Week Five: March 13 – 19, 2016
Read John 19
When silence screams. Jesus remained silent and refused to play Pilate’s games when he was on trial. Even in the face of the ultimate power on earth in human terms, the mighty Roman Empire, there was no mistaking in this story who is LORD. When we get in the way of what God is doing…something has to move.
Life is never static. The earth continues to rotate and orbit the sun. We have to take the first step before we will ever finish a marathon. It is great to think big but equally important to take action. God has been shown throughout the gospel of John to work in and through people on earth. Some people are shown to work for good and for God and others end up in conflict with Jesus. Are you willing to be part of what God is doing here on earth right now? Have you asked God to show you today how he want to use you?
While it may have been fun or helpful to include more contemporary stories to begin many of the chapters in the gospel of John, as we move to the final chapters about Jesus’ trial, death and resurrection, any additional stories feel trite. The writing will be reduced and the aim is to focus our attention more fully on the story itself and what God wants to reveal to us.
The Seven Scene Trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate continued (18:28-19:16a)
1. Jesus is flogged by the military (19:1-3).
The practice of the Roman Empire was that a prisoner was flogged only after they had been condemned to death. This was often not simply a whipping but had the added pain caused by bits of metal encased in the whip. The punishment this flogging doled out was extremely painful as it was designed to accomplish sometimes ending fatally.
The conflicting message of Jesus is king verses Caesar king is mockingly pushed by the soldiers who crown Jesus with a crown of thorns and wrap a royal purple robe around him. Furthermore, they taunted Jesus by saying to him “Hail, King of the Jews” (19:3)! Insult upon insult was hurled against Jesus coupled together with extreme punishment.
- Pilate presents Jesus to authorities (19:4-7).
The narrative shifts back to Pilate and crowd. For a second and third time (vv. 4, 6) Pilate makes the case that he does not have a case against Jesus. This is ironic because Pilate has already ordered Jesus to be flogged. Was he simply being sarcastic? That is not the impression I get from the text. It appears that Pilate is not comfortable in condemning Jesus to death but rather would like to push it off on the Jewish Sanhedrin.
A beaten and comically arrayed Jesus, the purple robe and crown of thorns, comes out before the crowd. Pilate says “Behold the man.” In Latin, ecce homo. These are the famous words of Pilate as he presents Jesus. Instead of empathy or a willingness to reconsider Jesus, the crowd begins to call for Jesus to be crucified.
While Pilate challenges the Jewish crowd and its chief priests who brought the complaint against Jesus to crucify him themselves, they push it back on the Empire and Pilate. They reiterate their charge that he claims to be the Son of God (v. 7) which is blasphemy.
- Jesus interrogated a second time by Pilate (19:8-11).
Fearful Pilate (v. 8) returns to his chambers to talk again with Jesus. In a last ditch effort to understand the one who said his kingdom is not from here and spoke in circles about being a king, Pilate now tries to nail down where Jesus is from. This line of questioning is met with silence. Flabbergasted or perhaps angered, Pilate attempts to wake Jesus up the crisis here and shifts tactics to talk about power.
When Pilate boasts of his position to free or have Jesus crucified, Jesus states that Pilate has no power if it were not granted him from God. Pilate’s statement to Jesus was in fact true however in his three previous to move the crowd by his statement that he had no case against Jesus, he shrunk back from releasing Jesus and tried to rethink.
- Jesus condemned to be crucified (19:12-16a).
In Pilate’s last attempt to release Jesus, the crowd used their allegiance to Caesar alone as king to push Pilate toward crucifixion. This debate led Pilate to bring Jesus to the Stone Pavement for judgment. Finally, Pilate brings Jesus out and introduces him again as their king – but they have no king but Caesar. He turns Jesus over to be crucified.
The note in (v. 14) said that it was noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. It was at this time that the lambs for Passover would begin to be slaughtered in the temple. At Sunset would begin the Passover meal and festival. This is the feast that the Jews must keep according to the law and promises of God in the Old Testament. This meal is a reminder of Yahweh (the Hebrew name for I am as revealed to Moses in the burning bush) who liberated the Jews from Egyptian slavery by the blood of the lamb over the doorpost.
At this same hour when the lambs were being killed, Jesus, the Lamb of God (1:36) was being led off to be killed. This is the one who said I am over seven times in John as the Bread of Life (6:35); the light of the world (8:12); the door for the sheep (10:7); Good Shepherd (10:11); resurrection and the life (11:25); way the truth and the life (14:6); the vine and you are the branches (15:5); and when the authorities came looking to arrest Jesus of Nazareth in the garden, Jesus said I am (he) and they all feel down to the ground (18:5).
- On the one hand, this feels like a backhanded coronation for Jesus with the crown and the purple robe. What is running through your heart as you think about the beating of Jesus by the soldiers?
- What do you take away from the way Jesus responds or refuses to respond to Pilate?
- Crowds are powerful and they can influence anyone in their presence. How do you think you would respond if you were in the crowd?