Rome Meets Heaven
It’s now time for an extraordinary man to meet an ordinary man. The latter is named Pontius Pilate. The former, the Lord Jesus Christ: Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”~John 18:33. Pilate was not going to beat around the bush. He had important Prefect stuff to attend to. Evidently the cohort of religious constables had made an accusation which they were certain would be of some interest to Pilate. Jesus answers the question with a question: “Are you asking this of your own accord,” replied Jesus, “or have other people spoken to you about me?” ~John 18:34
It’s an interesting query. He is inviting Pilate to look into his eyes and to decide, apart from the noise of Jesus’ opponents, whether he, Pilate, is in the presence of a King. It is a brief opening to eternal life. “Regardless of what other people think or say, what do you think, Mr. Pilate?”
Pilate misses the opportunity but it won’t quite be his last: “Do you think I am a Jew?” replied Pilate. “It’s your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What have you done, anyway?” John 18:35 Pilate goes back to being a true Roman Prefect. There were a number of delusional types who went about proclaiming themselves a King, a Messiah, or a Prophet. These could be overlooked. Pilate wanted information about actions, not proclamations.
Jesus returns to the first question: “My kingdom is not founded in this world—if it were, my servants would have fought to prevent my being handed over to the Jews. But in fact my kingdom is not founded on all this!”~John 18:36 The issue of whether or not Jesus was planning some sort of rebellion against Rome is put to rest. He had the ability to call, not only on an army of followers, but on angel armies as well. He did neither.
The brief interview ends: “So you are a king, are you?” returned Pilate. “Indeed I am a king,” Jesus replied; “the reason for my birth and the reason for my coming into the world is to witness to the truth. Every man who loves truth recognizes my voice.” To which Pilate retorted, “What is ‘truth’?” ~John 18:37-39
Jesus gives another eternal life opening to Pilate. He raises the subject that nearly every Greek and Roman philosopher had been occupied with from the beginning of that profession. Unfortunately, Pilate becomes glib. He doesn’t wait around for an answer. He closes the interview with what he believes a rhetorical question. It was anything but.