11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
Jesus now stood trial before Pontius Pilate (27:11-26), the supreme ruler for Rome over Judea who had authority over Roman troops. The Jews disliked him. Rome changed her policies toward the Jews, regularly putting Pilate in a shaky political place. He was especially fearful of political trouble during the Passover because of the large crowds coming to the feast.
Matthew does not record the trial before Herod. His account here is more of a summary.
The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of three political crimes:
Opposing the paying of taxes
Claim to be king
Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus now stood before Pilate in the Praetorium (the governor’s residence) in the Fortress of Antonia just north of the Temple. Pilate pledged to uphold Roman law. He asked Jesus if He claimed to be King of the Jews. Pilate probably knew that this charge was bogus, but he went through the motions of legality.
Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”
Matthew does not record Pilate’s statements we read in John 18:34
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 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.” 37 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.” 38 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.
The Matthew phrase “It is as you say” may refer to the conversation from John 18:34-38. Pilate found no judicial guilt in Jesus. This pagan governor saw through the machinations of Israel’s religious leaders. He exonerated Jesus of their charges.
And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.
Luke indicates that these religious leaders kept pressing Pilate for a charge of insurrection (Lu 23:5). Jesus did not respond to religious accusations against Him; He was not tried for those charges.
Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?”
The fact that Jesus was being railroaded was obvious to all.
But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
Jesus did not answer a single charge from the religious leaders. Pilate marveled at Jesus’ refusal to answer charges against Him. He marveled at Jesus’ great poise under pressure.
Is 53: 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
A “closed shop” attitude of power in religious matters is a serious problem.
The religious crowd resented Jesus. It should be no surprise to Christians that religious movements assail both Jesus and His followers. It is amazing how many Christians try to mute their message because they want to accommodate to prevailing religious viewpoints of the day. It is possible to stifle our convictions this way. Jesus “left us an example” in this. The idea that Jesus is the exclusive Savior of the world is highly offensive to a pluralistic society.