Caesar: Day 5
"Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 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.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified." - John 19:1-7, 12-16
Before the eyes of the Jews stood the long-expected Messiah, the King for whom they had longed while under enemy oppression – but they couldn’t recognize him. There stood their Good Shepherd who had led them through the valley of the shadow of death, but they knew him not. There next to Pontius Pilate was the Holy One of Israel, the one in whom generation after generation had hoped for redemption, but now that he finally arrived with redemption in tow, they did not see him.
Even more tragic is that Pilate does seem to recognize him. Whether from this dialogue between Pilate and the chief priests or the “King of the Jews” sign that he hangs over Jesus’ head, Pilate has a much better idea of the identity of Jesus than the majority of Jerusalem. This is just one of many bitter ironies in Christ’s Passion that had to have been deeply painful. It is doubtful that the flogging and scourging Jesus had experienced just before this trial wounded him as deeply as this rejection by the very people he came to save.
Perhaps most ironic of all is that the purple robe and crown that he wears during the trial are, in one sense, very appropriate. He is the King, after all! He ought to wear the color of royalty and have a crown adorning his temples. But of course, it’s all too clear that he was not given this robe and crown because he was actually considered royalty. Just the opposite, the Roman soldiers gave him this regal garb to show what a complete joke of a king they considered him to be.
No one has described this irony better than the great hymnist Isaac Watts, when he asked,
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
This is why Jesus is more worthy of honor than any earthly king, this is why he is worthy of worship: because he was willing to wear the crown of thorns rather than the crown he deserved, so that his people – yes, the very ones who twisted the thorns together – might be changed from the villains that we are into the saints of God. Have you ever known a Caesar to do such a thing? Of course not.
Still today, we face the same choice as the crowd did on that day with Pilate. It is the most important “election” of a ruler you will ever participate in. You have only two choices for King: Christ or Caesar. With whom does your loyalty lie? Either crucify Christ and side with Caesar, or be crucified along with Christ by Caesar’s soldiers. Who is worth your worship, your life, and your devotion – the gods who have the power to crucify or the God who chooses to be crucified in your place and has the power to resurrect afterwards? Don’t let appearances deceive you. Behold, your King!
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This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.