Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” – John 18:33-34
Have you ever answered somebody’s question with, “Why do you ask?”
Sometimes that response is given when we feel defensive about the topic. I also remember asking my parents that question as a kid, simply to buy some time while I thought of an excuse for breaking something in the house.
However, when Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews? – Jesus’ answer was not based on being offended or needing time to think of a clever answer. “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Why did Christ ask that question?
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias wrote, “Jesus was not merely checking on Pilate’s sincerity. He was opening up Pilate’s heart to himself, to reveal to Pilate his unwillingness to deal with the implications of Jesus’ answer. In the pursuit of truth, intent is prior to content… the love of truth and the willingness to submit to its demands is the first step… therefore, to reject (Christ) is to choose to govern one’s self with a lie.”
Pilate’s internal conflict with “the truth” about Jesus was portrayed in The Passion of the Christ. Pilate’s wife called Jesus a “righteous man” (Matthew 27:19) and the movie presented this possible conversation:
Pilate: What is the truth, Claudia? Do you hear it? Do you recognize it when it is spoken?
Claudia: Yes, I hear it. Don’t you also?
Pilate: How? Can you tell me?
Claudia: If you don’t want to hear the truth, no one can tell you.
When Pilate later asks Jesus, “What is truth?”, we realize he valued his political well-being more than actually wanting to know the truth about Jesus.
Have you ever had someone ask a question about your faith, and you got the feeling it was really just an attack? I’ve had former co-workers in the media mock Christianity with “test” questions for me. I should’ve done what Jesus did: ask a question in return. The Alpha website has a great article about questioning the questioner:
“When your neighbor asks you why you think Jesus is anything more than just a good moral teacher, ask him why he thinks Jesus was a good teacher. Has he read a lot of Jesus’ teachings? What would he say was the main message Jesus taught? Our message is too important for it to continue to fall upon deaf ears. Our answers really are what people need to hear if we could just get them to listen.”
Ed Doney, Staff Writer