Whence Art Thou?
John 19:9
And went again into the judgment hall, and said to Jesus, From where are you? But Jesus gave him no answer.

This question, put by Pilate to the Lord Jesus, was not so much intended to guide the questioner in his judicial capacity, as to satisfy his own curiosity. It is clear that Pilate was satisfied of the Accused's innocence of any political offense. But it is also clear that he was perplexed in mind, and unable to satisfy himself as to the real character and origin of the mysterious Being who stood before him. There is no reason to suppose that the Roman procurator felt any very deep or lasting interest in the Prophet of Nazareth. Still he had his misgivings as to whether Jesus was not possessed of some superhuman claims. Hence the question, "Whence art thou?"


1. There is much in Christ himself which prompts the question. His character, his wonderful works, his still more wonderful language, the whole ministry which he fulfilled upon earth, and especially the sacrifice and the victory in which that ministry culminated, - all are fitted to suggest and urge inquiry into his origin and nature.

2. There is much in man which induces him to seek the truth upon this most interesting question. It concerns every one to whom the gospel comes to know with what authority Jesus spoke, and what value attaches to his redemption. And in order to this it is necessary to know whence he is, from whom he comes, and in whose name he makes his claim upon men.

II. THE REPLY. Why Jesus did not answer Pilate is not hard to understand. He had already, both by his language and by his demeanor, given abundant evidence for the formation of a judgment. And Jesus intended Pilate to understand what were their relative positions. The governor deemed himself in this case omnipotent; Jesus gave him to understand that in reality his power was very limited, whilst the power of the accused and apparently helpless One was in reality that of God himself. But we should make a mistake if we supposed that the Lord Jesus was or is unwilling to give reason for men to acknowledge his claims and to render honor to the Son.

1. Christ's origin is Divine: he came forth from God, and was one with the Father.

2. Christ's authority is Divine: he spake, wrought, and suffered in the name of God.

3. Christ's Divine origin and authority render him in all his offices fit to fulfill his gracious purposes towards mankind. Is he our Prophet, Priest, and King? It makes all the difference to his sufficiency whether or not he fulfils these offices with Divine authority. Men are right in asking of Jesus, "Whence art thou?" But they are wrong if, receiving his own answer, they refuse him the faith of their heart, the allegiance of their life. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

WEB: He entered into the Praetorium again, and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.

The Cowardice of Guilt
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