I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-15-89 8:15 a.m.
Welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are now a part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message. Even though I am preaching through the Gospel of John, and continue in that series, yet it is turned to help us and encourage us in our tremendous commitment today and in the days to come; to share Jesus now. The message is a textual sermon, and it is taken from John 18:38, John 18:38: “Pilate saith unto them, I find in Him no fault at all.” This is his judicial decision, and it is affirmed and echoed by us who have found refuge in our Savior: “I find in Him no fault at all.”
First, the beginning of hostilities toward our Lord: it began in the Sabbath controversies. Reading from Matthew 12 verse 9:
He departed and went into their synagogue:
And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And those Pharisees and scribes asked Him saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? that they might accuse Him.
And He said, What man of you having a sheep . . . would not help him?
How much then is a man better than a sheep? . . .
Then saith He to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him.
Can you see the obvious framing of the question? “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? that they might accuse Him” [Matthew 12:10]. Turned in a way that they knew they’d have opportunity to accost Him for breaking the Sabbath law. They were correct in their judgment, that any kind of manifestation of suffering had a repercussion in His heart. Wherever He saw need and hurt, He was moved with compassion. And they knew exactly what our Savior would do, that He would heal that man.
In the ninth chapter of this same Gospel, when He saw the multitudes, like sheep having no shepherd, He was moved with compassion upon them [Matthew 9:36]. “Jesus, moved with compassion” [Matthew 9:36; Mark 1:41] is His enduring name. Sorrow touched His heart; when He beheld Mary and Martha weeping [John 11:33], Jesus also cried [John 11:35]. He was moved when He saw this man with his hand withered [Matthew 12:10-13]. And they were correct when they said that the sight of human suffering moved His heart [Matthew 9:36].
“And I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38]. Again, He ate with sinners. Luke chapter 15, “Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him [Luke 15:1]. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “houtos, houtos”—in contempt—“houtos.” This fellow, this guy, this Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” [Luke 15:2]. That’s a strange thing about our Lord. Sinners gathered always around Him; outcasts, they were somehow fascinated by our Lord; sinners.
One of the stories is of a sinful woman, an outcast woman, a tramp. And while He was in the house of Simon the Pharisee she bathed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair; a prostitute [Luke 7:36-38]. And Simon the Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet, He would know what kind of a tramp that is, and He would not let her touch Him” [Luke 7:39]. He was like that. He drew sinners around Him. That’s an amazing thing about our Lord.
A leper walked right up to Him in the [eighth] chapter of that First Gospel [Matthew 8:1-2]. Well, the Bible says, “He was thronged on every side” [Matthew 8:1]. How could a leper walk up to Him? Well, by the law, he had to cover his mouth and cry, wherever he walked, “Unclean. Unclean. Unclean!” [Leviticus 13:45]. And the reason he could walk right up to Jesus, there was an icy circle, always around him; people drawing back, drawing back. And he just walked right up to the Lord. Well, why didn’t the Lord draw back? He stood there. And when the leper came to Him, He reached forth His hand, and touched him [Matthew 8:3]. Why, my brother, that was half of the cure! He hadn’t felt the soft warmth of a human hand in the years of his life. That’s Jesus. He touched him. He was a friend of sinners [Matthew 11:19].
When He was crucified, He was crucified between two thieves [Luke 23:32-33]. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah closes, “He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sins of many” [Isaiah 53:12], a friend of sinners.
“And I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38].
Look again, here in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Mark:
They came to Jerusalem: and went into the temple—verse 15—and He began to cast out them that sold and bought, overthrew the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
And He said, My house, it is written, shall be called a house of prayer. And you have made it a den of thieves.
And the scribes and the chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him.
[Mark 11:15, 17-18]
What happened there in the temple sacred precincts: if you brought a lamb, you brought your lamb for the sacrifice; the priests would carefully examine it. And if there was an infinitesimal, inconsequential, minutiae of something wrong, they refused to receive it as a sacrifice and made you buy one from them. And not only did they sell the sacrifices, but you had to offer in your gift in the treasury, you had to offer treasury money that was acceptable to them. You had to exchange your money into their money, and they charged usurious rates. And all of that entered into the pockets of the Sadducees who ran the temple. They enriched themselves.
It is the same thing exactly as precipitated the Reformation under Martin Luther, when they were selling indulgences. And when Jesus said, “This house is to be a house of prayer and not of merchandise enriching these who preside over the sacrificial system,” then they sought how they might destroy Him [Mark 11:17-18]. But I find no fault in Him at all.
Again, on the last week of His life, the confrontation with the Pharisees, and the scribes, and the rulers, and the elders in Matthew 22, beginning at verse 15:
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk.
And they sent unto Him the Herodians, saying, Master, we know—
and they greatly complimented Him—
Tell us, What thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar?
Jesus, perceiving their wickedness, said, Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?
Show Me the tribute money. And they brought Him a denarius.
And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
And they said unto Him, Caesar’s. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s.
And the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Luke, He expounds upon that. They brought the Lord Jesus before the Roman governor and said, “He is guilty of sedition. He foments revolution and riot. And He forbids to give tribute to Caesar, and He says that He Himself is Christ the King, overthrowing Caesar” [Luke 23:1-2]. When actually our Lord did not preach sedition and revolution. He preached peace. He did not say or deny the tribute due to Caesar. “Let Caesar’s dues be paid to Caesar and his throne. It is heart and conscience that are made to serve the Lord God alone” [Mark 22:21].
And when He said He was a King [Luke 23:2-3], He is the King of our hearts and of our souls. And I find no fault in Him at all. And as they confronted our Lord on that last day in His visit to the temple, the Sadducees, who say there’s no resurrection, accosted Him; then follows the story of that confrontation [Matthew 22:23-31]. And the Lord closed it with a word from God’s Holy Scriptures; quoting, “I am the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” [Matthew 22:32].
We are not to look forward to the grave and to the worm. But we’re to look forward to our triumph with our Savior in heaven. And I find no fault in Him at all. And on that same day, the Book says, that:
There was a lawyer which asked Him a question, tempting Him, saying,
Which is the great commandment of the law?
And the Lord said, The great commandment of the law is this: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and mind.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Our Lord defined our great responsibility before the God of heaven, not in terms of ritual or genuflection, but He defined it in terms of our hearts and our souls to love God and to minister to those that are in need [Matthew 22:37-39]. And I find no fault in Him at all.
And when He was crucified, He was crucified as a criminal and nailed to the tree between two thieves [Matthew 27:38]:
And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself.
If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross
And my heart replies, “Lord, do it! Tear Yourself from the wood and come down and strike terrified fear into their very souls!” No, it will not be a superman coming down from the tree. It’ll be a dead corpse buried in a tomb [Matthew 27:57-60], just as you and I face that penalty of death and to rise again [2 Corinthians 4:14]. And I find no fault in Him at all.
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save” [Matthew 27:41-42]. That’s right. That’s right. That’s correct. We pay the penalty of our sins; He had no sins. So He suffered and died for us [1 Corinthians 15:3]. Himself, He couldn’t save [Matthew 27:42]. And I find no fault in Him at all.
And they cried, saying, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him” [Matthew 27:43]. And the Lord called the very sun to be blotted out [Matthew 27:45]. And the earth did shake and quake and the rocks were rent [Matthew 27:51]; God looking upon the suffering of our Savior for us. And likewise, I find no fault in Him at all.
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:5-6:
For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord . . .
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Preaching not ourselves, but Him. In ourselves, full of fault and failure, but I find no fault in Him at all.
In my first pastorate beyond the seminary, in a county seat town where every Saturday the farmers came from the ends of the earth, it seemed to me; this is now fifty-two years ago. And as I saw those farmers gathering there, I took my Bible and I went down to the courthouse. And on the courthouse lawn, in the center of that county-seat town, I stood up with my Bible and I preached the gospel. Did it every Saturday for the years I was there.
The sun would beat down on my head because it was so hot in the summertime. So they built a little shed there and placed a microphone in front of me. And I preached the gospel every Saturday to those throngs that came into that county seat town. On one of those Saturdays, I did something that I never had heard of or ever done before. As I was preaching to that throng out there, I said, “Why don’t you go to church? And why don’t you confess your faith in the Lord Jesus? Why don’t you attend the services of Christ? Why?” And then I said, in my inexperience, I said, “Here is the microphone. Come up here and tell us. Answer me. Why don’t you attend church? Why don’t you attend the services of God? Why don’t you?”
I opened Pandora’s Box, literally. You wouldn’t believe what happened. They came up one at a time, and they recounted the most sordid failures and faults that my ears had ever heard, things such as you read in the papers today. It was terrible. They stood there, one after another, after another, after another, “The reason I don’t go to church is,” and then they would speak and recount the awful fault of a preacher. Then they would recount the awful life of a deacon. Then they would follow through the awful story of other church members. And when it was over I left and went home and sat down, discouraged. Oh, I’d never heard anything like that in all my life. I had made a colossal blunder. I made an awful mistake. And I sat there, having listened to that, just undone.
Then as the time passed, I began to review what I had heard; one by one, standing there, recounting the failure of the preacher, of the deacon, of the member of the church. But not one, not one ever said anything against Jesus; not one, not one. And as I reviewed it, I began to think about our Lord and human strength. Any who have ever studied Him, His character, His spirit, His life, His teaching, His love, His devotion, His sacrifice, any who have ever studied Him have never found fault against Him. Even the infidel and the fiercest critic find nothing against Him.
I think of the infidel Bob Ingersoll who said to his friend Lew Wallace, the governor of the New Mexico territory, “You study,” he said, “the life of Jesus and write a book against Him, ridiculing Him.” Lew Wallace did it. He studied the life of our Lord, and the book that he wrote is called Ben-Hur—underneath—A Story of the Christ. He became a Christian.
That’s a strange thing in all of history; there has never been anyone like Him, not even in romance. Nor has the greatest authors who ever lived—a Homer or a Dante or a Shakespeare—been able to create a character like the Lord Jesus. My brother, if anyone says that the four Gospels are forgeries, let him try to write a fifth! You can’t recreate the Lord Jesus; unique, and separate, and apart [Hebrews 7:26]—none like Him.
And if I fall into the flames of damnation and hell, there’s no fault in His atoning grace; the fault is in me. And if I fail to believe and to receive Him, there’s no fault in His compassionate love; the fault is in me. And if I refuse to believe His promises, there’s no fault in His abiding faithfulness; the fault is in me. All of heaven and hell, and all earth, and all time, and all eternity join with the judicious sentence of Pontius Pilate, “I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38]. What a wonderful Savior, and what a glorious Advocate [1 John 2:1].
What a marvelous friend and what a blessed fellow pilgrim; Jesus our Lord. We’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing it, a family you, coming into our dear church, a couple you, giving your life to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], a one somebody you, answering God’s call in your heart and soul, make that decision now, and on the first note of the first stanza, welcome. Welcome, while we stand and while we sing.