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)

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