SUNDAY MORNING SERMON NOTES
The Last Thing Jesus Said About His Birth
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Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 10:00 a.m.  Sermon #: 1694
Pastor Don Horban

John 18:33-37 - “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” [34] Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” [35] Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” [36] Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” [37] Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Look carefully at those words of Jesus in verse 37 - “....For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.”

Like no other time of year, Christmas is all about embracing the person of Jesus as absolutely trustworthy and true. That’s because Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And, in our text, Jesus said the reason He was born was to correct people’s faulty thinking and replace error with truth - life changing, heaven bestowing truth. He came to give people truth they are eternally lost without.

There are people in this room, right now, who don’t understand, or refuse to believe the testimony of Jesus Christ. Let me do all I can to awaken you to the seriousness of not responding to the testimony Jesus came into this world to give.

Matthew says that when Jesus spoke truth and people didn’t respond, something eternally destructive was actually taking place:

Matthew 13:14-15 - “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” [15] For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’”

On another occasion, John says that Jesus was speaking truth to people and, again, they weren’t believing Him. John quotes the same prophecy from Isaiah that we just read. Then, after that, John says Jesus stood up, and with great frustration and agony in His voice, John says Jesus actually “cried out to the people!” Here’s what Jesus said:

John 12:44-48 - “And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. [45] And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. [46] I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. [47] If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. [48] The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

Jesus’ words - his testimony to the truth - will determine eternal judgement on the last day. So I would urge everyone with these warnings from the Scriptures to make room in your heart for the testimony of Jesus. He said that the reason He came into this world was to give testimony to the truth.

Our text in John 18 has three parts to it. FIRST, there is the uniqueness of His birth - “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world....”(37). SECOND, the purpose of His birth is given - “to bear witness to the truth. ”(37). THIRD, the condition of knowing the truth is given - “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”(38).

1) THE UNIQUENESS OF HIS BIRTH

John 18:37b - “....For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

As Jesus describes his entrance into this world, he frames it in terms of both a birth and an arrival - “I was born...I have come...”It’s the same kind of language the prophet Isaiah used in predicting Jesus’ birth - “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.”

There seems to be no mistaking the intention to describe both the physical birth and the life that existed before the physical birth - “For this purpose I was born, and for this purpose I have come into the world.”

When my daughters were young I used to look across the table at their faces. It seemed incredible that at one point in history, not all that long ago, there was absolutely no physical reality behind the names of Melissa and Laurel. Those names were only letters strung together out of the alphabet with no persons behind them at all.

Now, our text says that is not true about Jesus. His human body was born in Bethlehem but, as a person, He existed long before He “came into this world.” That’s why the word we use to describe His coming into this world isn’t creation, but incarnation. Jesus didn’t begin his existence when He was born in the manger.

Listen to how the prophet Micah expressed it 700 years before Jesus’ birth: Micah 5:2 - “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

Here we begin to see the nature of the miracle of the incarnation. It’s a miracle even greater than the virgin birth. It’s a miracle greater than the guiding star. The birth of Jesus isn’t the coming into the world of a new person. The birth of Jesus is the coming into the world of (if I can use this term the way Micah uses it) an infinitely old person - one “from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Far and away, this baby is the oldest person ever to be born.

Listen to how Jesus expressed this truth about Himself in John 8:56-59 - “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” [57] So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [58] Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” [59] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”

That name, “Jesus,” was given to the baby born in the manger to describe His saving mission on earth. But the person behind the name was living and active long before Abraham was even born.

Here’s how the writer of the book of Hebrews put this truth: Hebrews 1:1-2 - “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
So, not only was Christ before Abraham, but He was also before this whole created universe ever existed. He was there before time as we know it. He created the world. Jesus really was the oldest person ever to be born.

2) THE PURPOSE OF HIS BIRTH

John 18:37 - “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Notice, “...to bear witness” to the truth. That’s the same idea as testifying to, or giving testimony to the truth. Just like a witness in a court would give his or her testimony, Jesus came to verify something true - to underscore something we needed to know for certain.

So what truth did Jesus come into this world to verify or give witness to? What was it that was so urgent that God Himself had to come? And why couldn’t He just fax us this truth? Why did He have to come personally?

What I want to say tonight is that Jesus came to bear witness to two truths in particular:

a) He came to testify to the truth that God wanted to show mercy to guilty, sinful people like you and me - John 3:17 - “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Jesus came into this world to give witness to the fact that God’s heart was tender and anxious to offer pardon to people who deserved His judgement. That’s why, in His own words in John 3:17, Jesus stressed the negative side of that statement first - “I did not come into the world to condemn the world.”

Jesus reveals something quite startling in saying this. Judgement is what we would expect. We are guilty people before God. John 3:16 says the danger of perishing is very real. God being holy and we being unholy, what else could we hope for but judgement?

But Jesus gives testimony to a stunning revelation. The first thing Jesus came to testify to is the fact that God has something else for us rather than judgement. This is the “good will” the angels sang about at Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t primarily the wish for good will between people and nations.

That’s the way those words are almost always interpreted at this season. This kind of love for one another is said to be the Christmas spirit. But the angels were singing about the good will of Father God to sinful, guilty people through the Baby who was born to die for their sins. Guilty as we are, we have no need to run from God. Our Creator comes with a message of mercy, not condemnation. This is good news indeed! God has good will - not just bare justice in His heart for wicked people!

b) Jesus came to testify to the truth that eternal life was bound up with His own death and resurrection and the way people responded to those events.

So many people miss the main truth to which Jesus came into the world to give testimony. It is this: saving mercy (not common mercy - the rain falling on the just and the unjust), but saving mercy, is only offered through Jesus Christ.


1 John 2:23 - “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Jesus is the doorway to the grace and mercy of Father God. That’s what Jesus was giving testimony to when He said He was the way, the truth and the life. He is the way - the doorway - the entry point - into a relationship of grace with God. Apart from Jesus, there is no mercy for sinners. There is no grace. There is no pardon.

John 17:3 - “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

So Jesus came to bear witness to the truth - stunningly, the truth that God has a message of mercy to sinners - and specifically that God’s mercy must be received in Jesus if it is to be received at all. Eternal life is all tied up in Jesus Christ. People can’t by-pass Jesus and somehow reach God - “No man comes to the Father but by me.”That’s why Jesus, who never told a lie, said.

That leads into the third point from this text:

3) NOT EVERYONE BELIEVES THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS

John 18:37b - “....For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Notice the conditional emphasis in Jesus’ words. Almost everyone admires Jesus. Not nearly as many take his words seriously into their hearts. When Jesus says, “everyone who is of the truth hears My voice,” He doesn’t mean that only a certain group comes within hearing distance of the sound of His voice. All sorts of people physically heard Jesus.

No. He means that, among the many who know the words He says, only a certain number of them take the time and make the choice to respond to His words as true. Only some, not all, give emphasis to His words. Only a certain number take His words to heart. Only a certain number think them through. Only a certain number have the courage and the humility to respond with commitment and faith. Those are the people of the truth.

Let me give you one example of how people of the truth respond to the testimony of Jesus. It’s an example that might surprise you:

Mark 10:35-41 - “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” [36] And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” [37] And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” [38] Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? [39]And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, [40] but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” [41] And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.”





This issue of where they would be seated when Jesus came into His future glory didn’t just pop into their minds by accident: Mark 10:28-30 - “Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” [29] Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, [30] who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Now, the disciples started thinking about those words. Jesus has already told them in this same chapter that He will be mocked, spat upon, crucified, buried and would then rise from the dead and enter His kingdom.

Most of the time, when this passage is used in any kind of study or message, we quite naturally, and properly, point out the immaturity, selfishness and pride of the disciples. They did almost everything wrong in this incident. I say almost everything wrong, because there was one wonderful thing they got right. They took Jesus seriously at His word about His future kingdom and they acted on it.

Jesus told them He was going to rise from the dead, after His crucifixion, and enter another His heavenly kingdom. And they immediately put their hearts and minds there. They were already banking, however incorrectly, on that kingdom.

That’s what it means to believe the testimony Jesus came into this world to bring. If I tell you that one company has stock that is about to go through the roof, and the stock you’re presently investing in will soon be worthless - and if you really believe my words - then you will get out of your investment and put your money into the other. If I tell you that when the earthquake comes every building in Newmarket will be flattened but this building you are in, then, if you believe my testimony is true, when the earthquake comes where will you be?

And if Jesus says He is the way, the truth and the life, and that one day He alone will rule the universe, and every rival and every other leader, and every other thing will be put under His feet - and if Jesus says that only those who have committed their whole lives to Him will enter into His kingdom - what will that person do if he truly believes the testimony of Jesus, the Son of God?

The Christmas issue is this - are you a person of the truth? Do you receive the testimony of Jesus. Are you committed to His truth. Do you humbly embrace God’s revelation of His mercy in Jesus Christ? Do you put aside your own way of viewing life and eternity? Do you accept the verdict of Jesus that you’re a sinner, lost and hopeless without Him? Do you accept the truth that you cannot climb up your own ladder to God, but must kneel before Jesus as the only Redeemer and King? Are you a person of the truth? Don’t make the mistake of merely mouthing words about Jesus this Christmas.

Look at how Jesus responds to Pilate’s question in verses 33 and 34 - “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” [34] Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”

More important to Jesus than the question is the motive for the question. “Are you asking from a hunger for truth in your own heart? Are you ready to acknowledge the truth when you hear it? Or, are you just mouthing what everyone else is saying? What is going on in your heart, Pilate?”


Are you a person of the truth tonight? If you will take the testimony of Jesus into your heart you will see the truth of His words: John 7:17 - “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”

Those are very important words. You can know Jesus yourself. You can verify the truth of His testimony. God’s mercy and renewing grace can set you free from your sin and give you eternal life. I pray that everyone here tonight will be included as people who are “of the truth” - who embrace Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.