28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ 30They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ 31Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ 32(This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ 37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ 38Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. 39But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ 40They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.
19Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ 6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ 7The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’
8 Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ 11Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ 12From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’
13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ 15They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ 16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
"New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
The Johannine version of Jesus before the Roman Prefect is strongly shaped by the themes evident in previous scenes. Once again, Jesus is in full control of the situation. He turns Pilate’s interrogation into philosophical discussion about truth and the nature of Jesus’ kingship as not of this world. In contrast to the commanding presence of Jesus, Pilate is portrayed as shuttling in and out of the praetorium, his movements reflecting his confused state of mind.
In his uncertainty, Pilate orders Jesus scourged in what will prove to be a futile effort to evoke sympathy for Jesus. This tactic is found only in John’s Gospel. As part of the Johannine community’s late first-century dispute with a local synagogue, Pilate interacts with hoi Ioudaioi – “the Jews” – in a collective sense. In John’s Gospel, this phrase, hoi Ioudaioi, is used collectively in the sense of being the visceral foes of Jesus over 60 times. The Johannine polemic against contemporary foes drives the presentation of hoi Ioudaioi here as being unmoved by the sight of the scourged Jesus.
Indeed, the writer is so intent on delegitimizing his synagogue opponents that in this scene “the Jews” are portrayed as corporately exclaiming “Anyone who claims to be a king sets himself against Caesar!” This cry is echoed later when the chief priest cry out, “We have no king but Caesar!” Both statements are a complete rejection of Judaism’s conviction that God alone is king. The writer is portraying hoi Ioudaioi as not being authentic Jews. The further protest of hoi Ioudaioi that Jesus claimed to be God’s Son confirms that post-resurrectional debates over Christian claims about Jesus lie at the heart of the Johannine church’s troubles with its Jewish contemporaries.
As part of the portrait of Jesus as always in control, verse 13 is ambiguous enough to suggest that Pilate actually sits Jesus on the seat of judgment. The writer may be hinting to his readers to think of Jesus as the true judge, of Pilate, the alleged judge, as being judged instead, and of the crowd as being judged as the most guilty of all. However, that may be, there is no doubt that the whole scene is very highly structured. The Johannine scene of Jesus before the Roman prefect is organized in a structure called a chiasm. The various episodes are arranged in an inverse parallel fashion. In other words, the first episode corresponds to the last episode, the second to the next-to-last, and so forth. This chiasm is defined by whether Pilate is inside or outside of the Praetorium.
Since there are an odd number of episodes in this drama, the central episode is the hinge upon which everything else pivots. As George MacRae has explained, “Only in the central scene does anyone actually acknowledge Jesus’ kingship. There, with consummate dramatic irony, the soldiers hail Jesus as king in a moment of utter human degradation.”