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Last updated Sun Mar 22 18:31:33 EDT 2020

OceanSide church of Christ

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Jesus’ Private Encounter with Pilate (2)

Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:3; John 18:33-38

Victor M. Eskew




A.    In our last lesson, the Jews brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate. 

1.      They made their accusations against Him.

2.      Remember, they needed Rome to condemn Jesus in order for Him to be put to death.  As subjects of Rome, they could not put an individual to death.


B.      We noted that the meeting that Pilate and Jesus will have involved a private meeting.

1.      The Jews were without lest they be defiled and unable to eat the Passover.

2.      Pilate and Jesus will converse in Pilate’s judgment hall.


C.     However, before their private encounter there was a brief exchange in the presence of the Jews.


I.                   PILATE AND JESUS BEFORE AN AUDIENCE (Matt. 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:3)


A.    Matthew, Mark, and Luke record this brief conversation.  Matthew’s account contains just a little more information than the others.


B.      One of the accusations the Jews had made is that Jesus proclaimed Himself to be Christ the king.

1.      This accusation would be one that would trouble Pilate.

2.      Remember, he is a representative of Rome.  It is his responsibility to make sure there were no uprisings against Rome in the area.

3.      A man who proclaimed himself to be a king would be a threat to Rome.


C.     THE ASKING:  “Art thou the king of the Jews?” (Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3).

1.      Pilate did not beat around the bush.

2.      He came out and forthrightly asked Jesus if he was the king of the Jews.

3.      LESSON:  One of the best ways to get information is to ask direct questions.

a.      Too often we beat around the bush.

b.      We make small talk that never really addresses the situation.


D.    THE AFFIRMATION:  “Thou sayest it” (Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3)

1.      Jesus answers Pilate by telling him that what he asks is the truth.

2.      Thou sayest that I am the King of the Jews and that is correct.

3.      LESSON:  In the most trying of circumstances, Jesus never denied the truth as to His identity.  We need to follow in His steps.  If we are asked if we are Christians, we need to boldly say as Jesus:  “Thou sayest it.”


E.      THE ACCUSATIONS:  The Jews immediately responded to Jesus’ words (Matt. 27:12; Mark15:3).


And the Jews accused him of many things…


1.      Jesus’ admission should have been enough for further investigation by Pilate.

2.      The Jews, however, were not satisfied with one thing.  They accused Him of many things.


F.      THE AVOIDANCE:  Jesus heard their accusations.  His response was simple:  “He answered nothing” (Matt. 27:12; Mark 15:3).

1.      It is not easy to remain calm when being attacked.  We want to speak out in our own defense.

2.      Peter refers to Jesus’ behavior in his first epistle (I Pet. 2:23)


Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again.


3.      Jesus’ actions were a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 53:7.


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet ye opened not his mouth:  he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.


4.      LESSON:  There are times when we need to hold our tongues and say nothing (Prov. 26:4).


Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.


G.     THE AWE:  Pilate is stunned by Jesus’ silence and speaks to Jesus (Matt. 27:13).


Then Pilate said unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?


1.      Pilate knows that had he been Jesus, he would have said something.

2.      The accusations were many and they were probably extremely cruel. 

3.      Remember that they were also false.

4.      “And he answered him never to a word” (Matt. 27:14; Mark 15:5).

5.      Mark tells us that Pilate “marveled” (Mark 15:5).  Matthew tells us that Pilate “marveled greatly” (Matt. 27:14).

a.      The word “marveled” means “to be surprised, to have wonder, and to have respect for.”

b.      Pilate was surprise by Jesus’ silence and respected Him for it.

6.      LESSON:  When we conduct ourselves in the proper manner, we can have a positive influence on others.  Our behaviors can cause the world to marvel (I Pet. 2:12).


Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles:  that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.


H.    It was at this point that “Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus” (John 18:33).


II.                PILATE AND JESUS ALONE (John 18:33-38a)


A.    John is the only one to record the private conversation between Pilate and Jesus.


B.      The question about POSITION (John 18:33)


…and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?


1.      Pilate had asked this question in the presence of the Jews.

2.      Jesus affirmed that is was the truth.

3.      This was deeply concerning to Pilate.

4.      Therefore, he asked the question again. 


C.     The answer about PERSUASION (John 18:34)


Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?


1.      Up to this point in time, Jesus had not received a fair trial.

2.      Jesus now questions Pilate’s persuasion.

a.      Was his question a genuine question that originated in his heart?

1)      Pilate had been governor since 26 A.D.

2)      Jesus appeared on the scene about 30 A.D. 

3)      He had been in Jerusalem often.  Pilate never had reason to believe that Jesus was a threat until now.

b.      Or, was it simply a question that was a result of the accusations of the Jew?


D.    The reply of PROVOCATION (John 18:35)


Pilate answered, Am I a Jew?  Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me:  what hast thou done?


1.      Because Pilate was not a Jew, he had been unconcerned about Jesus’ relationship with the Jews.  It was a question they needed to solve.

2.      However, now the matter had been brought to him by the Jews, especially the chief priests.  He could not ignore it. 

3.      So, he simply wants to know:  “What have you done?” 

a.      His question did not spring from a personal desire to know.

b.      His question came from his judicial responsibility.

c.       NOTE:  At least he was willing to seek both sides of the issue.  He had heard from the Jews.  Now, he wanted to hear from Jesus.  That is fair!


E.      The response about His PROVINCE (John 18:36)


Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world:  if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servant fight, that I should not be delivered unto the Jews:  but now is my kingdom not from hence.


1.      Jesus reveals the nature of His kingdom to Pilate.

a.      It is not a kingdom of this world.

b.      This was evidenced by the fact that His servants were not physically engaged against the Jews to save their Lord.

2.      LESSON:  Jesus’ kingdom is not physical.  It is spiritual.

a.      It is not about land.  It is about the hearts of men (Luke 17:21).

b.      There are no physical boundaries.  His kingdom crosses time and space.

c.       It is not about oppression.  It is about voluntary submission.

d.      Jesus is not a human ruler.  He is a divine ruler.


F.      The question of PUZZLEMENT (John 18:37)


Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?


1.      Pilate was confused by Jesus answer.

2.      He did not understand spiritual things.

3.      So, he simply asks his question again:  “Art thou a king then?”


G.     The answer in the POSITIVE (John 18:37)


…Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.  Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.


1.      Jesus affirms that He is a king.

2.      This was the very reason He came into the world.

3.      His whole mission was to bear witness of this truth.

4.      Those who are of the truth, that is, those who have honest and good hearts for truth, will hear His voice.

a.      NOTE:  This is a call to Pilate to hear and acknowledge the truth.

b.      Pilate may have felt the call.  However, he quickly disregards it with a question (John 18:38)


Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?


III.             PILATE BEFORE THE JEWS WITH AN ANSWER (Luke 23:4; John 18:38b)


A.    After their conversation, Pilate went back to the Jews with his conclusion.


And when he had said this, he went out unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.


B.      This should have been the end of the matter.

1.      Pilate declared Jesus to be innocent. 

2.      Jesus should have been released from custody.


C.     This, however, did not happen.   The push to have Jesus crucified will continue.




A.    When Jesus appeared before Pilate in a private session, it seemed like Jesus would get a fair trial.

1.      He wants to hear Jesus’ side of the story.

2.      He proclaims to the Jews that he can find no fault in the Christ.


B.      Pilate, however, is still in a predicament.  He must somehow appease the Jews.


C.     Sadly, Pilate missed an opportunity to make his soul right with God.

1.      He dismissed Jesus’ call with a simple question:  “What is truth?”

2.      Pilate lived in a world where right and wrong were blurred.

3.      Had he continued longer with Jesus, he could have learned about truth.  Truth is found in the word of God (John 17:17).


Sanctify them through thy truth:  thy word is truth.


D.    Truth still exists in the Word of God.  If we will heed it and obey it, truth will set us free (John 8:32).