The chiasm outlined by Jo-Ann A. Brant has a classic seven-point structure.
A Exterior: John 18:29-32, Jesus is brought to Pilate with a demand for execution; Pilate refuses
B Interior: John 18:33-38, Pilate asks about Jesus’s royal claim
C Exterior: John 18:38-40, Pilate finds Jesus innocent, but the temple elite choose Barabbas
D Interior: John 19:1-3, Soldiers scourge and scorn Jesus
C’ Exterior John 19:4-8, Pilate finds Jesus innocent, but temple elite charge capital crime
B’ Interior John 19:9-11, Pilate asks about Jesus’s origins
A’ Exterior John 19:12-15, Temple elite demand Jesus’s execution; Pilate agrees
Yesterday was the first encounter between Pilate and the representatives sent by the Sanhedrin. Today is the first encounter between Pilate and Jesus.
Caiaphas and Annas exchanged glances. The procurator’s annoyed disdain could not have been more evident. Annas gave a shake of his head, Do not take it personally, his gesture meant. And a slight shrug added, You know how he is.
There was nothing for it but to stand there waiting. They could not leave in case Pilate refused to talk with anyone of lesser rank. Caiaphas turned to the others who had gathered, priests, members of the Sanhedrin, and waved them on in the direction of the temple. It was going to be one of the busiest days of the year, and the worshippers must be attended to.
Reluctantly, in twos and threes, they left, leaving only a few stalwart onlookers who settled in for the wait. The guard had already disappeared around the distant back of the praetorium and were now returning empty handed, having given Jesus into the care of the Roman cohort.
The captain bowed curtly to Annas, and then to Caiaphas. His duty had been completed. He was among many of the guard who had hung back when others had taunted and struck the rabbi. He had already made clear his own feeling. He had never heard anyone speak as this rabbi did, with authority and power, yet also with grace and the kindness of God.
Annas gave the captain a speculative look, pursing his lips and unconsciously pulling at his beard. The captain held his gaze, neutral yet also unbowed. Behind him several of the guards had grown restless, looking out towards the plaza, their hands going to rest on the pommels of their short swords. It was a dangerous day for the guard to be otherwise occupied.
Caiaphas now turned from staring at the palace entry, and with perhaps too much volume, told the captain to go, to leave several of his men to stand with them, then attend to the temple courtyards, and the security of the pilgrims.
The Sanhedrin had prepared for the off-chance that Governor Pilate might not go along with their plan. They had come with three charges against Jesus, which they now carefully curated. They would begin with sedition, certain to prick Pilate’s ears. They would also claim Jesus had been urging people not to pay their taxes, and finally that he was setting himself up as a competing king to Caesar. These three points they now discussed, drawing in all they knew about their surly prefect, that they might effectively manipulate him into following their design.
Meanwhile, Pilate had stalked into his morning room, and thrown himself into his favorite chair, so positioned as to receive the gentle morning light through the pillars of his inner courtyard. Beside him was his board of breakfast delicacies, and the left corner of his lip cocked up ever so slightly as he saw chips of ice floating in his herbed wine. He had recently purchased an Egyptian who knew the art of making ice, twirling a bowl on the cool of the roof all night long.
Picking up the cold and dewy goblet and taking a long draught of the fragrant wine helped to soften his dark mood. He flicked a finger in summons as he picked up a healthy sized white wheat bun and dragged it generously through olive oil and cracked pepper, heaping it with fish. Immediately, a servant appeared at his side, silent and alert.
Bring the prisoner.
Pilate had decided to question Jesus.
The prefect was wiping his fingers on a linen cloth as a servant refilled his goblet and another began clearing his breakfast, when Jesus was brought into the room. It seemed as though the sun also shifted, so its rays now danced around the man’s bloodied face and the shoulders of his torn robe.
Pilate relaxed into his chair, sipping his wine, and took a long, good look at the figure before him. A light breeze had started up, bringing in the fragrance of the herbal flowers in the Praetorium’s garden, rosemary, basil, oregano. Pilate wrapped his luxurious deep purple robe around him against the cool, though he continued to enjoy the chilled wine in his hand.
Jesus stood as still as a pond in summertime, not taut, not slumped, but with the casually squared shoulders of a man who wore authority with ease.
Pilate now sat his goblet on the board beside him and asked,
Are you the king of the Judeans?
Jesus’s voice seemed to fill the room with power and Pilate was unprepared for the force of it in his body, stirring within his chest a feeling not quite of excitement and not quite of fear.
From yourself are you saying this, or have others said this to you concerning me?
Pilate pulled back sharply, speaking more loudly than he intended.
Am I -at all- a Judean?
He did not even try to keep the affront from his voice. As though he were to collude with the temple elite, or any Judean for that matter. And yet, he shifted uncomfortably. Annas.
He had looked away, discomfited and irritated, but now turned back.
Your people and the chief priests handed you over to me—what have you done?
Strangely, Jesus smiled. He looked kindly at Pilate, his eyes warm yet challenging.
My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom was of this world my servants would be fighting in order that I would not be handed over to the Judeans. But now my kingdom is not from here.
Pilate nodded, yet his fingers felt restless as they laid on the arms of his chair. He crossed, then recrossed his legs. This is not a political situation. If it were, Jesus’s followers would be leading an insurrection right now. And of course they would, Pilate thought. Of course they would. Surely some of them were even now lurking around the Praetorium.
But if this itinerant preacher’s kingdom was not here, then where was it? And even as he asked the question in his mind, Pilate could feel the hairs lift along his arms and legs. Jesus’s kingdom is on the spiritual plane, this is a spiritual issue. Damn Annas, damn the Sanhedrin.
Then you are a king?
Pilate watched the intelligence in Jesus’s eyes, the muscles in his face shift as he prepared to speak.
You are saying that I am a king. I myself have been born into this, and into this I have come into the world, in order that I would be a witness to the truth:, everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.
The light breeze had turned both cool and warm, flowing at a steady pace through Pilate’s morning room. Unable to sit any longer, Pilate abruptly thrust himself from his chair, and strode towards the room’s arched entry. He retraced his steps back into the room, then paced again towards the arch. Back and forth. A servant, hearing his steps, silently entered and watched anxiously.
This interrogation was growing troublesome and metaphysical. Jesus’s spiritual kingdom of truth apparently had borders that extended far beyond Judea and even Rome. His kingdom had no borders, because every person who wanted to know the truth would listen to Jesus and become a citizen in his kingdom.
Pilate shook his head. It was too early for this. His retort was harsh-sounding, even to his own ears.
What is truth?
But Pilate was not interested in spiritual matters. He was interested in keeping the peace. Before Jesus could answer, The procurator, his arm still by his side, flicked a signal to his servant, towards the prisoner, and left the room. His footsteps echoed as he made his way to the palace’s entrance. He would give his findings to those two schemers, waiting for him outside.
[Story taken from John 18:33-38]
[Jesus before Pilate | By James Tissot – http://faithofthefathers.blogspot.ru/2013/03/some-good-friday-art-by-james-tissot.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41414234%5D
2 thoughts on “Gospel of John: What is Truth?”
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Very well written imagination to reactions, emotions, atmosphere, environment surrounding this event. Loved the line about the soldiers leaning on their short swords. And also, Pilot’s environment while he contemplates his decision about Jesus.
Excellently executed facts surrounding these events with real life insight to emotions and actions of those involved.
You’re a rock star 😊
On Tue, Mar 2, 2021, 11:11 PM Grace and Peace, Joanne wrote:
> Joanne Guarnieri Hagemeyer posted: ” The chiasm outlined by Jo-Ann A. > Brant has a classic seven-point structure. A Exterior: John 18:29-32, Jesus > is brought to Pilate with a demand for execution; Pilate refuses B > Interior: John 18:33-38, Pilate asks about ” >
Thanks Gina, high praise! I am writing this as a devotional for myself, but also to teach truths in a way that hopefully the context supports so well the truths rise up of themselves.
I’ll be following the chiasm that Jo-Ann A. Brant outlined for Pilate’s encounter with Jesus and the temple elite.