Answers to BSF Bible Study Questions John Lesson 25 Day 3
It is Pilate’s job to look out for Roman interests in Judea. He is an irritable man, unnecessarily cruel and intentionally provocative. Many Jews will die on his watch. For Pilate, Jesus is just one more. (note in Voice translation)
6. Pilate questions Jesus
Pilate to the Sanhedrin: “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”
The Sanhedrin initially tried to evade his question by saying, “If he hadn’t been doing something evil, do you think we’d be here bothering you?” (John 18:30 MSG)
When Pilate said, “You take him. Judge him by your law.” they brought accusations against Jesus saying, “We have observed this man leading our nation astray. He even forbade us to pay our taxes to Caesar. He claims to be the Anointed One and a King Himself.” Luke 23:2-3
Pilate: “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus replied: “Those are your words, not mine,” (Luke 23:3 MSG) “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?” (John 18:34 MSG)
Pilate: “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?” (John 18:35 MSG)
John combined two appearances of Jesus before Pilate, separated by an appearance of Jesus before Herod Antipas (Luke 23:8-12). Pilate hoped to give this problem to Herod because he ruled over Galilee, where Jesus was from. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, and this is the likely start of the second appearance.
Jesus: “My kingdom is not recognized in this world. If this were My kingdom, My servants would be fighting for My freedom. But My kingdom is not in this physical realm.” (John 18:36 Voice)
Pilate: “So you are a king?” (John 18:37 Voice)
Jesus: “You say that I am king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the cosmos: to demonstrate the power of truth. Everyone who seeks truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37 Voice)
Pilate said to Him [scornfully]: “What is truth?”
Pilate left Jesus and went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man.” He then offered to pardon Jesus according to their custom at Passover. (John 18:39)
Pilate went back into his court. “Where are you from?” (John 19:9 Voice)
Jesus did not answer.
Pilate: “You won’t talk? Don’t you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to—crucify you?” (John 19 10 MSG)
Jesus: “You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That’s why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault.” (John 19:11 MSG)
7. Are You the King of the Jews?
Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus replied, “It is as you say.” But John’s account records a longer conversation.
Jesus: “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”
“Jesus was asking Pilate if that was a sincere question from his heart or if he was just saying what he had heard someone else say.” I believe Jesus was trying to [reach out to] Pilate, but Pilate was totally disinterested, as his statement here reveals. He wasn’t a Jew and didn’t care anything about what was happening with the Jews. He was simply performing his duties as governor of Judea. (Andrew Wommack)
I can imagine him throwing all the scorn and contempt possible into the question. It was characteristic of the Romans, as we learn from the works of their great writers, that they utterly despised and detested the Jews. (Spurgeon)
Jesus explained to Pilate that his kingdom wasn’t a rival political kingdom, but that he was king of another realm—a kingdom established on a foundation of peace. (If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight.)
Pilate, satisfied that Jesus was not a political threat, dismissed him with the cynical question, “What is truth?”
The Son of the only wise God, creator of all that was and is and is to come, stood before Pontius Pilate. Pilate believed Jesus was innocent of the charges, but he did not open his heart at this time. His eyes remained fixed on earthly matters.
8. Jesus didn’t try to defend himself to save his own life.
He also didn’t pass miraculously through the crowd and go on his way. (Luke 4:30) Jesus clearly submitted to all of this.
I cannot imagine myself in a similar circumstance having the presence of mind to focus on the spiritual condition of someone who has the authority to put me to death—especially after a close friend betrayed me, a mob of soldiers with torches and swords interrupted my prayer time, and it’s now well past my bedtime.
It’s interesting that when Jesus stood before Herod, he didn’t say a word. Probably because Herod hoped “he might be treated to a miracle or two.” (Luke 23:8 Voice)
But Jesus had a lot to say to Pilate. It reminds me of Jesus talking to Nicodemus (John 3:1-21).
Jesus, the one who knows what is in our hearts, seems to genuinely care about Pilate even though he had a terrible reputation.
The first-century C.E. Jewish historians Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria also portray Pilate in a negative light—as autocratic, excessive, stubborn and indecisive. According to Josephus, Pilate’s ten-year stint as governor of Judea ended in 36 C.E., when he was sent back to Rome to answer charges of overstepping authority, provoking rebellion and persecuting the Jews.1 Philo reports on Pilate’s predilection for bribes, robbery, excesses and executions without trial.2
However, “Augustine suggested that Pilate not only recognized Jesus’ innocence, he also recognized his divinity—and converted to Christianity.” Robin M. Jensen
I love that Jesus always discerned hearts. It didn’t matter if the person was a Samaritan, a Pharisee, or a Roman. Since I have the Holy Spirit to guide me, I should always listen for direction and not assume the person in front of me isn’t open. And stop thinking about my own stuff.