Day 25

Pilate



John 18:28-40, John 19:1-22, Psalm 2:1-12

BY Patti Sauls

“Oh, I just can’t wait to be king!” declares the lion cub, Simba, in the 1994 movie, The Lion King. Simba struts as he sings of all the power and advantages he will enjoy when he inherits his father’s throne. The royal cub’s swagger is short-lived, though, as tragedy and trials arise. No spoiler alert needed—it’s obvious that young Simba is clueless about what it really means to be king.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus was surrounded by others’ confusion about what it means to be King. Many people were drawn to His teaching and were convinced by His miracles that He was the long-awaited Messiah who would rule as King in Jerusalem and restore the Jewish nation. Just days before His arrest and crucifixion, jubilant crowds waved palm branches and proclaimed: “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13)

But not everyone wanted to crown Him King. The Jewish leaders were suspicious of Jesus’s growing influence, threatened by His miracles, and outraged by His claims of being united with God. All of this could disrupt their religious power dynamic. How would it affect their status if this man from Nazareth gained power?

The chief priests wanted to eliminate this threat by executing Jesus, but they knew that only Roman authorities could implement the death penalty (John 18:31–32). So, they arrested Him and charged Him with claiming to be “King of the Jews.” They hoped this would force the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, to declare Jesus a political rebel and sentence Him to death. The stakes were high. Some crowds wanted Jesus to be king. Others, riled up by the Jewish leaders, wanted Him killed. As governor, Pilate was tasked with keeping the peace between his territory’s people and the rule of Rome.

Pilate knew the leaders wanted Jesus executed, but he couldn’t reconcile the calm, quiet man before him with such fierce allegations of rebellion. Three times Pilate insisted that he saw no basis for a criminal charge, but the unrelenting crowds threatened, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!” (John 19:12). Seeing the crowd’s mounting frenzy and fearing Roman backlash, Pilate buckled under the pressure and condemned Jesus to a torturous death on a cross.

The sign that Pilate fastened to Jesus’s cross stated, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19). This was no ordinary notice of a criminal’s name and offense. It should stop us in our tracks because it was, and forever will be, a revelation of who Jesus really is. Jesus is the King who secures restoration and redemption for His people. He is the King who deflates status-seeking and disrupts self-centered living.

Pilate had this sign written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek so that all could read it (John 19:20). Jesus died and rose again so that we, too, could have the eyes of our hearts opened. We don’t have to wait for Jesus to be an earthly king. We see and recognize that our King has come. Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel!

Post Comments (32)

32 thoughts on "Pilate"

  1. Alicia McCann says:

    Jesus, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you and disrupt my self-centered living, help me to keep my eyes open to the revelation of who you truly are

  2. Mckayla Reese says:

    I know I’m late to the game. But something I found very interesting that I’d never noticed before was in regards to the religious leaders. The very men that were awaiting their Lord are the ones that sent him to death. I think that can relate to today’s world a lot. Some of the very people that are meant to lead the church and bring people to Christ are masking their corrupt sin with religious status. You always hear about religious leaders being exposed for what they’ve done or just out right false teaching. I believe this is one of satans greatest tools. I hear all the time about people who hate “Christians” for how corrupt they really are and it turns them away from salvation. It’s so sad and so wrong but we saw it in Jesus’s time just as we saw it today. We need to be the light and outshine the ones that are lost and corrupt and show the world who Jesus really is.

  3. Emily H says:

    I felt sad for Pilate when he said “What is truth?” after Jesus said “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37-38). But Pilate didn’t stay to hear Jesus’ answer! He didn’t want to know the truth, unlike Thomas who also asked questions but with a heart that wanted to know. I wonder if when Pilate walked away, Jesus remembered answering Thomas in John 14:6 with “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” Pilate was so blinded by fear that he didn’t see the truth standing in front of him. I wonder if he wasn’t so afraid of what the Jews and Rome would do to him, then he might have seen that choosing to follow Jesus was worth it all. May we be women with hearts ruled by the peace of Christ, fearing God rather than man. May we be women “of the truth” and listen to Jesus’ voice (Jn 18:37).

  4. Jennifer Anapol says:

    His disciples were expecting him to take over Jerusalem politically, but that wasn’t his plan. His plan was much bigger and better than they could have imagined. Let us remember that God’s ways aren’t our ways, his plans are bigger than ours.

  5. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I’m so glad that Jesus is our ultimate king. He is ultimately the one in power. I do have to remember though that he doesn’t always act in the way we expect him to. His disciples were expecting him to take over

  6. Emily Guerra says:

    Anna mentioned this earlier, but I felt so struck by what I read in this devotion that I just had to share! I never noticed how in John 19:22 Pilate was insistent that they not change the sign he had made to be placed above Jesus stating that He was the King of the Jews. Even though the chief priests were very insistent on him changing it he wouldn’t. While I can’t say what actually happened after that, I pray that Pilate came to know the Lord through his short interaction with him.

  7. Diana Fleenor says:

    First, thank each of you who joined me in celebrating the mercy of the Lord in the dark night of the soul I shared with you yesterday. I’m encouraged by each of your comments!

    In today’s reading, like some of you stated, I see how relatable it is to the reality of mob mentality so frequent in our world. I suppose “getting on the bandwagon” may be another way to say it. In light of the racial tensions of our day, I’m pondering Jesus’ words “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews…”

    I do believe we are called to racial reconciliation, but I wonder if most Christians understand and live by the reality that our fight is not of flesh and blood but against the rules and authorities and cosmic powers over the present darkness and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Are we using spiritual weapons or earthly ones?

    These are questions and pleas that keep me up at night praying to be fully equipped as I put on the armor of God and intend to engage this battle with the power of spiritual weapons. I pray more and more the church will come to a more single-minded focus in the way of the Lord so we may fight the darkness with the only power that can truly save and transform us!

    1. La AnnLow says:

      Wholeheartedly agree that the change cannot be forced externally, though of course we can require that everyone be treated equally with integrity by the systems we have established in society. But, for real change that will be sustaining, God needs to do the work in men and women’s and children’s hearts. I have just realized how vital our prayers for “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” are.

    2. Emily Guerra says:

      I’ve been feeling the same way, Diana. Thank you for articulating what I’m feeling so well!! Many nights I’ve laid awake saddened/angered/etc. by all going on in our world. I’ve had the thought that while I wish racism and tension would be fully eradicated I truly believe it will not—at least in this world. We won’t see a full reconciliation of these tensions until Jesus comes back and a new Heaven and earth is created. But, that does not mean we remain complacent. We see change when we, ourselves, do our best to treat everyone with love and care. It’s not always easy, but it’s what we are called to do.

  8. Angie says:

    I enjoy rereading the various gospel verses about the same event. It reminds me that we all filter things slightly differently. God uses our life and others lives, together. God works so individually and corporately at the same time. The closer we draw to Him…the more we understand and the more we need to learn.

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