Truth and Character

Key Verse: “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.”
—John 18:37, 38

Selected Scriptures:
John 18:31-38;

PILATE WAS THE ROMAN governor assigned to the Judean region of the Roman Empire which included Jerusalem. It is clear from the Biblical accounts that he had no desire to become embroiled in the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. However, because the Jews presented the matter before him, and because all authority ultimately rested with the Roman government, he had no choice but to become involved.

With Jesus standing before him, Pilate asked, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33) This was a serious question, coming from a Roman governor, since the only king he recognized was Caesar. Jesus questioned Pilate in return, asking him whether he was asking this on his own or whether he was simply repeating something that he had heard from others. Pilate’s answer was “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” (vs. 35) Pilate’s response indicated that even though he most likely had heard this rumor from Jewish sources, his own interest and sympathy did not rest with the Jews or anyone who might be claimed as their king. Pilate was simply being honest and reacting as we would expect.

Jesus then began to tell Pilate about his kingdom. It was different than any kingdom Pilate had heard about. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (vs. 36) The Key Verses indicate that at this point Pilate was convinced that Jesus had claimed the title of a king. Jesus continued his response by saying it was to that end he was born and came into the world, and that his kingship was a truth that must be made known even if it cost him his life.

Jesus’ words must have puzzled Pilate, and he asked the question, “What is truth?” (vs. 38) But in spite of his confusion and ignorance as to the mission of Jesus, he realized Jesus had committed no crime. He said, “I find in him no fault.” (vs. 38) In fact, Pilate sought to release Jesus, but was put in fear by the Jews’ response that letting him go would be tantamount to speaking against Caesar. (John 19:12) Pilate tried to reason again with the Jews, saying, “Shall I crucify your King?” (John 19:15) Their response, “We have no king but Caesar,” shows how far they had fallen from God’s favor.

Pilate saw that Jesus had committed no crime, certainly nothing worthy of death. Yet, he lacked the character necessary to stand up for the truth even if it hurt his own position as a Roman official. This was the dilemma in which he found himself. The title of this lesson, Truth and Character, indicates that both must be present for us to be acceptable. Although Pilate was lacking in character, Jesus spoke both the truth as well as exemplified a character of godlikeness, for he was “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”—John 1:14

Dawn Bible Students Association
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