The Jewish leaders had brought Jesus to Pilate to be judged. They had in mind already that he would be killed, even prior to his trial. The outcome was determined. Jesus must die. Everything that would lead up to that outcome was simply a show and procedure to get to that place.
But Pilate wasn’t so sure. First, his wife had warned him not to be involved with Jesus. Second, he couldn’t seem to wrap his head around what precisely should be the charge against Jesus.
Pilate eventually calls Jesus out and asks him if he is the king of the Jews. So we see here what the Jews accuse him of to Pilate. They are accusing him of insurrection.
But why would they do that? Because they know that Jesus will be immediately killed. If the Roman government believes that there will be an insurrection, it means that the people are attempting to rise up against the government and appoint a new king. In that case, Caesar would no longer be the sovereign over them, but instead they would now have a new king that would rule over that land.
So the Jewish leaders have accused Jesus of being the king of the Jews.
Where did they get this idea? Jesus had always spoken of the Kingdom of God and he had just, a few days ago, ridden into Jerusalem with the people welcoming him with a hero’s welcome. So it wasn’t too difficult for the Jewish leaders to spin Jesus’s words and actions into saying that he was going to cause a political uprising.
But Jesus confirms to Pilate that he isn’t here to create a political kingdom out of Israel:
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”John 18:36
Jesus isn’t attempting to create the kingdom of Israel. He is reestablishing the kingdom of God. God had been the King over all of the Jews until they had rejected him, requesting a king just like the kings of all of the nations around them, thus rejecting the only King that they had ever had, God himself.
But now God is here, and Jesus has been given all authority, and the Kingdom of God is his. He is King. But his Kingdom is not of this world. It is the Kingdom of God that is now open to all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, who will bow their knee to him as their one true King.