2020-02-06 - What I Have Written
The Cross Series, Part 41
Originally Published 1998-05-28
John 19:19-22 And Pilate wrote an inscription also, and put it on the cross. And it was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS." 20 Therefore this inscription many of the Jews read, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek. 21 And so the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews'; but that He said, 'I am King of the Jews.'" 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
From the first moment the Procurator was leery of the Jewish leadership. In spite of his caution, Pilate has been maneuvered and cornered politically. He probably could not have imagined a situation quite this bad. We’ve all had bad days where nothing we try to do or say works or comes out right, but this was beyond reason. He is not foolish. In fact, in many places he shows good insights. He perceived that the Council’s motivation was jealousy.
Matt 27:18 For he knew that because of envy they had delivered Him up.
Pilate was even urged by his wife to have nothing to do with Jesus. She had a dream that scared her deeply enough to warn her husband at his job. She would not have done this lightly. Neither Pilate nor Herod could find anything Jesus had done that would be worthy of death. Herod was unhappy that Jesus had not entertained him with a miracle or two, but had not condemned Jesus. Pilate tells them directly that their charges are unfounded.
Luke 23:14-15 and said to them, "You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15 "No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.
The charges of a condemned prisoner where nailed above his or her head as they were crucified. The actions of Pilate here have some interesting possibilities. His stern, quite possibly angry refusal to change what he had written was directed at the Jewish leadership and the mob. Pilate was probably also furious with himself for letting the situation get so far out of hand. He had found no reason to convict Jesus of anything at all, and yet He hung naked and nailed to a cross before the Governor, dying. The Council’s envy and stirring up the crowd against Jesus were thinly veiled heinous crimes in their own right.
There is another interesting possibility. Pilate had spent a good part of the morning one-on-one with Jesus. Jesus had never answered to anything but a true statement. He had claimed a curious Kingship - not of this world. And he had explained to Pilate that the Governor had no power over Jesus that the Father had not granted Pilate. The things Jesus said where said with authority and certainty. Pilate may have been offering Jesus what little dignity that was within his power to give. Or could Pilate have wondered if Jesus’ claims had any validity? It is possible that a seed was planted that day in Pilate’s heart and life? The conviction with which Pilate refused the chief priests' demand may have been an infantile statement of belief.
Pilate’s statement was made with angry conviction. What was brewing deep down in his heart is unknown to us. It was, in a way, prophetic. One day soon, Jesus will return to earth and touch down on the Mount of Olives as King. The tattered remnant of Jews will seek Jesus’ protection as they flee to Petra. Jesus will fulfill the prophecies that have the Jewish people looking for in their King Who will throw of the yoke of oppression. At His second coming, Jesus will vanquish the enemies that besiege the apple of His eye; and they will call him King and Messiah. Will Pilate be there with the returning Jesus? Will you be there?
Lord Jesus - Again You show us that there is no one person that is beyond Your touch or your reach. This man who sat in judgment of You was the recipient of Your time and grace. Teach us to pray for our persecutors and reach out to them with the simple truth that You love them. Amen.
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All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.