Calvary Road Baptist Church


John 18.33 

The occasion of the exchange I will set before you took place early Friday morning on the day the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, in the Judgment Hall of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, with members of the Jewish Sanhedrin just outside.[+] Some hours earlier, the Lord had been apprehended by hundreds of Roman soldiers, dozens of Temple guards, two civilians, and the man who betrayed the Savior, Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve. Our Lord was taken to the home of the former high priest, Annas, and then to the current high priest, Caiaphas.

Condemned by the Sanhedrin at the crack of dawn, the circumstances of the exchange we now look at have the Lord standing before the personal representative of Imperial Rome. After a brief interaction with the Jewish chief priests standing outside his residence, Governor Pontius Pilate returned to the Judgment Hall, presumably sat on his bhma seat, called the nearby Lord Jesus before him, and began his interrogation of the Prisoner by asking what was foremost on his, and likely everyone else’s, mind: 

“Art thou the King of the Jews?” 

Why would Pilate ask the Lord Jesus Christ if He was the King of the Jews? “The phrase ‘king of the Jews’, which appears again and again in the passion narratives of all four canonical gospels, is attested in non-Christian sources (Josephus, Ant. 14.36, of Alexander Jannaeus; Ant. 15.373; 16.311, of Herod the Great). In the NT it occurs only on the lips of Gentiles. Jews say, ‘king of Israel’ (Mt 27.42; Mk 14.32; Jn 1.49; 12.13).”[1]

“Pilate’s question may very well have come from charges the religious leaders made against Jesus. Although King of Israel/of the Jews is never found on the lips of Jesus, his reference to his disciples sitting on his right and left hand in his glory (10:37), the salutation addressed to him on Palm Sunday hailing the coming kingdom of David (11:10) along with the application of Zech. 9:9 (Matt. 21:4) to him, his role of sitting in judgment (Matt. 25:34ff.), and so on all supports the view that Jesus understood himself as a ‘king.’”[2]

If you have been here at our Church for any length of time, you have heard me remark that it is unlikely someone will arrive at the right answers until that person is willing to ask the right questions. Too often, unsaved people are resolutely unwilling to ask questions because they have no interest in facing what they anticipate will be answers they do not want to confront. I am convinced that is a reality Christians ought to embrace and advance in our witnessing strategy.

All four Gospel accounts record Pontius Pilate entering the Judgment Hall and asking the Lord Jesus Christ, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” What a brilliant question to ask the Lord Jesus. What we have before us is a smart guy asking an intelligent question. However, it is typical that not-so-smart people do not commonly ask pertinent questions. Why so? In part because they are not committed to pursuing truth at all costs.

It is also the case that the vast majority of people who are not believers in Jesus Christ think of themselves as being smarter than they are or at least more competent than they actually are. Not that we who are Christians are necessarily any brighter. I am not suggesting that. But many unsaved people imagine themselves as brilliant or more brilliant than they actually are. This is called the “Dunning-Kruger effect, in psychology,” after the men discovered the behavior tendency and studied it.

They suggest there is a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain vastly overestimate their expertise or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria or the performance of their peers or people in general. It boils down to pride. Ask C. R. Rigali about his experiences with inexperienced people telling him how complex structures should be assembled. Ask Jack Murphy or Ron Farrar about their experiences with people telling them how to address automobile engine problems. Ask Mike DiGiovanna about his experiences throughout his career.

It helps us to recognize the human tendency to think we know what we do not know and to be sure about things we have no business being sure about. This is especially true of the unsaved people who are so positive they know best what is good for them and what they ought to be doing, though they are wildly erroneous in their thinking and conclusions. This is reflected in Proverbs 14.12 and 16.25: 

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” 

We who are familiar with the Biblical account know Pontius Pilate will proceed to make catastrophic errors in judgment. But he started right by asking a pertinent question: 

“Art thou the King of the Jews?” 

But is it any less true of your son or daughter, your unsaved spouse, or your lost parents? As the Roman governor, that was a question he needed to ask and find the answer to. Pilate’s political success had to be based on who he knew and what he knew, along with his competency, so he was all about relationships and information. He was a student of those things that mattered to his government and his own career.

I recently discussed this approach to ministering to people’s spiritual needs with a longtime friend. But is it so different for you, for me, or for your unsaved loved ones? I don’t think so. Therefore, if someone is unwilling to ask the right questions, is it not our task as those who love them and want the best for them to nudge them in the right direction?

Better than telling people things, folks are more likely to be open and engaged if you can bring them around to asking a question and then seeking the answer. It takes a long time, and with some, the time frame is shorter. But notice how often you enjoy success with those willing to ask the right questions. Not always, mind you.

Take the time to read the book of Acts and take note of the questions asked by lost people. Then, perhaps you will be willing to ask your son, daughter, spouse, parents, or friend, “Why don’t you ever ask any questions? Are you sure you know the answers?”

“In all four Gospels, this is the first question Pilate asks Jesus.”[3] And it was a valid question for a Roman authority to ask. Though the Romans allowed certain regions they occupied to be locally governed by kings they installed, they would be particularly interested in anyone labeled a king they had not authorized.

That Pilate asked this question of the Savior before any words were exchanged between them suggests written accusations had been sent to Pilate by the high priest, Caiaphas, or by Pilate’s intelligence sources, his paid informants. The Jewish religious leaders would claim blasphemy, refusal to pay taxes, and claims that He was the king of the Jews.

However, Pilate had no interest in any supposed blasphemy. He certainly had a report of the Lord taking a coin from a fish’s mouth and instructing His followers to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”[4] His only interest was the accusation of kingship.

What is interesting, and is yet another illustration of the Savior’s absolute control over the circumstances that we have seen beginning with His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, was His refusal to be framed by Pilate’s question. So, he asked the Lord directly and immediately, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” there is no record the Lord had ever claimed to be the King of the Jews.

The magi had sought the King of the Jews. He certainly was the King of the Jews. He never denied He was King of the Jews. And He would certainly sit on the throne of His father David in due time as the King of the Jews. But He made claims related to His messiahship, that He was the Son of Man, identified as the Son of David, and such as that. That He was the King of the Jews because He was Israel’s promised Messiah.

To Pilate’s question, our Lord responded, “Thou sayest,” according to Matthew 27.11, “Thou sayest it,” according to Mark 15.2 and Luke 23.3, and “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” according to John 18.34. Understand that this is not to be seen as the Lord Jesus Christ being evasive, but the Lord Jesus Christ not allowing Pontius Pilate to frame Him with an inappropriately worded question.

A Roman governor asking, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” would mean something akin to asking the Savior if He was a Gentile-style political-military leader of a subjugated population, such as the Lord referred to in Matthew 20.25. It would be equivalent to me asking a man if he had beaten his wife lately. If you respond affirmatively, you have confessed to beating your wife recently. If you respond negatively, you have confessed to beating your wife.

Such a king as Pilate imagined and was asking about was not what the Messiah of Israel would be when He is enthroned as King David’s promised heir. Such a framing question as that the Savior did not respond to. That is what explains the Lord’s response to Pilate in the four Gospel accounts.

Those things stated, I want to address the first of several issues Pilate’s question raised, the issue of the Kingdom. It is a misunderstood topic that could stand a bit of clarity. If Jesus was a king, whatever kind of king He was, it raises the issue of His kingdom.

Let’s observe several things about Christ’s kingdom: 


We haven’t the time for me to list each Scripture reference address related to every point I make. But I will upload this message to the Church website, and the footnotes with the Scripture references will be available to you.

First, the notion of a kingdom as we are informed by a survey in the Old Testament of verses containing the words “kingdom of.” Doing a quick search of the phrase “kingdom of” in the Old Testament, we see nine verses that contain the phrase “kingdom of priests” or “kingdom of Israel.”[5] Eighteen verses refer to existing-at-the-time-of-writing, or in-the-prophetical -future-at-the-time-of-writing, identified Gentile kingdoms.[6]

Added to that are the allusions to a future theocratic kingdom arising from the family of unconditional covenants in the Old Testament known as the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New covenants. The promise God made to Abraham, first stated in Genesis chapter 12, called the Abrahamic covenant, promised Abram a seed, a posterity, and land, and to bless Abraham and to bless others through Abraham.[7] What is referred to as the Palestinian covenant is an expansion of the Abrahamic covenant, declaring the land that would comprise Israel in a future theocratic kingdom.[8] The Davidic covenant is a second expansion of the Abrahamic covenant, setting forth the heir of King David, who would occupy his dynastic throne in perpetuity, with only the Lord Jesus Christ qualified to sit on the throne of His father, David.[9] Then there is the New covenant. If the Palestinian covenant promised the land, the Davidic covenant promised a qualified Ruler, and the New covenant promised a qualified populace to inhabit the coming kingdom.[10] Of course, it was the New covenant the Lord Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about in John 3.3-10, telling him he needed to be born again to both see and enter the kingdom. The new birth qualifies someone to become a citizen of the kingdom. But I get ahead of myself.

Third, we now move to the results of our survey of the New Testament. In the Gospel of Matthew alone, we find the phrase “kingdom of heaven” thirty-two times. Unless I am mistaken, only the Lord Jesus Christ is shown to use the phrase.[11] In all four Gospel accounts, as well as in the book of Acts, several New Testament epistles written by both Paul and Peter, and in Revelation, the phrase “kingdom of God” is found. How many verses? Seventy-two by my count.[12] There are three verses in the New Testament in which other phrases are used. “The kingdom of Christ and of God” is used in Ephesians 5.5, “the kingdom of his dear Son” in Colossians 1.13, and “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” in Second Peter 1.11. To settle the question of whether the “kingdom of heaven” is different from the “kingdom of God,” if two kingdoms are envisioned or only one, consider two passages with me:

First, the parable of the treasure and the field, in Matthew 13.43-52: 

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. 

In this parable, we see “the kingdom of their Father” in verse 43 and “the kingdom of heaven” in verses 44, 45, 47, and 52. If “the kingdom of their Father” is another way of identifying “the kingdom of God,” then “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” are one and the same.

Then, there is the very short parable of the rich man and a camel going through the eye of a needle in Matthew 19.23-24: 

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 

Rich man entering “the kingdom of heaven,” verse 23, and rich man entering “the kingdom of God,” verse 24. Unless you believe the Lord referred to two different kingdoms in one brief parable, He used “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of God” phrases interchangeably. Meaning? The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are one and the same, one phrase showing the origin of the kingdom and the other showing the owner of the kingdom. The kingdom comes from heaven, and it is God’s kingdom.

Then there is Colossians 1.13, where I am persuaded we find another kingdom alluded to: 

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” 

The second half of this verse referring to conversion identifies Christ’s kingdom, which I am convinced is the kingdom of God, heaven. In the first half of the verse, Paul writes, “the power of darkness,” with the word power being ἐxousίa, meaning authority and extending to jurisdiction.[13] From what we know of Satan and demons, is it likely this verse’s allusion to a counterpart to the kingdom of God’s dear Son can be accurately labeled the kingdom of darkness, the domain of the foul spirits who oppose God and His children? I think so. Thus, we know God has a kingdom, and the spirit realm of Satan and demons occupy a distinct and disloyal to God kingdom.

Fourth, a few remarks related to kingdoms concerning their nature. Let us first consider natural realm kingdoms. This would include all of the Gentile kingdoms throughout human history, beginning with those specifically referred to in the Bible, Egypt, the Hittites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks under Alexander, Rome, and all of the kingdoms from then until now.

Would these Gentile kingdoms include the Spanish Empire, the Portuguese Empire, the British Empire, the French Empire, the Japanese Empire, the various Chinese dynasties, the Mongols, the various Islamic caliphates, the Soviet Union, China ruled by the CCP, as well as the United States? Of course.

What do we know of these kingdoms, both past and present? From the prophet Daniel, we have some evidence that supernatural beings profoundly influence the kingdoms of this world. Daniel 10.13-20 is where we read of the prince of Persia and the prince of Grecia, supernatural beings, high-ranking demons that dominated those kingdoms. It is not a reach to suppose that other demons dominate other kingdoms and nations, including our nation.

And why would I make such a statement? Two reasons: First, because of Satan’s remark to the Lord Jesus Christ while tempting Him in the wilderness, Matthew 4.8-9: 

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 

Was the Devil lying when he offered all the kingdoms of the world to the Savior? If he was speaking the truth on that occasion, it reflected his domination of all the kingdoms of the world. They were his to deliver to the Savior.

Second, there is the Apostle John’s comment in First John 5.19: 

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 

Adam Clarke writes about this verse, “Lieth in the wicked one-is embraced in the arms of the devil.”[14] A. T. Robertson writes, “Lieth in the evil one.”[15] Would anyone challenge the conclusion that if the world lies in the wicked one, the Devil, then the kingdoms and nations comprised of the world are also dominated by him? Not to say that God is impotent, or that the omnipotent power of God does not advance the cause of Christ. But, there is no doubt that the kingdoms of this natural realm are not free from the influence and domination of the Devil and his minions. This world is doomed and damned, and our Church’s assignment is to pluck brands from the fire, one precious soul at a time.

We conclude with supernatural real kingdoms. There are two realms in the same location that are not limited to time, space, and matter. They are supernatural realms. One is the kingdom of darkness, populated by spirit beings who rebelled against God and continue to do so until they are cast into the lake of fire. Since every human being is born dead in trespasses and sins, every child born of woman is born spiritually alienated from God and has a profound spiritual vulnerability to God’s supernatural opponents. You are literally in that spiritual universe of darkness as a lost person. The only escape is to be born again. Should you die in that state, it is too late. The other kingdom is the kingdom of God’s dear Son, which is neither seen nor entered until one is born again, John 3.3 and 5. But God translates a person from the power of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son when one comes to faith in Christ, Colossians 1.13. Same space. Same time. But a completely different spiritual universe and eternal destiny is the effect of knowing Jesus as your Savior and being born again. 

Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews. And to the first Hebrew, Abraham, God made a promise, which included what some refer to as the Theocratic Kingdom. That kingdom is promised a land not yet occupied by the Theocratic Kingdom. That kingdom is promised a king, identified but not yet seated on the throne of His father, David. That kingdom is promised a people, with the population not limited to Jewish people who have trusted Jesus only, but also including any other person who trusts Jesus and is instantly translated from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son, citizenship in the Theocratic Kingdom.

Of course, much remains to be done. The land that is promised needs to be reclaimed. The king who is promised has not yet returned. But the Spirit of God works to bring sinners to Christ, making them citizens of the coming kingdom, children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ, via the new birth.

If the question Pilate asked Jesus was important, and it was, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” you ought to ask, "How does Jesus become my king?”

Reach out to me, and I will show you from God’s Word. You do not want to come to the end of your life here on earth, still a citizen of the kingdom of darkness. You need to become a citizen of Christ’s kingdom since only those people go to heaven when they die.


[+] See video showing likely location of Pilate's place of judgment - 

[1] W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr., The International Critical Commentary, “The Gospel According To Saint Matthew,” Vol I, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), page 233.

[2] Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 2: 9:51-24:53 - ECNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), page 699.

[3] Lidija Novakovic, John 11-21: A Handbook On The Greek Text - BHGNT, (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2020), page 238.

[4] Matthew 22.21; Mark 12.17

[5] Ex 19:6; 1Sa 15:28; 24:20; 1Ki 21:7; 1Ch 12:23; 28:5; 2Ch 11:17; 13:8; 21:4

[6] Nu 32:33; De 3:4, 10, 13; Jos 13:12, 21, 30, 31; 2Ch 36:20; Es 9:30; Da 2:39; 4:17, 25, 29, 32; 5:21; Da 10:13, Ho 1:4

[7] Genesis 12.1-3; 13.14-15, 17; 17.2-6 and Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology Of Biblical Christianity, Volume One: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Scripture, God, and Angels, (Detroit: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2010), pages 124-125.

[8] Deuteronomy 30.1-10 and J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), pages 95-99.

[9] 2 Samuel 7.12; Psalm 89.3-4; Jeremiah 33.22, 25-26 and Ibid., pages 100-115. See also Babylonian archaeology find related to the  Davidic Covenant at 

[10] Jeremiah 31.31-34; Ezekiel 37.21-28 and Ibid., pages 116-128.

[11] Mt 3:2; 4:17; 5:3, 10, 19-20; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11-12; 13:11, 24, 31, 33, 44-45, 47, 52; 16:19; 18:1, 3-4, 23; 12, 14, 23; 20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1, 14

[12] Mt 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43; Mr 1:14-15; 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1, 47; 10:14-15, 23-25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43; Lu 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1, 10; 9:2, 11, 27, 60, 62; 10:9, 11, 20; 12:31; 13:18, 20, 28-29; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20-21; 18:16-17, 24-25, 29; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16, 18; 23:51; Joh 3:3, 5; Ac 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31; Ro 14:17; 1Co 4:20; 9-10; 15:50; Ga 5:21; Eph 5:5; Col 4:11; 2Th 1:5; 2Pe 1:11; Re 12:10

[13] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 352-353.

[14] Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, Vol VI, (New York: Abingdon Press), page 926.

[15] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1933), page 245.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.