Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “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?” 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.” 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.” 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.
I was reminded last night about this powerful scene in the Easter story. We see in the interchange between Pilate and Jesus in John 18 & 19 a clear declaration from the Lord and a missed opportunity for Pilate.
Jesus is a king. But it is a different kind of kingdom. He has come to “bear witness to the truth”. Everyone who is of the truth listens to His voice. The footnotes in my Bible show that this Kingdom of the Truth has been the theme throughout the whole Gospel of John:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We see that from the start this has been all about Jesus and His kingdom. This is a kingdom created not through force or military power, but one that is formed in grace and truth, in the power of the word of God and the indwelling of the Spirit of Truth, Christ in us.
Pilate understood kingdoms, but he didn’t understand this. “What is truth” is his reply when faced with this declaration from Jesus. I am tempted to wonder how long of a pause was there between verse 37 and 38. Jesus says to Pilate’s face, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” This holds within it an appeal to Pilate…”Listen to my voice”. Pilate responds by avoiding the reality before him and just casts it off and leaves the room.
I am always drawn to the words in Isaiah 66 when I read this passage in John 18:
Thus says the Lord: heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
What an opportunity here for Pilate to tremble at the word of Jesus. What a chance to fall at His feet with a broken, humble and contrite heart. The Truth was standing before him. Pilate denies the Truth, and leaves the room.
This Easter, come and see the Truth. Come and see Him stricken for our sins, bearing our burden to the cross, paying the debt that we owed. Come to Him, lay your heart at His feet. Tremble at His word, and find freedom.