a biblical reflection, based on John 18.33-38, for the Last Sunday after Pentecost (aka Christ the King Sunday), November 22, 2015
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?”): “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
 See Matthew 16.15, Mark 8.29, or Luke 9.20