Help me, gracious Father, to have an open mind and contrite heart, to feel my way into the meaning mystery of this night.
Read John 19:1–16
Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified
19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 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.”
7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 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.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 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). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 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.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectUse Isaiah 53:3 to focus your thoughts on Jesus, ‘despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.’
The tussle continues. Pilate thinks he is in charge – although, given his inability to face up to the Jewish leaders, it is hard to see why. In fact, whatever is going on, it always seems to be Jesus who is directing affairs. Now the question is addressed head on. Pilate only has the authority that God allows him to have (v 11, ‘authority’, ESV, is a better translation than ‘power’). While he carries responsibility, others (possibly Caiaphas, possibly Judas) carry more (v 11). And all of it takes place within God’s overall purpose. Humans are always responsible for their actions, but this never robs God of his ultimate authority; Peter underlines it in Acts 2:22,23.
And so to the ultimate irony. The Jewish leaders, longing for a messianic king to overthrow the Romans, reject the Messiah and claim Caesar as king. We can see the irony, but we miss another; that we can miss the significance of Jesus. First World War chaplain GA Studdert Kennedy wrote a moving poem comparing the brutality of Calvary to modern indifference: ‘When Jesus came to Birmingham, They simply passed Him by … …They only just passed down the street, And left Him in the rain.’ It’s worth reviewing our own attitude about Jesus and the way that is reflected in how we live.
Pray for those you know who are indifferent to Jesus.
Heavenly Father, with your guidance and direction, lead me through the thick of life to minister to people at the point of their hurt. Fill me with a servant heart.
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