Summary: John 18 includes Jesus' interrogation by Pilate and the exchange of Barabbas for our Lord.
6 26 2016 “The Heavenly King for a Common Thief” John 18: 28-40
Today we are taken into the Courtroom of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea and we witness Jesus’ interrogation leading to the order for Him to be crucified in John 18:28:
“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium (Pilate’s official residence), lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?"
30 They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you."
31 Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death," 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
Deceit and Hypocrisy
According to Mark 15:1, the chief priests had evidently held a second hearing after dawn to give the appearance of legality in hurrying Jesus to the cross. In bringing Jesus to Pilate, they did not enter his residence, the home of a Gentile, because they would become ceremonially unclean and unable to eat the Passover. Jesus had eaten the Passover already, which would not have been unusual since the celebration lasted seven days and included several meals. They did not want to be ceremonially unclean on the outside but they had no issue in bringing an innocent man to the cross.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Jesus hammered the religious leaders concerning their religiosity. Matthew 23 gives one example: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee." (Matthew 23:13, 23:23-26) Not entering Pilate’s house was a very good example: clean on the outside but full of deceit on the inside.
They had displayed the same character in plotting and executing Jesus’ arrest, then His mock trial before the high priests, and now as they hand Jesus over to the Roman governor, Pilate, they continue their evil charade. They did not have a charge against Jesus which would hold up in a Roman court, but they were looking for Jesus’ execution, not a fair trial, and they knew that the Romans took delight in execution by crucifixion.
The Jewish leaders manipulated Pilate into a corner by forcing him to accept their hearings and testimony and they persuaded him to act upon them. Neither Pilate nor Herod could find any fault in Jesus, but both were pressured by the Jews. It would have been the Jews’ custom to stone Jesus to death but normally it was the policy of the Romans to pronounce the death sentence not the Jewish court or religious leaders.
Neither Pilate or Herod realized that their verdict would fulfill the prophecy that Jesus would bear the curse for sin “on a tree” stated in Deuteronomy 21:22-23: "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” This was according to God’s sovereign plan and man would not overrule what God had promised.
Are You the King of the Jews?
Continue in verse 33: Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" 34 Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?" (Jesus points out by His response that He was not a danger to Pilate but that the danger existed only in the thoughts and imaginations of Jesus’ enemies, the Jews.) 35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." 38 Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all. 39 "But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"