Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” John 18:36
Your Master was confident and in control as He faced Pilate, His judge. Pilate only knew what he had been told about Jesus whose very own leaders were calling for His condemnation. He interviewed Jesus to discern for himself what he could about the case. Jesus’ answer to Pilate’s simple but loaded question is a crucial one for all people to consider as they attempt to measure Him: “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?” Jesus knew that Pilate had heard about Him from others, but He was forcing Pilate to speak his own judgment. Jesus seemed to be asking, “What have you decided about me now that you’ve seen me and spoken to me for yourself?”
Everyone who knows anything about Jesus at this stage of history has heard others talk (or read others’ writings) about Him. As Paul declared to the disciples in the city of Rome so long ago: “Trusting Jesus comes about through hearing His message, and it is heard when the good announcement is made about Christ” (Romans 10:17). This is similar to the experience the people in a Samaritan village had with Jesus a long time before His trial in Jerusalem. The villagers came out to interact with Jesus because an outcast woman had told them that He was the Messiah. After speaking to Him themselves, they told the woman: “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (see John 4:39-42).
Consider well your Master’s question, Disciple. Are you experiencing the thrill and joy of interacting with Jesus for yourself? Perhaps you have known it in the past, but has your experience lately been that of simply listening to others tell you about Him? If that is the case for you, I want to encourage you to seek out the Master for yourself again. Spend time with Him in the quiet and ask Him to reignite your passion for Him. I have known the emptiness of vicarious discipleship, and if you have also, you know that it is not what you’ve been invited into. The good Master intends to know you and for you to know Him. He never desired to be a subject of study; He desires to be the object of your very personal trust, affection, and devotion.
What is your idea of Jesus, Disciple? What conclusions have you reached? It matters for you, but it also matters for those who look on, for they will see it in all that you say and do, and, like the Samaritan woman, you might very well be the one who leads others to encounter Him for themselves!
Seeking the Master Himself with you,