Thursday in Holy Week
Scripture: St. John 19:13-24 (NKJV)
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” 16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”‘” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
The opening verse of today’s text refers to the Jews’ threatening of Pilate with the taunt that if he does not condemn Jesus he is no friend or supporter of Roman authority. Pilate tests their resolve to reject God and His chosen Christ with the proclamation of “Behold your King!” With this challenge Pilate speaks more truly than he, by his mocking words, intends. The Jewish leaders and the crowd show their resolve to resist God and His word with, “We have no king but Caesar.” The powerfully ironic truth expressed in this exchange is that they have rejected the true heavenly God of their fathers in favor of the earthly idol of the pagan world around them. This is the sad rebellious confession that continues among so many outside (and ironically within) the organized “church” today.
The worshiping of the golden calf continues as will the judgment of God upon such idolatry. They rejected any suggestion that they were rebels against Rome, but freely expressed the truth of their true spiritual condition. The Christ stands in stark contrast to this heterodoxy that wants to claim to be orthodoxy. Jesus dies, as He has lived, fulfilling His Father’s will according to the Scriptures; He dies a real human death, mindful of the parental ties that bind Him to humanity, suffering human pain—but He dies as the divine Good Shepherd Who lays down His life of His own accord.
Pilate’s “What I have written I have written” presents God’s governance of history as the stubbornness of the Roman governor, weary of altercations with a people he does not respect and cannot understand, ensures the proclamation of the truth. Nathanael’s confession at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry finds a strange echo at its close: “You are the King of Israel!”