“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “It is true,” replied Jesus.
now we are getting to it
ye olde nub of the matter
we rule and brook no rival
any claim you make will fall
asking of nobodies is silly-talk
why claim to be a big nobody
this is just a big laugh
thanks for a levity break
time to stop this charade
claim your ordinary nobody-ness
you’re looking rough around the edges
renounce your crown get patched up
so one last chance
still say you’re my king
my judge and jury
you’ve said what needs saying
Pilate’s question is addressed to someone distained with mock surprise in its tone. There is nothing here to lead us away from the expected suffering and death that have been rolling along.
With the introduction of a title, “King of the Jews”, is a position of no consequence. Most recently it was the designation of the Herod family as client-leaders instituted by the Romans.
This subservience to Rome is in tension with the possibility of a King arising to lead a revolt against Rome and Caesar. Either way, the title is not really at stake here.
Pilate’s non-question is responded to in an equivalent fashion by Jesus—a shrug of the shoulder and dismissive, “You said it.”
Although a number of translations try to shade this response in an affirmative direction (as the one used in this blog, above), following on the heels of an “I am” statement to the Chief Priest, Pilate’s question can’t be responded to with an easy “yes” or “no”. Mann636 says that Jesus’ reply “… is meant to say that the speaker would have posed the question differently…”
While easy to read resignation or evasion into Jesus’ response, there is also a challenge of what will be used to prove such an accusation. What in the previous 14 chapters could be pointed to that has an overtly political agenda. There are some economic challenges with pigs, camels/needles, widow’s offering, and anointing oil, none about governance (other than highlighting the virtue of service).