I Find No Fault In Him
January 15th, 1989 @ 10:50 AM
I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-15-89 10:50 a.m.
In keeping with the theme of this year, “Share Jesus Now!” and also in keeping with our preaching through the Gospel of John, the fourth Gospel, I have a textual sermon today. And it is John 18:38: “Pilate saith unto them concerning Jesus, I find in Him no fault at all.” That is repeated five times in this brief story of the sufferings of our Lord. For example, in the next chapter, in 19: [John 19:4] he says: “I find in Him”—in verse 4—“I find no fault in Him” [John 19:4]. And in verse 6 in chapter 19 he repeats it: “for I find no fault in Him” [John 19:6]. And in Luke 23:4, and in Luke 23:14, that same avowal is made by the procurator of the Roman province of Judea, “I find in Him no fault at all.”
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew, beginning at verse 9, we have recorded the beginning of the hostility against our Savior. And it concerns the Sabbath controversies. It says:
Jesus entered into their synagogue:
Behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked Him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath Day? in order that they might accuse Him.
Then He speaks of them concerning a sheep:
And is a man not better than a sheep? . . .
Then saith He to that 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.
You see, when you read the passage, they frame the sentence in a way that showed they expected the Lord to heal the man. “They asked Him, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath Day? that they might accuse Him” [Matthew 12:10]. They were correct in that judgment. Wherever suffering, or hurt, or illness was ever found in the presence of our Lord, it moved our Savior’s heart. He healed them.
In the ninth chapter of this First Gospel, it records of our Savior that when He saw the multitudes as sheep not having a shepherd, He was moved with compassion on them [Matthew 9:36]. “Jesus, moved with compassion” is His ever enduring name. His heart was moved by the hurts of humanity.
In the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John it says that when Jesus saw the heartbreak of Mary and Martha over the death of their brother Lazarus [John 11:32-33], the passage in the King James, “Jesus wept” [John 11:34-35], Jesus burst into tears. The hurt of humanity, the illnesses and the sicknesses of human life had repercussion in His heart. And that’s why these bitter enemies of our Savior turned that question. They knew that He would heal this man with a withered hand [Matthew 12:13]. And when He did, “they took council against Him, that they might destroy Him” [Matthew 12:14]. But I—“I find no fault in Him” [John 18:38].
Again, recorded this time in the Book of Luke, “Then drew near unto Him”—in chapter 15—“all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him [Luke 15:1]. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying houtos, houtos, This guy, this fellow, houtos, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” [Luke 15:2]; Jesus, the friend of sinners [Luke 7:34]. An accusation against our Lord by which they sought to put Him to death, because He was a friend of sinners. One thing always about our Savior, the Lord Jesus: He never withdrew from sinful people, never; rather, He was their friend [Luke 7:34].
Do you remember the story of that prostitute, that tramp? When our Lord was a guest in the house of Simon the Pharisee, she came and, kneeling at His feet, bathed His feet with her tears and dried them with the hair of her head [Luke 7:36-38]. And Jesus never withdrew. And Simon the Pharisee said: “This man—this man, if He were a prophet, He would have known what kind of an outcast she is and not allowed her to touch Him” [Luke 7:39]. Jesus never pulled away or shied away from sinful people like us.
It’s a strange thing about Him in that; by the law, if a man were a leper he had to cover his mouth, and as he walked he had to cry, “Unclean, unclean, unclean” [Leviticus 13:45]. And in the story of our Savior in the [eighth] chapter of the Book of Matthew, He, surrounded on every side by a great throng, and that leper just walked up to Him [Matthew 8:1-2]. Well, how could he just walk up to the Lord when He is thronged on every side by a vast number? Why, as he walked with his hand over his mouth crying, “Unclean, unclean,” everyone fell away from him. He walked in the middle of an icy circle, the people falling away. Jesus didn’t; He just stood there. And that leper walked up to Him. And when he did, the Book says that Jesus reached forth His hand and touched him [Matthew 8:3]. My brother, that was half of the cure! He hadn’t felt the warm, soft hand of a loving somebody in his life. Jesus touched him. That’s our Lord, the friend of sinners [Matthew 11:19].
When He was crucified, He was crucified between two thieves [Luke 23:32-33]. The end of the great prophecy in Isaiah 53 is that He was numbered with the transgressors [Isaiah 53:12]. He was like us. He was our friend, Jesus. And the great chapter closes, “And He bare the sin of many” [Isaiah 53:12]. They said, “houtos, this Man receiveth sinners, and eats with them” [Luke 15:2]. But I—“I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38; Luke 23:4, 14].
In a dramatic passage in the Book of Mark, He and His disciples come to Jerusalem. “And Jesus went in the temple, and He began to put them out that sold and bought, overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves…” [Mark 11:15]. And He said:
My house shall be called a house of prayer. And you, you have made it a den of thieves.
And the scribes and the chief priests heard it, and they sought how they might destroy Him.
What an amazing traffic! Had you been a worshipper of Jehovah and had brought a lamb to the temple to be sacrificed, the scribes and the priests would carefully examine your offering. And they would have found some inconsequential minutia wrong with it and made you buy it from them.
They sold the sacrifices. Then, by their law, in order to bring a gift to the Lord in the holy house, you couldn’t use the money, the exchange of the realm, but you had to offer certain money that they prescribed. And when you exchanged your money for theirs, they charged a usurious rate, and all of the profits they placed in their pockets. They enriched themselves with the Sadducees of the temple. It is the same kind of a thing as when the priests sold indulgences in the days of Martin Luther that sparked the great Reformation.
And when the Lord Jesus said, “You are not to traffic in God’s house, you are not to use it for a profit, much less for a usurious one; My house is to be called a house of prayer. And you have made it a den of thieves” [Mark 11:17]. “And the scribes and the Pharisees sought how they might destroy Him” [Mark 11:18]. But I—but I—“I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38].
And once again, in the last confrontation in the Passion Week, He is in Jerusalem:
And the Pharisees took counsel how they might entangle Him in His speech.
And they sent the Herodians to Him, saying, Master, we know You are a true man of God.
Tell us, therefore, what thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
But Jesus, perceiving their wickedness, said, Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?
Show Me the tribute money. And they brought unto Him a denarius.
And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
And they say unto Him, Caesar’s. Then saith He unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.
In the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Luke, he expatiates upon that scene. When they brought our Lord before the procurator, the Roman province of Judea, they say, “This man is guilty of sedition and revolution. And He forbids to give tribute to Caesar. And He says that He Himself is Christ, the King, to overthrow the Roman government” [Luke 23:1-2].
Actually Jesus preached peace and love [Matthew 5:1-7:29], and not sedition and revolution. Actually He said we owe an obligation to civil government; unto Caesar and his throne we pay tribute [Matthew 22:21] And when He says, “I am a King” [John 18:37] He means, “I am king of the soul, and of the heart, and of the entrance into the presence of God.” “And I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38].
And in that second confrontation that last week in the temple, there come to Him the Sadducees who say there is no resurrection; when you die, you are dead like a rock. And they present to Him one of those far-out stories [Matthew 22:23-30].
And He answers, As touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read where God said,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Our great future does not lie in a tomb, buried in the heart of the earth, food for worms; but our future lies in the presence of God, resurrected, raised as you saw pictured in baptism [Romans 6:3-5], to live with our Lord and God’s people and the angels of heaven forever and ever [Revelation 21:1-3]. And, in that great promise, “I find no fault in Him” [Luke 23:4, 14; John 18:38].
And the third confrontation that day was brought by a lawyer:
One of them who was a lawyer asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment of the law?—
Out of a great multitude of ritualistic practices, which is the greatest one?—
And the Lord said, The great commandment of the law is this: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and mind, and soul.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself.
Our service to God is not in genuflection and rituals, but our service to God is to love Him with all our hearts, and to be good and kind to one another. “And I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38].
Finally, He was crucified as a criminal [Matthew 27:38]. And in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, having described His crucifixion:
They that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, that buildest it in three days, save Thyself.
If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
[Matthew 27:39, 40]
And when I read that, my response is, “O Lord, do it! Come down from the cross and strike terrified fear in their very souls.” No. When He comes down He will be a corpse [Matthew 27:50], as we someday shall be. He will be laid in a grave [Matthew 27:59-60], as someday we shall be. And praise God, the third day He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], as someday we shall be [2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:16]. “And I find in Him no fault at all” [John 18:38].
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and the elders said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save” [Matthew 27:41-42]. He paid the penalty for our wrong and for our sin [Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21]. And if He was to save us, He could not save Himself. He died for us [1 Corinthians 15:3]. “And I find no fault in Him” [John 18:38]
Then they cried saying: “He trusted in God: let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God” [Matthew 27:43]. Lord, Lord, how God answered! He blotted out the sun, that refused to look upon such suffering and shame [Matthew 27:45]. He shook the very earth, and the rocks did rend [Matthew 27:51]. And the whole earth was gathered in terror as the Lord answered from heaven. Even God said: “I find no fault in Him” [Matthew 3:17, 17:5].
And Paul the apostle, God’s great emissary and ambassador, in 2 Corinthians 4:5: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus.” And the next verse: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6]. Not we, but He. In us, faults and fears; not in Him; for in Him, “I find no fault at all” [John 18:38].
Fifty-two years ago, being graduated from the seminary and pastor of my first full-time church, located in a county seat town, on a Saturday all the farmers from the Lord only knows—it seems to me the ends of the earth—gathered there every Saturday in that county seat town. As I looked upon those throngs, I took my Bible and went down to the courthouse lawn and stood there and preached the gospel every Saturday to that throng that gathered in that county seat town.
As the days past, I did something that I never had heard of before. As I looked out over that throng—had a microphone, little stand—I said to them, “You don’t go to church. And you don’t worship the Lord with the people of God. Why don’t you go to church? And why don’t you worship the Lord?” I said, “Here’s this microphone. Come up and you tell us why you don’t go to church, and why you don’t worship our Savior.”
My brother and my sister, you never saw such an opening of Pandora’s box in your born days. Ah, they crowded up there to the front! And one after another, they stood before that microphone, and it was unthinkable! They described everything evil about the preacher—ah, you could do that here in Dallas, one after another. Sordid, tragic, they described why they didn’t go to church, and then the experience with the preacher. Then they described the deacons and how things were with them and the deacons. Then they described how things were with them and the members of the church. It was a sordid recital.
And when was it over, I went home. I was never more discouraged in my life—young fellow, just starting out. And I never had heard such things as they recounted. I felt I had made the greatest mistake I’d ever made in my life when I opened the door for them to recount such tragedy of fault and failure.
Did you know, as I turned that over in my mind in the days that followed, something came to my heart? As I relistened to those people as they denounced the derelictions of the preacher, and as they recounted all of the sins of the deacons, and as they described the unbelievable abscesses in the congregation of the Lord, it came to my heart, and it came to my mind. Not one of them ever said anything against Him. Not one. Not one. Everything about a preacher and everything about a deacon and everything about the member, but not one said anything against Jesus; not one.
Did you know when you rethink it; there are those who have studied His character, and His spirit, and His life, and His ministry, and His grace, and His death? But the fiercest critic and the most violent infidel will say nothing against Him.
In this last century, Bob Ingersoll was a famous infidel who went up and down the country decrying the Bible, the mistakes of Moses. He was seated on a train by Governor Lew Wallace, who was head of New Mexico territory. And he said to his friend Lew Wallace, “Why don’t you study the Lord? Study the Bible and write a book against Him.” It appealed to Lew Wallace, and he studied the Lord and studied the things of Christ. And when he wrote his book, he entitled it Ben-Hur: A Story of the Christ. He became a great humble, devout follower of our Savior, the Lord Jesus.
In all history, there is none comparable to Him. Not even in romance has ever one been created like Him. With all the genius of a Homer, or of a Dante, or of a Shakespeare, there’s none created like Him. My brother, when somebody says the four Gospels are forgeries, challenge that someone to write a fifth, to create a character like Jesus. There is none like Him.
And if I fall into the flames of hell and of damnation, there’s no fault in His atoning grace. The fault is in me. And if I refuse to believe and to accept Him, there’s no fault in His compassionate love. The fault is in me. And if I refuse to believe in His promises, the fault is not in His abiding faithfulness. The fault is in me. All creation and hell itself and all the earth and time and eternity make the avowal of that Roman procurator, “I find no fault in Him at all” [John 18:38], Jesus our Savior.
O Lord God, what a privilege and a happiness and a glory to bow at Your precious feet, to own You as the Lord of my life [Romans 10:8-13], and to look forward to the eternity for which You open for us the gates of glory! Bless your name, precious Savior, the Lord Jesus! Now may we pray together?