Truth and Hypocrisy
Father, please help me to see with Your eyes as I read this ugly, beautiful, story.
Read JOHN 18:19–40
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Jesus Before Pilate
28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Truth (Jesus) and power (Pilate, the mob) face each other. Power wins, but the consequences will last throughout time” (Earl Palmer).
The situation in Jerusalem was tense. The Romans, fearing a political uprising, were nervous about the large numbers of visitors. Some of the Jews were hoping that Jesus would lead a rebellion and free them from Roman oppression. At the same time, the Pharisees and Sadducees were beginning to panic about Jesus’ unorthodox behavior and the immense crowds he was attracting. All of them, in different ways, worried about loss of power. The Jewish leaders were hoping for some way to eliminate Jesus without provoking a popular uprising.
Against this background, Jesus was tried secretly and illegally, by night. Nothing was what it seemed. Both the Jewish leaders and the Roman procurator were so preoccupied with their own agendas that they were blind to the fact that the most important event in the history of the world was unfolding before their eyes—and they were complicit in it. The Jews, scrupulous about avoiding defilement, were concerned about eating the Passover, blind to the fact that the true “Passover lamb” (Luke 22:7) was standing in front of them. There were no courts, no witnesses: just the chief priest, wanting Pilate to take responsibility and sentence Jesus to death, and Pilate, desperately searching for a way out of this situation. Meanwhile, Peter denied his Lord three times and the cock crowed.
The cross-examination by Pilate shows us Pilate and Jesus at cross purposes. Pilate’s question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (33) may have meant, “Are you leader of the resistance?” Jesus replies in spiritual, not political, language. Pilate’s question “What is truth?” (38) may be one of the most debated questions in philosophy, but Pilate did not want an answer. He wanted a quick end to the whole encounter, failing to realize that truth incarnate was standing before him. Who is in control?
Look up online the lyrics of the hymn “My Song Is Love Unknown” (Samuel Crossman, 1624–1683). Make it your own by singing it, reading it or playing it. Meditate on the words.
Savior of the world, I humbly stand before You as You stood for me in these days of trial and torment. Hallelujah, what a Savior You are!
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