"Yes, it is as you say," (Matthew 27:11)

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "You have said so," Jesus replied. (Matthew 27:11)

Was Jesus the 'king of the Jews'?

"King" is a dubious translation of the Greek text in this context.

The word "king" is being translated from the Greek word βασιλεύς (basileus). According to the lexicon, the word can mean "prince, commander, lord of the land," or "king," as well as "leader of the people."

This last element of this meaning configures how Jesus was seen. Jesus was never seen as a "king" - as though he rivaled the Roman Emperor or Governor. 

Rather, Jesus was seen as a spiritual leader of the people.

This is the reason Jesus accepted this accusation. We must remember that Jesus admitted that Caesar was king in prior statements:
"Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:15-22)
This clearly communicates that Jesus was under no illusion that he was a king. He knew his role. Yes, he was a spiritual leader, and thus a 'leader of the people.'

Jesus understood that he had no government authority. But he had many followers, and he was leading people by teaching them to love God. He was leading those who followed him, back to God. Not just Jews, but everyone who followed his teachings.

Why would Pilate ask Jesus this?

As the Roman governor of Jerusalem, Pilate was in charge of maintaining the peace in Jerusalem, and someone claiming to be a leader of people could be a revolutionary.

He thus asked Jesus a question that had a double edge: If Jesus answered no, he would be saying that he wasn't a spiritual leader of the people.

The Roman government sought to control the Judean population. They were occupiers. The Israelites were paying the Romans significant taxes. The Romans wanted to maintain order within the Judean regions and continue receiving those taxes along with the other benefits of occupation.

Were the Romans responsible for Jesus' persecution?

The Book of Matthew text indicates that the decision to put Jesus to death was made by the Temple chief priests and elders:
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. (Matt. 27:1-2)
But we can see here that the Roman governor Pilate made the final call. When the temple priests handed Jesus over to Pilate, what they told him concerned Pilate. Pilate became concerned that Jesus was a threat to maintaining peace and order among the Israelites.

With the priests saying that Jesus was basically a trouble-maker, Pilate accommodated the temple priests. But he still had to make his own decision.

This is supported by Pilate's response to Jesus:
"Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" (Matthew 27:13)
This clearly indicates that the temple priests were bearing witness against Jesus to Pilate.

Does this mean that Jews are responsible for Jesus' being murdered?

This is a racist conclusion - one arising from sectarianism and nationalism. It is this distorted conclusion that has resulted in the widespread persecution of innocent Jewish people over the centuries.

In fact, Jesus himself was not only a Jew, but was a Jewish teacher. He was a rabbi, as evidenced by both his students and even Pharisees greeting Jesus as "rabbi" (John 1:38 and elsewhere).

This event is not about Jews killing Jesus. This event is about those who seek to maintain their own authority and power being threatened by someone who is teaching about loving God.

But there is also a hidden agenda that must be questioned. That is, the "soft balling" of the role of the Roman governor. We must remember that the four Gospels were approved by the Roman government as early Christianity was cleared as a legal religion in Rome. 

Prior to this, Christians were regularly slaughtered at the hands of the Romans. They were outlawed by the Roman government. Most of Jesus' close disciples were also murdered by the Romans.

But early Christianity grew to such an extent that the Roman government was pressured to legalize the movement.

When Christianity was legalized, the Roman emperor commissioned the first Bible by Eusebius. Among dozens of texts about Jesus, Eusebius selected the four Gospels along with Paul's letters (Paul was a Roman). About half of the New Testament is made up of Paul's writings or writings about Paul.

Then Eusebius paid some scribes to translate these into Latin, and this new 'Bible' was personally approved by Emperor Constantine.

The Latin translation of the Bible became the gold standard for over 1,000 years. And the Roman government and its Roman Catholic Church burnt every other gospel document and library except for the Vatican library. Only a few manuscripts escaped their fires, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi libraries. These were only found in the last century.

This means that the Romans controlled the Scripture texts, the translations and the interpretation of these texts.

Isn't it a coincidence that the Roman government seems absolved of responsibility for Jesus' persecution? Even though in the end, it is clear that Pilate did indeed order Jesus' crucifixion? And the Roman soldiers carried out that order?

Did Jesus teach what was taught by Jewish Prophets?

The Bible illustrates that Jesus taught the same teachings as Moses, David, Samuel and other great Jewish teachers who also emphasized in their teachings love for God. Jesus quoted the Prophets quite often in his teachings. This includes his 'greatest commandment' to love God. This was a quote nearly word-for-word of Moses:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37)
Now consider some of the many times that Jesus quoted other Prophets:
"You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you!" (Matthew 15:10)

"For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:" (John 12:39)

"Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?" (Mark 12:26)

Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” (Luke 5:14)

"Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law.” (John 7:19)

 “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." (Matthew 12:39)

“Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?" (Matthew 12:3)

 "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, " 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." '  If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" (Mathew 22:43-45)
These and many other statements by Jesus indicate that Jesus not only was passing on the teachings of the Prophets, but he was also defining the meaning of the Prophets' teachings.

And the Greek word typically translated to "fulfilled" - inferring that Jesus' life was prophesized by the Prophets - is ἀναπληρόω (anaplēroō). This word means "to observe the law perfectly" and "to accomplish" according to Thayer's lexicon.

In other words, Jesus was saying that his life accomplished what the Prophets taught - he observed what the Prophets taught and brought their teachings to life during his tenure on the earth - in deed and doctrine.

With regard to Jesus' central teaching about love of God, just consider how important love for God was in Moses' teachings:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep his commands.” (Deut. 7:9)

“If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as He swore to your forefathers.” (Deut. 7:12)

“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to revere the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 10:12)

“Love the LORD your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands always.” (Deut. 11:1)

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today--to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul…” (Deut. 11:13)

“If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow--to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him” (Deut. 11:22)

“you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:3)

“because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today--to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways - then you are to set aside three more cities.” (Deut. 19:9)

“The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the Hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and life.” (Deut. 30:6)

“For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” (Deut. 30:16)

“and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life” (Deut. 30:20)
Moses was not the only Jewish teacher to teach love for God. Consider Joshua's instruction to his followers:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)
Also consider Hosea's instruction:
"But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always." (Hosea 12:6)
And consider Joel's instruction:
"Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity." (Joel 2:13)
And David's teaching to Solomon:
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts." (1Chron. 28:9)
Consider the instruction of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes:
"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Revere God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
And Samuel:
"If you revere the LORD and serve and obey Him and do not rebel against His commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God - good!" (1Samuel 12:14)
And Job:
"How great is God - beyond our understanding!" (Job 36:26)
And from Proverbs:
"So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you." (Proverbs 22:18-20)
These and so many other verses by the ancient Jewish teachers indicate that their central message relates to re-establishing our relationship with God and loving God. This is also what Jesus' most important instruction was, mirroring Moses' teaching:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)

Why would they persecute someone teaching what the Prophets taught?

So why again would the Temple chief priests want to have Jesus executed? Because Jesus' teachings threatened their authority and power.

This is despite the reality that Jesus' teachings were consistent with Moses and other Jewish Prophets.

They could see that Jesus had real authority. He was able to convince others to dedicate their lives to God. This is the pinnacle of authority.

But the temple priests were not interested in helping people come to know and love God. Their interest was in maintaining their positions of authority so they could live comfortably and dictate to others. Jesus was a threat because he was attracting thousands of ardent followers.

This is not a Jewish or Christian thing - it is a problem that plagues all religious organizations around the world. Those in positions of power can do harmful things to others in order to maintain their positions.

Furthermore, Jesus was teaching his followers to question the authority of these temple priests. He was criticizing their teachings because their teachings were focused on rituals while ignoring the core teachings passed down from the ancient Prophets like Moses, Joshua, Abraham, and David.

They had de-emphasized the Prophets' teachings relating to loving God and doing God's will because they were not interested in loving God. They were not interested in doing God's will. Their interest was maintaining their own power and authority.

The desire to maintain power was a common interest between Pilate and the High Priest. The Temple priests and the Romans both wanted to maintain their authority in Jerusalem. Jesus threatened that authority because he could change people's hearts, from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.

The desire to retaining authority caused the temple priests to arrest Jesus and manipulate Pilate to convict Jesus. One might say that the Temple priests and Pilate essentially colluded to execute Jesus. They colluded due to their common interest in maintaining their positions of authority.

The deeper lesson in Jesus' statement and in the circumstances around his trial is that regardless of what robes a teacher may wear and what titles they may have, a teacher should only be accepted if they are teaching us to love God and please God with our lives.

These are the teachings of real authority because they come from God. And these are precisely what Jesus taught, and why he made the greatest sacrifice: To show us just how important those teachings really are.