Day 36 (Tuesday, April 16, 2019)
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
Something deep within us cries out when we witness injustice. In his Gospel, John wants us to feel the determined, ruthless injustice that was carried out against Jesus of Nazareth. Bound in chains, he was handed over by the Jewish High Priest to Pilate for sentencing. Weeks before the High Priest had said that it was better to have one man die for the people (John 11:49). Now, wanting to remain ritually clean because it was the Passover, the Jewish authorities remained outside the Praetorium when Jesus was brought before Pilate.
For their case to be heard by the Roman authorities the Jewish leaders had to charge Jesus with something that would ensure the death penalty. So they accused him with saying he was the king (Messiah) of the Jews – treasonable under Roman law. Pilate asked what Jesus had done to bring about the charge. “My kingdom is not from this world,” he responded. Jesus’ kingdom is not about political rule: all who belong to the truth, listen, he said. Which evoked Pilate’s cynical response, “What is truth?”
That said, realizing the charge of treason to be false, Pilate said three times that Jesus was innocent. But the Jewish authorities were insistent. They gave Pilate a choice. He could either sign the death warrant and remain a friend of Caesar or acquit Jesus and suffer the consequences. It was the most wicked, unjust trial in history. John wants us to feel the evil that was enacted that day. But then, what would we have done if we had been in their shoes?
Almighty Father, look graciously upon this your family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, Good Friday)
Daily Reading Plan
Read John 18:19-40