“Jesus answered, ’My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’” John 18:36
The trials before the Jewish court were a sham and a formality. The people judging him had decided weeks before what they were going to do they just needed a legal justification for doing it. With Jesus’ affirmation that he was the Son of God they had it.
But they couldn’t actually condemn Jesus to death without the cooperation of the Romans. Roman law required that all death sentences be affirmed by the Roman court, so early Friday morning Jesus was marched across town to the Praetorium so that the Roman governor, Pilate, could ratify the sentence of death.
You can tell from the conversation between Pilate and the Jewish leaders that Pilate has no respect for these men and no desire to give them anything resembling cooperation. However his conversation with Jesus is quite different. No doubt Pilate has heard reports about Jesus. He’s heard about Jesus’ miracles and his curiosity has been piqued. He’s heard about the multitudes that have thronged to hear Jesus teach, and nothing seditious was ever reported from his teachings. He’s heard about Jesus confounding the Jewish leaders every time they’d tried to get the better of him, and perhaps these victories have impressed Pilate and made him further inclined to be sympathetic.
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
“Are you asking me this because you really want to know or have others told you to ask me this?”
“I’m not a Jew, but your own people have delivered you up to me. What have you done?”
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus’ words don’t answer all of Pilates questions but they do tell him all he needs to know. Jesus is innocent of any crime against Rome and he’s innocent of wrong doing against the Jewish leaders. It’s jealousy that has brought his condemnation and their desire for his death.
Jealousy has always been the reason for sinners’ warfare against the Son of God. Jealousy drove Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven and jealousy was inspired in the hearts of Eve and Adam in the garden of Eden when they ate the forbidden fruit. Ultimately it will be sinners’ jealousy of Jesus and their coveting of his rightful place in their own hearts that cements their rebellion against him.
Our only hope is to surrender to Jesus and accept citizenship in a kingdom that’s not of this world.
Will you make that surrender? Will you choose heaven today?