THE CASE FOR CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-6-72 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And we invite you to turn in your Bible to chapter 19 in the Gospel of John, and we shall read out loud the first seven verses together. John, chapter 19; the Fourth Gospel, John chapter 19, reading the first seven verses. The title of the sermon tonight is The Case for Christ, The Case for Christ. And the text will be John 19:7, and we shall read out loud the first seven verses.
And on the radio of the city of Dallas, on WRR, if you are listening to us and can get your Bible, do so and read it out loud with us; the first seven verses, now, all of us reading it together:
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him.
And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe,
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands.
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring Him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in Him.
Then Jesus came forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man!
When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye Him, and crucify Him: but I find no fault in Him.
The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.
In the morning hours I am preaching through the Book of Galatians, and in the evening hour through the life of Christ in the Gospel of John. Last Sunday night, the Sunday night that I preached—Sunday a week ago—the text was verse 5, “And Pilate saith unto them, idou ho anthropos,” or in the Latin Vulgate, ecce homo; or in our English Bible, “Behold, the Man!” [John 19:5].
And now the text tonight is in verse 7, “The Jews answered him, we have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God” [John 19:7].
The Case for Christ: there is so much against Him, He has been repudiated by so many. In His home in Nazareth, when He came back—having been anointed by the Holy Spirit upon the occasion of His baptism [Matthew 3:16], and as He began His messianic ministry, filled with the Spirit of God, confirmed by miracles [Matthew 8-9, 12:9, 22], and affirmed by the voice from heaven [Matthew 3:17]—when He came to His home in Nazareth, His hometown people said, “Is not this the carpenter? Is He not Joseph’s Son, and are not His sisters and His mother here with us?” And they were offended in Him [Matthew 13:55-57]. And when He spoke to them in the synagogue [Luke 4:16-17], they were infuriated, and they took Him to the hill on which their city was built to cast Him headlong down and to death [Luke 4:28-29].
When He came to Capernaum, the people who had seen Him feed a multitude with a few loaves and a few fishes [John 6:1-13]—expecting, as “rice Christians,” expecting to be fed [John 6:26]—when He refused to do it, all of them left Him, all of them. And so many left until He turned to the disciples, twelve of them, and asked them, “Will ye also go away?” [John 6:66-67]. There have been so many who have refused Him.
When he came to Gadara, on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, they lost their swine—their hogs, their pigs—because of His coming [Mark 5:1-13]. And they came and besought Him—the people who lived in Gadara—they besought Him to leave their country and their land [Mark 5:14-17]. It was costly to have Jesus around. They begged Him to go, and to go, He did [Mark 5:17-19].
I remember the first time Billy Graham came to Dallas. We had scheduled a revival meeting here in this church, but he suddenly—through the Hearst’s newspapers—became a world figure, and he said, “We cannot hold the meeting, here, in the First Church, the building is too small.” So he asked us if we would take it to the other people in the city and get the whole city back of it and have the revival meeting in the Cotton Bowl. And when we did that, the fathers of the city were weighed upon by the saloon-keepers in this town, by the liquor dealers in this town, by the brewers and the distillers in this town, and they voiced a vigorous protest against the coming of Billy Graham for a revival meeting here in Dallas. And I was called in by some of the city fathers—heads of some of these banks, and these men who run the life of Dallas—and they said to me, “We have great opposition against the coming of Billy Graham here.” And I said, “Who opposes?” And they said, “The liquor dealers oppose.”
Well, I said, “Would you tell me why?” And the reply was, “They are afraid that there might break out in Dallas a great revival meeting, and they would lose money because people wouldn’t be getting drunk anymore.” Isn’t that something? That’s exactly what it was in Gadara. It cost them some pigs and some hogs, and as between costing them pigs and hogs and swine, and having Jesus, they’d rather go without the Lord [Mark 5:13-17].
That’s the same way today, the case against Him. And that’s been true all through the years. He has been repudiated by so many: the story of Lystra, the story of Thessalonica, the story of Derby, the story of Berea. In Athens, the great emissary of Christ was laughed out of the town—mocked and ridiculed [Acts 17:22-32]. Then in the story of the Roman Empire, the terrible Neronian persecution, and then the Domitian persecution that sent the apostle John to the isle of Patmos [Revelation 1:9], and then the persecutions thereafter under Decius and under Julian the Apostate.
Well, we come down to our own day. It is hardly any different today, the case against Him. The entire communist world repudiates Christ and that vigorously and violently. They are anti-church, and anti-Scripture, and anti-Christ, and anti-Jesus, and anti-God; the case against Him. Practically all of the religions of the world spurn the Lord Jesus, the whole Islamic world, the Hindu world, the Buddhist world, the Shintoist world. The religious world repudiates Christ.
The case against Him: the world of materialism, of secularism. All of their values are according to the judgments of this life, what you can accumulate, what you can sell, what you can enjoy. They are hedonistic. They are against Him. And no small part of the intellectual and academic world is against Christ. To them, it is preposterous that God should become a man. And in their lectures and in their classrooms, they expatiate against the possibility that He might be the Son of God—the case against Him.
Well, for the few moments tonight, what are some things for Him—the case for Him? “We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God” [John 19:7]. Now, what are some things for Him?
Out of a multitude, I choose three tonight; the case for Jesus. One: wherever the gospel is preached, there is a heavenly and benedictory blessing. In the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, when John sent his disciples to Jesus, asking Him if He were the real Christ, or should they expect somebody else [Matthew 11:2-3], He said to the emissaries of John, “You go back and tell him what you hear and see: The blind have their sight, and the lame walk, and the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them” [Matthew 11:4-5].
I have been around the world twice. One way, going east to west, and the other time, going west to east, and I’ve been up and down it I don’t know how many times. I have visited our mission stations all through Africa, through India, in Indonesia, in the Philippines. All over this world, and however dark or sot, however depraved, wherever the gospel is preached, anywhere in the world, there will you find the little church, and a cupola or spire pointing up to heaven. There will you find a hospital. There will you find the orphan’s home. There will you find the school, and there will you find womanhood honored, and children loved and brought up in the love and admonition of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4].
I was in Hiroshima. They pronounce it “Hi-ro-shima.” I was there, and in the home of one of our missionaries, brother and Mrs. Atkins—in the home of one of our missionaries. While I was there, the Japanese gentleman came in to teach them their language, teach them Japanese. He was an admiral—had been an admiral in the Japanese navy—and he was what they call “proscribed.” That is, after the Second World War, all of those men who had been leaders in the Japanese navy and the Japanese army and the Japanese air force, they were proscribed. They were kept out of religious life; they were harshly treated. Well, he had been an admiral in the Japanese navy, and he was a humble teacher of the language to that missionary couple.
Well, I got interested in him; you would have too. He was an unusual man, and I got interested in him, so I asked him how it was he became a Christian there. Very few Christians in Japan, and very, very few in the top echelons, but that admiral was a Christian; he had become a Christian. I asked him how it was he became a Christian, and this is it.
Before he became an admiral in the navy, he was a high officer in the army and was leading the forces of Japan as they were overrunning China. And he said the men in the army of the Japanese were violent and vicious—it was war! And when they took Nanking, they raped it. When they destroyed city after city, as the Japanese overran China, it was a horrible spectacle! But he said, “Wherever I went—wherever I went, I saw in China the Christian missionary, and the Christian church, and the Christian hospital, and the Christian school, and the Christian orphan’s home, and the Christian life, and the Christian people. It was not destruction, it was not war, it was not hatred. It was love, and light, and salvation; it was blessing. And he said, “Looking upon it, I couldn’t get away from it, and I became a Christian.”
Seeing the fruit of the preaching of the gospel of Christ, that’s in His favor. Isn’t that right? The case for Him, that’s in his favor! Wherever the gospel is preached, there the people are blessed—their homes, their lives, their children, the women, the men—everything, the whole fabric of society, it’s blessed. That’s for Him, that’s for Him.
All right, a second thing, the case for Christ, the case for Him: wherever anyone becomes a Christian, they are liberated. They are lifted up, they are exalted, they’re forgiven, they are blessed. Here in the seventh chapter of the Book of Luke is a beautiful story of the woman who was a sinner who came to Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee [Luke 7:36-50].
You know how the people sat in that day. They reclined on the table with their left elbow, and they ate with their right hand off of the table, and their feet were extended out this way from the table. So they sat at the table, reclining and just enjoying the repast. Well, this woman came off the streets of the city. And I’ve read commentaries on that saying that that was a common thing, that when they had a feast, the people of the city were free to come and to go, and to look and see. And this woman, who was a sinner, came. And she brought an alabaster box full of ointment and she broke it over His feet. And with tears—weeping—began to wash His feet with tears, and then to wipe them with the hairs of her head. And she kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment [Luke 7:36-38]. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? But when the Pharisee saw it—when the Pharisee saw it, he said, “This man is no prophet. He is no prophet. He is no man of God. Because if He were a man of God, He would know what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him, for she is a vile, outcast sinner!” [Luke 7:39]
Jesus, knowing what Simon was saying in his heart, said, “I have something to say to thee” [Luke 7:40]. So Jesus told a parable. There were two debtors. One owed lots of money, and one of them, just a little bit. And the man to whom both owed him some, forgave them both. And Jesus said, “Which one do you think will love him the most?” And Simon said, “The one that owed him the most.” And the Lord said, “That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. When I came, you did not anoint Me, or kiss My feet. But this woman, since she has come, has not ceased to anoint or to bathe My feet with her tears. And her sins, which are many, are all forgiven.” And He said unto her, “Thy sins are forgiven thee” [Luke 7:41-50]. Isn’t that wonderful? “Rise. Get on your feet. Go. God has put a new life and a new love in your heart. Go. Go.” That’s in His favor. That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. What Jesus can do for us is just glorious! It’s marvelous, what He has done for us! It’s just precious.
I grew up in a rural community, and I pastored out in the country for ten years. For six of those years, I was pastor of a little, tiny village church where Libby Reynolds grew up. I baptized her when she was a little girl, and we’re sending Cris back to Kentucky with Libby to spend a month there, in that country home. I want that boy, Cris, to know how it is to be in the country. Ah! I envy you. I envy you.
Well, a whole lot of the things that I was fetched up with come from the country. They smell of the soil of the first, fresh-plowed furrow. And this is one of them. This comes from the country. There was a guy, there was a farmer who had a volative spirit and a vicious temper. Ah! He just exploded.
Now, you know, some people don’t have much of a temper, and they are inclined to look down on us who do! One of these little meek, mousy, milquetoast went up to a guy who was exploding and said, “You ought to control your temper.” Well, that fellow said, “You little measly mouse, I control more temper in five minutes of my life than you do in a whole lifetime!” I know exactly how he felt.
Now this farmer—God love him—he was vicious, and he had that awful temper, and he got converted. Jesus saved him. That reminds me of something that I heard out there in the country. A Quaker was milking his cow, and the cow kicked the bucket over, just got milk all over everywhere. So the Quaker came around to the front of that animal and pointed to the face of that cow and said, “Thou knowest that I am Quaker and cannot beat thee. Thou knowest that I am Quaker and cannot cuss thee. But what thou knowest not is that I can sell thee to a Baptist, and he’ll beat the daylights out of thee!”
Well, this man had a temper and he got converted! And in those days past when he’d be milking the cow and she’d kick the bucket over, he’d just beat the daylights out of the cow. Cuss—you could hear him a mile. But he got converted! He got converted. And he’s out there milking that cow, and that old Bossy kicked the bucket over and got milk all over him. And some of the friends and neighbors who were around and looked at it expected him to cuss a blue streak and to get a pole and beat the cow to death!
He’d been saved. What did he do? He got out his great, big bandana handkerchief, and after the cow kicked the bucket over and got the milk all over him, he got out his handkerchief and he began to wipe it off and to wipe it off and to sing, “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”
Now may we sing that tonight? That’s the Lord and that’s in His favor, isn’t it? What God can do for us, what He has done for us, and how He can change us—man! We’d be here all night long, wouldn’t we? The case for Him.
Let me say just one other: this man, in the ninth chapter of the Book of John, he was healed. He was blind, and Jesus opened his eyes and he could see [John 9:1-9]. So they called him in, you know, and, ah, they grilled him and put him through an inquisition and finally said to him, “Now, this Man, Jesus, that you say healed thee, give God the praise because we know that He is a sinner” [John 9:10-24]. He didn’t walk according to the tradition of the elders. “He is a sinner.”
And this blind man said, “Whether He be a sinner or no, I do not know: but one thing I do know, namely, that whereas I was blind, now I see” [John 9:25]. That’s in His favor. That’s in His favor. The case for Christ—that’s in His favor. “Whereas I was blind, now I can see.” Armstrong sang:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found;
Was blind, but now I see.
[from “Amazing Grace,” John Newton, 1772]
“Whether He be a sinner I know not: but one thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see” [John 9:25].
Now, let me say just a word about that, what Jesus means to me, personally—personally. First: I’d like to speak of Him in my head, intellectually. Jesus means something to me intellectually, in my head. I talk to people, used to very often. Now once in a while, I talk to people who live in the academic world. They are intellectually inclined. They have an affinity for the things of books and knowledge; so many of them are not Christians.
About two weeks ago, there was a brilliant young woman in my study over there. And she was appalled and amazed and unbelievably astonished that I am not an evolutionist! I’m not an evolutionist. I’m not an evolutionist. And so naive are all those people that live out there in that academic world, they think they can explain anything by evolution. “There’s no God. There’s no Creator. It all just happened.”
Why, Life magazine, some time ago, they presented the evolutionary hypothesis concerning creation. And to the academic world, all that is so brilliant and so plausible. But to me, it is inanity of the first degree and the highest degree! Well, they have to start with a great swirl of fire, and then the center of it becomes the sun, and all of the pieces around it become the planets. And then they call, through the development of life, and they say that is an explanation.
Well, where did the fire come from? And how did it get to be a sun and the planets? And this life, how could it have developed out of nothing? Where did it come from? They don’t have any answers. Ah! But to me, my heart, I can find every answer in Christ. I may not be able to understand, but I can see it, and far beyond the credulity of those who believe that these things just happened—no intelligence, no design, no cause, it just did! Ah! That’s a fantastic thing!
My moral sensitivity, where did it come from? I love beautiful things. I love beautiful music. Where did that come from? Why, it has no contribution to the evolutionary process at all! And there are a thousand other things that we don’t have time to expatiate on. Why, it takes a faith, and a belief, a credulity beyond imagination to believe what those people in the academic world believe about evolution. But intellectually I am satisfied in Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life is the light of men.
Ah! He did it. He did it. This is His lacework, “The heavens declare the glory of God” [Psalm 19:1]. The heavens are His handiwork. He did it [Genesis 1:1]. And all of these things that I see in my heart and life I find an intellectual explanation in Christ. He did it.
But most of all, and best of all, and most precious of all, is what the Lord means to me, spiritually, inwardly, in my soul—living, praying, asking God to bless the witness and the work, and then growing older, and finally to some age, some day, somewhere, some time, and to die. What is the prospect? Outside of Christ, that is an abysmal, abysmal future. Just food for the worms, just fall in the grave, just die, just go into corruption, that’s all! O Lord. What an empty, sterile, barren, abysmally dark and hopeless future. But that’s the way it is outside of Christ. But in Him, O blessed God, blessed Lord; death is just a translation. It’s just the open door into glory. It’s just the seeing Jesus face-to-face [Revelation 22:3-4].
As Paul wrote it in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is a gain.” If for me to live is money, to die is a loss. If for me to live is pleasure, to die is a loss. If for me to live in sin, to die is a loss. If for me to live in this world, to die is a loss. If for me to live is ambition, to die is a loss. If for me to live is fame or glory, to die is a loss. But if for me to live is Christ, to die is a gain! [Philippians 1:21].
That’s what He has done for me. That’s the case for Christ, He did that. Isn’t that in His favor? Aren’t these wonderful things? Aren’t they glorious things? And what we’ve said tonight, three of them, you could stand up—each one of you—and say a half-a-dozen more. This is what He has done for me; the case for Christ; the blessedness of Jesus. O Lord, more of Him—more of Him—more—more about Him.
Now before we go off this air, I want to make an invitation. If you’ve been listening on the radio and you’ve been battling in your heart, maybe about the things of Jesus, decide for Him tonight. He will bring life and light and immortality to your soul [2 Timothy 1:10]. Take Him tonight. Accept Him tonight. You may be driving along in a car; bow your head over that wheel, pull to the side, and tell God all about it. You may be in the bedroom at home, or in the living room. Some of you may be out here in a club, seated in one those big halls. Wherever you are, if Jesus knocks at the door of your heart [Revelation 3:20], say, “Lord, come in, and welcome.” And the great throng that fills this auditorium here tonight, giving your heart to Jesus, or putting your life with us in the fellowship of this precious church, as the Spirit Himself shall make the appeal, come. Do it tonight. Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up, coming down one of these stairways, or into the aisle and down to the front: “Here I am, pastor. I make it now.” Do it. God bless you in the way. Angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.
I. He has been repudiated by so many
A. In His home city of
Nazareth (Mark 6:3)
B. By the Capernaum
multitudes (John 6:66-67)
C. In Gadara (Mark 5:1-17)
the New Testament
the Roman persecution
our modern day and hour
The communist world; all religions of the world (Lamentations
The materialist, hedonist
The intellectual world
II. The case for Christ
A. Wherever gospel is
preached, there is a heavenly blessing (Matthew
orphans’ homes, womanhood honored
2. Mr. and Mrs.
B. Wherever anyone
becomes a Christian, they are liberated (Luke 7:36-50)
1. Farmer with a
2. Blind man
healed (John 9:24-25)
C. What He has done for
(John 1:1-4, Psalm 19:1)