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.
The interesting thing is that all of this is based on one assumption: that human beings who are naturally bent to lying, to defending themselves, to placing the blame on others, will actually tell the truth!
It's very early in the morning, just hours before He will die, and Jesus is standing in a Roman courtroom before Pilate. There have been witnesses against Him, but there have been no speakers in His behalf. Only a short time before, Jesus had eaten dinner with His disciples, and they'd gone to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He'd been betrayed by one of His disciples, and all the rest had fled. Now He stands alone, before the man who will be His judge. Pilate is the one who must decide what is truth, and then decide what he will do with that truth.
Isn't that something that everyone has to do? We have to decide if the email that appears to be from one of our friends, stranded in Spain and accused of a crime, is real, and whether or not to send them money. We have to decide if the doctor on the news show we are watching is correct when he says we can have all the butter and pork fat we want, and then decide if we want to change our menu for this evening.
Seriously, we also have to decide on some important things . . . we have to decide if it's true that our sins separate us from God. We have to determine if it's true that God does love us. And we have to decide if it's true that everything we do can have consequences into eternity.
So, let's look at these verses. Let's go on a hunt for "nothing but the truth."
The first thing that we can see in this passage is that many people are religious but they don't know Jesus (verse 28). The chief priests and the Pharisees were much more concerned about observing their feast than they were in doing what was right. They were absolutely the highest exampler of what it means to be a hypocrite. They were way more concerned about looking good to others; they paid the most attention to the outward show. Having a right relationship with God came lower on their list of priorities. Remember this?
Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside
of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the
inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the
poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees,
because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of
garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have
practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. 43 “Woe to you
Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues
and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
Even today, people are caught up in "being" religious, but they want nothing to do with Jesus. He is an inconvenient truth to them. They will claim some type of affiliation with a religion, but ya know, that is usually just a set of rules to live by. And rules and legalism cannot save us. Jesus is the only One Who can do that.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which
is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we
not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess
unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Oy. That's tough for some people to accept.
But hypocrites (like the Pharisees) will turn people off to Jesus and to the church. Many of us have met someone who refuses to go to church, refuses to have a relationship with Jesus, because of what they saw in the life of someone who was claiming that they were a Christian. "He's no different than I am!" they say.
And that is the difference between a person who is religious, and a person who knows Jesus. The person who knows Jesus has experienced a radical change in their life -- the result of that is they live according to the truth on a daily basis!
Nothing but the truth, ma'am.
Let's refresh our memory of what Paul said:
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing
greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost
all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found
in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes
from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his
resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like
him in his death, . . . (Philippians 3:8-10)
Here is the truth; nothing but the truth: our goal must not be to look good to everyone on the outside. Our goal is to know Jesus so fully, so completely, that we become like Him.