John 18:28-40

Talks for Growing Christians

The Record of Our Lord’s Civil Trial Before Pilate

John 18:28-40

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Lesson Number 80

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Lord’s death by crucifixion was predetermined.
  2. Although Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, Christ will have an earthly kingdom.
  3. The bottom line is, “What is true?”

Practical Application

  1. Do we make decisions like Pilate?


  1. Why was a civil trial of Jesus held?
  2. What does it mean that the Lord’s death by crucifixion was predetermined?
  3. Because the Lord’s death was predetermined, does this excuse the Jews who had Him put to death?
  4. Is Christ’s kingdom of this world?
  5. What was Pilate really asking when he said, “What is truth?”


  1. Because the Jews could not carry out the death penalty, and the Jews wanted Jesus dead.
  2. “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled” (John 18:31-32). The Jews would have executed Jesus by stoning Him for blasphemy, but Scripture said that He was to die by crucifixion (see John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32). Other Scriptures tell us that this was predetermined in eternity past. See Psalm 22:16 and Acts 2:22-23.
  3. No. It in no way excuses the evil they committed. They bear full responsibility for their wickedness.
  4. Yes and no. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), which means that it was spiritual in nature, and would not threaten Rome’s power. Yes, because one day Christ will have an earthly kingdom. See Revelation 21-22.
  5. He may have meant it philosophically, or sarcastically, or perhaps he was interested in knowing what truth really was. In any case, for Pilate the bottom line was power and prestige for himself, not what was true.


  1. Pilate concluded that he found no fault in Christ, but he released Barabbas, a convicted thief, a convicted insurrectionist, and a murderer. Why did he make a decision like that? Because it was self-serving, better for his career and his popularity. Justice didn’t matter as much to Pilate as his status. You would not be that extreme, but in lesser matters, do you tend to think first of your career or status or popularity, perhaps manipulating truth for your own agenda?
  2. Do you bestow honor on Christ by your life and actions?


  1. Review questions/answer #4. Be able to explain the kingdoms of Christ.

Key Verses

  • “Then they led Jesus to the Praetorium, and it was early morning…” John 18:28
  • “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’” John 18:36
  • “Pilate said, ‘What is truth?...I find no fault in Him at all.’” John 18:38

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