“Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor.By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. 33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.” john 18.29-40
The Jews finally had Jesus right where they wanted him. They brought him before Pilate on the day before the Passover, knowing he could carry out the execution for them. (Jews weren’t allowed by the Law or the Romans to execute prisoners.) They also knew that one prisoner could be released during this time and it would not be Jesus.
The dialogue between Pilate, the Roman Governor and Jesus is so intriguing. It leaves Pilate befuddled as to why they want to accuse Jesus of a crime. He even said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.” That’s because he was innocent.
Yet during the interchange Pilate asks questions to which Jesus sort of answers. For example, Pilate asks, “Are you the king of the Jews?” To which Jesus replies, “Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?” And then in another instance Pilate says, “You are a king then!” To which Jesus replies, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” To which Pilate responds, “What is truth?”
It’s really just like Jesus is having a deep philosophical dialogue with Pilate rather than standing trial. The truth is, Jesus is not guilty of any sin but the Jews hate him for exposing their own sin. They use the Roman authorities to try and accuse Jesus of crimes against Judaism and God.
What is truth? Jesus discussed this with Pilate. Earlier in John Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him. (John 14.6.) Although the Jews would put Jesus on trial, accuse and crucify him, he would return from the grave to bring forgiveness of sins and life to all who believe.
Truth is a person. The question for us is – Do we believe?
“O Lord God, Jesus final hours must have been so difficult. Speaking truth to those who hated him. He was God’s fulfillment of his promise, the Messiah, but was rejected by many. It seems impossible for those to know him to reject him. Come now, Lord God, have mercy on us sinners. We put you on the cross. We ignored the truth of your love. We choose sin our salvation every moment of the day. Guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Help us walk with the Father as we stay in step with the Spirit. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen