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Pilate before the
King of Kings

 The King of kings was on a cross.

Let that statement sink in. The King of kings was hanging on a cross.

The troubling question for the Roman governor Pilate was, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11).

A harmony of the Gospels shows that Pilate tried four times to set Jesus free. First, he sent Jesus to Herod when he realized Jesus was from Galilee and under his political jurisdiction (Lk. 22.6-12). Second, Pilate offered to punish Jesus without putting Him to death (Lk. 23:16, 22). Third, he desperately asked the people to choose Barabbas, the insurrectionist and revolutionary in the place of Jesus (Matt. 27:20-26; Mk. 15:6-15; Jn. 18:38-40), and finally, he tried to stir the crowd’s pity by reducing Jesus to a bloody pulp by scourging Him (Jn. 19:1-5). 

“Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” (Jn. 18:39-40).

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?” asked Pilate.

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” they shouted.

The turning point for the coward Pilate came when he realized a riot was starting, and he did not need anymore unfavorable reports sent to Caesar in Rome. The Jewish leaders knew how to manipulate Pilate. “If You let this man go, You are no friend of Caesar” (Jn. 19:12-16). It was political blackmail.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we are forced to ask at what point in the pressures and demands of life do we cave in and throw in the towel. At what point are we tempted to “wash our hands” of Him? Family pressures, peer pressures on the job or at school, “politically correct” pressure from the media and authorities, economic and financial pressure make us decide for or against Christ everyday.

To what extent do I love Him? Is He the one consuming passion of my life? Do I by my decisions in daily life crucify Him just as Pilate did?

Pilate wanted to place the responsibility of blame off on others. “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility. I wash my hands of this responsibility” (cf. Matt. 27:24).

Pilate was not innocent; neither are we. “The wages of sin is death.” Pilate could not wash away the stains of Christ’s blood by a ceremonial washing. Neither can we.

Only the blood of Jesus can wash away the sins of Pilate, and Pilate refused Him.

His blood and His blood alone can cleanse us. The death of Jesus takes away all our sins.

What do the Scriptures say?

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Isa. 53:5-6). “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). “He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).

J. C. Ryle makes application of these Scriptures eloquently:

Was He scourged? It was that “through His stripes we might be healed.” Was He condemned, though innocent? It was that we might be acquitted, though guilty. Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was that we might wear the crown of glory. Was He stripped of His raiment? It was that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was He mocked and reviled? It was that we might be honored and blessed. Was He reckoned a malefactor, and numbered among transgressors? It was that we might be reckoned innocent, and justified from all sin. Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was that He might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths? It was that we might live for evermore, and be exalted to the highest glory (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St Matthew, p. 392).

Jesus Christ is the King of the universe today. He is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). One day the King is coming and He will judge (Matt. 26:64). What He declares about you at that judgment will be determined by what you decide about Him today. You cannot be neutral about Jesus Christ. You cannot place the responsibility off on someone else. The responsibility is yours and the consequences are eternal.

Pilate wanted to be neutral before the king. People want to be neutral today, but Jesus Christ does not give us that freedom of choice. To be “neutral” is to automatically decide to crucify Jesus.

Is Jesus Christ the King of your life? Have you become His subject? You and I have the opportunity and privilege of bowing in submission to Him today, or bow before Him in terror at the judgment day. But we cannot wash our hands of Him.


Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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