John 18:28-40

In John 18:28-40 Jesus is before the High Priest on trial for the accusations that had been levied against Him.  “Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Next he was taken to the palace of the Roman governor. His accusers wouldn’t go in themselves for that would “defile” them, they said, and they wouldn’t be allowed to eat the Passover lamb.” There were plenty of people who testified and accused Him of many things. But it wasn’t the normal crime stuff – not even jaywalking.  The charges were purely selfish in nature so the religious leaders could maintain control.

So the political system now gets involved as Caiaphas hands Jesus off to Pilate. “So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man? What are you accusing him of doing?” The charges were not legitimate, and Pilate knows that, but he wants to give these leaders a bone. “We wouldn’t have arrested him if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.” Pilate doesn’t buy it and realizes there is no crime, so he throws things back on the religious leaders. “Then take him away and judge him yourselves by your own laws,” Pilate told them.”

Seems like a pretty simple request, but the religious leaders had a lot more in mind than a simple slap on the hands or even a beating.  They want Jesus dead and that wasn’t something their laws would allow, so it was a hand off to a government system that allowed a death penalty.  The only problem was Jesus wasn’t guilty. “But we want him crucified,” they demanded, “and your approval is required.” This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction concerning the method of his execution.” They couldn’t just kill Jesus for no reason.  So they pressed Pilate to do it for them. “Then Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the King of the Jews?” he asked him.”

Pilate starts to dig into what the real issue was with Jesus. “‘King’ as you use the word or as the Jews use it?” Jesus asked.” Jesus doesn’t answer Pilate’s question about whether or not he was a king.  “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their chief priests brought you here. Why? What have you done?” This just doesn’t make sense to Pilate.  It was obvious that Jesus hadn’t committed a crime and the leaders just wanted Him dead as they saw Him as competition to their plans and control. Jesus replies letting Pilate know that He is not an earthly king. “Then Jesus answered, “I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of the world.”

Now there is real confusion. Pilate replied, “But you are a king then?” Jesus is talking at a level that doesn’t connect with Pilate.  Jesus is a heavenly king, not one on the earth. “Yes,” Jesus said. “I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth are my followers.” His purpose was fulfilled through death on the cross, and while Pilate has no clue of what God’s plan is, he gives the order that puts the religious leaders in control. “What is truth?” Pilate exclaimed. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. But you have a custom of asking me to release someone from prison each year at Passover. So if you want me to, I’ll release the ‘King of the Jews.’” They don’t want Jesus released, as the leaders worked the crowd to a frenzy. “But they screamed back. “No! Not this man, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a robber.” Prophecy is being fulfilled.

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