John 18:28 (NIV) 28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.
On verse 28: The Jews who were handing Jesus over to the Roman governor believed that by entering the home of a Gentile (in this case, the palace of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate), they would make themselves ceremonially unclean according to their religious laws. Jesus’ opponents were so focused on keeping their religious rules on ceremonial cleanness, yet at the same time they were handing over an innocent man – the Son of God no less – to be killed. That’s the danger of Christ-less religion: when you’re so focused on keeping little rules that you miss God and even kill God in the process.
John 18:29-32 (NIV) 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
On verses 29-32: Clearly no one – not the Jews who opposed Jesus or the Roman governor Pontius Pilate – wanted to have any responsibility for the killing of Jesus. No one wanted to get their own hands dirty, as evidenced by the Jews not wanting to become ceremonially unclean in verse 28 and Pontius Pilate later washing his own hands in front of the Jews and saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood…It is your responsibility” (Matthew 27:24). The only one who was willing to take responsibility, ironically, was Jesus’ himself, the only one who wasn’t responsible for any sin.
Isn’t that the way of the world versus the way of Jesus? The way of the world is to excuse oneself of guilt and to justify one’s sinful actions by placing the blame on others if it means one can get away scott free. The way of Jesus is to accept responsibility, and that is what Jesus did, even taking the blame and suffering for sins he did not commit, so that others can go free.
John 18:33-35 (NIV) 33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
On verses 33-35: There are so many ironies to me in this sequence where Jesus is betrayed, arrested, mocked, questioned, and eventually sentenced and punished. One irony is that here we have Jesus, bound like a slave and a criminal, being questioned by Pilate, who lives like a king, when actually the real strong king is Jesus and the real weak slave is Pilate. It’s amazing all the strangely ironic situations Jesus would allow himself to get into all to save sinners like you and me and bring them to heaven.
John 18:36 (NIV) 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
On verse 36: Jesus is right. If Jesus’ goal in life was to build a kingdom on earth for himself, he would have never agreed to be bound, arrested, and later flogged and killed like a criminal. The fact that he was willing to go through such suffering and humiliation is because Jesus was a king whose kingdom “is from another place”. Jesus was focused on an eternal kingdom based in heaven rather than a temporary kingdom based on earth. What can we learn from this? Your perspective on pain and what you will tolerate will in many ways be determined by what kind of kingdom you are seeking to build.
John 18:37-38a (NIV) 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked…
On verses 37-38a: Jesus claimed that the reason he came was “to testify to the truth” and that “everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (v37). Pilate, on the other hand, questions whether absolute truth even exists with his question “What is truth?” (v38). At the same time, Jesus was set on pleasing the Father at whatever cost, whereas Pilate was set on pleasing the people at whatever cost. It goes to show that your take on truth will have a lot to do with who you are living for and who you are trying to please. When a person questions the absoluteness of truth, the real question is whether they oppose the idea of absolute truth based on logic or more for personal, selfish reasons – i.e. because deep down they just don’t want to be accountable to God and are focused on pleasing someone other than God.
John 18:38b-40 (NIV) 38 …With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
On verses 38b-40: Here we read about a criminal called Barabbas who took part in an uprising. Barabbas should have been executed as a criminal, but he was set free because Jesus took his place. Likewise I am like Barabbas. I broke God’s laws and was part of an uprising that was all about rebelling against God. I deserved to die for my sins. Yet Jesus took my place as a rebel and died so I could be set free. Now He invites me and you to be part of His own uprising, a movement of people who will follow Jesus and change the world in His name.
Jesus, of all the ironies that fill these scenes of you being arrested, questioned and tried, the greatest irony is why You, the innocent Son of God, would allow Yourself to go through such trouble, shame and suffering for a sinner like me. I worship You as the king whose kingdom is from another place, whose kingdom is the only one that has lasted and will last forever. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!