Lord Jesus, You were rich, but for my sake You became poor, that through Your poverty I might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
Read John 19:1-16
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“O sacred head, sore wounded, / With grief and shame bowed down, / Now scornfully surrounded, / With thorns, thy only crown!” (Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091-1151).
Today’s reading concerns a king who was sentenced to die. For the soldiers, Jesus was a laughable king. In a world where life was cheap, the soldiers behaved according to type. Jesus meant nothing to them; he was just another prisoner to torture and humiliate. He was bleeding and abused as they cruelly crowned and robed him in the derisory symbols of a sovereign’s office and ridiculed him with their cries of mock loyalty.
For the Jews, Jesus was a rejected king. Pilate’s attempts to release him got nowhere. The crowd screamed for blood (6) and the rulers mounted two further accusations against him. They accused him of the capital crime of blasphemy. Hearing this, Pilate, more superstitious than religious, was afraid (7,8). Still not persuaded, though, he was then confronted with the decisive argument: Jesus had claimed to be a king (12). Religious blasphemy was one thing, political sedition another. The Jews were rejecting the rule of God in favor of that of the temporal authority. Jesus, their liberating and beneficial king, was not to reign over them. For Pilate, Jesus was an alternative king. He was puzzled by the claim that Jesus could exercise power, especially in his present state. What sort of a king was he? Pilate only knew of one kind and the accused didn’t fit it. Kingship was about fighting wars, passing laws, levying taxes and imposing one’s will. Had Jesus ever done any of that? He was no sort of king Pilate could recognize. But that was because he came “from above” (11).
So the King was sentenced to death, to satisfy the bloodlust of the crowd, the twisted religious logic of their leaders and the shallow understanding of a governor. In reality, though, he was crucified to bear the sin of them all and to re-establish God’s true kingship on earth.
Consider the various reactions to Jesus’ kingship. Are there those you know who fit the different responses? Pray for spiritual enlightenment for them.
Lord God, I submit to Your Lordship. Your ways are not my ways, and I ask for strength to be a servant to others, like Jesus.