John 18:28-40- Jesus before Pilate
Explanation- We now come to Christ’s appearance before Pontius Pilate. The High Priest, not wanting to defile himself during the Passover ceremony, brings Christ to stand before Pilate. This conduct was reflective of what the Lord had previously said about the religious leaders of Israel. They are white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. They sought to uphold an appearance of godliness, honor, and dignity, but in reality they were irreverent, filthy, God haters. Rather than bring themselves to reproach, they seek Pilate’s assistance to handle their dirty work. Even this, however wicked it may have been, was meant to fulfill Christ’s word. It was a cross that Christ was to face and if the murder would have taken place at the hand of the Jews, crucifixion would not have been the method of execution. Christ also called His followers to take up their crosses and follow after Him. It is fitting that He would first lead by example in this manner.
As Pilate approaches Jesus he asks Him whether He is the King of the Jews. The answer to this question would provide no validation either way for Pilate to pass judgement, for he did not hold to the same standard of law that the Jews did. The Jews sought to crucify Jesus under the false pretense of blasphemy. Although this was just a cloak to cover their real intent of getting rid of Christ because He interrupted their way of doing things. Pilate was unconcerned with the Jew’s blasphemy laws. His main concern seemed to be preventing the outbreak of an insurrection. It is clear that Christ posed no threat of such action and Pilate quickly becomes aware of that.
The conversation takes an interesting turn as Jesus responds to Pilate’s questions. He tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. Although Christ surely is the King of the world on a grander scale, He did not come to this earth to rule and reign, but to draw men unto the true kingdom. He accomplished this through the effective work of His sacrifice which now allows men to come unto the Father. At this time, Christ has not come to conquer the world but to save it. If it were an earthly kingdom that He came to conquer then certainly His followers would rise up in insurrection and defend their King. Christ makes clear to Pilate that He has come into the world to bear witness to the truth. He was not plotting a worldwide domination, but was readying the crop for harvest. It is here that Pilate asks the infamous question, ‘What is truth?’ Whether this was asked in sincerity, rhetorically, or even mockingly, we do not know for certain, but one basic truth applies. The idea of absolute truth is almost laughable to the modern man. Truth (both then and now) has become a relative matter and not a standard. Certainly there can be no truth that all men must abide under! If that were the case then many of us would have some explaining to do. As Christians, we believe that there is a thing such as absolute truth and that God is its holder. It is He who defines what truth is. To the worldly man, who lives according to his own standard of truth, this is repulsive and foolish. Without being dogmatic, I believe that this is the attitude that Pilate approached Christ with.
Whether Pilate thought Christ was out of His mind is unclear, but one thing was for sure, he did not find Him guilty of any crime. Even so, there was a custom during the Passover that Pilate would release one prisoner to the Jews. The choice came between Jesus, who had done no wrong, and Barabbas, who was a known criminal. The crowd, obviously having been fed the lies of the high priest and his company, choose to have Barabbas released and Jesus crucified.
Application- I would like to highlight on the words of Christ to Pilate concerning the nature of His kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, if it was His crucifixion would have been resisted to greater extent. With this being the case, I believe that it is important for us to examine our own motives when addressing the political divides and schemes within our own respective countries. Certainly I believe that as a Christian we have a fundamental responsibility to stand up for what is just and despise what is evil, but it seems to be all too common for well-meaning Christians to become overly involved in the political atmosphere and in turn taint their Christian witness. Simply put, this world is not our home. Taking too hard of a stance on secondary (or third, fourth, etc…) issues only causes those who are meant to be our mission field to turn their ear when we seek to speak of Biblical truth. There are issues in which we should rightly raise our voice and there are issues that we should completely avoid. We require a deep level of discernment to operate faithfully in our twisted culture and it should be the business of every Christian to desperately seek this from God. The last thing that we want to do is ruin a witness that has an eternal benefit over a political policy that may only survive the span of a presidential term. Our kingdom is not of this world, if it were then we would be more active in the political realm. Politics are never to be an end in themselves but if they must be addressed, let it be done in a way that draws men unto the kingdom, rather than pushing them further away.