John 18:36 what’s your application and reflection?
This is one of my favorite conversations between Pilate and Jesus. It is the ultimate testimony of a pragmatist (Pilate) who cannot deny Jesus’ message. He’s not even trying to trap Jesus like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Israel.
He is only trying to figure out what to do with this man. He can understand that Jesus is innocent. But he is also between a rock and hard place. If he doesn’t do what the Jewish leaders want him to, he could have a riot on his hands.
He was always a pragmatist, someone who seeks their own gain in every situation. Everything he did in Palestine was for his own political gain. He hated dealing with the Jews because they were such a hard people to work with.
And then they bring him this Jesus who proclaims that he is a king. He doesn’t know what to do with this. If Jesus does proclaim himself a king of Palestine, and the Romans have a problem. The only king of Palestine they recognize is Caesar.
These would be grounds for him to do exactly what the Jews want him to do, kill Jesus for treason. But that’s not how it plays out. Jesus explains that he is the king of a different kingdom, a kingdom not of this world. That rules out killing him just because he thinks he is better than Caesar.
Jesus doesn’t even fully admit to it, telling him that everyone else has told him that he is a king. If it were up to Pilate, he would just like Jesus go and get on with his day. But the Jewish leaders are not going to allow him to do that.
He has to choose to act. A couple of times he has already said that he things Jesus is innocent. He can’t find any fault in him. But that doesn’t matter to the Jews. They want Jesus’ head. They will stop at nothing to see him crucified.
The Jewish leaders cannot kill Jesus and the common Jewish way. They can’t stone him to death. It’s illegal in the Roman province of Palestine for the Jewish leaders to handle their own matters in the way that the Torah prescribes.
So they’re left with going to Pilate, the Roman governor, to do their dirty work for them. He doesn’t want to do it, but he has to. In John 18:36, Jesus declares that he does have a kingdom, but it’s not of this world. And then he gives the proof that his disciples have not raised a finger to defend this “kingdom.”
Jesus’ kingdom begins in the hearts of people. He sits on the throne of our hearts as our Lord and Savior. It is nothing like the kingdoms of this world where our leaders Lord their position over us and tell us what to do.
Jesus’ kingdom is based on everything but the kingdoms of this world are not. His kingdom is based on love as the motivator for action. He doesn’t force us to do anything. We choose to do it out of love and gratitude to him.
Pilate would’ve never understood any of this. His only goal was to get Jesus out of his home so he could do what he wanted to do. Unlike the kingdoms of this world, Jesus’ kingdom is based on truth, God’s truth.
Pilate asks one of my favorite questions of the New Testament. He asks, “What is truth” (John 18:38)? But the saddest part is that he doesn’t wait around for the answer. He goes back out to declare Jesus innocent again.
The important thing to recognize is that truth has already been defined in the book of John. Go back to John 14:6 Jesus declares himself to be the “Way, Truth, and Life.” Truth is not objective or subjective. Truth is the person of Jesus Christ.
Pilate was this close to discovering who Jesus really is not only as a king of a different kingdom but also as the truth that he so long for all of his political career. The seeker of truth was sitting in front of the Truth. But his pragmatism didn’t allow him to take the closer look at Jesus he should have.
How would I apply this? First of all, Jesus’ kingdom is in the hearts of people, completely unlike the kingdoms of this world we are used to. We can look at our nations and our leaders and know that this is not the final state of things.
God is going to bring his kingdom through Jesus. He already began to inaugurate the kingdom of God when he first came to this earth. He preached and taught God’s kingdom, and then he showed it on the cross. It’s not a kingdom the nations of this world can control.
After they killed him, three days later Jesus rose from the grave. This kingdom of God cannot be stopped. Even the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it. We belong to a kingdom that will shake the nations of this world. We belong to a Savior who’s the ultimate Victor over this world.
We belong to a kingdom that subverts the nations of this world and its kingdoms. But it doesn’t do it in the way you think. It does it through love and peace. It does it one person at a time. God’s kingdom comes through the message of good news.
Second, I would apply it by saying that we need to slow down from our busy schedules and busy lifestyles to see the King of Kings standing before us. Jesus is the Truth we are all searching for. He is the one person who fills the holes in our hearts.
If we would wait long enough to see him for who he is, he will change our lives forever. Everything that we’ve been searching for we find in him. But we must take the time to evaluate his claims and see him for who he is.