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The Message of John (Lesson 23)
The Trial before Pilate | John 18:36
"My kingdom is not of this world."
John 18 depicts the confrontation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate.
The event took place in the Roman province of Judea during the rule of Tiberius Caesar. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was responsible for maintaining order in the region, particularly during the Jewish Passover festival, when Jerusalem's population swelled with visitors.
Following Jesus' betrayal by Judas, Jesus is arrested by a band of soldiers accompanied by officials from the chief priests and Pharisees who took him to the headquarters of the Roman governor.
Pilate's initial question to Jesus was a loaded: "Are you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33).
The question put Jesus on the spot.
If he answered yes, he would be seen as a threat to Roman authority and would likely be condemned to death. If he answered no, he would be seen as a coward and a liar.
Rather than answering with a simple yes or no, Jesus replies, "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" (John 18:36).
The answer was, “Yes, but.” Yes, I am a king, but not over the kind of kingdom you envision.
Jesus' kingdom is not geo-political. It is spiritual.
However, being a spiritual kingdom does not mean it is altogether otherworldly.
Rather than overthrowing the Roman government, Jesus was establishing a countercultural, subversive presence in the world grounded on grace that would manifest itself with truth, love, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.
Even though Pilate finds no basis for a charge against Jesus, the crowd, incited by the chief priests and Pharisees, demanded that Jesus be crucified.
Pilate, trying to appease the crowd, had Jesus flogged and mocked, hoping that would satisfy them.
But the crowd continued to demand his crucifixion.
Since it was a tradition at the Passover festival to release one prisoner, Pilate offered Jesus, but the crowd called for the release of Barabbas, a known insurrectionist, instead of Jesus.
To maintain peace, Pilate unwittingly fulfilled the Father’s redemptive plan by handing Jesus over for crucifixion, an event that would establish a greater peace than anyone could have imagined.
What happened in John 18 between Jesus and Pontius Pilate? Why is this interaction important?
What was Pontius Pilate's job as Roman governor? How did this affect his conversation with Jesus?
What did Jesus mean when he said his kingdom is "not of this world"? How was his kingdom different from what people expected?
How does the release of Barabbas foreshadow what Jesus did for us on the cross? How did Jesus secure peace through his death?
What difference does it make seeing the events of Jesus’ arrest, trail, and crucifixion as part of God’s plan to save us?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Jesus, our King, who on a cross suffered the penalty our sins deserve.
In view of such amazing grace, we want to follow Jesus as our King.
So we ask you would give us the grace of your empowering Holy Spirit to enable us to live as ambassadors of your spiritual Kingdom on earth, testifying to your truth, grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness.
For we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.