The Bible says in John 19:16-20, "Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led 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: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title 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."
Pilate finally delivered Jesus to be crucified, because the Jewish leaders would not give in to his attempts to set Jesus free. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but Pilate was a politician who did that which was expedient for the sake of his career instead of doing the right thing when the chips were down. Let the mistake that Pilate made be a lesson to you. When itís a question of ethics or morality, always do the right thing. Do the right thing until the stars fall, or you will live to regret it. No matter what other people do, make sure that you do the right thing.
There are a lot of things that we can learn from Pontias Pilate. There are times when compromise is the best answer, but there are other times that if you compromise, you will make a fatal moral mistake. One of the challenges of life is knowing when to compromise and when to dig your heals in and do what you think is right no matter what are the consequences. Pontias Pilate is a perfect example of someone who compromised when he should not have. He will forever be known for his compromise that let an innocent man be executed, and not just any man: but the Lord of Glory.
Another thing that we see very clearly in the example of Pontius Pilate is the blindness of those who do not believe. Pilate spoke face to face with Jesus, and even though he knew that Jesus was innocent, he did not know who Jesus really was. In contrast to Pilate, when Peter stood before Jesus, Peter said to Jesus, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter knew who Jesus was because it had been revealed to him on a spiritual level. No one can truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, and no one can say that they believe and mean it, unless God reveals it to them. The Jews shouted to Pilate to crucify Jesus because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. This news startled Pilate and he asked Jesus, "Where did you come from?" But Jesus would only say, "I came into the world to bear witness of the truth." And then Pilate said, "What is truth?" Pilate was face to face with truth and yet he did not recognize it. Thatís the blindness of the darkness of this world. Pilate did not know who Jesus was, and therefore he sent Jesus out to be crucified.
Pilate thought that he was sending Jesus to be crucified in order to keep quiet an unruly crowd. But we know that Jesus came into the world for this moment. Of all the heroes and super heroes that have been invented by man, none has come close to doing what Jesus did. He went out to die for the sins of the world, and as Jesus left the place of judgment and headed toward the place of the crucifixion, the Bible says that He went bearing the cross. There is a symbolism to the fact that Jesus went, bearing the cross. The believers in Jesus; have always been fascinated by the cross and what it symbolizes. The cross is probably the greatest symbol of Christianity. We see crosses everywhere, donít we? We put them on the tops of church buildings, we hang them around our necks and make other jewelry with them. We use crosses for the living and the dead because as well as hanging them on the walls of our homes, we also use them as grave markers. We are not strangers to the cross. We probably see many crosses every day. Even if you did not consider the countless other ways that Jesus has changed the world, just by looking at all the crosses everywhere, you would be impressed by the degree to which Jesus has affected the world.
Those who lived in the days of the Roman Empire were not strangers to crosses either, but for a different reason than we are. Death on the cross was designed by the Romans in order to keep people in fear and subjugation. The Romans ruled by a rod of iron. The Roman Empire grew by means of the Romans conquering other cities and other lands, and then keeping these other peoples under control by fear. Death by crucifixion was not given to Roman citizens, only to the subjugated peoples. Criminals were crucified and those who attempted uprisings against the Roman government were crucified. If there were large numbers to crucify, the streets would be lined with crosses of the dead and dying who hung naked and bleeding. It was a horrible instrument of torture and death. The cross symbolized shame, torment, and agony. No one would have wanted to be associated with a cross.
But Jesus willingly became associated with the horrible cross. He bore both the shame and the suffering. He bore the sins of the world. The innocent one, who is Jesus, suffered in the place of the guilty, who are you and I. Jesus went bearing the cross, and it crushed Him down, and He died upon it. We are not able to conceive of what it must have been like to bear the weight of the sins of the world, but we do have the symbolism of the cross to give us a glimpse of what Jesus really bore for you and I, and for the rest of the world. Think of the cross: rugged, very heavy, and blood-stained. Someone died there on the old, rugged cross; and if you believe in Jesus you can enter into the benefits of that death. The sins of the world were judged and punished and done away with on that cross, and if you believe in Jesus all of your sins will be considered already judged, already punished, already done away with. Thatís why there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.
Jesus went, bearing the cross and it crushed Him down, and He was nailed to it and He died upon it. By crushing Him down, as He carried it on the way in our place; the cross symbolizes the weight of the cares of this world. Humans were not designed to be able to bear the weight of responsibilities and cares and troubles that this life can bring. Thatís one of the reasons that people go out of their minds or that they turn to drugs or the abuse of alcohol. If you try to bear what life might bring your way without learning to trust in God, you are in danger of being crushed. Thatís why Jesus said, "Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." The reason that he can give us rest is because He already bore the cross for us. Yes, you also have a cross to bear but yours is much lighter than His. Let Jesus take the heavy cross and you take the light one. Thatís the way He meant it to be. Remember when He said to the disciples, "In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
The Bible says that when Jesus was crucified, Pilate had the soldiers write on a sign: THE KING OF THE JEWS. Normally when a person was stripped naked and tortured and nailed to a cross, there was no sign or writing nailed on their cross with them. So one thing that was different about the cross of Jesus from other crosses was the sign that had written on it: THE KING OF THE JEWS; and it was written three times: once in Hebrew, once in Greek, and once in Latin: languages that represented the entire Roman Empire. Jesus is more than the King of the Jews and more than the king of the Roman Empire: He is the King of the universe. Just like Pilate the world still only vaguely understands the degree of the power and authority of Jesus of Nazareth, but one day they will see the One who was crucified return in power and great glory, and then the whole world will know how great is His majesty. Make sure that you bow before Him in love and submission, because if you reject His love and mercy and grace, you will eventually come under His just judgment because He is the King.
In John 19:21-27 the Bible says, "Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, the King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themsevles, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which says, They parted my clothing among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his motherís sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother, Woman, behold your son. Then said he to the disciple, Behold your mother. And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at the crucifixion. If you want to know what she felt, then go to death row and find the mother of one who is to be put to death and ask her how she feels, and then multiply it many times over and you might know how the woman who gave birth to the Son of God must have felt to see her own son put to death in the prime of his life. When Jesus had been born into the world in the manger of Bethlehem, great things had been said of Him by angels and prophets. It must have required a very strong faith to still believe those things at this dark hour when all seemed lost. But Jesus was ever the son that He should have been and He made sure that His mother was taken care of by designating one of the apostles to take her into his home. Jesus thought of others instead of himself even in His last dying moments.
The Bible says in John 19:28-30, "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. Now there was 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: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
Before Jesus died He said, "It is finished." Jesus came into the world to do the will of the Father, and He finished it. It should always be our goal to finish the work that is given us to do, but Jesus is the only one who did it completely and totally and perfectly. If you are alive, then you are alive for a reason. God has something for you to do. Hopefully, you will finish what God has given you to do while you still have time.
When Jesus said, "It is finished," He was probably talking about several things in addition to finishing the will of God. Jesus finished fulfilling the law. No one else has ever fulfilled the demands of the law, but Jesus has. Thatís why you cannot be saved by trying to fulfill the law; but you can have the righteousness of the law through Jesus. What you cannot do, Jesus did for you because before He died He said, "It is finished," and you can enter into the completed work of Christ through faith in Him. If your faith is in yourself and in what you have done or might someday do, then you will have a very incomplete righteousness that will not be able to stand at the judgment.
On the cross Jesus also finished paying for the judgment of God against sin. A judge who is just must hand out a punishment that is deserved. It would be an injustice to let the guilty go free. Therefore, Jesus bore the punishment of the sinful and the guilty so that God could be just and still be a justifier of all of us who would otherwise deserve punishment. When Jesus said, "It is finished," undoubtedly He meant that He finished paying for the sins of the world.
In John 19:31-37 the Bible says, "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for the sabbath day was a 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 crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and there came out blood and water. And he that saw it bear record, and his record is true: and he knows that he says true, that you might believe. For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture says, They shall look on him whom they pierced."
The Romans used crucifixion to execute people because they did not want the people to die right away. They wanted them to be tortured and to die very slowly. In this situation they wanted the three men who were crucified together to die sooner, so the soldiers came with their spears to finish them off, which they did to the two thieves. But they were surprised when they came to Jesus and found that He was already dead. The reason that Jesus was already dead was because He had the power to save His own life and He had the power to give it. In reality no one killed Him. He gave up His own Spirit and went back to the Father once He had finished paying the penalty for sin. Death is when the spirit leaves the body and only God decides when that will happen, and He decided it for himself. After dying for the sins of the world, Jesus left the human body that He entered at Bethlehem. If you believe in Jesus, when you leave your human body you will be able to join Him in the Kingdom of God.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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