There is a great dialogue that can be found in John 18 (verses 33 to 38) between Jesus and Pontius Pilate. In my mind it shows a stark contrast in priorities between a politician and a believer. Pilate was an extremely good politician who had managed to survive as Governor in one of the most unruly provinces in the Roman Empire. The first thing that Pilate asks is “are you a king?” That’s what a politician is worried about – political opposition. Who’s in office right now? Who has the title of President, Prime Minister or King? Because that person must have “the power”?!
Jesus responds with a question for Pilate, “Are you asking or have others told you.” Jesus knows that a politician’s number one concern is what people think about him/her. A politician isn’t for example that worried about truth. It’s almost as if Jesus is calling Pilate on his powerlessness. A politician needs to listen to polls and advisors to make the right political move. We can easily tell that Pilate is annoyed by such a question because of his quick response in verse 35, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation delivered you to me. What have you done?” And here’s where Jesus drops the revelation on Pilate and on everyone throughout the centuries, “My kingdom is not of this world…” Don’t put Jesus teachings, instruction, miracles and life into a worldly system. Jesus didn’t come to overthrow the government, He came to transform the human heart.
Pilate is intrigued. You can tell with his next question, “So you are a King then?” Jesus confirms to Pilate that He is. Jesus came to speak truth. Jesus is truth. Everyone who belongs to Jesus hears His truth and accepts it. Jesus is the King of Kings but not in the way that Pilate imagined, nor in the way the disciples originally thought, nor in the way that some Christians portray Him today.
In a classic parting question Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” He doesn’t understand. He’s not one of those who can hear. In the end we know that in fact Pilate was impotent; he couldn’t stop Jesus execution even though he desperately tried. It makes me wonder just how powerful politicians truly are?
Let’s all make sure that our priorities are Jesus priorities!