Within the context of Christ’s arrest and trials we have a vivid example of the spiritual warfare that is waged in this life on this planet; it amounts to an attack on God’s Word. Satan’s attacks always come down to trying to silence the message through deception or to silence the messenger through persecution. This is because God’s Word is much more than just a message:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
JESUS is the Word, therefore the battle is about Christ Himself.
Read verses 1-6
Q: What specifically happens that clearly reveals that those seeking Jesus were not accepting Him as Christ the King, but merely as a man, and therefore show themselves to be non-believers?
A: “...they drew back and fell to the ground” in His presence.
When people come into Jesus’ presence and accept Him as Christ, they fall towards Him, at His feet, and worship Him; when they reject Him as Christ they fall away, withdrawing from Him.
But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.
But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened.
She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.
Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.
And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
Point: Non-believers’, when confronted by the call of Christ, are repulsed, falling away from Him; believers are humbled and fall towards Him to worship Him.
Read verses 19-24
Q: According to v.19, what is their main concern? What does this indicate about them?
A: Their main concern is Jesus’ teaching and disciples, the product of His teaching. They are concerned about His Words far more than His signs or miracles.
Q: What is Jesus’ own observation concerning His teaching?
A: “I have spoke nothing in secret.” (v.20)
Q: How does Jesus’ response fit in with their reaction to strike Him?
A: They want Him and His teaching silenced.
Point: Non-believers in their rejection of His Word, become His enemy. They are incapable of passively ignoring His Word and feel compelled to actively silence the message.
Read verses 28-32
Q: When attempts to silence by verbal force have failed, what is the next step often taken by non-believers?
A: Persecution, or invoking physical silence. This is evidenced by their desire to not just put Christ in jail, but to execute Him.
Q: According to v.31, how far will non-believers go in terms of persecution in order to achieve silence?
A: They will go outside the boundaries of even their own law or standards, often violating them in the process. They remove any restrictions in the way of achieving silence.
Q: What is the chief characteristic of Christian persecutors that is revealed in their answer to Pilate in v.30?
A: They consider themselves to be the only judge with no peer and no need to even justify their actions. They are ruled by pride, making themselves higher and greater than anything or any other.
Point: Non-believers will escalate their efforts to silence Christ’s Word to the point of physical persecution and death in order to silence the messenger.
Read verses 33-38a
Q: Taking this exchange as an example, what is the precise point on which Jesus is being accepted or rejected?
A: His Word. He makes the points that
“I have come into the world, to testify to the truth”, and,
“Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice”.
To accept Christ is to accept His testimony—His Word; to accept His Word is to hear Him as opposed to refusing to listen.
Q: How is Pilate’s response, “What is truth?”, a typical response of non-believers?
A: An argument they present to silence all further discussion is to put forth the notion that all truth is relative, and therefore no agreement can be reached on the actual meaning of Christ’s Word. (Ever heard of biblical “scholars” that claim the entire Bible is just one big allegory and not absolute truth?)
Point: If they can’t silence the message, nor silence the messenger, non-believers attempt to redefine it into something trivial and unsupportable by making EVERYTHING trivial and unsupportable. It’s an attempt to silence God’s message and messengers by making everything indistinguishable.
Read verses 38b-40
Q: Using this example, in the end what do non-believers do to complete their rejection of Christ, to individually silence Him permanently?
A: They replace Him with someone or something else.
Point: Non-believers work through various stages of deeper and deeper rejection of Christ, seeking to silence His Word both publicly and personally. It begins by being repulsed at His Word rather than attracted, and continues in their efforts to silence the message, silence the messengers, establish their own framework in which absolute truth has no part and, finally, to replace Him altogether with something or someone else.
Read verses 17 & 25-26
Q: What is the principle point on which Peter is confronted in regards to Jesus? What does it mean?
A: Whether or not he is a disciple of Christ. They want to know whether he has accepted or rejected Christ’s Word, Christ’s teaching.
Q: How does this serve as an example to us?
A: Our testimony of Christ to others is measured by the degree to which we adhere to His Word, His teaching, and are willing to stand up for it.
Point: Non-believers don’t mind curiosity, but want to ensure you haven’t crossed the line to actually embrace Christ’s teachings personally.
What has been your initial response to those who question your beliefs in Christ? What should it be?
How aware are you that all forms of persecution and resistance are disguised attempts to ignore, silence, or render ineffective God’s Word? What is the appropriate response for each situation?
Regardless of the choice of action non-believers select, what is the correct course of action for believers in every one of these situations? [Hint: Adhere to and never deny God’s Word.]