John 19: No king but Caesar

December 26th, 2006

Who is your king? Who do you serve? To whom do you pay taxes? Who do you rely on to rule your life? Who do you give your respect to? Who do you fear? In the time of Jesus, Israel was ruled by the Romans, who had conquered most of the known world, and the Romans were an occupying military force in Israel. The Jewish people resented having to pay taxes to the invaders, so it was disingenuous for them to say to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar,” when Pilate was asking if he should crucify Jesus their king. But what they were saying perhaps had more meaning than they intended.

John’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 19

19:1 Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 19:2 The soldiers twisted thorns into a crown, and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple garment. 19:3 They said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and they slapped him. 19:4 Pilate went out again, and said, “I am bringing him out before you, so you can know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”

19:5 Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment. Pilate said, “Here is the man!” 19:6 When the senior priests and officers saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, because I find no basis for a charge against him.” 19:7 The Jews answered, “According to our law he should die, because he made himself the Son of God.”

19:8 When Pilate heard this, he was more afraid. 19:9 He went into the Roman headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus did not respond. 19:10 Pilate asked him, “Are you refusing to speak to me? Don’t you know that I have power to release you or to crucify you?” 19:11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power at all against me, unless it was given to you from above. The person who brought me to you has the greater sin.”

19:12 Pilate was trying to release him, but the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you aren’t Caesar’s friend! Everyone who makes himself a king speaks against Caesar!” 19:13 So when Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called “The Pavement,” or in Hebrew, “Gabbatha.” 19:14 It was the Preparation Day before the Passover, at around midday. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”

19:15 They shouted, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate said, “Shall I crucify your King?” The senior priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” 19:16 So he handed him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus and led him away. 19:17 He carried his cross to the place called “The Place of a Skull,” which is called in Hebrew, “Golgotha,” 19:18 where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. 19:19 Pilate wrote a title to put on the cross. The writing said, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 19:20 Many Jewish people read this title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. 19:21 The senior priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Don’t write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He claimed, I am King of the Jews.'” 19:22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

19:23 The soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, divided his garments into four parts, one for each soldier. The robe was woven seamlessly from the top. 19:24 They said to each other, “Instead of tearing it, let’s cast lots to decide who will get it.” This fulfilled the prediction in Scripture, “They parted my garments among them. For my cloak they cast lots.” So that is what the soldiers did.

19:25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Here is your son!” 19:27 And he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother!” From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

19:28 Jesus could see that everything was now finished. In order to fulfil the prediction of Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 19:29 A container of vinegar was standing nearby, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 19:30 When Jesus had tasted the vinegar he said, “It is finished.” He bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

19:31 It was the Preparation Day, and the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath, because that Sabbath was a special one, so they asked Pilate for the men’s legs to be broken to speed up their death so that they could be taken away. 19:32 The soldiers came and broke the legs of the two who were crucified with him, 19:33 but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 19:34 However one of the soldiers plunged a spear into his side, and immediately blood and water came out. 19:35 This was seen by an eyewitness, and his evidence is true. He knows that he tells the truth, so that you can believe. 19:36 These things happened to fulfil the prediction of Scripture, “A bone of him will not be broken.” 19:37 Again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they pierced.”

19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he was afraid of the Jews, asked Pilate for permission to take away Jesus’s body. Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away the body. 19:39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus by night, also arrived with a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about thirty kilograms. 19:40 So they took Jesus’s body, and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, in accordance with the Jewish burial custom. 19:41 There was a garden near the place where he was crucified. In the garden was a new tomb in which no man had ever yet been placed. 19:42 Because of the Jewish Preparation Day and because the tomb was near at hand they laid Jesus there.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. » Cho&hellip  |  July 18th, 2009 at 8:10 am

    […] story of the crucifixion of Jesus is told in chapter 19 of John’s account of the good news, in a way that illustrates the different ideas of reality held by the different actors. Pilate had […]

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