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Anger And Confusion

John 18:29-32

Pilate was the final legal authority in Israel. But he was accountable to the Emperor in Rome. The records of whatever he decided could also be used to accuse him. Already he had made some unwise decisions and Rome was watching him. So when the religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate, he knew that he must follow the proper processes of Roman law and therefore asked what crime Jesus had committed.

The Identity Of The Prisoner

John 18:33-36

Jesus had done nothing wrong. Pilate did not ask first about His supposed crime, but His identity. In asking if He was the king of the Jews he might elicit self-confessed treason. Instead Jesus admitted to being a king but not over any territory of this world. If that was so, then His servants would have prevented His arrest.

The King Of Truth

John 18:37

Jesus did not hide His identity. He was the King, He is the King and He will always be the King. The job of a king is to rule; not just to claim territory, but to direct the way people live. So, because Jesus is King, He has the right to tell people how to live and who to worship; and He always tells the truth.
Although Pilate was the highest authority in Israel, Jesus was higher than him. Pilate thought that Jesus should listen to him, but he was wrong. If Pilate had been interested in the truth, he would have done less talking and much more listening.

Perverting The Course Of Justice

John 18:38-40

Pilate was the supreme Judge of Israel, but he did not recognise truth even when Jesus talked to him. Jesus was not guilty, Pilate knew that; but he had no courage to release the prisoner. Pilate feared another riot by the Jews who were insistent that Jesus should die. Another riot would demonstrate Pilate’s inability to keep order in Israel: not only would he lose his job, he might also lose his head.

Violence And Humility

John 19:1-3

It is impossible for followers of Jesus to read this passage and not have some sense of outrage. How dare they abuse God the Son, the King of kings and the Saviour of the world! It is a right reaction. The graphic descriptions are distressing: violent flogging with whips, long thorns rammed into Jesus’ scalp, fists and wooden poles smashing into His face. The verbal abuse was full of derision, ridiculing His claim to be the King.

The Criminal Charge Against Jesus

John 19:4-7

Pilate, the Roman Governor, had no reason to put Jesus to death. There was no legal charge to put against Him: and without a legal reason to execute Jesus, the Governor could be stripped of his office, or worse. The charge that the religious leaders brought was blasphemy (but that was not recognised in Roman law).

The Fear Of Guilt

John 19:8-11

Pilate was afraid. He feared that mishandling the ‘Jesus crisis’ might result in another religious riot and he could be recalled to Rome to lose his job and possibly his head. He also feared Jesus. Everybody knew that He claimed to be the Son of God (John 19:7). When Jesus refused to answer Pilate’s questions, the governor was scared.

The Weak Point Of The Strong Man

John 19:12-16

Pilate was powerful and strong-minded; but he was also weak and afraid. He feared for his job, his reputation and his life. His weakest point was fear of punishment by Caesar. The religious people took full advantage of that, especially when they heard that Jesus had told Pilate that He was the King of the Jews (John 18:37). They certainly did not want Him as their King; however to claim to be a king, on Caesar’s territory, was treason – an offence punishable by death.

Outside The City, Inside The Criminals

John 19:17-18

Everything seemed to be wrong. Jesus was not a criminal; He had done nothing wrong. John wrote that He carried His own cross. Was it His cross? It was certainly the cross on which He was to be crucified, and as the Creator God, it was cut from the tree He had made. It was the cross He had chosen to bear but He did not deserve it because He would suffer for our sins, not His own.

A Sign For The Nations

John 19:19-22

Pilate was right about one thing, and he nailed his conclusion to Jesus’ cross for all to see. The Jesus (a common name in Israel at that time) who was crucified was the ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ who the whole country knew from His teaching and miracles. He was God’s anointed King over Israel and indeed the whole world. So when Pilate ordered that the wooden noticeboard be nailed to Jesus’ cross, he was speaking the truth.