For audio version: https://youtu.be/3xBryfrS58Q
Prepare to Listen. As you quieten your mind and heart, offer this prayer: O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! (Psalm 71:12)
Prayerfully Read John 19:5-16a
5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ 6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ 7The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’ 8Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ 11Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ 12From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’ 13When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ 15They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ 16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
Jews, especially priests, regularly, perhaps daily, recited: “We have no king, but the Lord.” But that changed when Jesus interrupted their lives and dearly held beliefs. They chose to believe the lies about Jesus, some of which they made up themselves. They refused to believe the truth Jesus spoke and thus never listened to him. And that led to their blasphemous cry to Pilate that contradicted their status as God’s people, “We have no king but the emperor.” Lies are one thing. Believing them is another. Those who continue to believe lie upon lie will end where the Jewish priests ended—rejecting their ancient faith in God’s Sovereign Rule, and instead committing allegiance to a human ruler.
If the Jewish priests were revealed as false, Pilate discovered his powerlessness. He boasted to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” But he didn’t. He was helpless before the Jews who threatened his security with the mere mention of the emperor. Pilate caved and discovered Jesus was right when he said, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above.” So, despite finding Jesus innocent, despite his boast to be able to release him, “he handed him over to them to be crucified.” This powerful man had no power over Jesus. The Jewish priests revealed their resistance to God’s Rule, choosing the emperor as king and crucifying their one true King. We have no king but…. They should have said Jesus, but their lies led them to say the emperor. Committed to obedience Jesus ignored Pilate’s boast and the priests’ rejection and willingly gave up his life.
What do you see about Jesus in this story and how does that agree/disagree with what you always thought?
Respond to Jesus
Lord, keep me faithful to truth so that I remain faithful to you as the Ruler over the world and my life. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Be faithful to Christ, the King.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.