After having been arrested and tried by the Jewish leaders, Jesus is taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor, Pilate. Determined to have Jesus put to death, the Jewish high priests and elders knew they had to go about it according to procedure so that they cannot be accused of any wrong before the Roman government. Pilate, the Roman governor charged with keeping order within Judah and Samaria, seems obviously annoyed with this entire charade. I think he is fully aware of what is happening here, but not understanding the reasons behind it. So he questions Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus’ ultimate answer to Pilate serves to prove that while He IS a king, He is not the kind of King that is any threat to the earthly establishments in place. His kingdom is un-earthly, eternal, and His throne is inside the hearts of men. He came to reign IN men, not over them, establishing His kingdom one person at a time. And He would do that by revealing truth to them. The truth of God.
I love Matthew Henry’s commentary of these verses. He explains well this relationship between the kingship of Jesus and His purpose in bearing witness to the truth.
[Jesus] explains himself, and shows how he is a king, as he came to bear witness of the truth; he rules in the minds of men by the power of truth. If he had meant to declare himself a temporal prince, he would have said, “For this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, to rule the nations, to conquer kings, and to take possession of kingdoms.” No, he came to be a witness, a witness for the God that made the world, and against sin that ruins the world, and by this word of his testimony he sets up, and keeps up, his kingdom. It was foretold that he should be a witness to the people, and, as such, a leader and commander to the people (Isa. 55:4). Christ’s kingdom was not of this world, in which truth faileth, but of that world in which truth reigns eternally. Christ’s errand into the world, and his business in the world, were to bear witness to the truth.
To reveal it, to discover to the world that which otherwise could not have been known concerning God and his will and good-will to men, John 1:18; 17:26.
To confirm it, Rom.15:8. By his miracles he bore witness to the truth of religion, the truth of divine revelation, and of God’s perfections and providence, and the truth of his promise and covenant, that all men through him might believe. Now by doing this he is a king, and sets up a kingdom.
The foundation and power, the spirit and genius, of Christ’s kingdom, is truth, divine truth. When he said, “I am the truth,” he said, in effect, “I am a king.”
He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth;
he rules by the commanding power of truth,
and in his majesty rides prosperously, because of truth, Ps. 45:4.
It is with his truth that he shall judge the people, Ps. 96:13. It is the sceptre of his kingdom.
The subjects of this kingdom are those that are of the truth. All that by the grace of God are rescued from under the power of the father of lies, and are disposed to receive the truth and submit to the power and influence of it, will hear Christ’s voice, will become his subjects, and will bear faith and true allegiance to him. All that are in love with truth will hear the voice of Christ, for greater, better, surer, sweeter truths can nowhere be found than are found in Christ, by whom grace and truth came; so that, by hearing Christ’s voice, we know that we are of the truth, 1 Jn. 3:19.
Praise be to God for sending us the revelation of truth in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who laid down His perfect life so that we might live and reign with Him. Of His kingdom there shall be no end!
Live Free. Live Loved.