Pilate is an interesting character in the Bible. His official position is that of the governor of the region called Judea, which included Jerusalem. He was a Roman who had been put in place to rule over the Jewish people. But his attempt to rule had not been very successful. A number of uprisings had taken place, with some rotten results. Pilate tried to rule with an iron fist, but this only caused the Hebrew people to revolt more. Now, the Roman Empire was threatening to remove Pilate from his leadership post. Pilate was a man whose only conviction was to keep his power and prestige. This made him the perfect ruler for the trial of Jesus.
The Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate to have Him crucified. Although Pilate could find no fault in Jesus, He feared that if he were to release Jesus, he would have another Jewish revolt on his hands, and his superiors in Rome would not be all too happy with him. Since he was not a man with integrity and convictions, he waffled all over the place trying to get out of the situation. But ultimately, Pilate decided that justice and fairness were over rated, as long as he kept his position. So the trial of Jesus was a farce. He was sentenced to death after being found guilty of nothing. He was whipped, beaten, mocked, and ultimately crucified solely because Pilate wanted to keep his power.
The peculiar thing is that this wishy washy man, who flip flopped his position to maintain political power, asks the two most important questions in all of history. They questions asked by Pilate are the questions that every person will be judged by, and upon which all of humanity is divided. The first one, found here in John, is asked to Jesus. The King of the Universe has just told Pilate that He is a king, but His Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus informs Pilate that He bears witness of truth. Then Pilate responds to Jesus, with a perplexing question. “What is truth?” There it is! A question that defines all! For the past 2,500 years philosophers have been debating this question. People all over the world have taken all kinds of paths to determine ultimate reality or truth. Some have sought the advice of sages or psychics to find truth. Others have searched to find the answer within themselves. Postmodernists believe that there is no such thing as knowable truth. All of the answers to this question will fall short, unless we understand that truth is not an idea or a concept. Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ. He defines all reality and all reality finds its’ purpose in Him. When Pilate asked this question, he obviously missed the answer.
The second great question asked by Pilate can be found in Matthew 27:22. Hoping to get out of the Jesus predicament, Pilate offered to release a prisoner, responding to a Jewish custom during Passover week. Pilate offered to release either Jesus or the infamous, evil Barabbas, thinking the people would see the light and choose to let Jesus off the hook rather than set a murderer free. The people chose to have Pilate pardon Barabbas. Upon hearing this, Pilate’s heart sunk. He thought he had figured a way out, and it only got worse, because he would still have to make a decision about Jesus, and now he had set a vicious criminal free. His response, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” Did you get it? The second questions that divides all of history. How would you answer? The crowd answered “crucify Him,” and Pilate obliged.
Pilate asked the two most important questions in all of history, and got the answer to both wrong. He got a zero on the most important test of his life. You and I have been given the same test. Our life will pass or fail based on how we answer these two questions. No need to go home and study, just believe in Christ, and realize He is the truth and the answer to all of life.