Category Archives: Explaining Scripture

A Close Reading of Jesus Before Pilate in the Gospel of John


This post I’m doing today is required for a course assignment I’m doing for my New Testament Class, I’m going to be doing a close reading of a passage in the New Testament.

Before I start I just want to make clear that each Gospel has a theme the gospel of Mathew was targeted for the Jewish audience making Jesus portrayed as Israel’s Messiah, the gospel of Mark Jesus was themed as more of a servant of doing, the Gospel of Luke was targeted for the gentile audience it has more of an intellect theme to it and the Gospel of John has the theme of making clear that Jesus is God.

The Passage John 18:28-40

These verses that are in the gospel of John are talking about Jesus’ trial before pilate. This passage in John’s Gospel is important because it is the most clear out of all gospels to state the reason why Jesus died on the cross. 

The Day the Trial Happened

It states that this trial happened early in the morning on the day of Passover making Jesus on this judgement day seem like the lamb being prepared to be sacrificed. According to the other three Synoptic gospels Mathew, Mark and Luke Jesus was crucified after the day of Passover, because Jesus have Passover meal with his disciples before his death Mathew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:14-23. Why would the author of the Gospel of John write that Jesus got put on trial the day of Passover? Why not align the day of Jesus trial with the rest of the other Gospels that said he was put on trial after the day of Passover? Probably John wrote it in like this to symbolize that Jesus is the ultimate Passover lamb that saves from death, just like the lamb that protected the first born boys of the Israelites in Exodus 12. When God sent the angel of death over Egypt to allow the pharaoh to free the Israelites from their captivity.

 Jesus Answering Pilate’s Question

In John’s Gospel when Pilate questions Jesus, Jesus has more conversation time answering Pilates questions than in the synoptic Gospels. When Jesus responds in synoptic Gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke he responds very minimal to him just saying, “You say so” when Pilate ask him if he was king of the Jews. In John’s Gospel the author puts that Jesus has a detailed conversation explaining who he was when Pilate asks Jesus if he where the King of the Jews, Jesus basically explained what that title meant for him. Jesus saying that his kingdom is not of this earth and that if it was, his followers would of been fighting to protect him. The author most likely did this because he wanted to make it clear who Jesus was in divinity.

Pilate Claiming Jesus Innocence 

In John after Pilate has the conversation with Jesus about his title King of the Jews, he then goes out to the crowd and says he find no fault in Jesus and gives them the option to release Barabbas or Jesus. Which if you noticed the author wrote a very short paragraph on that part of the story the reason for its shortness compared to the Synoptic Gospels is probably because the author wasn’t too focused on emphasizing Pilates claims of Jesus’ innocence he was more focused on displaying the character of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke in verses 23:6-12 Jesus is sent to see Herod before Pilate urges that he is innocent and you realize that this author puts more emphasis on Pilate urging Jesus’ innocence in 23:13-25 because this author’s theme is to claim that Jesus got a punishment he did not deserve because of his innocence. In Mark 15:6-15 after Jesus says “you say so” Pilate automatically goes out and talk to the crowd about his confusion of what has Jesus done and this author puts more of an emphasis on the theme that Pilate is trying to please the crowd. In the Gospel of Mathew 27:15-26 after Jesus says “you say so” he also automatically tell the crowd of his confusion of why he should be crucified, but when Pilate finally gave the punishment to Jesus that what the crowd wanted Pilate washes his hands and tell the crowd that his blood is not on his hands. The author of Mathew wrote this in to make more of an emphasis that the Jews was responsible for Jesus’ death not Pilate, since Mathew is  targeting the Jewish audience.


In John’s Gospel the trial before Pilate puts more emphasis on Jesus’ divine nature and who he is as King of the Jews. Jesus in John’s Gospel was put on trial the day of Passover to symbolize that Jesus was the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, in John’s Gospel they where more emphasis on the conversation Jesus has with Pilate because the author wanted to make clear who Jesus was in divinity, and in John’s Gospel the part where Pilate pleas for Jesus’ innocence is so minimal than in the rest of the Synoptic Gospels is because the author didn’t want to put as much emphasis on Pilate, because he was more focused on putting an emphasis on Jesus’ divinity.