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20. Jesus Before the Roman Civil Court: The Doubts about Jesus’ Kingship
(Matthew 27:11-14)
11Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”12And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.13Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?”14But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. (Isaiah53:7, Matthew26:63, John19:9)

Jesus appeared before the civil court, which was led by Pilate, the Roman governor and ruler of Palestine. Pilate was a violent person. He despised the people, and the people hated him. Without any preliminary discussion, he asked Christ about the accusation presented by the religious council: “Are You the king of this people?” The cunning elders had not accused Jesus merely on religious grounds according to their law, but they also attacked Him for political reasons, to force the governor to listen to them. If they had lodged a religious complaint concerning their disputes on the Mosaic Law, Pilate would have sent them away with indifference.
If Jesus had replied that He was not the king of the Jews, He might have been released. But He confirmed that He was the expected and unique divine King. His clear acknowledgment of His kingship confirmed that He was the true King, the Owner of His kingdom, who had absolute rights. How do you respond to the King’s right to posses and direct you? Do you agree that you are His? Do you obey His orders?
When Pilate heard Jesus’ affirmation of His Kingship, he may have smiled as he considered this Nazarene to be an unimportant ascetic zealot. Pilate could not find in Him any preparation for establishing a kingdom, gathering an army, or planning a riot. His spies had brought to him reports of Jesus’ curing the sick, speaking about meekness, and promoting abstinence, love, and truth. He rode to Jerusalem on a donkey and carried no weapons. Such a person would not do any harm to the Roman empire.
Pilate quickly discovered that Jesus was politically innocent. It was obvious that He did not aim to establish an earthly kingdom, nor was He preparing for a riot or revolution. Therefore, Pilate wanted to release Him.
When the elders realized that Pilate was ready to release Jesus, they began to shout that Jesus was an agitator and a mortal enemy of Caesar. Christ did not answer their accusations but kept silent until the governor gave Him an opportunity to defend Himself. Jesus was aware that Pilate knew the truth and that he was responsible to render a just ruling. Christ’s silence became a clear invitation for the governor’s conscience to judge His uprightness and release Him for being righteous.

O meek Lamb of God, You are the Lion of the tribe of Judah. You are the promised King who is the Son of David and the Son of God at the same time. You did not defend Yourself, but confirmed the truth. We glorify You for Your patience, self-control, and readiness to die. Your death on the cross as a substitute for sinners delivered us from the curse and punishment. It enables us to propagate the kingdom of Your peace and spread Your goodness to all who love the truth.
What is the meaning of Jesus’ confessing that He is the true King?