John 19:13-22 When You Stand for the Truth, the Truth will Stand for You
As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 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.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” John 19:13-22
In this episode, Pilate was put in the position between a rock and a hard place. He has to decide between divine retribution of condemning a righteous Man and the wrath of Caesar. A person in authority is fully accountable for the decision that he makes even if he tries absolving himself from that responsibility; he will still be fully accountable. But we know that if anyone stands for the truth, the truth will stand for him.
1. The Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” Pilate was caught between a rock and a hard place. Fearing divine retribution for condemning the Son of God, He again tried to release Jesus. The Jews skillfully played Pilate by accusing him for siding with Jesus who could potentially rebel against Caesar.
2. Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” After the chief priests proclaimed that they have no king other than Caesar, Pilate sought to absolve himself of the responsibility of judging Jesus. Pilate feared that by releasing Jesus, he would incur the wrath of Caesar and a possible riot in the city that could escalate into a violent insurrection that he could not contain. The chief priests’ proclamation of Caesar as their king relegated the Jewish nation into deeper bondage and slavery under Roman rule. The Jews were so despicable that they were willing to proclaim a gentile ruler as their king while rejecting their own King, Son of God who came to save them. Matthew 27:24-26 recorded,
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
3. Pilate wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” After Jesus was crucified, the chief priests did not want the inscription to proclaim as a fact that Jesus is King. They wanted Jesus to die for claiming to be the Jews’ king. So they protested to Pilate to change the inscription. Pilate refused to do so because he wanted to get back at them for forcing and threatening him. However, it is possible that Pilate, having interacted with Jesus was convicted and believed Him to be the rightful King of the Jews. Nevertheless, the inscription became a fitting judgment on Pilate, even as a gentile ruler would one day be judged by Christ, the King of the Gentiles.
1. A righteous person respects human authority, but need not fear it. Because man’s authority is a derived authority, we respect it but we need not fear it. If we have done what is right, we have nothing to fear knowing that God is our righteous Advocate. We will not be held ransom by anyone, by their threats, real or imagined. Pilate feared the Roman Emperor and what the people might do to complain against him, his fear hindered him from doing what is right. The Jews exploited this fear and Pilate caved in to his own demise. If we believe that God is our protector, then we should stand firm in the face of accusations and threats. Jesus stood firm under Pilate’s threat to crucify Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”
2. Anyone in authority will most definitely put himself under God’s authority and scrutiny. And God will judge the leader according to the decision he made. Pilate tried to absolve himself of the responsibility of making tough decisions and to execute righteous judgments even in the face of oppositions. Pilate enjoyed the perks that came with being the governor of Judea, but because he absolved himself of doing what was right, he was judged by God. Anyone who aspires to office has to hold fast to high standards of morality in his private and public life.
1. We must develop a healthy sense of respect for all fellow human beings. People relate to one another according to their social status, they have a tendency to fear those who are in authority and despise those who seem poor and weak. Some even developed a bias against certain races and favor people of some other nationalities. This is not right in God’s eyes. No matter how rich or gifted a person is, no matter what his nationality is, he is still a human being, nothing more, and nothing less. Hence, we relate to one another with mutual respect and serve one another with humility. We should accord the same respect to those who are rich and to those who are poor. Jesus is a classic example, where He related to people with love and humility.
2. We must seek not to be accepted but to be respected and trusted. Respect and trust are built upon honesty and integrity. People will work hard under the authority of one who can be depended on to do what is right every time. It is possible that one can be accepted but with no trust. Thieves accepted one another and flocked together, but they have no trust for one another. If we do what is right consistently and treat all persons equally and never speaking ill of others, we will be respected.
Dear Lord, thank you for accepting me as righteous through Your Son Jesus. Cause me to respect others regardless of their race, social status or culture. Help me to be principled in everything I do as I stand for the truth, and cause me to be trustworthy and respected. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.