Pilate Questions Jesus

In a Barna research poll that was just completed recently, several troubling facts came to light about where the American public is intellectually and spiritually. The poll examined several different beliefs and found that, “most adults reject the notions of original sin, th … More

As you read John’s account, you see Pilate seeking to find some “loophole” that will please both sides. He is afraid of the crowd, but then he grows more and more afraid of the prisoner. We need to understand that long before the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus in the garden, they had planned to kill Him (John 11:47-51). However, these Jews did not have the right to execute anyone; so it was necessary to get the approval of Rome. This is why Jesus is brought into the Judgment Hall before Pilate (v. 28). It is interesting to note that the Jewish leaders did not hesitate to condemn an innocent man and yet they were careful not to defile themselves by walking into a Gentile house (the governor’s palace). They were more interested in ceremonial purity than in justice.

Pilate was not anxious to get involved in a Jewish court case, especially at Passover time, so he  had tried to evade the issue. After all, if the prisoner was creating problems for the Jews, let them try Him under their own law. Pilate asks these Jews for a formal accusation that they have against Jesus and they did not have one (v. 29). They just wanted Pilate to accept the fact that they would not bring anyone to him unless he was a criminal (v. 30). Pilate, unaware that they wanted to kill Jesus, asked them why they didn’t pass sentence on Him according to their own law (v. 31). The Jews could use only the method of stoning to execute criminals and if Pilate were to authorize death it would mean crucifixion (v. 32). Crucifixion was the method that had been predicted by Christ (Matthew 20:17-19). Pilate has a private interview with Jesus and asks Him if He is “King of the Jews” (v.33). Jesus  wants to know why Pilate was asking this question (v. 34). Pilate avoids the question and instead asks “what hast thou done?” (v. 35). Jesus answers that He had no political motives in mind but instead His kingdom is a spiritual one (vv. 36-37).


Pilate was a very weak and indecisive man. He was only interested in protecting himself and his job. When have I had an opportunity to help someone but just didn’t want to get involved so passed it on?

John 18:28-37 (English Standard Version)

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They answered him, "If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." The Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death." This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

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