28 Then they *led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. 29 Therefore Pilate went out to them and *said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31 So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32 to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. 33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”
At this stage in John’s account, Jesus is now being brought to the Romans. The Praetorium is commonly referred to as “barracks” but I think “stockade” might be a better fit. If the mayor lives there, it isn’t just a squadbay of soldiers, but rather a type of headquarters. The reason the Jews did not enter the building was because it was full of Gentiles and they did not want to defile themselves, according to their customs, in light of their upcoming holiday.
If we refer back to the outline from before, we will see that John wasn’t present at the meeting with the Sanhedrin. As a side note, some may view this as an inconsistency, that all accounts don’t have the same information. We must realize that these accounts were written from the perspectives of the writers. To me, it is more proof of the validity of the events that are recorded because it is real. My perspective of a story might be different than yours, but together our perspectives tell the complete story from all angles (for example).
We read in Matthew 27, “Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2 and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.” The “chief priests and elders” refers to the governing body of the Jewish religion, ie the Sanhedrin. What we gain here is that they agreed Jesus should be put to death. We see this reflected in John’s account in verse 31, that they had judged Him according to their law but as I mentioned before, they were not allowed to kill Him without authority from the Roman government.
John points out an interesting observation in verse 32. In bringing Jesus to the Romans, He would be killed via crucifixion. John’s statement here refers to three elements foretold of Jesus’ death: no bones will be broken, Gentile and Jew will conspire against Him, and that He will be “lifted up”.
I can’t help but admire Jesus’ question to Pilate in verse 34. You see it isn’t enough that we just “think” Jesus is King because it is how we were brought up or it sounds like a good idea after someone told us. It might be where the process starts but it certainly doesn’t constitute a relationship. Too often we are blinded by religion and follow something because we are told to or we are convinced that it is the “right thing to do.” In fact, it is a good reason why a majority of “Christians” go to church every Sunday. This is a complete distortion of Jesus’ teaching! It isn’t about what we do or don’t do. We take Jesus’ teachings and turn them into a religion…a list of rules that we have to follow for righteousness. His righteousness isn’t something that we get as a result of following rules. That, my friends, is self righteousness and is the OPPOSITE of what Jesus calls us to. I think this bothers me so much because I fall into it as well. We want to earn our way, so we devise ways to make us feel like we are. Jesus tells us differently; we cannot earn His love and grace, only receive it.
Something God is dealing with me about is why we were created. I think we tend to distort the term “serve,” especially given our societal background. We think we were created to serve God; the word “serve” can be misleading. You see, God created us so He can love us and have a relationship with us. He is God. He doesn’t need our service. If He can speak the universe into existence, then I don’t think He really needs us to do anything. I’ve said before “the creation was created to serve the Creator.” I think this is still true, however in light of the word “serve” means to do something, we can easily view it as humanistic indebtedness. Rather, we are here to be loved. We “serve” the purpose of receiving His love. It isn’t because we are forced to (if we were, we would all be believers, wouldn’t we?) like a slave and it isn’t because we need to earn something like someone in the service industry. Rather, we “serve our purpose” by receiving His love and grace.
My point in all this is that Jesus’ question points to the fact that it isn’t about following what we are told, but rather in believing it ourselves and thus beginning our relationship with God as a result of seeking out His truth of who He really is. It isn’t about saying Jesus is Lord (see Jesus’ lesson on lip service), but rather knowing it because we know Jesus personally. Imagine two kingdoms. A person living in kingdom A might recognize that a person from kingdom B declares B his king. However the person from the A doesn’t declare B king because he doesn’t know B as king. It is only when the person from A enters kingdom B and experiences the weight of the king B’s kingship that they understand and know that he is king. It is then that they get to decide to go back to kingdom A or stay in kingdom B. Likewise with Jesus as King, we can’t understand or know that He is King until we experience it, rather than merely hear it. Jesus is asking Pilate if he is calling Him king because he heard it or because he believes it and knows as a result of it.
I tell you Jesus is king not because it is what I was trained to say or because it is what someone else told me is right. I tell you because I experience it every day. I don’t just know Jesus as a king or my king because of head knowledge; I know Jesus as my king because I experience His kingship every day and know it in my heart and soul to be true.
Do you know Him?