Pilate then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?"
They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you."
Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,"
that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?"
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."
Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."
Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.
"But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.
What then is the kingdom over which the Lord cares to reign?
I answer: A kingdom of kings, and no other. A kingdom where every man is a king, there and there only does the Lord care to reign in the name of his Father.
As no king in Europe would care to reign over a cannibal, a savage, or an animal race, so the Lord cares for no kingdom over anything this world calls a nation. A king must rule over his own kind. Jesus is a king by virtue of no conquest, inheritance, or election, but in the right of essential being. And he cares for no subjects but such as are his subjects by the same right. His subjects must be of his own kind, in their very nature and essence kings.
To understand his answer to Pilate, we must see what his kingship consists of. We must see what it is that makes him a king, what manifestation of his essential being gives him a claim to be king.
It is this: The Lord's is a kingdom in which no man seeks to be above another. Ambition is of the dirt of this world's kingdoms. He says, "I am a king, for I was born for this purpose, and I came into the world with the object of bearing witness to the truth. Everyone that is of my kind, that is of the truth, hears my voice. He is a king like me, and is one of my subjects."
Thereupon - as would most Christians nowadays, instead of setting about being true - Pilate requests a definition of truth, a presentation to his intellect in set terms of what the word truth means.
Yet instantly - whether knowing his inquiry was useless or intending to resume it when he has set the Lord free - he goes out to the people to tell them he finds no fault in him. Whatever interpretation we put on his action here, he must be far less to blame than those "Christians" who, instead of setting themselves to be pure "even as he is pure," to be their brother and sister's keeper and to serve God by being honourable in shop and bank and office and market, proceed to "serve" him by going to church, by condemning the opinions of their neighbors, and by teaching others what they do not themselves heed.
Neither Pilate nor they ask the one true question, "How am I to be a true man? (woman?) How am I to become a man (woman) worth being a man (woman)?"
The Lord is a king because his life - the life of his thoughts, his imagination, his will, his every smallest action - is TRUE. He is true first to God in that he is altogether his. Then he is true to himself in that he forgets himself altogether. And finally, he is true to his fellows in that he will endure anything they do to him, and not cease declaring himself the son and messenger and likeness of God.
They will kill him, but it matters not - the truth is as he says!
~"Kingship" by George MacDonald, The Truth in Jesus