He Was Guilty Of Being King
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?” — John 18:33-34
So here is the context.
Jesus is arrested, and the band that comes out to arrest him includes Judas, Roman soldiers, and Jewish officials. This band of men arrest Jesus and bring him to the high priest's home. Jesus is given a "hearing" in the dark of night, which is not a hearing. It's an interrogation. Jewish religious leaders had already made up their minds. They have spent the last couple of years debating the issue of Jesus, his teachings, and his growing popularity among their people. They found someone to sell him out, and the ball is in motion. Their conclusion is this: Jesus is guilty of blasphemy according to Mosaic law because he proclaimed himself the "Son of God." A religious crime that was punishable by death.
But here's the catch. The Jewish religious officials knew that capital punishment was not something Rome would permit them to do. The death penalty was a matter only for the Roman government. So, they found a way to get Rome to do their dirty work. They conspired to hand Jesus off to the Roman governor, under the profession he claimed to be the "King of the Jews." A declaration that would challenge the authority of the Roman Emperor, which was a serious act of treason under Roman law.
And everything was set up to put this plan in motion.
Strategically, Roman governors like Pilot would take up a post in Jerusalem during Jewish festival seasons. Roman leaders knew the city would be overpopulated with Jews, which would demand a greater governing presence. So Pilot posted a praetorium headquarters here. And Pilot was no idiot. He was savvy at managing the tension between the Jewish leadership and Roman authority. Even so, this matter would test him, so he begins his investigation by going to the man himself with the question of all questions, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
And Jesus's response to this question is revealing. It is telling because Jesus never publicly proclaimed, "I am King of the Jews." Other people proclaimed this about him. People like the Wise Men and Nathanael (Matthew 2:2; John 1:49). But Jesus never said this about himself. Yet it was true. He was the King of the Jews. And the irony at this moment is that the religious leaders will use a declaration that they believe is untrue and present it as truth to establish a case for Roman treason against the Emperor of Rome. Therefore, when Pilate presents the question to Jesus, Jesus knows exactly where it comes from, who presented it, and why he asks.
In the end, Jesus, the Great High Priest and Emperor of all humanity, allowed men's sinful desires and actions to play right into his hands. A proclamation he had never spoken is evidence of the truth even though the players believe it is untrue. And this evidence becomes a declaration that convicts him of high crimes against the religious authorities and Roman government.
There is only one response to all this. Worship the greatness of King Jesus, for he was found guilty of being the "King of the Jews."
What do you think was the motivation behind the Jewish religious leaders' decision to hand Jesus over to the Roman governor on the charge of claiming to be the "King of the Jews"?
Reflect on the significance of Jesus' response to Pilate's question: "Are you the King of the Jews?" Why do you think Jesus chose to respond the way he did?
Consider the irony that Jesus, though never publicly proclaiming Himself as the "King of the Jews," was indeed the King. How does this reveal the sovereignty of Jesus even in the face of false accusations?
DO THIS: Worship the King of the Jews.
PRAY THIS: Lord, as I reflect on your sovereignty, just as Jesus was falsely accused yet remained the true King, help me trust in your plan even when circumstances seem unclear. May I find strength and purpose in worshiping the greatness of King Jesus in all aspects of my life. Amen.
PLAY THIS: King Jesus.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.