“It is as you say.” Jesus answers Pilate’s question in the affirmative, that he is a king. It is important to translate this verse in the affirmative. Jesus was not playing word games with Pilate, giving him an ambiguous answer. Pilate’s everlasting life was at stake, and Pilate, like everyone else, had to have a chance to believe and accept Jesus as Messiah. This should not be considered unusual. Jesus had told many others he was the Messiah (Matt. 16:16-20; Mark 14:62; John 4:26; 10:24-25); besides that, the conversation between Pilate and Jesus was not as short as Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:2-5, or Luke 23:3 record. The Gospel of John records the longer conversation (John 18:33-38; 19:9-11). In this longer conversation, Jesus tells Pilate that although he is a king, “My kingdom is not of this world” and “my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36), and “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). Of course Pilate, being a Roman and believing in the Roman gods, if he believed anything at all, did not have a clear and accurate picture of God, the afterlife, the Messianic Age, or anything that would have given true meaning to what Jesus said. To Pilate, Jesus’ words were likely nonsense, and he responded with “What is truth?” (John 18:38). One thing Pilate did get from his conversation with Jesus was that he was not a threat to Rome in the sense that he was trying to foment rebellion and overthrow Roman rule. That is what the religious leaders were accusing Jesus of, so that Pilate would crucify him, but Pilate, after questioning Jesus, was satisfied that was not the case, and came to the religious leaders and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him” (John 19:6).
Many excellent Greek scholars attest to the fact that Jesus’ answer to Pilate, “It is as you say,” was not an ambiguous statement. A. T. Robertson correctly states, “By his answer (‘thou sayest’) Jesus confesses that he is” (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament). The Expositor’s Greek Testament by W. R. Nicoll simply says that Jesus’ answer “= yes.” R. C. H. Lenski says this about Jesus’ answer: “It is the regular way of affirming the contents of the question.” Albert Barnes, in Barnes’ Notes, says, “Thou sayest.” [KJV] That is, thou sayest right, or thou sayest the truth. …Though he acknowledged that he was the king yet he stated fully that his kingdom was not of this world, and that therefore it could not be alleged against him as treason against the Roman emperor.” Further evidence that this was an affirmative statement comes from Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62 (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament). In these are two parallel records the high priest asks Jesus if he was the Messiah. Matthew records that the Lord answered, “You have said it” (su eipas); but Mark reports the answer with the clear affirmative, “I am” (ego eimi). This interchangeability of the two statements demonstrates that the idiom was confirmatory. (Cp. Matt 26:64; 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 22:70; 23:3; John 18:37).