Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"John 18:33(NASB)
After Christ's illegal trial and unjust interrogation before Annas and Caiaphas, the high priest, Jesus was sent to the Praetorium, to be delivered to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea and Samaria. The Jews' hatred of Christ was intense, and they desired His death, but being under Roman governance, they were denied the right of execution, as laid out in the Law of Moses.
When Pilate asked what crime Jesus had committed they could only reply, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you!!" They were basically saying that although Jesus committed no crime and there was no accusation against Him, He must be guilty of something because He was sent to Pilate to be sentenced!!
History records that Pilate was a corrupt and cruel individual, who frequently offended people with his cruelty and outspoken attitude, but he was also a weak man, with a flawed character, and the Jews hoped to manipulate him into sentencing Jesus to death with no evidence of a crime.
The Bible records that Christ came as the King of the Jews to fulfil Scripture, and it was this title of 'King' that intrigued the governor... and so we read, "Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?'" Pilate knew Jesus had been brought to him out of envy, and he sought to deliver Him from the hands of the Jews - not out of compassion, but as a slight to the Jewish leaders, who caused him much grief with their various uprisings and resistance to Roman rule.
Pilate was right to be curious about Christ's claims to be King of the Jews, for He was the Messiah, promised by God, Who would save His people from their sins. He was the eternal Son of God, Who came to earth as the sinless Son of Man. He was the Blessed Hope, Who came to redeem mankind from the tyranny of sin. Jesus was born King of the Jews at His birth in Bethlehem, and He was labelled King of the Jews at His crucifixion at Calvary - but as the prophesied Messiah and rightful King of Israel, Who was appointed by God, there was so much more than Pilate failed to understand.
He is the risen, ascended King of Righteousness and He is the coming Prince of Peace. He is God of all gods and is King of the Ages and Ruler of both heaven and earth. Jesus is the King of Glory and the God of Glory for He is the Lord God Almighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Yet Jesus was led as a Lamb to the slaughter and stood silent before Pilate, bloodied and bruised, so that He could pay the price for OUR transgressions. He was ridiculed and despised to pay the cost of OUR iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon HIM, and with His stripes, WE are healed.
I wonder if Pilate ever truly came to understand Who this Man, standing before him was. I wonder if he ever discovered Who it was Who told him, "My kingdom is not of this world's system." I wonder if Pilate, who boasted "I have power to crucify You, and the power to release You", ever came to a saving knowledge of Jesus and discovered that He is the great Creator-King of the universe, and the One Who loves us so much that He died so that we might live - that Pilate might live - by faith in Him?
Jesus did not only come as the Passover Lamb for the Jews and the compulsory Sin Offering for the whole world, to fulfil the will of His Heavenly Father. Jesus also came as the sweet-smelling savour to the Lord, for He stretched out His arms to the cross willingly, so that He could give His life for love of the Church. For the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. For our sake He despised the shame, and at this very moment, He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty of High, interceding for you and me. For He is the sovereign King of all and our heavenly Mediator.
He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the King of Peace Who is coming to smash and crush forever, the corrupt kingdoms of this world system, and restore righteousness and hope to a world that is drowning in sin. The King that stood before Pilate was Jesus, Who is our God our Salvation. I wonder if Pilate ever knew Christ as King of His life and Lord of all?
There are many who know about Jesus. There are many who have heard he was called 'king of the Jews.' There are many who know about his miracles and teachings and there are many who know He was crucified on a cross 2000 years ago. But how many, like Pilate, fail to understand the significance of His death and the glories of His resurrection.
May we be men and women whom God will use to tell out the truth of the glorious gospel of grace, while it is still time, for we are His representatives on earth, who have been commissioned as ministers of reconciliation. May we tell the truth of the gospel of grace while there is still time, for He is the only Way the only Truth and in Him alone are the words of eternal Life.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus came as King of the Jews to fulfil prophecy so that He could set up His kingdom on earth and restore to us the years that the locusts have eaten. Thank You, that Jesus came as Saviour of the world, was ready to stand before Pilate, and endured the cross for love of me. Lord, there are many like Pilate who know about Jesus, but do not know Him as their personal Saviour. I pray that in Your grace Your Holy Spirit would convict many of sin, righteousness and judgement, and reveal the truth to them, so that they also know Him as Saviour and Lord. This I ask in His precious name, AMEN.
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