40 blogs of Lent, day 25
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’, but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” John 19:19-22
“This man said, I am King of the Jews.” is what the chief priests wanted the message on the cross to read. In short they wanted the inscription to say that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy. John In a way they were right. Not about the blasphemy, but that Jesus had said he was King of the Jews How they knew he had actually said that, if indeed they did know, is a mystery, as Jesus said it to Pilate, who had no reason to tell the Jewish leaders what went on.
What is unusual here is that Pilate tries his best to have Jesus freed – I am going back to verse 12 here. Pilate had reason to want to get rid of Jesus himself, the reason for that is in a post I will publish on palm Sunday, 20 March 2016. For now all you need to know is that Pilate would see Jesus as a threat. If Jesus would be favoured before the chief priests, there has to be a serious reasons for Pilate not to trust them.
Pilate has just been outmanoeuvred. Forced by the priests stirring the crows to not only to condemn Jesus against his wishes, but also to release a dangerous political prisoner. The priests have been planning this for some time and had the element of surprise, Pilate has known for a few hours and has not had time to prepare.
In his interrogation Pilate tried to find out what king Jesus was, and what he got was an enigma connected to apocalyptic text. What Pilate was not to know was that the kind of king Jesus was, and is, is not found in words. It is demonstrated – demonstrated in a way that was unexpected.
Kings take their kingdoms in two ways, they are either born into a royal family or by force, at the expense of others lives. A bloodless revolution is rare. Jesus revolution is not bloodless either, but the blood spilt is his own.
Jesus is not the sort of king that would lord it over his subjects, but one who would gove his own life for them. It turns the worlds idea of kingship upside down. Judas, Pilate, Herod and the priests try to defeat Jesus, and in so doing give him victory.