The King of the Jews (John 19:16-22)


16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” (John 19:16-22)

Today is Good Friday. It is a day we set aside to reflect on the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus was brought to Pilate because he was claiming to be a king which would have been treason against Caesar. There can only be one king in the Roman empire. Pilate questioned Jesus about his kingship. Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world. To this Pilate found no guilt in Jesus, he did not see him as a threat to the Roman empire. He kept trying to appease the Jews saying he is not guilty, but the Jewish leaders were not satisfied. With the crowd getting angrier and angrier Pilate was left with no option but to hand him over to the soldiers to crucify Christ.
In the Gospel of John, he does not go into details about how Christ was crucified. We see Jesus carrying his cross to the place he would be crucified. We see our perfect lamb, willingly go to his death. He was crucified alongside two other criminals. Such a humbling scene to behold. The creator of the universe, God’s own son, killed in public as a common criminal.
Then Pilate posts the sign above Jesus Christ on the cross saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”. Pilate does this deliberately to upset the Jewish leaders. They did not want people to think he was the actual king, but he was just claiming to be king. Who knows whether Pilate believed Christ to be the Son of God, but he knew there was something special about him. We then see that the inscription was written in three different languages. Aramaic, which would have been what the general population. Latin, the language of the army and the government. Then Greek, which was the language of commerce and that would have covered anyone else that may have been in the area. We see that with that sign it was saying to everyone the Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews. A beautiful proclamation to the world of who Christ is.
For believers today when we reflect on it we see our Savior lovingly go to his death for his creation. He is paying the debt that we all deserve for our sins. We can look at it with thanksgiving and awe because we know he raises from the dead on Sunday! Imagine if you were one of the disciples on that day back then. They don’t know what’s going to happen. Their teacher has told them that he is going to raise on the third day, but they did not fully understand what is going to happen. They were scared and afraid. For three years their teacher was telling them about a new kingdom that was about to come and here they are watching him be ruthlessly killed. They then have to wait in silence and await his resurrection not know whether it is going to happen or not.
Today and tomorrow sit in that tension that the disciples were sitting in. Feel the sorrow and anger they felt. They did not know about God’s ultimate purpose for it, but we know that he had to die because of our sin. Seek God and repent for the sins you have committed in your life. Ask for God’s forgiveness. Then on Sunday when Christ resurrects from the dead we celebrate the freedom we have in him. That he conquered death and he reigns on high in heaven.