Know the King and Know Truth! JN 18:33B-37


Gospel JN 18:33B-37

Pilate said to Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”


Arrested / Accused / Authority / Are you King? / Answer / Allegiance

Arrested / Accused

What was Jesus accused of that allowed the Romans to arrest him?

He claimed to be the Messiah!  How?

  • He came into Jerusalem on a donkey, with people waving palm branches as foretold
  • He claimed to know the “Father” and be one with Him
  • Claimed to be of the lines of David and the prophets
  • He claimed authority in teaching over the Rabbis

These were blasphemy to the Jews if it wasn’t true – and they didn’t believe it to be true.

Are you the king of the Jews?

Judas and many others wanted Jesus to be a military Messiah – a king who would liberate the Jewish people from the Roman oppressors. When Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, I think it was his way of trying to force Jesus’ hand to begin the revolution.  I believe his thoughts were “this will be the catalyst that will get Jesus to lead the Jewish people to overthrow their oppressors.”


The Jewish leaders were upset that Jesus was undermining their Authority.  This is why they wanted Jesus brought to trial under the Romans. But the Romans would not care if Jesus was undermining the Jewish leaders’ authority.  They would care that Jesus claimed to be king – under their laws, only Caesar could be king – so this would undermine their rule.  This is why they asked Jesus this question and why it was important.


What was Jesus’ answer to this question.  He didn’t answer directly, but he didn’t deny it.  The important thing was Jesus knew that if denied being king of the Jews, Pilate would have let him go.  He probably would have received whippings – which is what they did in those days – but he would have walked away alive.  But the Jewish leaders knew that his authority would have been destroyed. An authentic king would never deny his own kingship.

Jesus knew that affirming his kingship would lead to his death sentence.  Yet he did.


Jesus certainly was not a normal king.  In our world, our kings want to be honored.  We pay tribute to these kings.  Jesus was a king that wanted to serve.  To help those less fortunate. To be comfort to those in need. What a weird king.  By giving Jesus our allegiance, we are committing to these principles as well. The whole power structure is upside down.  Think of a pyramid – in our world, the king is at the top of the pyramid, on the backs of all of his subject.  In Jesus’ kingdom, the king is at the bottom, supporting all of his subjects.  And those closest to Jesus support many as well.

I think of Satan as a king of the normal pyramid type.  All his subjects are below him. Many people actually like this type of arrangement, because they have people under them that they control.  People who server out of fear and control.  These people like power, but not the type of power that benefits their subjects, except to the effect that the subjects have people below them to direct and control. These people look out for their own interests. It is a selfish type of power. My wife reminded me of the book by Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. King Yertle was in control of everyone below him and directed everyone until it all fell apart.

Jesus’s authority comes from the greatest power in the universe – the fact that he is God.  At the bottom of an inverted pyramid, he gave his all to serve those who accept Him.

Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

The college I went to has a motto “The Truth Shall Set You Free”.  This is what Jesus’ kingship means and what He wants for us.  To be free from selfishness. Free from deceit. Free from jealousy. Free from sin. To desire the best for all those who depend on us.

This is what our allegiance to Jesus means.  Real freedom. Not freedom from rules – free to do whatever we want but a desire to only do what is right.

So testify to the truth.  Belong to the truth.  And know true freedom.

And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.


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