Tuesday in Holy Week
Scripture: St. John 18:19-40 (NKJV)
19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.” 22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” 31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You 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 fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Jesus answers questions about His doctrine and practice by simply pointing to those who have heard and seen Him as a clear testimony of His word and life—may we by God’s grace be so steadfast in our walk and speech as His disciples that we can likewise point to our own life with such confidence of its confession. Even the kind of death he was going to die made a clear confession. Jewish execution was by stoning, but Jesus’ death was to be by crucifixion, whereby he would bear the curse. The Romans, not the Jews, had to put Jesus to death. God was overruling in the whole process. The crucifixion fulfills His prediction that He would be “lifted up,” for this was the Roman form of punishment, while stoning was the Jewish form of punishment for blasphemers.
In spite of Christ’s unwavering life and doctrine Pilate asks “What is truth?” This is the same excuse the world still uses for its rejection of Christ. Pilate may have been jesting, and meant, “What does truth matter?” Or he may have been serious, and meant, “It is not easy to find truth. What is it?” Either way, it was clear to him that Jesus was no rebel and there was no basis for a charge against Him. Teaching the truth was not (and is not) a criminal offense.
It is not only His nation that seeks to kill the King and quench the Light: Judas, who became their willing tool, may have the greater sin, but the Gentile world, too, takes part in the struggle and shares the guilt. Jesus has come to bear witness to the truth of God that sets men free from the lust for being king or making kings—and for this goes to the cross.