Bible Reading Day 163
Day 163: June 12 (John 19:1-22)
Today we read the pinnacle of John’s gospel: the crucifixion of Jesus. Some have called this ‘the pivot point of history.’
Pilate showed himself to be a man of justice in yesterday’s reading, and that will continue to be evident in today’s verses, but ultimately he gives in to injustice and authorizes the killing of an innocent man. While Pilate’s internal battle rages, Jesus is already suffering at the hands of the Roman soldiers, well practiced in the art of torture. Then, as Pilate seeks finally to persuade the crowd to permit him to do the right thing, the priests and temple guards lead the shrill cacophany shouting “Crucify Him.”
Pilate caves in, and tells the Jews to take Jesus for crucifixion (but they are not allowed to do so by Roman law and their own religious system). So they respond saying “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
This frightens Pilate even more and he questions Jesus again, but receives no answer. Pilate still thinks he is in control (when in truth he began to lose control as soon as he gave in to a relativistic mindset in yesterday’s reading (“what is truth”). Acknowledging no absolute is the fast track to injustice, and other evils. So, thinking he is in control, Pilate asks Jesus “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” to which Jesus replies “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Frightened even more by this, Pilate tries again to release Jesus (now more from fear than a sense of justice), but the religious leaders shout him down with accusations that Pilate himself is a traitor if he lets Jesus go free. It is amazing that the religious leaders would go as far as to say “We have no king but Caesar” to the Roman governor, when their whole existence was focused on resisting the Roman occupation and making God their King. Religion will call right wrong and wrong right to serve its own ends. And so eventually Pilate gives in to injustice, and hands over Jesus to be crucified.
Beaten, weak, and carrying the sin of the world on His shoulders, he is taken out and crucified at the place of the Skull, with two criminals beside Him. Traditionally, each victim would have their crime written out and nailed to the cross above their heads. In this case, Pilate ordered that the sign read “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (which is often abbreviated in the Latin version from Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum to INRI). Despite the arguments of the religious leaders, Pilate was going to be sure that Jesus received His true title as His “crime”.
Have you ever faced injustice? Has anyone wronged you? What excuse are you making to avoid the next step – forgiving and trusting God with the outcome?
Have a great day!