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. Dorothy says:

    I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Pilate stood up to the Jewish officials and said “No I won’t crucify Jesus.” After all, Pilate’s wife warned him (Matthew 27:19) not to have anything to do with Christ due to a terrible dream she had. Of course, this was not God’s plan and I am thankful it wasn’t God’s plan. Patti writes, “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!” I praise the Lord that He sent His one and Only Son to die for my and everyone’s sins. Sisters let us rejoice and shout Hallelujah!!!!

  2. Lindsay C. says:

    Pilate, not being a Jew, was emotionally removed from the situation. He could logically see that Jesus committed no crime. The chief priests, meanwhile, were blinded by their pride, arrogance, and desire to be the most important and powerful religious leaders of the day. How often am I blinded by my own sin so much so that I cannot see the Truth?

    Pilate also did not have the conviction to stand up for the truth, and instead gave in to the persuasion of others. How often am I weak in my conviction and unwilling to stand up for the Truth?

    Ironically, Jesus will one day come back as the powerful King they all wanted, one who dominates not only Rome, but the entire world. He is coming back to break and shatter Satan’s reign on earth. Glory be to God, come Lord Jesus.

    1. Jennifer Martin says:


  3. Ashley White says:


  4. Elan Bogott says:

    Thank you for including Psalm 2, it reminded me of Revelation 6, esp v 15 & 16, “Then the kings of earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone slave or free, hid themselves… calling to the mountains & the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the LAMB…” The LAMB, the one who was slain. Surely, he is coming soon.

  5. Melissa Graves says:

    Re-reading this passage today made me aware of how frenzied mobs usually make terrible choices with tragic consequences. Case in point: Jesus, the perfect Son of God, sentenced to die a cruel death by those who disregarded all the signs of His divinity and chose instead to silence the One who was sent to save them.

  6. Mari V says:

    I’m asking myself this morning would I be one of those shouting Crucify Him? Deep in my heart I would hope not. I have to admit I’m glad that I’m living in the time that I do now. The word of God written. We know the truth. Jesus is the king of us all. It was a brutal death. One that none of us as a mom would ever want to see our son go through. Yet, Jesus was obedient to The Father giving us hope and salvation. I long for the day but I will meet my Jesus face-to-face.

  7. NanaK says:

    How much like the “church” today is Pilate? He knows the truth, doesn’t he? Yet he succumbs to the loud opposition of the crowd. How often do we, do I, as Christians let the loud, worldly voices over-shadow my own? This world need us all to stand proudly and proclaim: JESUS of Nazareth, is my King!

  8. Anna says:

    I love how the chief priests of the Jews said: No, don’t write that he IS the King of the Jews, but that he CLAIMED to be the King of the Jews, and Pilate (I imagine him squinting up at Jesus and slowly shaking his head at the chief priests here) replied: What I have written, I have written.
    I think he definitely made a statement by saying this.

    1. Leslie Warnick says:

      Interesting! Thank you for pointing that out I’d never seen that before!

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