A DIFFERENT KING
Read: John 18:28-40
“28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
33 Pilate 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. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.39 But 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’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.” (NIV John 18:28-40)
Study: The religious leaders carefully stayed ritually “clean” as they schemed to kill their God (in the person of Jesus). When Pilate, the Roman procurator, asked why they’d come, they exposed the “kangaroo court” nature of Jesus’ “trial” by saying, “The Law doesn’t allow us to kill anyone.” Jesus refused to grovel or plead, as most prisoners would have, but simply declared his heavenly origin to Pilate. Pilate tried to find a politically palatable way to free a clearly innocent man.
Who would dare answer Pilate as Jesus did: “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world…. I came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth”? C. S. Lewis wrote that a mere man who made such claims “would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell.” Pilate focused on his political career; the religious leaders reviled Jesus for blasphemy. How does your heart respond to Jesus’ claims: lunatic, liar, or Lord and God?
Pray: Lord of all, you came to testify to the truth, including the truth about who you are and where you came from. I believe the truth to which you testified, and I worship and follow you. Amen