90 Days with Jesus, Day 83: John 19:1-16: Jesus Christ the King

John 19:1-16 (90 Days with Jesus Day 83)

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face. Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”  Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Again, I acknowledge that I have far too much text for one small mediation. In order to finish these meditations in the allotted 90 days, however, I had to scale back a little. I only have eight more to go and I miscalculated somewhere along the line and I have three chapters (I think I wrote a couple of extras along the way.) So I will use more text and try to narrow my focus in each more. For this meditation, I will focus Jesus’ words, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” These words, frankly, frighten me and should frighten anyone who presumes to ascend the ranks of governmental leadership.

Can you imagine being the person charged with responsibility for the entire turn of events that John records for us? But before that, can you imagine being a governmental official and have no sense of humility before the Sovereign God? Pilate’s sin, it appears, is that he simply did nothing. If he tried to set him free ‘from that time on’ he certainly didn’t spend too much time trying to set Jesus free. And then the people got him.

But what of government leaders who scuttle away their responsibility before God? What about those leaders who will simply ignore righteousness in favor of political expediency? What about those who claim to lead us and yet have no cognizance of the God who placed them in that position in the first place? What about those who passively agree with the larger population in order to secure their own place and power? Worse, what about the population who stirs up opposition and agitates the devils of this world because they don’t acknowledge the God who puts people in positions of power? I sometimes wonder if the leaders of governments are put in impossible positions; we should be somewhat sympathetic.

Still, this does not absolve them of responsibility. Pilate’s guilt hinges on his acceptance of this charge, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” This was the key to the success of the crowd, and Pilate is as guilty as he can be for thinking that this charge will carry any weight before a Holy God. None of will escape our guilt for befriending the world’s powers and darkness in strict, undeniable opposition to God. James said well, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity with God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes and enemy of God” (James 4:4, TNIV).

Pilate chose. I think all of us choose. We choose either friendship with God or we choose friendship with Caesar. We choose either to surrender our own existence and let Jesus live or we choose friendship with the world and allow Jesus to be condemned. So we can see that it was Pilate who was on trial that day. He listened to the shouts of the crowd and ignored the silence of Jesus. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to set you free or to crucify you?” Pilate asked. I think Jesus’ response was His way of saying, “Don’t you realize that you are lost either way? Don’t you realize that what matters here is the truth? Don’t you realize that only those who align themselves with me will survive? Don’t you realize that your friendship with Caesar and with this crowd is meaningless when it comes to the Holy God who place you in power and gave you authority over these proceedings?”

Pilate is only one small example. Those people in the crowd that day shouted, “We have no king but Caesar!” This is reminiscent of the Old Testament days when Israel rejected God in favor of Saul. The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to all the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights” (1 Samuel 8:7-9, TNIV). The people of the world don’t understand this very fact and continue, to this day, to shout in unison: “We have no king but Caesar! We have no king but Caesar!”

And the world will continue to do so. There will always be a Caesar, a Saddam, a Stalin or a Chavez. And why? Because there will always be people who utterly reject the rule of God in favor of the rule of men. And why? Because for most people all that matters is how much and how soon. Most people are willing to give up some freedom (which turns out in the end to be all freedom) in order to have their bellies filled and their houses warm. Freedom doesn’t matter to the people who shout, “We have no king but Caesar!” Freedom is inconsequential to the people who say, “Give us a king!” Freedom is meaningless to the people who would rather be friends with the world than with God. Freedom is empty for those who reject Jesus Christ, the Truth, that they may live apart from his rule and his reign. But a time is coming when the Kingdom of God will break out and Christ will reign eternally.

But notice the King we live under. He is the crucified King. He is the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World. He is the one crushed and bruised by our iniquities. Here is our king: Jesus Christ the Crucified: Christians must not forget that our king wears a crown of thorns.

The usurpers of power on this world will not reign forever and their sovereignty will not remain in tact forever. Christ is already at the right hand of God and the only enemy left to finally defeat is death. A time is coming when we will be set free. A time is coming when we will no longer shout out to be ruled by the rich, the handsome, the cunning, and the worldly. There is coming a time when we will be ruled by Righteousness. There is coming a time when the only shouts that will echo in the palaces of this world are those that shout, “Jesus Christ is King! Jesus Reigns! To Him alone be honor, power, majesty, glory, strength, and praise to the Lamb, forever and ever.”

For more on these thoughts I would highly recommend you read Philippians 2, Revelation (especially 4-5), and the book of Daniel. Also, the book by David F Wells, Above All Earthly Pow’rs, is a masterful treatment of the subject of Christ’s dominion and reign.

Soli Deo Gloria!


  1. Well I have read some of the other series of the 90days post and this 83 rd day post is really great with full fledged data on Jesus Christ and I hope and accept He is the King, Ruler of the world.

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