God’s “Dear John” Love Letter
The Gospel of John
Title: Our Choice: Who is the King in our life? John 19:1-16
(The fateful early morning hours continue as Jesus faces Pilate and the religious rulers’ accusations and call for his crucifixion.)
Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged.
The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. And they repeatedly came up to Him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and were slapping His face.
Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.”
Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
Pilate responded, “Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.”
“We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever. He went back into the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Where are You from?”
But Jesus did not give him an answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?”
“You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”
From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!”
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s bench in a place called the Stone Pavement (but in Hebrew Gabbatha). It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!”
But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?”
“We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered.
So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Truth: Are we captive to our religion and theology? Who is the ruler of our life defines our relationship with God and others. That choice shapes our life. What we are willing to crucify defines our relationship with God.
Application: Why was Jesus crucified? According to John’s account, it was strictly the work and scheming of the religious leadership. They felt their positions of power and influence over the people was threatened. Sadly, those who should have recognized Christ and developed a close relationship with Him were the most distant and threatened by His life. For this reason – to protect their positions of authority and perspectives about what religion was to them – they chose to recognize Caesar and his oppression rather than the message of freedom from Christ. Their allegiance was to their self-determined religion, their King.
Pilate, the Roman governor, never saw Jesus as a threat. What threat could Jesus mean to the great Roman Empire and its legions? Jesus was just an interesting curiosity figure, but never a threat. Pilate never found guilt in Him. So why did he choose to ultimately comply with what he felt were the absurd charges brought against Jesus by the religious rulers? Pilate was charged by Caesar to keep the peace in the region of Judea, and politically he was under fire about his performance as governor. For Pilate, the region was finally experiencing no threats of rebellion or insurrection, and he was content to not stir up any problems that would be reported back to Rome. His allegiance was to Caesar, his King.
Thus the conflict of wills resulted with Christ being accused of being the rival King for both the religious leaders and for Pilate. The religious leaders wanted Christ crucified because Christ was being identified as the Messiah, God’s anointed Son and King of the Jews. However, as long as there was no King, then the religious leaders, the priests maintained control politically – they as a group were their own King. On the other hand, Pilate never saw Jesus as a King that he feared or felt threatened by. However, when the religious leaders threatened to report their accusations to Pilate’s King – Caesar, Pilate had no choice but to submit to the requests of the religious leadership. He did what was politically expedient to keep his King pleased.
Yet, Jesus said it plainly when questioned by Pilate at the last moment of decision: “You (Pilate and the Roman Empire) have no authority over Me at all, if it had not been given to you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you (speaking of the religious leadership) has the greater sin.” The religious leaders claimed to honor God as their King, but really they were hypocrites only seeking to protect their own authority. What greater sin could we have in this life than to claim allegiance to God as our sovereign Lord but then dictate our circumstances for our personal benefit?
Who is the “King” of your life? Do you recognize Christ as the Son of God but are afraid to rock the boat in your life? Are you willing to stand up against those who are trying to remove Him from His throne for their own purposes? Or are you the hypocrite who claims to honor the King of kings outwardly but you are fighting against Him in your life because in fact you want to be your own King?
How different would this world had been if Pilate had stood his ground 2000 years ago, when he recognized the authority of Jesus was from God? How different is our life when we choose to recognize Christ as our King and choose to rather to crucify any other king on our life, including our “Self”?