John 18:33–19:3, 9–11comment (0)
January 30, 2014
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: John 18:33–19:3, 9–11
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Our King: Condemned!
John 18:33–19:3, 9–11
Many adults in the United States and other western nations have a limited understanding of royalty. We might be intrigued and even excited over the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding or some other ceremony, but we think little about the actual authority of a royal family. While Jesus affirmed that He was a King, He explained that His kingdom was of a different order than other earthly kingdoms. As the Eternal King, Jesus exercises the highest authority and deserves our wholehearted submission and loyalty. Today’s lesson investigates the nature of Jesus’ kingship and specifies how we need to submit to His authority.
Unlike Any Worldly King (18:33–38a)
During Jesus’ first civil trial, Pilate was attempting to learn if Jesus was a threat to the Roman Empire. The Jewish religious leaders said He claimed to be king. When Pilate asked Jesus point-blank, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied by asking Pilate the source of his information. Pilate indicated his information came from the Jewish leadership. Jesus then asserted that He was a King but that His kingdom was not “of this world.” By this phrase, Jesus did not mean that His kingdom is not going to be on this earth someday. He meant that His kingdom does not have its source or origin in earthly political power or in national ambitions. His kingdom has no connection with the evil world system that is in rebellion against God. At His Second Coming, He will establish His kingdom on the earth with justice and righteousness. He is unlike any worldly king. We can recognize and serve Jesus as our Eternal King.
Rejected as King By Some (38b–40)
Apparently Pilate understood what Jesus meant. Though a King, Jesus was no threat to Rome. Pilate announced to the religious leaders that he found Jesus guilty of no offense against Rome. Finding no grounds to condemn Jesus, Pilate offered to release Him. But the accusers demanded that Barabbus (a well-known terrorist) be released, not Jesus.
Sadly there will always be some people who adamantly reject Jesus as their King. But we who are His followers humbly submit to Him and serve Him regardless.
Mistreated as King By Others (19:1–3)
Apparently Pilate was intimidated by the religious leaders, because, contrary to justice, he ordered Jesus punished by scourging, a beating with a whip embedded with bits metal and bone. The soldiers mocked Jesus as King of the Jews. They placed on His head a crown made of thorns; they threw upon His shoulders a purple (the color of royalty) robe; they slapped Him, all the while mocking Him with these cynical words, “Hail, King of the Jews.” This was only the beginning of our Lord’s mistreatment. We need to be aware that even today some people or groups will act with hostility and violence toward Jesus by threatening those who serve Him as King, and we can pray for strength to faithfully follow Him regardless.
Divine Authority as King (19:9–11)
In all of this, Pilate proves to be a pathetic and tragic figure of a man. Knowing he had violated Roman law and had confessed with his own lips that Jesus had committed no crime, he did not have the moral courage to free Jesus because he feared the Jews. When Jesus refused to answer His question, he threatened Jesus. As the Roman governor, he had the authority to release Jesus or to crucify Him. Jesus’ self-control was amazing; He was more composed and calm than Pilate. In response to Pilate’s threat, He quietly remarked that whatever authority Pilate possessed had been given to him by God. We who are followers of Jesus can submit ourselves to Him as our King and serve Him confidently because His divine authority supersedes all worldly authority.