truest power & authority, 2 of 3

Biblea biblical reflection, based on John 18.33-38, for the Last Sunday after Pentecost (aka Christ the King Sunday), November 22, 2015

Jésus devant Pilate. Deuxième entretien (Jesus Before Pilate Second Interview), James Tissot, 1886-1994

Roman soldiers drag a bound, beaten, and bloodied Jesus into Pilate’s headquarters. Pilate, eyes widened and eyebrows raised in amazement, wondering what trouble Jesus could be, asks a question sharpened by the inflection of incredulity: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Laughing in disbelief, Pilate considers letting Jesus go, if not for the sake of fairness, then at least having assured himself that Jesus poses no threat. That is, until Jesus answers with a question (reminiscent of the poignant query he earlier asked of his disciples, “Who do you say I am?”[1]): “Do you ask this on your own or did others tell you about me?” Is this your question? Do you want to know for yourself?

Pilate, put off by temerity of his prisoner, even more put on the spot to give answer when he is the inquisitor, defensively second guesses his own line of questioning: “I am not a Jew, am I?” Why should the identity of the ruler of the Jews, a weak and fractious people, matter to a mighty Roman? But then Jesus responds to Pilate’s original question (saying neither “yes” nor “no”), “My kingdom is not from this world.” A frustrated Pilate demands, “So you are a king?” Then Jesus speaks of truth.

Pilate asks the quintessential question in the heart of all humankind, “What is truth?”, then promptly departs, leaving Jesus’ fate to the crowd that cried, “Crucify him!”


Illustration: Jésus devant Pilate. Deuxième entretien (Jesus Before Pilate. Second Interview), James Tissot, 1886-1894


[1] See Matthew 16.15, Mark 8.29, or Luke 9.20

2 thoughts on “truest power & authority, 2 of 3

  1. I just love it when people simply take a look at people and think they know all about them, or the underestimate them. When Pilate assumed that Jesus wasn’t a threat to him he certainly underestimated Him. Intellectually, Pilate was no where close to Jesus, and he was absolutely missing the love and compassion that Jesus had for everyone. You have to smile when reading this story when Pilate became so irritated so quickly when Jesus wouldn’t answer his question (at least not in the way he wanted). If only Pilate could have understood or cared about “the truth”! Thanks Paul, looking forward to part 3!

    Liked by 1 person

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