John 18:28-40: “Jesus Appears Before Pontius Pilate

By

Jim Bomkamp

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1.                  INTRO:

 

1.1.         In our last study we looked at verses 12-27 of chapter 18.

 

1.1.1.  We saw in our study that after Jesus was arrested that Peter and another disciple followed Jesus to where He was interrogated by Annas and then Caiaphas. 

 

1.1.2.  At Jesus’ interrogation we saw Peter fulfill Jesus’ prediction concerning him and deny that he knew Jesus three times before the cock of morning crows.  We saw how that this denial came about and sought to learn some principles from it.

 

1.1.3.  We began to see in this study that everything that was done to Jesus on this morning when He suffered and was crucified was done contrary to and in violation of the Law of Moses.

 

1.1.4.  We began to see Jesus suffer the punishment for our sins as He was struck by officers of the temple while He was being interrogated by the high priest.

 

1.2.         In our study today, we are going to look at verses 28-40 of chapter 18.

 

1.2.1.  In our study today, we are going to see Jesus now as He goes to be tried before a man named Pontius Pilate who was the Roman governor that had been appointed over the land of Palestine in Jesus’ day.  Pontius Pilate is a man who is known in history for only one thing and that is being the governor or procurator over Judea at this time and being the man who approved the crucifixion of Jesus Christ when Jesus was brought to him in a mock trial by the religious leaders of Israel who simply wanted him to give approval for the unjust crucifixion of Jesus, regardless of the fact that in doing so they were violating every code of justice from their Law.

 

1.2.2.  Pontius Pilate served as governor from 26-36AD.  Pilate lived in Caesarea and always visited Jerusalem during the Passover season in order to keep a watchful eye on the crowds there since disturbances and insurrections by the Jews had often occurred during the Passover. Pilate had probably been told of Jesus’ imminent arrest and to be on hand early on this morning for a quick trial before the Passover.

 

1.2.3.  We will see in our study that Pilate was a reluctant participant in the trial and condemnation of Jesus to crucifixion.  He was a man who was convinced of Jesus’ innocence and had an opportunity to make a difference by doing the right thing and dismissing the charges against Jesus, however instead he chose to act instead according to pragmatic concerns and allow the Jews to crucify Jesus so that he might not incur their disfavor.  Pilate, a man who was really just a minor underling in the Roman government made for himself a place in history for his name is found even in the words of the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed, “crucified (or suffered) under Pontius Pilate.”

 

1.2.4.  I would have you consider that in reality that it was Pilate who was on trial this day.

 

1.2.5.  We will consider the far reaching effects that occur whenever a person determines whether to stand for the Lord and for truth, or not to do so.

 

1.2.6.  For years skeptics had stated that the man Pontius Pilate was a mythological character that the writers of the New Testament concocted in order to spread lies and false propaganda about the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  However, time has proven the skeptics wrong about Pontius Pilate just as they have been proven wrong so many times in the past, for instance:

 

1.2.6.1.The man Flavius Josephus was not a Christian but a Jew, and he under hire of Rome was a historian during the first century.  Several times he chronicled things that Pontius Pilate the Roman governor of Palestine had done, including his handling of many uprisings and conflicts among the Jews.  Pilate slaughtered Jews and Samaritans on many occasions.  In Josephus’ book written in 93AD called, “Jewish Antiquities,” 18.3.3, he wrote the following about both Pilate and Jesus Christ, “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had  first come to love him did not cease.  He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him.  And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

 

1.2.6.2.Another pagan historian named Tacitus wrote the following in 115AD about Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ in regard to the persecution of Christians which the Roman emperor Nero had begun, “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.

 

1.2.6.3.In 1961 an archeological dig unearthed a monument that clearly has inscribed on it “Pilatus,” the name of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine during the time of Jesus.  It is currently located in the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem. 

 

1.2.6.4.In another archeological dig, an ossuary box containing the bones of Caiaphas, the high priest during Jesus’ time, was discovered in southern Jerusalem in 1990. 

 

1.2.6.5.Now most scholars admit the historicity of the existence of both Pontius Pilate and Caiphas.

 

1.2.7.  Easton’s Bible Dictionary has the following account of the life of Pontius Pilate and his indelible infamy in being the man who tried Jesus and and approved His crucifixion :

 

Pilate, Pontius — probably connected with the Roman family of the Pontii, and called “Pilate” from the Latin pileatus, i.e., “wearing the pileus”, which was the “cap or badge of a manumitted slave,” as indicating that he was a “freedman,” or the descendant of one. He was the sixth in the order of the Roman procurators of Judea ( 26-36). His headquarters were at Caesarea, but he frequently went up to Jerusalem. His reign extended over the period of the ministry of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ, in connection with whose trial his name comes into prominent notice. Pilate was a “typical Roman, not of the antique, simple stamp, but of the imperial period, a man not without some remains of the ancient Roman justice in his soul, yet pleasure-loving, imperious, and corrupt. He hated the Jews whom he ruled, and in times of irritation freely shed their blood. They returned his hatred with cordiality, and accused him of every crime, maladministration, cruelty, and robbery. He visited Jerusalem as seldom as possible; for, indeed, to one accustomed to the pleasures of Rome, with its theatres, baths, games, and gay society, Jerusalem, with its religiousness and ever-smouldering revolt, was a dreary residence. When he did visit it he stayed in the palace of Herod the Great, it being common for the officers sent by Rome into conquered countries to occupy the palaces of the displaced sovereigns.”

 

After his trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was brought to the Roman procurator, Pilate, who had come up to Jerusalem as usual to preserve order during the Passover, and was now residing, perhaps, in the castle of Antonia, or it may be in Herod’s palace. Pilate came forth from his palace and met the deputation from the Sanhedrin, who, in answer to his inquiry as to the nature of the accusation they had to prefer against Jesus, accused him of being a “malefactor.” Pilate was not satisfied with this, and they further accused him (1) of sedition, (2) preventing the payment of the tribute to Caesar, and (3) of assuming the title of king (Luke 23:2). Pilate now withdrew with Jesus into the palace (John 18:33) and examined him in private (37,38); and then going out to the deputation still standing before the gate, he declared that he could find no fault in Jesus (Luke 23:4). This only aroused them to more furious clamour, and they cried that he excited the populace “throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee.” When Pilate heard of Galilee, he sent the accused to Herod Antipas, who had jurisdiction over that province, thus hoping to escape the difficulty in which he found himself. But Herod, with his men of war, set Jesus at nought, and sent him back again to Pilate, clad in a purple robe of mockery (23:11, 12).

 

Pilate now proposed that as he and Herod had found no fault in him, they should release Jesus; and anticipating that they would consent to this proposal, he ascended the judgment-seat as if ready to ratify the decision (Matt. 27:19). But at this moment his wife (Claudia Procula) sent a message to him imploring him to have nothing to do with the “just person.” Pilate’s feelings of perplexity and awe were deepened by this incident, while the crowd vehemently cried out, “Not this man, but Barabbas.” Pilate answered, “What then shall I do with Jesus?” The fierce cry immediately followed. “Let him be crucified.” Pilate, apparently vexed, and not knowning what to do, said, “Why, what evil hath he done?” but with yet fiercer fanaticism the crowd yelled out, “Away with him! crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate yielded, and sent Jesus away to be scourged. This scourging was usually inflicted by lictors; but as Pilate was only a procurator he had no lictor, and hence his soldiers inflicted this terrible punishment. This done, the soldiers began to deride the sufferer, and they threw around him a purple robe, probably some old cast-off robe of state (Matt. 27:28; John 19:2), and putting a reed in his right hand, and a crowd of thorns on his head, bowed the knee before him in mockery, and saluted him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They took also the reed and smote him with it on the head and face, and spat in his face, heaping upon him every indignity.

 

Pilate then led forth Jesus from within the Praetorium (Matt. 27:27) before the people, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, saying, “Behold the man!” But the sight of Jesus, now scourged and crowned and bleeding, only stirred their hatred the more, and again they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” and brought forth this additional charge against him, that he professed to be “the Son of God.” Pilate heard this accusation with a superstitious awe, and taking him once more within the Praetorium, asked him, “Whence art thou?” Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate was irritated by his continued silence, and said, “Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?” Jesus, with calm dignity, answered the Roman, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.”

 

After this Pilate seemed more resolved than ever to let Jesus go. The crowd perceiving this cried out, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend.” This settled the matter. He was afraid of being accused to the emperor. Calling for water, he washed his hands in the sight of the people, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person.” The mob, again scorning his scruples, cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Pilate was stung to the heart by their insults, and putting forth Jesus before them, said, “Shall I crucify your King?” The fatal moment had now come. They madly exclaimed, “We have no king but Caesar;” and now Jesus is given up to them, and led away to be crucified.

 

By the direction of Pilate an inscription was placed, according to the Roman custom, over the cross, stating the crime for which he was crucified. Having ascertained from the centurion that he was dead, he gave up the body to Joseph of Arimathea to be buried. Pilate’s name now disappears from the Gospel history. References to him, however, are found in the Acts of the Apostles (3:13; 4:27; 13:28), and in 1 Tim. 6:13. In 36 the governor of Syria brought serious accusations against Pilate, and he was banished to Vienne in Gaul, where, according to tradition, he committed suicide.

 

 

1.2.8.  The New World Dictionary adds the following about Pontius Pilate, “As procurator he had full control in the province, being in charge of the army of occupation (120 men—of cavalry, and 4 or 5 cohorts—2,500–5,000 men—of infantry), which was stationed at Caesarea, with a detachment on garrison duty at Jerusalem in the fortress of Antonia. The procurator had full powers of life and death, and could reverse capital sentences passed by the Sanhedrin, which had to be submitted to him for ratification. He also appointed the high priests and controlled the Temple and its funds: the very vestments of the high priest were in his custody and were released only for festivals, when the procurator took up residence in Jerusalem and brought additional troops to patrol the city

 

Josephus relates that Pilate’s first action on taking up his appointment was to antagonize the Jews by setting up the Roman standards, bearing images of the emperor, at Jerusalem: previous procurators had avoided using such standards in the holy city. Because of the determined resistance of their leaders in spite of threats of death, he yielded to their wishes after 6 days and removed the images back to Caesarea.

 

Philo can find no good thing to say of Pilate: in De Legatione ad Gaium 301 he describes him as ‘by nature rigid and stubbornly harsh’ and ‘of spiteful disposition and an exceeding wrathful man’, and speaks of ‘the bribes, the acts of pride, the acts of violence, the outrages, the cases of spiteful treatment, the constant murders without trial, the ceaseless and most grievous brutality’ of which the Jews might accuse him. The verdict of the New Testament is that he was a weak man, ready to serve expediency rather than principle, whose authorization of the judicial murder of the Saviour was due less to a desire to please the Jewish authorities than to fear of imperial displeasure if Tiberius heard of further unrest in Judaea. This is made abundantly evident by his mockery of the Jews in the wording of the superscription (Jn. 19:19–22). It is most unfortunate that we do not know anything of his record apart from his government of the Jews, towards whom he would appear to have shown little understanding and even less liking.

 

1.2.9.  The Teacher’s Commentary has the following entry concerning Jerusalem and its surroundings during this time when Jesus was tried, crucified, and rose again :

 

The events associated with Jesus’ trials and death took place in and around Jerusalem. While there is debate concerning some of the specific locations, such as the location of Joseph’s tomb, we have a great deal of information on the specific places Jesus traveled to on that fateful night.

 

Jerusalem in the time of Jesus was a typical walled city. The “lower city,” built along a steep hillside, was filled with crowded tenement-type structures. The upper city contained the larger city homes of the wealthy, like Caiaphas, the high priest and the beautiful palace of Herod.

 

It was the temple, however, which dominated the city, and was the focus of the faith of all Jews in every land. Immediately next to the temple was the Fortress Antonia, where a Roman army contingent was stationed and Pontius Pilate held court. Directly across from the temple, separated from it by the deep Kidron Valley, and up on the side of the Mount of Olives lay the Garden of Gethsemane, an olive orchard where Jesus often stopped to rest and pray. On the other side of the city, just outside the city walls, was the public execution grounds, Golgotha—the place of the skull. Many believe that a tomb nearby, hewn into the living rock and matching perfectly the description given in the Gospels, is the very tomb which Joseph of Arimathea surrendered to the Saviour.

 

This, then, was the setting for those familiar yet terrible events that we know so well as Jesus, near the end of His life on earth, approached the Cross.


 

This map shows Jerusalem at this time:

 

 

1.2.10.Pontius Pilate had the same choice in life that all of us have, namely, what shall we do with Jesus Christ?  Shall we accept Jesus and His claims and live our life in obedience to Him, or shall we choose to reject Him.

 

2.                 VS 18:28  - They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early;  and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. -  John tells us that they led Jesus from Caiphas into the Praetorium and that they did not want to enter into the Praetorium because if they did they would be defiled and not be able to eat the Passover

 

2.1.         John in his account does not include what all of the other gospel writers include about Jesus appearing before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin and receiving the sentence of death.  Those things happened before Jesus appeared before Pilate. 

 

2.2.         Religion had condemned Jesus to death, however the Jews no longer had the authority to pronounce capital sentences, so Jesus is brought before Pilate so that the Jews might receive Pilate’s consent in carrying out the death sentence upon Him. 

 

2.3.         In this section of scripture, Jesus is confronted by and confronts the world’s government.

 

2.4.         Pontius Pilate was a slave who had obtained his freedom, and then through the Mother and wife of Tiberias Caesar, he had been given his appointment as governor over the people of Judea. 

 

2.5.         Pilate had come to despise the Jews as they despised him as a Roman and a symbol of authority which Rome held over them.  For the Jews to not reign sovereignly over their own land caused them to compromise all that they as the people of Jehovah God had been given by birthright. 

 

2.6.         Arthur Pink brings out that the fact that the Jews could not put anyone to death and therefore needed Pilate in order to put Jesus to death should have proven to them that the Messiah was here because Gen. 49:10 prophesied that they as a nation would have sovereign reign over their nation until the Messiah comes, yet they were ruled over by Rome now:  Genesis 49:10, “10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

 

2.7.         In reality the Jews were compromised in all areas of religion because Jehovah and His law must have supreme authority over all matters of life.  For Rome to dictate over them their laws and customs was a matter of shame and wrought within them the greatest of contempt for the Romans. 

 

2.8.         The Jews had continually clashed with Rome and there had been many insurrections over which Pilate as well as Caesar himself were getting very tired.  The Romans worshipped their emperors and the Jews refusal to worship in the Romanic traditions brought the greatest of scorn from all levels of Roman government.  The Romans looked at the Jewish law as being antiquated and much too narrow and constraining.  This utter contempt and disdain of Jew to Roman and visa versa underlies every part of this story of Jesus appearing before Pilate. 

 

2.9.         Josephus the Jewish historian recorded that at the end of his life Pilate must have had many regrets for he committed suicide.

 

2.10.    Initially, Pilate meets the Sanhedrin and the officers of the temple outside the Praetorium as they were bringing Jesus to him in order to receive his permission to put Jesus to death.  The Jews did not want to enter into the Praetorium where Pilate lived because their Pharisaic laws stated that they could become ceremonially unclean by entering the house of a Gentile.  The Old Testament law had never stated that a Jew could not go into the house of a Gentile because it would cause ceremonial defilement, yet the Pharisees exceeded God’s commandments with their own laws, traditions and precepts which they enforced as being commandments from God. 

 

2.11.    There is tremendous amount of irony and hypocrisy in the fact that these men are in the act of committing the most heinous of acts of murder against God’s very own Son, and yet they are worried about breaking a man made ceremonial law which they feared would cause them to be unworthy to eat of their Passover meals.  Truly Jesus spoke rightly of these Jewish leaders that they strained a gnat and yet at other times they would swallow a camel.  This is religion for you.

 

2.11.1.We Christians need to be careful not to be like these hypocritical Jews.  We need to be careful not to make major issues out of things that aren’t of primary importance...

 

2.12.    Three times Pilate takes Jesus inside the Praetorium in this incident as the Sanhedrin and the rest of the Jewish crowd are all the while outside of the building.

 

3.                 VS 18:29  - Pilate therefore went out to them, and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’  They answered and said to him, ‘If this Man were not an evil-doer, we would not have delivered Him up to you” -  Pilate goes out to the Jews and asks them what accusations they are bringing against Jesus and they simply tell him that if Jesus were not an evil-doer that they would not brought and accused Jesus

 

3.1.         In Matthew 27:11, Pontius Pilate is described as being a procurator or governor, using the Greek word “Hegemon.”  egemmonHe`Vines Expository Dictionary has the following entry for this word:

 

1.     HĒGEMŌN (ἡγεμών , (2232)) is a term used (a) for rulers generally, Mark 13:9; 1 Pet. 2:14; translated “princes” (i.e., leaders) in Matt. 2:6; (b) for the Roman Procurators, referring, in the Gospels to Pontius Pilate, e.g., Matt. 27:2; Luke 20:20 (so designated by Tacitus, Annals, xv. 44); to Felix, Acts 23:26. Technically the Procurator was a financial official under a proconsul or proprætor, for collecting the Imperial revenues, but entrusted also with magisterial powers for decisions of questions relative to the revenues. In certain provinces, of which Judæa was one (the Procurator of which was dependent on the Legate of Syria), he was the general administrator and supreme judge, with sole power of life and death. Such a governor was a person of high social standing. Felix, however, was an ex–slave, a freedman, and his appointment to Judæa could not but be regarded by the Jews as an insult to the nation. The headquarters of the governor of Judæa was Cæsarea, which was made a garrison town. See Prince, Ruler. For anthupatos, a proconsul, see Proconsul.

 

3.2.         Pilate meets the delegation of Jews who brought Jesus to him for sentencing and asks them a question but has an attitude of anger and scorn in his voice.  We know this is his attitude because of the response which they give in return.  They speak back defensively saying that they wouldn’t have brought Him to Pilate had he not been an ‘evil-doer.’ 

 

3.3.         Pilate attempts to be pragmatic concerning the Jew’s request here because he does not want to have to deal with another problem with the Jews as he had already dealt with a number of insurrections.

 

4.                 VS 18:31  - Pilate therefore said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law’.  The Jews said to him, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death’ -  Pilate tells the Jewish delegation to take Jesus and judge Him according to their law, but they explain their dilemma in doing this is the fact that they are not able to put anyone to death

 

4.1.         With scorn and sarcasm Pilate tells these Jews to go and judge Jesus according to their law, knowing in the first place that they wouldn’t have brought Jesus to him if they did not seek permission to put Him to death. 

 

4.2.         The Jews explain to Pilate that they need his sanction in order to put Jesus to death, which was their desire since the Sanhedrin had already met and ruled that He was deserving of death.

 

4.3.         According to the Jewish law Jesus would have been worthy of death for claiming to be the Son of God, were it not for the fact that He indeed was who He said He was.

 

5.                 VS 18:32  - that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. -  John tells us that already Jesus’ prophetic predictions concerning Himself and His impending death are already beginning to come true

 

5.1.         Jesus had spoken of His impending death on many occasions, and on one occasion He spoke of the Son being lifted up, which was prophetically to reveal that He would die by crucifixion. 

 

5.2.         It is incredible that some of the Old Testament scriptures had prophesied hundreds of years before crucifixion was used as a form of punishment that the Messiah would die by a form of punishment that could only be crucifixion.

 

6.                 VS 18:33-35  - Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’  Jesus answered, ‘Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?’  Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You up to me;  what have You done?’ -  John tells us that next Pontius Pilate came into the Praetorium and summoned Jesus and began interrogating Him

 

6.1.         Pilate takes Jesus for the first time into the Praetorium and asks Him if He is the king of the Jews. 

 

6.2.         We don’t know how Pilate had come to consider whether Jesus might be considered a King of the Jews.  It could have been because of the accusations shouted by the crowd when they brought Jesus to him. 

 

6.3.         Jesus asks Pilate a very searching question in response to his question.  He asks Pilate if he is asking this question because he personally wants to know the truth about Him, or whether Pilate is asking the question on behalf or at the request of the Jews. 

 

6.4.         All throughout the dialogue that Pilate and Jesus have on this day, Pilate displays a certain amount of curiosity concerning who Jesus is in reality, however, he actually comes just short of really pressing Jesus for the answers to his curiosity. 

 

6.5.         To this very searching question by Jesus, Pilate answers in anger first of all that he is not a Jew.  Then, with a sarcastic tone he tells Jesus that the reason Jesus is before him at all is because His people delivered Him up to Pilate.  Sarcasm is implied because how could Jesus be the King of the Jews and yet be being delivered up by their leaders to be put to death?

 

6.6.         Trying to get Jesus to admit a misdeed Pilate and assuming Jesus’ guilt asks Him, ‘What have you done?’  To Pilate’s question Jesus could have expounded upon all of the great and benevolent deeds that He had performed.  He could have spoken of the people He had raised from the dead.  He could have mentioned how many He had healed and of the horrible illnesses of which He had freed them.  He could have spoken about the ones out of whom He had cast many demons who had been devastating their lives.  However, on this day Jesus was not defending Himself from any charges and so He does not say a word in His defense.  Jesus Christ was willingly laying His life down for us so that by His punishment and death He could pay the debt of our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us.  At any time Jesus could have done any number of miraculous works of power in order to free Himself from this trial but He was determined to be the lamb that was being led to the slaughter so that He might be our Savior.

 

7.                 VS 18:36  - Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews;  but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm’ -  To Jesus’ question posed by Pontius Pilate Jesus points out that his kingdom is not of this realm

 

7.1.         Jesus relieves Pilate’s concern about Jesus motive for power and dominion as king by telling Him that His kingdom is not of the earthly type, but is in heaven.  Further, in His answer Jesus reveals that His kingdom is not going to be expanded by fleshly methods.

 

7.2.         Churches today would do well to meditate upon what Jesus says in this verse.  So many today are trying to promote their particular church using programs and methods of man.  None of these fleshly methods and models will cause Christ’s kingdom to expand as He would have it to expand.  The weapons of the warfare of the church must be spiritual in nature for we are in a spiritual battle with wicked forces in high places, not man-made and of the flesh.

 

7.2.1.  So many churches today though have looked to manmade methods in order to try to grow.  Church growth philosophy today is all about demographics and marketing strategies.  Pastors are sought who are marketing guys and visionaries and organizers using manmade models for church growth.  However, a pastor is supposed to be a shepherd of God’s people not a marketing guy.  What the church needs is a man who will lead a godly life and example and teach and disciple God’s people in the things of God.  The church needs pastors who can help people through their difficulties and in making godly choices in their life, teaching them God’s word in private and in public.  Success” in the church should equate with spiritual growth and maturity, for God is the One who grows the church, and as the church grows spiritually numerical growth will happen in God’s time and in God’s way. 

 

8.                 VS 18:37  - Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’  Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that I am a king.  For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice’.  Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’  And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no guilt in Him’. – Pilate asks Jesus if He is indeed a King, and Jesus tells him that He is in fact a king and that He came into this world to be a king  

 

8.1.         Pilate asks Jesus whether or not He in truth is a king, and to this question Jesus answers that what he had said is true that He is a king.  Some translations have Jesus in this statement not asserting that He is in fact a king, but rather saying that the king idea was originating from Pilate.  However, our translation I believe to be correct. 

 

8.2.         I do not believe that Jesus would have hedged at this point about revealing the truth concerning Himself for Paul told Timothy of Jesus in 1 Cor. 6:13-14, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

8.3.         Jesus finally tells Pilate that it was for kingship that Jesus was born into the world.  Further, Jesus reveals that His kingdom is a kingdom of “truth.”  He says that everyone who is predisposed to receive the truth and obey the truth will hear His voice.  To this statement of Jesus, Pilate asks the question, ‘What is truth?’  We can only conjecture what Pilate’s true motive in asking this question was.  Many feel that he asked that question merely in sarcasm as that was his general attitude toward the Jews on this day.  Pilate may have thought about what the kingdom he was most familiar with consisted.

 

8.4.         Rome was not governed by true justice and “truth,” but rather was partial and arbitrary in its corrupt judicial process.  If Pilate were thinking along this line, he may have been insinuating that there was a great difference in a kingdom ruled by “truth” and justice and the kingdom of Rome of which he was familiar and of which he as governor to Judea represented.   In any case, it is tragic that Pilate was not willing at this point to press Jesus a little further and get an honest and straight forward answer from Him as to what “truth” consisted of.

 

8.5.         We in the church must be governed by the Lord and by “truth.”  We must never allow partiality or pre-eminence govern our actions, but rather we must always take our stands on the side of “truth.”  We are commanded by Paul to, “Speak the truth in love,” to one another and we must always be people who are desirous to know and live the truth in our lives, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for us.  We should never apologize for standing for the “truth,” for God’s kingdom is a kingdom of “truth.”

 

8.6.         Each of us need to ask God to continually reveal more of His truth to us each and every day of our lives.  As we spend time in His word each day we will learn, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little,” until we are people who truly know our God, and truly know the “truth.” 

 

8.7.         We need to spend time each day in God’s word allowing Him to fill our minds and hearts with His “truth,” and then we will have victory over evil and sin in our lives, and live a life that carries out His will and pleases Him.

 

8.8.         After Pilate’s reply to Jesus, Pilate immediately leaves and tells the Jews outside that He finds no guilt in Jesus as he is seeking for a way to dismiss the crowd and release Jesus.   

 

9.                 VS 18:39  - ‘But you have a custom, that I should release someone for you at the Passover;  do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?’  Therefore they cried out again, saying, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas’.  Now Barabbas was a robber. -  Pilate asks the Jewish leaders who he should release as a prisoner to them at the Passover as was the custom, but they ask that he release Barabbas to them

 

9.1.         As we have mentioned, Pilate will always be known as a man who had a chance to make a difference concerning Jesus but did not have the backbone to do so.

 

9.2.         M.S. Mills in “The Life Of Christ” writes about how Jesus faced these things on this day alone as the supposed people of God before Pilate chose a convicted terrorist and murder to free instead of Jesus, “Alone, He faced His humiliation and mockery at the hands of the world (§278–284) where even mankind’s sense of jurisprudence tried to save Him from mankind’s hate. Surely, Pontius Pilate was a most unlikely defender of Jesus; yet, in his endeavor to uphold justice, he was repeatedly forced to attest to Jesus’ innocence and make repeated attempts to free Him. Yet mankind’s logical acknowledgment of gross injustice had to yield to mankind’s passion of hate, and they chose a convicted terrorist and murderer in preference to the sinless Son of God who made them uncomfortable in their sin. “Away with Him,” they cried, fondly imagining to enjoy their independence and sin; and so justice yielded to passion.  Mankind, religious and secular, could find no crime in Jesus Christ, but mankind, both religious and secular, hated Him with a violent passion because He presented the righteous claims of God to them; so they crucified Him because He was Israel’s promised King (§285–292). While mankind poured out its hate and venom on Him, He performed the most significant service to which the human race will ever be heir, for He fought for, and won, forgiveness of sin, for them, reconciliation with their heavenly Father, remission of the penalty for sin. He conquered man’s arch enemies, Satan and death. He did all this for mankind while mankind was viciously bent on venting its unrestrained hate in fullest measure. He was again alone in this, receiving support, eventually, from a dying but saved sinner.”

 

9.3.         Arthur Pink has written the following about how that the events of our story caused Old Testament prophesy concerning the Messiah to be fulfilled on this day, “The refusal of Israel to take matters into their own hands, when Pilate put it there, only worked for the accomplishment of Christ’s own words:  “and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify (Matt. 20:19).  Moreover, had the Jews still possessed the power of inflicting capital punishment for such crimes as they alleged against the Lord Jesus, the mode of execution would have been by stoning.  By delivering Him to Pilate this ensured the Roman form of punishment, crucifixion, and thus did the saying of Christ come to pass:  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14);  and again, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto me.  This He said signifying what death he should die” (12:32, 33).” 

 

9.4.         I would add to this that the events that unfolded on this day also allowed for Psalm 22:12-18 to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, “12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 13 They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.

9.5.         Arthur Pink writes about how the Jews choosing to have Barabbas released instead of Jesus has effected the nation of Israel since that time, “Pilate’s compromise not only showed plainly that he was not “of the truth” but only drew out the extent of their enmity.  “Barabbas was a robber,” better “bandit” – one who used force;  Luke says he was a murderer.  How very striking:  the Jews chose Barabbas, and plunderers and blood-shedders have ruled over them ever since!  In this their history is without parallel.”

 

9.6.         Ironically, the name “Barabbas” means “son of the father,” and he was chosen over the only unique Son of God.  Barabbas had a father but his father was not God but the Devil.

 

9.7.         Pilate did not want to punish Jesus and was convinced of Jesus’ innocence from the beginning.  He really tried not to allow the Jews to crucify Jesus, however when it came right down to it, he was primarily a pragmatist, and chose to do what was practical and easiest for himself instead of standing up for “truth” no matter what the cost might be.

 

9.8.         Pilate misjudged the resolve and anger of the Jews in wanting to kill Jesus as he asks them if they would like him to release Jesus to them since it was his custom at this time of the year to release a prisoner to the Jews.  Instead the crowd cries out that Barabbas, a murdering insurrectionist should be released instead of Jesus.

 

9.9.         John does not include a lot that the other gospels tell us occurred after this point.  The chief priests harshly accuse Jesus (Mark 15:3-12), Pilate sends Jesus to Herod who was in Jerusalem for the Passover and had jurisdiction over Galilee where the accusations against Jesus originated.  Jesus is brutalized by Herod’s soldiers.  Then, Jesus is sent back to Pilate by Herod wearing a purple robe.

 

10.            CONCLUSIONS:

 

10.1.    In conclusion, as we consider this man Pontius Pilate a man who had to make a choice concerning Jesus, what will you do with Jesus?

 

10.2.    Pontius Pilate had a chance to make a real difference by taking a stand for the truth, yet he lacked the back bone to do it and as a result the innocent Jesus Christ was murdered.  Will you be willing to take a real stand for Jesus Christ, and stand for the truth?

 

10.3.    Remember, there are always huge consequences both when we do and when we do not take a stand for Jesus and for truth.  Take a stand for Jesus today!   

 

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i.e. id est, that is

e.g. exempli gratia, for example