John 18:28-40 Easter at Christmas: Pilate

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.


  1. What questions does Pilate ask Jesus?
  2. How does Jesus reply?
  3. How is Jesus shown to be king?
  4. How does Jesus’ wisdom in the face of suffering encourage us?
  5. What is truth?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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11 Responses to John 18:28-40 Easter at Christmas: Pilate

  1. Jenna says:

    1. Pilate wants to know why Jesus has been accused and who He was.
    2. Jesus doesn’t directly answer his questions, because Pilate’s thinking on another plane than Jesus – Jesus is King, but He didn’t come 2000 years ago to set up an earthly kingdom!
    3. In this passage, I see in Jesus the dignity of a king – next to Pilate belligerent questions, Jesus is calm, dignified, and resigned to the Father’s will.
    4. Jesus truly has suffered in every way that we have; when we have to face argumentative or accusatory people, we can follow Jesus’ example.
    6. God’s Word! And also Jesus! (What is truth, Pilate? You’re speaking to Him!)

  2. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What questions does Pilate ask Jesus?
    He asks if he is king of the Jews.
    2. How does Jesus reply?
    He asks if he had heard that from others or if he was asking out of his own knowledge and curiosity.
    3. How is Jesus shown to be king?
    He has subjects to submit to him, he has been given power by God.
    4. How does Jesus’ wisdom in the face of suffering encourage us?
    We too, in the craziest of situations, can be wise. We also know that we have a wise Savior who has passed all trials and tribulations.
    5. What is truth?
    God’s word.

  3. ashleypdye says:

    1. Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews.
    2. Jesus answers that his kingdom is not of this world.
    3. Jesus is self-authenticating, so he proves to be king because of who he is. He says that those who walk in his truth listen to his voice.
    4. Jesus’ wisdom in the midst of suffering shows that the truth of Christ and his reality is stronger than any kind of pain.
    5. Truth is Jesus. Truth is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. Everything must be viewed in light of him.

  4. karas says:

    I find it really interesting that the Jews say it is not lawful for them to put anyone to death when from sermons I’ve heard, in the whole “trial” and arrest and everything of Jesus, they broke tons of laws. So it was already unlawful and unjust, but they still claimed to be right. It seems they were really blinded by hatred of Jesus or defense of their positions. It seems to me a warning to use to not be proud and arrogant as they appear to have been.
    The question of truth is an interesting one, but I agree with what I see in the post above mine – Jesus is truth. Knowing God is knowing truth, and by growing closer in relationship with Him, we come to see the truth better and better, and live by it as well. I believe there is absolute truth.

  5. What is truth?
    “Pilate does not recognize that Jesus is Truth. Pilate’s worldview is skewed by sin, his reality is corrupted by his sinful state, and he is blind to Jesus being the Messiah. Pilate is blind to the truth of the redemptive story Jesus played out. Pilate cannot recognize that the only way he will spend his eternity in the presence of God is through Jesus Himself, the person he thinks he can put to death forever. Truth is Jesus.”

  6. zacbodine says:

    The religious leaders really reflect us. Here are people who want to put a man to death but they will not enter the house to do it because of the time of day it falls on. They then know that what they are doing is wrong so if they can passively do it or get someone else to do it then it will be ok. Pilate is the same way. He wants someone else to do this or not do it at all. Jesus displays his kingship and displays that he is the only king. I wonder what this means for us…

  7. sjcavitt says:

    1) Pilate asks Jesus if He is King of the Jews, what He has done, if He is a King, and what is truth.
    2) He answers Pilate’s first question with a question, and then goes on to explain that His Kingdom is not of this world, and that His purpose is to bear witness to the Truth.
    3) He is shown to be King by truthfully answering Pilate’s questions with dignity and calmness.
    4) We should be encouraged to trust and rely on God in times of suffering.
    5) Jesus is Truth.

  8. Janice says:

    1. Pilate asked Jesus if He is the King of the Jews, who gave Him the title, and what truth is.
    2. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world and that He came to bear witness to the truth.
    3. Jesus is our spiritual King, and His kingdom lasts forever.
    4. Jesus stands firm in the face of suffering, encouraging us to stand firm and find our identity in Him.
    5. Truth is what is real. Jesus bears witness to the ultimate truth that God is love. Jesus is Truth. He came down to earth, lived a perfect life, died in our place, and rose from the dead so that we might enter into loving relationship with God, becoming a part of His family.

  9. Dylan says:

    1. and 2. Pilate asks Jesus if he is ‘the king of the jews.’ Jesus is not interested in the question as much as he is Pilate himself though. With each question Pilate asks Jesus, the Son of God reveals a little more of who he really is. Jesus gets to the heart of each question, making light of Pilate’s assumptions.
    3. Jesus shows supernatural humility and commitment to truth in this passage. These are qualities of every great leader and king. Perhaps most importantly though, he says that the very purpose for his birth was to be a king, the king if truth and savior of the world. Like many great kings, he was born to reign!
    4. In this passage, 2000 years ago, Jesus layed his life down for me and everyone who hears his voice. He did it peacefully, though painfully, with full knowledge that he would rise again to glorify God. How can I worry or be anxious? If God is for us, then who can be against us?
    5. Truth is the path to love.

  10. Mary says:

    Part 1: (breaking this into 2 parts because it is so long…part 2 will be in tomorrow’s)

    I have been thinking about materialism lately due to a project that I had to complete on Harry Blamires’ book The Christian Mind. Blamires says we have allowed ourselves to become so submerged in culture that we no longer think or talk like Christians about things that don’t pertain directly to the spiritual, and we need to change that. So he brings up aspects of culture where we have allowed ourselves to become affected. One aspect of culture is man’s desire to master the material world by technological means in an effort to live comfortably. The problem is that man abuses the very devises he created and becomes enslaved to them, causing him to think and act like a “machine,” devaluing humanity. Enslavement to mechanical devices causes man to run on autopilot, no longer thinking and choosing for himself, and to view/treat himself and others as mere objects performing a variety of functions within society. (Yuk! If you think through the implications of this statement, this is so disgusting the way the world treats people; let’s run in the opposite direction from thinking and acting like this!).

    The reason it has gotten me to think about materialism is that Blamires says the “secular mind” is in servitude to these devices, it chases after “the good life”: obtaining and acquiring as many of these devices as they can, thinking it will make them happy. I was just reading through a blog entry titled “Christmas Spending Is a Test of Your Treasure” and it made me reflect on that presentation. It’s funny how when you write a paper or give a presentation, you begin to see it everywhere around you… In fact, for the past week, it seems like this blog has been talking about materialism and thinking/acting like a “machine”.

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