John 18:33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber [g]or an insurrectionist. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus didn’t say yes or no when Pilate asked “Are you the King of the Jews?” Instead He tells Pilate His defense for His Kingship. His kingdom is “not OF this world” and “not FROM the world.” It’s a truth Pilate can’t comprehend but he does recognize Jesus is not guilty of trying to overthrow either the Roman political system, or the Jewish system of religious governance. Pilate goes back outside “to the Jews” to recommend Jesus be released. The secret judgement of Jesus has now become the public judgment of a crowd that cries out “again” to save the wrong condemned man.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus answers Pilate’s question about whether He’s the King of the Jews with a question of His own. “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?…You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.
What does it say about people?
They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”
Is there truth here for me?
It’s always seemed like this crowd,”the Jews,” were in a frenzy to chose to punish Jesus. That certainly was the outcome but I wonder if they were all caught up in the same question Pilate had, “What is truth?” Maybe in this awful moment the only “truth” they cared about was a way to get their revenge against Roman authority by forcing them to release Barabbas, a notorious criminal they’d already condemned to be crucified for murder and insurrection against the Roman Empire. Maybe they just didn’t care about defending “truth,” OR Jesus…but thanks be to God He did “bear witness to the truth.”