We’re going through the New Testament right now and trying to come to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. We’re in the gospel of John and tonight, we’re going to wrap up the 18th chapter. We’ll be starting at verse 33 and going through verse 40 as we see what happens in John’s gospel when Jesus is on trial before Pilate.
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
Jesus is a most intriguing character in this dialogue. Ravi Zacharias has read a poem about this event and how while supposedly Jesus was the one being questioned, it seems more often that Pilate is the one who is on trial. Jesus does not beg. He does not plead. He does not admit anything wrong. He does not bribe. He simply states the facts.
Jesus wants Pilate to really see who he is in all of this. He is confronting Pilate with the questions and seeing what he really believes. Is he going to get his information about him solely from his opponents, or is he going to be willing to hear from Jesus himself who he is.
It also depends on what kind of king Jesus is being said to be. Is he a rival to Caesar? No. Is he the true king of Israel? Yes. However, it is not his people that have handed Jesus over. Those who have rejected him are not his people. He does have people, such as the apostles, but his goal at this time is not to set up a government on Earth in a theocracy. His goal is to bring about God’s kingdom which is not a political reign at this point at least, but is rather the reign of YHWH over the hearts of men.
Jesus does say the reason he came is to set up this kingdom. For Jesus, those who are on the side of truth truly listen to him. The reason the Jews are not listening then is simple. They are not on the side of truth.
Pilate asks “What is truth?” and walks away. If only he had stayed for the conversation! How much we would love to have seen the answer Jesus would have given. However, we can easily guess what it would have been. He would have pointed to himself. Pilate was on trial before truth.
The account with Pilate ends here, as does our blog for tonight. Tomorrow, we shall continue in this gospel.