(NOTE: This transcription has been automatically generated through an AI program. Consequently, this transcript may not match everything you hear in the podcast episode, and it may contain errors such as spelling, grammar, word choice, etc., due to the limitations of current AI technology.)
Hi, everyone. And welcome to this week’s episode of Midnight Carmelite. Given that it’s Holy Week, I decided that I would engage a passage in Scripture that I engage, you know, every Lent, and it’s a passage that really speaks to me. It’s the passage with the gospel of John when Pontius Pilate asks the question, “What is truth?” I heard it over the years and, you know, you kind of get this exegesis where it’s basically saying, “Well, you know, he doesn’t see that truth is, you know what Jesus said or they some may say that they don’t see that Jesus is Truth, but it never quite made sense to me what Pilate’s position was in relation to Jesus.”
It’s truth with the capital T. I thought I’d be helpful this week, given that it’s Holy Week two, engage this passage and using the Gospels to come up with Pilate’s understanding of a kingdom versus Jesus understanding of the kingdom. What is Jesus kingdom in relation to Pilate’s kingdom, and how does that relate to truth in particular, Truth as a Person, which is Jesus Christ and truth in each human person’s heart, which is you and I. With all that said, let’s begin here quick context in what’s going on Jesus, prior to being brought to Pilate, was accused of blasphemy by the chief priests.
So they hit him with that charge. And then when they bring before him Pilate, they offer the charge that he’s saying he’s the king of the Jews and that disturbs Pilate enough that he brings him into the Praetorium, to figure out what’s going on here. So the first thing in the gospel of John that Pilate asks Jesus is whether he’s the king of the Jews. Jesus responds to Pilate and says, “Is the question coming from within you? Or are you simply trying to confirm what others have said about my claim as being or claiming to be the king of the Jews?”
To understand this in context, Pilate’s sitting here and asking whether he’s the king of the Jews. So Pilate recognizes that the Jewish people were seeking their king, that he clearly understood the Davidic tradition, that’s all obvious with how he talks here. But Jesus answers and says, you know, is that question you’re asking about who I am. Is that coming from within you interior early? Or is it just because others said this about like Jesus is saying, Do you really even care that I’m a king?
You know, your question. Is this an external question, or is this an internal question? So Pilate’s response is interesting. He says, you know, “am I a Jew?” In other words, you’re not my king, even if you are the king of the Jews because I’m not a Jew, and Pilate’s is trying to make sense of this claim that Jesus has some kind of temporal power. Still, he’s saying, I can’t judge, you know, like I just said, I can’t judge whether you’re a king of the Jews because I’m not a Jew and you wouldn’t be my king even if you were the king of the Jews.
But if you’re saying you’re the king of the Jews, then frankly, you’re a threat to my power. Because I’m the governor. You know, I report to Rome. Pilate’s main reason then for asking this question wasn’t to figure out the truth of the situation. It was this idea that Jesus was brought to Pilate being questioned. It’s his fear that Jesus may be a king. Pilot fears the truth. That’s why he asked this question. He’s wondering. Could this Jesus who they’re claiming he’s the king of the Jews and even if he is the King of the Jews, I don’t recognize him as such. I served the Emperor. Is this a threat to my power? That’s that’s really what this questions about. He doesn’t care about Jesus at all. He doesn’t care about Jesus per se. What he cares about is Jesus at odds with his power and the power of Rome.
So now Jesus responds to Pilate about his kingship, and I’ll go through this slowly, he says. This is also all the translations in this episode are my transitions from the original Greek.
My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom was of this world, my attendants would struggle that I might not be yielded to the Jews. Now, however, my kingdom is not from here.
so there’s two really amazing and important points here. The first is is that Jesus clearly says in the Greek shows us is that Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. It’s from somewhere else, and what he means is it’s supernatural. The second point here is Jesus Kingdom. Now the “now” is not from here. So in other words, Jesus is saying at the moment, it’s not from here, so hold on to that for a second will be relevant later. So if the kingdom is not now from here, then what does that mean?
And it means that God plans what I would term the divine invasion of his kingdom into the world from all eternity. So when Jesus came into the world on that first Christmas night, if you read from the Gospel of Luke, here’s the translation.
and all of the sudden with the angel a multitude of the army of heaven came praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Most High and peace on earth among men who delight him.
Someone will say, Oh, well, what about men of goodwill? That’s a word in Greek that I disagree with that translation. I think it means to are pleasing to God. But the point is, is the angel appeared to the shepherds and this is after telling them that the Christ had arrived. The promised king had come and was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. The shepherds saw a multitude of the army of heaven. So God was invading this world and Christ was leading them in. And he declared that peace would be on those who delight and please God.
Furthermore, Jesus came to bring supernatural life. As Luke, 17 teaches
Now after having been questioned by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God is coming, he answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with inspection as evidence from sight nor will they say Behold here or Behold there, for the kingdom of God is within you all.
This is really, like, kind of the linchpin here. So the Pharisees asked him about the Kingdom of God. Now they’re not recognizing Jesus as King, obviously. But they’re saying Okay, well, where is this Kingdom of God? You’re speaking about coming and Jesus says you’re thinking about it externally. You’re not going to see evidence from sight. I can’t point to and say There’s the Kingdom of God here. There’s the Kingdom of God there because the Kingdom of God where God is, where his invasion is aimed at ,is within you , aimed at your heart to change your heart. So in this gospel, Luke Jesus is telling the Pharisees that Kingdom of God is within them. But in the gospel of John, Jesus tells Pilate that the Kingdom of God is not from here.
So in the gospel of John with the Roman, he’s saying, Look, it’s supernatural, not natural. You’re thinking about to the Pharisees. He’s saying, Look, I recognize that you believe in the kingdom of God, but you’re looking at it externally rather than internally. So now that we have that Jesus basically saying that the Kingdom of God reigns within the person again with Pilate, he explains that the kingdom has no natural origin. That’s Pilate’s main concern in the Gospel John. But the kingdom has a supernatural origin, and this supernatural origin is beyond the bounds of Rome and even the world itself.
Then, you are a king?
and now Jesus reveals more to Pilate, so he’s who’s clearly confused. Jesus says quote.
Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. I having been born for this and having come into the world for this so that I bear witness to the truth. Everyone who being of truth hears my voice.
Now Jesus is speaking more clearly. What he’s saying here is that those who possess truth interiorly and are of truth. So the interior truth manifests in the person’s actions and words here. The identification of truth with a capital T, which is Jesus Christ, the person, the divine person and truth starts with the heart of each human person.
Lower case truth manifests itself because the heart of the person is flowing with the living water of capital T truth, which is a person. Jesus Christ.
When Jesus says of truth here kind of on a pedantic point, it’s using the genitive, which means that it’s an interior quality. So it’s this is more evidence that its interior thing.
In Psalm 95:7 and eight God declares that he is the shepherd and the psalmist tell people to not harden their hearts to the voice of God who is capital t truth.
And earlier, in the gospel of John, Jesus declares,
I am the beautiful shepherd and I know mine and they know me as my own.
So the sheep know Christ as his own. So the sheep sit there and they say, I am one of Christ interiorly. My heart is in love with him. I have faith in him and he’s my leader. He’s the one I follow. And Christ knows his sheep as his, each individual person, uniquely so. There’s a relation of identity here, so we’re back to union.
This is what a union is. It’s a relation here. It’s a relation of identity. The sheep are one with Christ, whose capital T truth and Christ is one with the sheep, each one personally. And the personal point is proven by the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15.
Now back to Pilate in this whole exchange, Pilate’s struggles with the truth. First, he will not say whether the question came from him. Then he trusts the rule of the majority and externalizes Jesus guilt by claiming that Jesus must have done something if his own nation gave him to Pilate.
And the second point seems to indicate that Pilate is operating as though the majority judges evil infallibly and that evil comes from the outside in, rather than starting at the heart of a person and working its way from the inside out.
Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world and Pilate, here’s this that Jesus is a king in Pilate’s sense of understanding due to Pilate’s fear. And so now we’re at the crucial point where Pilate says his famous line, he responds.
What is truth?
And this is Pilate’s line where he shows that he doesn’t interior really care about truth. And since Pilate doesn’t care about interior truth will see that manifested in his actions and in his words like this. And it also means he doesn’t care about justice. He doesn’t care about mercy, nothing for Pilate matters because his fear of the truth and what he must do to serve the truth is blocking him. You know who he is, he says, a person. He’s just refusing it because that means he has a hardened heart.
It does not receive truth. So then, later on, as Pilate’s fear grows when he sees the Jews wishing to crucify Jesus and mob violence breaking out in Jerusalem, he allows the miscarriage of justice. He washes his hands of it says I’m out of here. You crucify him. What is this? Let’s kind of sum this up here. This is a lot to digest. What’s going on here? Jesus is capital T truth as a person, he’s also the beautiful shepherd or normally translated as the good shepherd. Beautiful, in my opinion, little more accurate.
He supernaturally comes to people through baptism and by loving union Jesus guides people to himself if they only look at his cross. The real key to this passage is the cross, and this is Christ’s banner of victory and seeming defeat, and his outpouring of his life to the world that lost his life through sin. Hardened heart cannot accept truth. If you don’t have truth in your heart, then you’ll act like Pilate. You will be Pilate. If you have truth in your heart, you will hear Jesus’ voice.
He will lead you towards himself so that the truth meaning the truth. You hold in your heart about who you are, what you know. All of that is united to Christ the capital Truth and that relation of identity. He knows you as his own. And you know him as one of his own.
And may God bless you. And I hope you have a wonderful Holy Week. Take care.