28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters.[e] It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfil the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Easter at Christmas: Pilate
Russell Crowe as Noah, Christian Bale as Moses, maybe Brad Pitt as Pontius Pilate? The story of Pontius Pilate will be the theme of a Warner Bros. movie apparently. Pontius Pilate is certainly a complex character, many people have heard of him. According to history he was ruthless. He was a member of the lower aristocracy and knew that his prestige depended on his performance. The troubled character portrayed in The Passion by Mel Gibson may not be far off.
It was in the interests of the Jewish leadership to have Pilate on their side because they could not execute anyone without Roman permission. Pilate would have resisted being played by the Sanhedrin and the mob they had pulled together. However, if Pilate had been served up an insurrectionist by the Jewish people, it was in his interest to have him killed. Pilate seems baffled by Jesus. Usually an innocent man in such a predicament will beg and plead but Jesus doesn’t. His poise and dignity speak of royalty, but Jesus explains that his kingdom is not of this world.
Pilate understands that Jesus causes no real threat to Roman power. However, law and order is disturbed by the mob baying for Jesus’ blood. After trying some political moves to release Jesus, Pilate shows the puppet he really is. His strings are pulled by Rome or the Jewish leaders it would seem. However, beyond his ken God is working the plan for salvation. Jesus is crowned king with a thorny crown and given a robe. He is soon to be enthroned on his cross. Although it looks like the King of the Jews is torn down by Pilate, Pilate is the means by which he will be raised up.
We worship you Jesus this Christmas. You lowered yourself to appear in a manger. You further submitted to a path of suffering. God the Father raised you up. May you rise in our hearts this Christmas and shine like a star leading people to where you are.
- What questions does Pilate ask Jesus?
- How does Jesus reply?
- How is Jesus shown to be king?
- How does Jesus’ wisdom in the face of suffering encourage us?
- What is truth?