we call our heavenly Father to the stand
We cannot command the Father to come to the stand. But we can humbly request the privilege to use His testimony. He answers, "...This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."

There are several actions related to the cross that are testimonies from the Father. In Matthew 27:51 we are told, "...the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom..." What a testimony about the Man and His cross. You see for the sins of the people. God said no more Jesus paid it all His sacrifice is the end of all sacrifices. What then can wash away my sin, nothing
but the blood of Jesus.

Another testimony of the Father is the resurrection. You see Christ did really die. He must be resurrected by the Father. Satan would have liked to stop the resurrection. In fact an evangelist friend of mine with a vivid imagination said the devil said to his angels, "If we don't stop the resurrection of Christ ALL HEAVEN WILL BREAK LOOSE." And it did.
The ascension of Christ back into Heaven is further testimony from the Father. What a day of rejoicing that must have been. Now the scripture says, "We have a advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;..." Because He is our advocate the Bible also says "...He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)
God the Father gives another word by sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised He would send another comforter. God sent the Spirit to indwell all believers and bear testimony that Jesus is Lord. (1 Cor. 12:36)
God the Father's words of testimony should be conclusive evidence. His word alone should bring all of us to submission. That is why the eighth witness is so important.
VIII.    As we behold the Man, we call up each individual. 
Please take your place on the stand. What is your testimony as you behold the Man and His cross.
Years ago the first railroad company completed track joining the east coast with the west. A silver spike was used for the last spike holding the track to the railroad tie. It was heralded as a great event bringing people of the nation closer together. But when Christ was nailed to the cross no silver spike was used, but His death on that cross brings God and man together. Behold the Man and His cross.
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And Beyond.    Amen?    Amen!