“Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Next he was taken to the palace of the Roman governor. His accusers wouldn’t go in themselves for that would “defile” them, they said, and they wouldn’t be allowed to eat the Passover lamb. So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man? What are you accusing him of doing?”
“We wouldn’t have arrested him if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.
“Then take him away and judge him yourselves by your own laws,” Pilate told them.
“But we want him crucified,” they demanded, “and your approval is required.” This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction concerning the method of his execution.
Then Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the King of the Jews?” he asked him.
“‘King’ as you use the word or as the Jews use it?” Jesus asked.
“Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their chief priests brought you here. Why? What have you done?”
Then Jesus answered, “I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of the world.”
Pilate replied, “But you are a king then?”
“Yes,” Jesus said. “I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth are my followers.”
“What is truth?” Pilate exclaimed. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.”
Pilate knew what was going on; he knew that the religious leaders hated Jesus, and he did not want to act as their executioner. They could not sentence Jesus to death themselves—permission had to come from a Roman leader. But Pilate initially refused to sentence Jesus without sufficient evidence.
Some people today try to say that if only they could talk to Jesus, question him, and spend time with him personally, they would believe. Pilate had that chance. Pilate asked Jesus a straightforward question, and Jesus answered clearly. Jesus is a king, but one whose Kingdom is not of this world. There seems to have been no question in Pilate’s mind that Jesus spoke the truth and was innocent of any crime. It also seems apparent that while recognizing the truth, Pilate chose to reject it.
It is a tragedy when we fail to recognize the truth. It is a greater tragedy when we recognize the truth but fail to heed it.