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JESUS
Before Pilate
John 18
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they
themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might
eat the passover.  
(29)  Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this
man?  
(30)  They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have
delivered him up unto thee.  
(31)  Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.
The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:  (32)  
That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he
should die.  
(33)  Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto
him, Art thou the King of the Jews?  
(34)  Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?  
(35)  Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered
thee unto me: what hast thou done?  
(36)  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world,
then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my
kingdom not from hence.  
(37)  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause
came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the
truth heareth my voice.  
(38)  Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?
And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in
him no fault at all.  (39)  But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the
passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?  
(40)  Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a
robber.
See also:
Matthew 27.2,11-31 Mark 15.1-20 Luke 23.1-25
If he was not a malefactor …

The Jews were arrogant in their position since they have arrested Jesus.
When Pilate asked why they brought Jesus to him, they responded with a
satiric answer, “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered
him up unto thee.” If he was not guilty, we would not have brought him
before you. They very fact they presented him to Pilate means that he is
guilty. It is a forgone conclusion.

It is not lawful …

Pilate wanted the Jews to try Jesus themselves. But, they feign a
willingness to follow law. Perhaps, however, it was self-preservation that
caused them to respect the authority of Rome that they could not execute a
prisoner. Jesus had prophesied that he would be put to death. Now, it is
coming to fruition.

Pilate’s Questions:

1)        Art thou king of the Jews?

The accusation from the Jews must have been that Jesus claimed to be a
king. However, Pilate seems to doubt this. Jesus’ reply implies this. “Sayest
thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell I thee of me?” Had he come to
this conclusion himself, or is he merely repeating what he has been told?
This shows that Pilate lacked conviction of what Jesus had been accused
of. He was not concerned with justice. He was more concerned with
appeasing the people.

2)        What hast thou done?

Pilate excused himself from the matter, by declaring, “Am I a Jew?” He
clearly thought this entire matter did not concern Rome, it was a Jewish
matter. Pilate unquestionably was merely repeating what the chief priests
had said about Jesus. He recognized that Jesus had been delivered to him
by His own people? Pilate asks what Jesus has done that even his own
people turn against him.

3)        Art thou a king then?

Jesus replies with a statement that confuses Pilate, and has confused many
people throughout the centuries -- My kingdom is not of this world: if my
kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not
be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The Jews had looked for a restoration of the glory of the kingdom of
Solomon and David. They tried to make Jesus a king; but, His kingdom was
not a physical kingdom – it was not of this world. His kingdom was spiritual –
His kingdom was the church. [see chart below]

Schurer, in his History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (II,
11, 126 ff), has drawn up a kind of Messianic creed, in no fewer than eleven
articles, which he believes was extensively diffused at this period. The
Sadducees, indeed, had no participation in these dreams, as they would
have called them, being absorbed in money-making and courtiership; but
the Pharisees cherished them, and the Zealots received their name from
the ardor with which they embraced them. The true custodians, however, of
these conceptions were the Prosdechomenoi, as they have been called,
from what is said of them in the New Testament, that they “waited for the
kingdom of God.” To this class belonged such men as Nicodemus and
Joseph of Arimathea (Luk_23:51), but it is in the beginning of the Gospel of
Luke that we are introduced to its most numerous representatives, in the
groups surrounding the infant Baptist and the infant Saviour (Luk_2:25,
Luk_2:38); and the truest and amplest expression of their sentiments must
be sought in the inspired hymns which rose from them on this occasion.
The center of their aspirations, as there depicted, is a kingdom of God - not,
however, of worldly splendor and force, but of righteousness and peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit; beginning in humility, and passing to exaltation
only through the dark valley of contrition.

        International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Pilate could not understand Jesus’ concept of a kingdom. He was a political
animal. He could understand the power of an army. He could understand the
physical kingdom. But, he could not understand a spiritual kingdom. So, he
asks, Are you a king then?

4)        What is truth?

Jesus replied, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for
this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.
Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.  His answer seemed
evasive. It confused Pilate. Jesus was to bear witness to the truth? What is
truth?

5)        Should I release… the King of the Jews?

Pilate could not find any fault in Jesus. His wife wanted him to release
Jesus. Pilate seemed to be looking for a way out. The tradition of releasing
a prisoner offered a solution. He chose a murderer, a robber, a highway
man, an insurrectionist to be the other choice. How could the people wish
to kill their king, and save such a man? It made no sense, except to the
rulers of the Jews.