18:33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Jesus asks a lot of questions. The one He asked Pilate stopped me in my tracks this morning. Pilate asks if He is the king of the Jews. Jesus responds with another question. "Is this inquiry coming from within yourself or from what others have said?"
Excuse me? No matter how we interpret Pilate's answer, it's the question itself that is staggering. Jesus is making it known that it was possible for Pilate to know Jesus is the king of the Jews without being told. It takes us back to the beginning of the gospel of John where he wrote "Jesus is the Light that lights every person that comes into the world." John 1:9
Jesus would not have asked if he came to this conclusion on his own if it weren't possible.
I had an amazing philosophy professor in college. Deep thinker. The beauty of philosophy is that it's all about thinking, questioning, and reason. All the other disciplines can kind of get lost in their own sphere and forget that all spheres are connected. For example a car designer could get so into what he is designing that he forgets everything else. As he or she is drawing away the guy in charge of the power train for the concept comes along and sees the drawing and says "That's really nice but it won't work because the engine can't fit in that design." As they are wrestling over that detail a philosopher comes along and asks "Why are you designing this car?" See the difference? One is a details question and one is a big picture question. The designer is designing because he/she wants something beautiful and cool. The powertrain guy is there to make sure his engine/transmission etc... have the space and dimensions necessary to fit and work and propel the car down the road. The philosopher from a much more detached point of view is simply asking "Why? Why are you doing what you are doing?"
My greatest memory from his classes in college was the look on his face when I proposed the thought that humans are incapable of original ideas. That everything we think, design, draw, build, write about, or even imagine is all in existence already. We may move pieces around. We may draw a monster like none anyone has ever seen but if you deconstruct the picture you will discover every element is familiar. It has three eyes. Maybe nothing else has three eyes but eyes are nothing new. As I explained my premise to him he got this sparkle in his eye. I'm not sure if it was because the idea was knew to him or because he was just happy that I was thinking philosophically. I'm sure it was probably the latter.
Nevertheless the premise that we can't really invent new things or thoughts but only work with what already is makes every 'is there a _______" question it's own answer. When Pilate asked if Jesus was the king of the Jews the Jews technically had one already. This means Pilate is recognizing the possibility that Jesus is a king above and beyond the politically appointed Roman puppet king the Jews currently had. The very asking of the question screams that Pilate knows it is true and Jesus' response drives home the point. Pilate knows. Everyone knows. On some level everyone knows there is a King. They may not be ready or even willing to admit it but they know. The fact we can ask the question "Is there a God?" is the answer. He is right there in the question. It is impossible to question the existence of a specific thing unless that thing already exists or you would have no frame of reference from which to ask the question.
Even if Pilate is legitimately unsure that Jesus is the King, his question makes it clear that there is such a figure over and above Herod, who occupies that position for the Romans.
Pilate's response to Jesus is telling. It's much like the response of the woman at the well. Jesus brings up her personal life and she shifts the topic to religion. Jesus brings out the reality that Pilate knows personally Who He is, and Pilate deflects it away by saying he is not even Jewish and turning to the topic of the charges against Him.
We all struggle when things get personal and nothing is more personal than how we relate to God.
Enough about us though. You know what really blows my mind here? Jesus is about to die and He is only concerned with reaching the heart of Pilate. Love. I Am the Lord and I do not change. No matter the circumstances I Am Love.