As with any story, we should ask “who do I identify with" in the larger John 18:28–19:16 story? More importantly, who does the author expect his readers to identify with? To be honest, we’d be splitting hairs over identifying with the Jewish leaders and priests, or the crowd, or with Pilate. All of these are certainly possible. And, please don’t say Jesus . . . not this time, in this story, anyway. This time, however, it is the original readers that we should be identifying with as we read and place ourselves in this story. So, what was it that the original audience of Ephesus area, Asia Minor gathered-churches were to hear?
So, just a thought . . . as we, our own locally gathered-churches identify ourselves in the story . . .
If Jesus’ claims are to be believed and long term commitment and investment in the church, really a local gathered-church, is to be had, despite and amid social, political, religious, familia pressures to abandon or compromise, then the nature of Jesus’ authority, the nature of his kingdom need to be clear. It is made very clear in that scene before Pilate. Jesus' kingship and kingdom is not of this world–and doesn't defend or act in accordance with the powers of this world. This scene parallels the church’s social-religious-political-civil setting--as Jesus was on trial so is the gathered-church. So, this claim, the fledgling, persecuted, maligned, powerless church needed to hear. Life nor salvation would not be found in the temples that Caesar used to maintain his control over his empire; nor in the Roman house where a cup to Caesar would be lifted up at a diapason (a social supper where people were invited to come and recline); but, in the One standing before Caesar’s proxy—life and salvation is only found in the One who suffered under Pontus Pilate.
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Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.