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John's account of "Jesus is brought before Pilate" is more detailed than the other Gospels. The first episode, (round of questions) occurred outside the Praetorian, which was the Governor's Palace. The Praetorian had at one time been the palace of, "Herod the Great."
Verse 28: "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."
It was customary for the Roman officials to begin meeting the public at daybreak.
Although defiled in their hearts enough to plot to kill Jesus, by remaining outside the Praetorian, the Jews avoided ritual uncleanness, allowing them to eat the Passover.
Jesus and the disciples had already eaten the Passover, and these Jews would eat the following day.
Opinions abound as to why, but it appears that the Passover was observed on separate days. There are several possible explanations. One is, that various Jewish groups had different calendars, and did not celebrate Passover on the same day.
Verses 29-30: "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."
Before Pilate could be required to hear the case, an official charge would be necessary, Hence, Pilate's question of, "What accusation do you bring against this man?
However, as Pilate would soon discover, they had no official charge and no proof that would allow him to take legal action against Jesus. All they had were false accusations, and the claim that He had done evil, which was, of course, a lie. Jesus is the only one to walk the face of the earth in godly perfection.
Verse 31-32: "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."
Although Pilate was reluctant to get involved, it was not lawful for the Jews to put anyone to death without first obtaining the governor's sanction.
Crucifixion was necessary for Jesus' death to fulfill prophecy. If the Jews had been allowed to carry out the death penalty, they would have probably stoned Him.
The Jews wanted crucifixion because it was particularity brutal and painful and would signify that Jesus was accursed by God.
Verse 33: "So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
The Romans would not allow any kingdom other than Rome to exist, so the answer to Pilate's deceptive question, "are you the King of the Jews," was crucial.
Verses 34-35: Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me? Pilot answered, Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?
Pilate wanted to know if Jesus was planning to lead a rebellion, or perhaps, set up a government of His own. Wondering if the Jews might have a legitimate charge he asks Jesus what He has done.
Verse 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."
The notion of kingship was probably in the Sanhedrin's charge implicating treason by Jesus against the emperor, along with a possible revolt.
Pilate did not understand, but if it had not been a part of the Father's plan the angels of Heaven would have intervened.
Verse 37: "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."
If Pilate had not been Spiritually deaf, he would have realized that Jesus' answer was a profound statement of pre-existence.
Pilate's concern was political, and not religious beliefs. He wanted to know for sure that Jesus would not develop into a problem that might cost him his career.
The answer Jesus gave made it clear, that his kingdom was a Spiritual Kingdom of another place, literally, 'not from here. The reason He came into the world was, "To bear witness to the truth."
Verse 38: "Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him.
Pilates question was, perhaps not a desire to know the truth, but a way of brushing aside Jesus' statement, or even the whole trial.
In Jewish tradition, "Truth" was God's covenant integrity, which was an abstract and impractical concept to the Greeks. To Pilate, it was a matter of what was expedient, and any means to an end.
The Jews had missed an opportunity to acknowledge Jesus, and now, so had Pilate.
Verse 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
When asking whom to release, Pilate purposely used the title, "King," no doubt to show his contempt for the Jews.
Verse 40: "They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber."
The word Barabbas means 'Son of Abba.' (Smith's Bible Dictionary)
Barabbas, although a robber, was probably a hero among the Jews, but considered a terrorist by Pilate.
Throughout the arrest, and trial of Jesus, the Jews held fast in their determination to have Him put to death.
This concludes our study of Jesus Brought Before Pilate.
In Our Next Study:
Jesus Before Pilate