Sabbath, April 22, 2017
“God’s people must be a peculiar, holy people, distinct in character and practice from the world, distinguished from all the religionists of the day. They must be patterns in personal piety and good works. There is higher, holier work for us to do than we have yet done. Christ has said, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world.’ It has no principles that will meet the principles of the world. The Lord has set His church as a light in the world, to guide the world to heaven. It is to be a part of heaven on the earth, flashing divine light on the pathway of benighted souls.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 304.
Seeking human answers
1. How did the Lord respond when Pilate asked Him if He was the King of the Jews? What was Jesus’ intention in answering with another question?
John 18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
“Pilate was astonished at His bearing. Does this Man disregard the proceedings because He does not care to save His life? he asked himself. As he looked at Jesus, bearing insult and mockery without retaliation, he felt that He could not be as unrighteous and unjust as were the clamoring priests. Hoping to gain the truth from Him and to escape the tumult of the crowd, Pilate took Jesus aside with him, and again questioned, ‘Art Thou the King of the Jews?’
“Jesus did not directly answer this question. He knew that the Holy Spirit was striving with Pilate, and He gave him opportunity to acknowledge his conviction. ‘Sayest thou this thing of thyself,’ He asked, ‘or did others tell it thee of Me?’ That is, was it the accusations of the priests, or a desire to receive light from Christ, that prompted Pilate’s question?” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 726, 727.
2. What did Pilate’s comment to Jesus’ question show? What opportunity did the governor thus lose?
John 18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
“Pilate understood Christ’s meaning; but pride arose in his heart. He would not acknowledge the conviction that pressed upon him. ‘Am I a Jew?’ he said. ‘Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me: what hast Thou done?’ Pilate’s golden opportunity had passed.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 727.
The divine kingdom
3. What clear explanation did Jesus give Pilate regarding His kingdom? What huge difference is there between His exalted kingdom and the kingdoms of this world? What kind of King is He?
John 18:36, 37, first part Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.
1 Timothy 6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.
“Yet Jesus did not leave him without further light. While He did not directly answer Pilate’s question, He plainly stated His own mission. He gave Pilate to understand that He was not seeking an earthly throne.
“ ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ He said; ‘if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice.’
“Christ affirmed that His word was in itself a key which would unlock the mystery to those who were prepared to receive it. It had a self-commending power, and this was the secret of the spread of His kingdom of truth. He desired Pilate to understand that only by receiving and appropriating truth could his ruined nature be reconstructed.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 727.
4. What is the foundation of Christ’s kingdom? Therefore, where does it start and develop?
John 1:12, 13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Luke 17:20, last part, 21 … The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
“The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses–extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart.
“Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit. ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ John 1:12, 13. Here is the only power that can work the uplifting of mankind. And the human agency for the accomplishment of this work is the teaching and practicing of the word of God.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 509, 510.
What is truth
5. What other truth did Jesus add in His explanation to Pilate? What conviction gripped the governor as the Master spoke about His witness to the truth?
John 18:37, last part, 38 … To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
“Christ affirmed that His word was in itself a key which would unlock the mystery to those who were prepared to receive it. It had a self-commending power, and this was the secret of the spread of His kingdom of truth. He desired Pilate to understand that only by receiving and appropriating truth could his ruined nature be reconstructed.
“Pilate had a desire to know the truth. His mind was confused. He eagerly grasped the words of the Saviour, and his heart was stirred with a great longing to know what it really was, and how he could obtain it. ‘What is truth?” he inquired. But he did not wait for an answer. The tumult outside recalled him to the interests of the hour; for the priests were clamorous for immediate action. Going out to the Jews, he declared emphatically, ‘I find in Him no fault at all.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, p. 727.
6. While Pilate had authority to decide matters of life and death, even of God’s Son, what basic knowledge did he lack? What did Jesus unequivocally confirm about the truth?
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Psalm 119:142, 151 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth…. 151Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.
“What is truth? He declared, ‘Thy word is truth.’ “ –(Review and Herald, July 2, 1889.)
“Truth, Bible truth, you and I want at any cost. Like the noble Bereans we want to search the Scriptures daily with earnest prayer, to know what is truth, and then obey the truth at any cost to ourselves, without reference to prominent people or good people. If truth is in the Bible, we can find it there as well as the good and great ones of earth. God help us to be wise unto salvation is my prayer.” –(Letter 35b, 1877) Christ Triumphant, p. 78.
“Who of our youth can know anything of what is truth, in comparison with error, unless they are acquainted with the Scriptures? The simplicity of true godliness must be brought into the education of our young people, if they are to have divine knowledge to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Those who are truly the followers of Christ, will not serve God only when it is in accordance with their inclination, but, as well, when it involves self-denial and cross-bearing.” –Christian Education, p. 113.
7. What did the governor openly acknowledge before the chief priests and the people? What violent reaction erupted from the Jewish leaders when the governor openly stated his conviction concerning Jesus?
Luke 23:4, 5 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
“These words from a heathen judge were a scathing rebuke to the perfidy and falsehood of the rulers of Israel who were accusing the Saviour. As the priests and elders heard this from Pilate, their disappointment and rage knew no bounds. They had long plotted and waited for this opportunity. As they saw the prospect of the release of Jesus, they seemed ready to tear Him in pieces….
“Angry voices were now heard, declaring that the seditious influence of Jesus was well known throughout the country. The priests said, ‘He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.’
“Pilate at this time had no thought of condemning Jesus. He knew that the Jews had accused Him through hatred and prejudice. He knew what his duty was. Justice demanded that Christ should be immediately released….” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 727, 728.
- Can prejudice be so strong that it alone decides whether or not one accepts truth?
- What counsel and guidance does the Bible provide to help us grasp the truth in critical moments and make decisions approved of Heaven?
- What issues are arising in society today that can confuse minds and arouse severe prejudice and strong hostility against God’s people?
For additional study
“Jesus thus sought to convince Pilate that He was innocent of aspiring to kingly honors upon earth. Pilate had been confused by the disturbed and divided elements of the religious world, and his mind grasped eagerly at the words of Jesus declaring that He had come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Pilate had heard many voices cry, Here is the truth! I have the truth! But this man, arraigned as a criminal, who claimed to have the truth, stirred his heart with a great longing to know what it was, and how it could be obtained.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, pp. 132, 133.
“The Lord does not accept the service of those who live an inefficient, do-nothing life. They exert an influence that leads away from Christ. Self-denial and nobility of purpose marked His life. From the beginning to the close of His earthly ministry He went about doing good. In His life no sin appeared. No selfishness marred word or act. ‘Which of you convinceth Me of sin?’ (ohn 8:46, He asked the Pharisees, knowing that they could find nothing of which to accuse Him. And at His trial, Pilate declared emphatically, ‘I find in Him no fault at all.’ John 18:38.” –This Day with God, p. 68.