By Brooke Holt
“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’” - John 18:33-35
This conversation between Jesus and Pilate is recorded in all four Gospels. Clearly, it was a significant conversation and one which we must pause and contemplate. What is really happening here? Pilate, the Roman governor through the assignment of the Roman emperor Tiberius, was questioning Jesus. And Pilate had one goal in this conversation—to determine whether Jesus stood in breach of Roman law. He didn’t care for the Jews, didn’t care what happened to their nation, nor did he care anything about their religious leaders. Roman justice prevailed in the mind of Pilate.
These religious quarrels were nothing but a nuisance to Pilate. Why must he be included in such spats among the Jewish people? These Jewish religious leaders appealed to Pilate because their hands were tied. They did not have the power to execute a person according to Roman law. Crucifixion was the Roman form of execution and had to be handled through the state. So, enemies became allies when it came to Jesus. It’s fascinating what people will do when they are desperate to promote their own agenda.
Pilate cut to the quick in this conversation and asked Jesus point blank if he was the “King of the Jews.” To assert himself as a king would be a true threat to Rome and in violation of their law; it would also be grounds for crucifixion. Instead of answering Pilate’s question, Jesus turned the tables and began to question Pilate. Why was Pilate asking him? Was it because he truly wanted to know the truth or because of what had been reported to him?
Once again, the question at hand is diverted as Pilate posed yet another question: “Am I a Jew?” Pilate was not seeking to know Jesus or what he was about. Pilate wanted nothing more than to pacify the Jewish leaders and to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Yes or no, king or no king, in violation of law or not. Let earthly justice be done so that Pilate could return to more important matters.
Yet, what could have been more important than this conversation at that time? The true king was standing before an earthly ruler. The one with true authority was being interrogated by one with limited authority. The Creator and the creation. Such incredible irony!
“Are you the King of the Jews?” was the most important question Pilate was ever to ask, yet he was not open to the true answer. What about us? Do we ask Jesus questions to truly understand who he is and what he is about, or do we ask with our own earthly agenda and opinion? Jesus will speak the truth. As he said in John 14:6, he is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”
May our posture be one of humility and recognition that when we ask and Jesus answers, the King of kings and Lord of lords has spoken.
Spend some time thinking about your posture before the Lord. Are there semblances of Pilate, the religious leaders, or a true disciple who longs to know the truth? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
Comments will be approved before showing up.