Sermon 3123. 'The King of the Jews'
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY DECEMBER 17, 1908.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DECEMBER 6, 1874.
"And Pilate wrote a title, and put in on the Cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." John 19:19.
IT was the usual custom of the Romans, when a man was put to death by crucifixion to affix to the cross, somewhere where itmight be read, an account of his crime. His name and title would be given and the accusation that had been brought againsthim so that all who passed by might read the reason why he had been put to such an ignominious death. Our Savior, therefore,being numbered with the transgressors, must be treated in all respects as they were. If their accusations were published,so must He have His accusation published among the sons of men. How wondrous was the condescension that He, whom all Heavenadored as the ever-blessed Son of the Highest, should be hanged upon a tree and that He should have His accusation writtenup over His head just as if He had been a common malefactor!
I wish we could realize both the dignity of His Person and the shame to which He was exposed. If we could realize this wewould be filled with grief for Him and with thankfulness to Him that He condescended to die the death of the Cross. I wishit were possible for us to now stand at the foot of the Cross with Mary and John and the other disciples, and to hear theribaldry and scorn for a moment-and then to look up and see that sorrowful face and that tortured body- and to read in Hebrew,Greek and Latin, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." It was a very remarkable thing that Pilate should have written,as Matthew and Luke say that he did, "This is the King of the Jews," and we do not at all wonder that the chief priests saidto Pilate, "Write not, the King of the Jews, but that He said, I am King of the Jews." But Pilate answered, "What I have written,I have written." Divine Providence always has its way! It matters not who may be the persons concerned, God knows how to workHis own will with them. It was His purpose that His Son should not die upon the Cross without a public proclamation of Hisinnocence and an official recognition that He was what He had said He was, namely, the King of the Jews! Who was to put upsuch a notice over His head as He hung there? Peter might have been bold enough to attempt to do it, but he would certainlynot have succeeded, for the Roman legionaries jealously guarded every place of execution. Even John, daring as he might havebeen in such a crisis, could not have achieved the task! It was best that it should be done by authority, done by the Romangovernor, done with an official pen and so secured that no envious chief priest dared to pluck it down and no hand of a scoffercould be lifted up to blot out its testimony. It was privileged writing because it was written by the pen of a Roman official-andthere it must stay, under the authority of the Roman Law as long as the body of Jesus hung upon the Cross. See what God cando! He can make the vacillating Pilate to become stubborn and He can make him resolve to do what one would have thought wouldhave been the last thing he would have done! Though his motive probably was to ridicule the Savior, yet the thing was doneas God would have it-and Jesus on the Cross hung there proclaimed by Roman authority as "the King of the Jews."
It may appear to you, at first sight, that there is not much importance in this fact, but I think I shall be able to showyou that there is if you will sit down now, at the foot of the Cross, and look up to your Crucified Lord and read this writingagain. I shall ask you to read it in two lights. First, in reference to man. And, secondly, in reference to Jesus Christ Himself.
I. First, read Pilate's proclamation IN REFERENCE TO MAN.
This is a picture of how the world rejects the Savior. The Savior had truly come into the world. That He might be known tobe a Savior, He had taken the name of Jesus, that is, Savior. That He might be known as One who was very humble and lowly,He had condescended to dwell among men of the very humblest kind and, therefore, He had chosen to dwell at Nazareth and tobe called the Nazarene. Thus He was known as Jesus, the Savior-and as Jesus of Nazareth, an approachable and lowly Savior.Jesus had come into the world to save men and He had commenced His mission by saving many from diseases which had been regardedas incurable. He had opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, given speech to the dumb, cleansing to lepers and He had evenraised the dead to life! There were also many whom He had healed of spiritual infirmities, for He had given faith to the faithlessand holiness and excellence of character to those who, until then, had lived in sin.
He was indeed Jesus the Savior, but how did men receive Him? Did they come and fall at His feet and kiss the very dust Hetrod upon? One might not have been surprised if they had done so, but they did not. Did they gather around Him with joyfulclamor, all sick ones eager to touch the hem of His garment that they might be made whole? There were a few who did so-"aremnant according to the election of Grace" who received Him-and to them, "He gave power to become the sons of God, even tothem that believed on His name." But it was not so with the mass of mankind! Discerning in Him something strange and singular,seeing in Him no enmity, no sinful anger, no pride, no bitterness- seeing in Him only superlative love, yet they must treatHim most foully, for His life was spent in poverty and reproach-and at last He was condemned to die on the accursed tree!The world hung Him up upon the felon's gallows and, in doing so, men said, "This is the Savior, the Nazarene, and this ishow we treat Him. We do not want to be saved from sin, for we love it. We do not want to be saved from rebellion and to bebrought into peace with God through Jesus Christ, so this is what we do with God's Ambassador! This is how we serve Him whocomes with words of reconciliation and Grace upon His lips-we hang Him up to die, for we do not want Him." This is only aspecimen of what all sinful hearts do till they are changed by Grace-they will not have the Savior to rule over them!
"Oh," says someone, "you bring too harsh a charge against me!" Is it so? Have you received Jesus? Do you believe in Him? HasHe become your Savior? If not, why not? Can you give any justifiable reason for your unbelief and rejection of Him? It seemsto me, and I leave your conscience to decide whether it is so, that by remaining in unbelief, you do practically say, "I preferto be damned forever rather than believe in Jesus Christ!" At any rate, that is your choice at this present moment. And ifa man will show his objection to Christ to so great an extent that he would be cast into Hell sooner than let Jesus save him,you may depend upon it that there dwells in his heart sufficient enmity to Christ to hang Him up again upon the Cross if Hewere here once more! Christ would be hanged tomorrow if He came here among unregenerate hearts-yes, by the very people thathang their ivory crosses about their necks and put them on their prayer books and fix them on their walls! They would cry,as their predecessor did of old, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" To this day, when Substitution is preached,and the blood of Atonement, and salvation by simple faith in Jesus-not by "sacraments" and priests and good works-men foamat the mouth with rage, for they still hate the Christ, the only Savior of the sons of men!
Next I see here that man slays the Incarnate God-"Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews." Whether Pilate intended to indicatethat He was the Messiah, at any rate the Jews saw that this would be the meaning attached to His inscription over Christ'shead. It would be said that their Messiah was crucified, consequently they desired that the writing might be altered, butPilate would not alter it. Now, the Messiah of the Jews was none other than God in human flesh. Did not Isaiah speak of Himas Immanuel, God with us? He was that promised "Seed of the woman" who was to bruise the old serpent's head. This was He ofwhom David said, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit You at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool." He was David'sSon, yet He was also David's Lord, and there He is-He has come among men and as God, He came to tabernacle in human fleshand dwell among men! It is a wonderful story that tells us how He was found as a Babe in Bethlehem's manger, where the shepherdscame to adore Him and how He grew up among men as a Man like other men, working at the carpenter's bench in the shop of Hisreputed father, yet all the while He was God veiled beneath the humble form of the Son of Mary! Even when the time came forHis manifestation unto Israel, He was still veiled, though His Godhead every now and then flashed through the veil of HisHumanity. He bade the sea be still when its wild uproar threatened to engulf the vessel in which He and His disciples were.He worked such wonders that it was clear that all things obeyed Him. The fish came in swarms from the deep to the net whichHe had
bidden His disciples cast into the sea. And the loaves and fishes were multiplied in His hands and theirs, through His miraculouspower. Men could not help seeing that He was more than man and that He was, indeed, the Son of God, as He claimed to be. Yetthe husbandmen, to whom He was sent by His Father, to ask for the rent of the vineyard that had been let to them, said, "Thisis the heir; come, let us kill Him and let us seize on His inheritance." In other words, they said, "This is the God-Man;let us do with Him what we would do with God if we could." So they hanged Him up like a felon, and put a label above His head,as much as to say to God, Himself, "This is what we have done to One who was more like You than any man we have ever heardof before, and One who says that He and You are One." O Sirs, this wicked world never went so far in wickedness as it displayedon that occasion! The essence of every sin is enmity against God and when any sin is analyzed, it is always found that itsessence is this, "No God." Sin is a stab at the heart of God. Every time we sin, we practically say, "We do not want God'sgovernment. We do not want God's Laws-we do not want God." I once heard an eloquent divine who had been accusing men of greatsin, finish his indictment by using this remarkable expression, "this deicidal world." There he reached the climax of theTruth of God, for this isa deicidal world! It cannot actually put God to death, but it would do so if it could! And in puttingChrist to death it showed the enmity towards God that was really in its heart. The world would not put its own god to death,the god that men imagine, the god that their own intellects fabricate, the god like themselves, of whom I spoke this morning,[See Sermon #1206, Volume 20-heart-
KNOWLEDGE OF GODj but as for the God of the Bible, there are
millions of men who would be glad to put that God out of His own universe if they could! Yet He is Jehovah, the one livingand true God.
Thirdly, I see here that man's chief objection to Christ is His authority, for the pith of that inscription was, "Jesus theKing. "Pilate did not write, "This is Jesus the Teacher," or many might have said, "Let Him teach what He pleases, it is noconcern of ours. We do not care what the Seers see, or what they say." Pilate did not put up, "This is Jesus the Priest."Many would be quite content to let Him be the great High Priest if they also might be priests. But Pilate wrote, "This isJesus the King," and that is the target at which they shoot all their arrows! You remember that the writer of the Second Psalmsays, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed,saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." The resolve of human nature until it is renewedis always this, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." Men might be willing for Christ to save them, but not for Himto reign over them. Such laws as these-"You shall love your neighbor as yourself," "You shall forgive till seventy times seven,"the law of love, the law of gentleness, the law of kindness-man says that he admires them, but when these laws come home tohim, and lay hold of the reins of his ambition, cramp his covetousness and condemn his self-righteousness, straightway heis offended! And when Christ says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." When He begins soteach the necessity of absolute purity and to say that even a lascivious glance of the eye is a sin, then men reply, "Hisrule will never do for us!" And they hang Him up to die because they will not submit to His authority.
Once more, we learn from this narrative that man ridicules Christ's Kingdom. Pilate did not hate Christ. He probably did notthink enough of Him to expend any of His hatred upon Him. I have no doubt that he thought that Jesus was a poor enthusiastwho had been living alone so long that He had addled His brains. He was well meaning and perhaps clever, but at the same time,not the sort of man for a Roman governor to dispute with. He was very sorry to have to put Him to death, for there were somany good points about the poor Creature that he did not wish to let His enemies destroy Him. When the question of Christ'sKingdom came up, I can imagine how scornfully Pilate asked Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" How contemptuously he musthave looked down upon such a poor emaciated Creature who seemed to be despised by everybody, as Christ said, "My Kingdom isnot of this world," and Pilate asked, "Are You a king, then?" half laughing as he spoke. He must have felt as if he couldfairly laugh Him to scorn and I have no doubt that it was in that spirit that he wrote, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,"doing it in a vein of grim sardonic humor, first, towards the Jews and secondly, towards Christ Himself, as much as to say,"This is the great King that the Jews have been looking for. They are going to fight Caesar and get free-and this is the ringleaderwho is to help them to defeat all the legions of haughty Rome." Among the ungodly, at the present day, the idea of a piritualkingdomis quite beyond their comprehension-they cannot make out what it is. The relation between Church and State will not be settledby the statesmen of any political party. There is a very singular relation between the two, though they are as dissimilaras materialism is from spirit. The realms of the two often overlap one another-you cannot draw a line and say, "So far isthe State, and so far is the Church." The fact is the true Church of God is never subordinate to the State- it moves in anothersphere altogether and rules after another fashion! A spiritualkingdom, according to some people, means certain laws and regulationsthat are drawn up by the bishops and synods and councils, but that kind of kingdom is no more spiritual than an Act passedby the House of Commons and the House of Lords! It is only another kingdom of the flesh, an ecclesiastical State of a similarkind to the secular State, but as for the spiritual Kingdom of Jesus Christ, it is not a thing that you can see with youreyes or understand after the manner of men. "You must be born-again" in order
to get into it, or even to see it! [See Sermon #3121, Volume 54-THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION.] It is too ethereal to be checkedby human legislation. It is a mighty power which Christ has set up in this world-a power mightier than all secular statescombined-a Kingdom like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which will break in pieces every other power and fillthe whole earth in God's appointed time! Oh, that we saw its power more manifest nowadays in the hearts of men-the power ofthat Kingdom of which Christ is the King, this blessed Book is the Law, the Holy Spirit is the great Executive and each ofus is a servant in the courts of the great King living and acting according to His will!
"Oh," you say, "this is ridiculous!" Yes, I thought you would say that. That is what the world always says of the Kingdomof Christ-that it is ridiculous. They can understand a kingdom in which there is a head like the Pope, and in which thereare cardinals, bishops and priests. They can understand the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of York, and allthat appertains to Episcopalians, but to know that we are one with Christ, that He has made us kings and priests unto Godand His Father, that His saints are to reign with Him forever and that the weapons of our warfare, though not eternal, are"mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds"-they do not understand it, nor do they want to understand it! Thisis why they still hang up Christ the King and say, "If this is His Kingdom, we do not want to belong to it and we do not believein it. Away with it! It is not worthy of our consideration, it is only a few low-minded fellows who will always be the subjectsof such a Kingdom as that." This is "as it was in the beginning" and "is now"-but not as it "ever shall be, world withoutend," for the King is coming, a second time, in all the splendor of His Glory and He will let the world know that althoughHis Kingdom is not like others, and is not to be kept up by gold, pomp, rank, dignity and physical force, yet it is a Kingdomwhich shall last when earthly princes and thrones shall all have passed away! And everyone who belongs to that Kingdom shallpossess a crown and a glory before which all the pomp of this world shall pale forever!
II. Now, secondly, I have to ask your attention to the subject in quite another way, IN REFERENCE TO CHRIST. What did thatinscription over His head mean?
It meant, first, that Christ's honor was clear Look at the inscription over the head of that thief who is hanging on the nextcross. "Put to death for robbery in the mountains where he was taken red-handed, having stabbed one of the guards who attemptedto arrest him." You quite understand that inscription and you pass on to Jesus. You want to know about the crime of whichHe has been guilty-you are quite sure that they will put over His head an account of the worst thing He has ever done. Thereare the chief priests and scribes and a multitude of the Jews watching to see what is written-and there is Pilate wantingto excuse his own conscience. If he can write anything that will exonerate him from the guilt of putting Christ to death,he will be sure to write it. So he takes his pen in his hand and he writes, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.""Well," you say, "is that all that can be brought against Him, that He is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews?" Yes, thatis His only offense-they cannot sum up His guilt in any other words. His crime is that He is what He is, that He was a Savior,that He dwelt at Nazareth and that He was the King of the Jews. Now, no exoneration of His Character could be better thanthat of this official accusation against Him! And if this accusation brings nothing against Him, think how much may be saidin His favor by His friends. When a man is brought before the judge, his accuser is quite sure to say all he can against him.And when Christ was about to be put to death, those who were responsible for that colossal crime had to make out as gravea charge against Him as they could. But this was all they could do-they could not bring anything else against Him except thatHe was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. See, then, how absolutely without blemish and without spot was the Lamb ofour Passover! See how He "knew no sin," though He was made a Sin-Offering for us, "that we might be made the righteousnessof God in Him." Exult, Christians, in this public and official testimony to the spotless purity of His whole life and Character!
Next, as far as Christ is concerned, we may view this inscription as the explanation of His death as well as the clearingof His Character. Keep that superscription clearly in your mind's eye, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." That isthe reason why He died. Jesus died first because He was Jesus, because He was the Savior. That is the meaning of it-not thatHe might merely be made an example-not only that He might bear witness to the Truth. But that cruel death means Atonementand salvation by Atonement. Let us all look up to Him upon the Cross. If we have done so before, let us look up to Him, again,and say, "Yes, blessed Lord, we see that You did die and that You did die to save us. And we magnify You because this wasthe cause of Your death, that You were the Savior." The whole title that Pilate wrote signified that Christ was the Messiah-andHe died because He was the Messiah. "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself." This was the wonderful language of theProphet Daniel, "cut off, but not for Himself." Cut off because He was the Sent One of God, the Anointed of the Most High!The Prophet Zachariah had also recorded the Words of Jehovah, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man thatis My Fellow, says the Lord of Hosts." There, Beloved, you have the whole reason for Christ's death condensed into a sentence!Jesus dies because He is the Savior, the anointed and prophesied Messiah, sent of God to be the King of the Jews and of theGentles, too!
But, thirdly, as far as Christ was concerned, this inscription over His head was a claim which was there and then announced.He is hanging on the Cross and there is no trumpeter to make a proclamation of His kingship, but He does not need any suchherald, for the same soldiers who fasten His hands to the wood, fasten up an inscription which is the best proclamation possible,for it is in three different languages that all mankind may read it, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." He claims to beKing, so stand at the foot of the Cross, I pray you, and acknowledge His claim! If you would have Jesus to be your Savior,you must have Him as your King-you must submit to His government, for He claims the right to rule over all who acknowledgeHim to be Jesus! More than that, He claims to rule all mankind, for all power is given unto Him in Heaven and in earth, andwe are bidden to proclaim His Kingdom throughout the whole world and to say to all men, "Jesus of Nazareth is your King, bowdown before Him. You kings, bow before Him, for He is King of kings! You lords and nobles, bow before Him, for He is Lordof lords! And all you sons and daughters of men, bow at His feet, for He must reign! And even if you are His enemies, He mustreign over you! In spite of all your enmity and opposition, you must be brought to lie at His feet. The claims of Christ,therefore, were published even from the tree on which He died, so do not resist them, but willingly yield yourselves up toJesus, now, and let Him be King to you henceforth and forever!
And then, not only was a claim of His Sovereignty made by the affixing of this title, but His reign was then and there proclaimed.In an earthly monarchy, as soon as one king is gone, it is usual to proclaim His successor. And by that accusation writtenup over the head of Christ, a proclamation was made throughout all the earth that Jesus had assumed the Throne and He hasnever ceased to reign! He went back to His Father and returned again to the earth and dwelt here for forty days. And thenHis feet left Mount Olive and He ascended to His Throne, and there He sits "expecting till His enemies are made His footstool."His Kingdom is established-do you all belong to it? It is a Kingdom that, in a certain sense, was recognized on the Crossby Pilate's proclamation, though it had existed long before, for His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom! Do you belong to it,or are you outside of it, opposed to it, or indifferent to it? Remember that he that is not with Christ is against Him! Thosewho are not on His side, He reckons to be on the other side! Are you, my Brothers and Sisters, in the Kingdom of the LordJesus Christ? If so, I know that you look with delight upon that inscription and as you trust to the blood of Christ to cleanseyou, you cast your eyes up to that dear head that was crowned with thorns and rejoice to think that Jesus of Nazareth, theKing of the Jews, is also your King and Lord and Savior!
I want to make just this other remark about this inscription. Inasmuch as Pilate would not alter it, it seems to me that Godset forth to mankind that He would never have it altered. Pilate could have sent for that inscription and, with a few strokesof his pen, could have inserted the words that the chief priests wanted, "He said, I am King of the Jews."But Pilate wouldnot do it and the High Priest could not do it-and the devil could not do it and all the devils in Hell and all the wickedmen upon earth, with all their rage-cannot do it now! God has said it as well as Pilate "What I have written, I have written.""Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." He must reign and no power can ever take away His Kingdom from Him! HisChurch still prays, "Your Kingdom come," and that Kingdom is yet to come in all its fullness when the whole of Israel shallbe gathered together and shall accept Him as their Lord and King! Yes, more than that, for "He shall have dominion also fromsea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him and Hisenemies shall lick the dust. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him."
Dearly beloved Friends, this is the conclusion of the whole matter, let us cheerfully accept Him as our King. Have we doneso? Then let us try to push His conquests on yet further and seek to extend the boundaries of His Kingdom. Are you doing this?Then, do it yet mare earnestly and do it with the right instrument, for the great weapon of conquest is the Cross. It wason the Cross that the proclamation was first lifted up and it is by the Cross that it must be carried to the ends of the earth-notby human learning or eloquence, not by bribery, or the help of the State and I know not what besides, but by the setting forthof Christ evidently crucified among the sons of men. The Cross is its own battle-axe and weapon of war. "In this sign shallyou conquer." Let the whole Church preach Christ more, live Christ more and then the proclamation of His Kingdom, which wasfirst fastened up on that Cross, shall be emblazoned throughout the whole world and the power of His Kingdom shall be feltto the very ends of the earth!
I looked into the darkness and I thought I saw a Cross before me. And I saw Him who did once hang upon it. But, as I lookedat it, that Cross seemed to grow. It seemed to become a tree and I saw it strike its roots down deep until the lowest depthsof human misery had been touched and blessed by them. Then I saw that tree tower on high, piercing the clouds, passing throughthe very firmament up above the stars, lifting Believers up upon it and bearing them to the very Throne of God by its majesticpower! Then I saw that tree stretch forth its mighty branches on every side. Their shadow fell across this highly-favoredland of ours and also fell across the land on the other side of the sea. As I watched, the blessed branches stretched outto Europe, to Asia, to Africa, to America and to Australia, also. I watched it grow till it became so vast a tree that itsshadow seemed to cover the whole earth! And I blessed and adored the God of Heaven that He had instituted so mighty a powerfor the blessing of the sons of men! O Jesus, once crucified but now exalted, so let it be! And let us be Your humble instrumentsin promoting the extension of Your blessed reign! And we will always adore You, as we do now, not only as "Jesus of Nazareth,the King of the Jews," but as "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords to whom be honor and powereverlasting. Amen."
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN19:1-37.
Verse 1. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. This was one of the most terrible punishments to which a mancould be sentenced. The Roman scourge was no trifle. It tore off the quivering flesh of the agonized sufferer for it was constructedon purpose to do so. It was generally made of the sinews of oxen, intertwisted with the knuckle bones of sheep and small sliversof bone. This torture our blessed Savior endured. These are the stripes with which we are healed.
2. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Mockery was blendedwith cruelty. They might have made Him a crown, yet surely it need not have been one of thorns unless they intended to putHim to the utmost torment that they could conceive. By this crown of thorns our blessed Lord was crowned King of the curse,for the earth was cursed through Adam's sin-and part of the sentence pronounced by God in the Garden of Eden was, "Thornsalso and thistles shall it bring forth to you." So Christ wore the mark of the curse which man's sin had brought upon theworld.
3. And said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him with their hands. This was the homage which the Son of God receivedfrom men! Harmless and gentle, He came here with no purpose but that of doing good-and this is how mankind treated Him.
4. 5. Pilate therefore went forth again, and said unto them, Behold, I bring Him forth to you, that you may know that I findno fault in Him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Beholdthe Man!Was there ever such a sight of majesty in misery before or since? Yet He needed not to endure all that ignominy-Hewas no vanquished monarch unable to maintain His own rights. He was still "over all, God blessed forever," and He could havesmitten everyone there to death if He had pleased to do so. But He was the Lamb of God's Passover, so He meekly suffered.
6, 7. When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him! Pilate saidunto them, You take Him and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him. The Jews answered Him. We have a Law, and by our LawHe ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. They no doubt understood that He claimed to be Divine and so He did.I have heard some say that He was a good man, but not God. If He was not God, He was certainly not a good man, for no goodman, who was only a man, would claim to be God, or lead others to believe that He was Divine! If He was not actually Divine,He was a rank impostor! But He was Divine and, therefore, we worship and adore Him equally with the Father and the Spirit.
8-10. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and said untoJesus, Where are You from? But Jesus gave him no answer Then said Pilate unto Him, Speak You not unto me? Know You not thatIhave power to crucify You, and have power to release You?Pilate talks like some great one, yet how contemptibly little hewas! Vacillating, cowardly, unable to do what he knew was right. His poor Victim who stood before Him was infinitely greaterin character than he was.
11. Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against Me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that deliveredMe unto you has the greater sin.Christ referred to Judas and through him to the Jews who had conspired to put Him to death.But what tenderness it was on the part of Jesus to make an excuse as it were, even for Pilate! He was notable for making excusesfor the guilty. That was a remarkable excuse that He pleaded for His murderers, "Father, forgive them, for they know not whatthey do." There was never another such a tender heart as His. He was so gentle and so kind that all their cruelty only movedHim to pity them and pray for them.
12-14. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If you let this Man go, you arenot Caesar's friend: whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar When Pilate therefore heard that crying, he broughtJesus forth and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And itwas the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said unto the Jews,
Behold your King! [See Sermon #1353, Volume 23-ECC REX.] What
mockery there was in Pilate's use of this title, and yet how true it was! They asked to have Christ put to death, yet He wastheir King. Their accusation was transparently false and Pilate made them see that it was so.
15-17. But they cried out, Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him! Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your King? Thechief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus andled Him away. And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in the Hebrew,Golgotha.The Inspired writers seem to delight to give us the Hebrew names of these notable places that are linked with Christ'slast agonies. And they are still very precious to Christians, Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha- three names never to be forgottenby those who were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ!
18. Where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst As if to show that theythought Him the worst of the three and, therefore, gave Him-shall I call it the place of chief dishonor?
19, 20. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the Cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Thistitle then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city and it was written in Hebrew,and Greek, and Latin.So that all who gathered around the Cross might read it.
21, 22. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews, but that He said, I am king ofthe Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.He could be stubborn about some things which shows that hehad strength of mind if he had chosen to use it. Yet He was beaten to and fro like a shuttlecock by these wicked men and seemedto have no power to resist them.
23. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments. For they had stripped Him. He must be naked becausesin makes us naked and His garments must be a covering for us. They "took His garments"-
23, 24. Andmade four parts, to every soldier a part; andalso His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture mightbe fulfilled.They knew nothing about that ancient prophecy, yet God ordained that they should act thus, "that the Scripturemight be fulfilled."
24. Which says, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiersdid. Doubtless, on the dice there fell the blood of Christ, yet they still gambled there. There is, perhaps, no sin whichso effectually hardens the heart as that of gambling-it is a sin with which Christians should not have even the remotest connection!
25-30. Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.When Jesus therefore sa w His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He said unto His mother, Woman, beholdyour son! Then said He to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. Afterthis, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst Now therewas set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished! [See Sermons #421,
Volume 7-IT IS FINISHED! and #2344, Volume 40-CHRIST'S DYING WORD FOR HIS CHURCH.] Consummatum est. "The work is done, Redemptionis accomplished. The salvation of My people is forever secured."
30-37. And He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies shouldnot remain upon the Cross on the Sabbath, (for that Sabbath was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken,and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucifiedwith Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs: but one of the soldierswith a spear pierced His side and forthwith came out bloodand water. Andhe that saw it bares record and his record is true:andhe knows that what he says is true, that you might believe. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled,A bone of Him shall not be broken. And again another scripture says, They shall look upon Him whom they pierced.