Pilate made one last attempt to convince the Jews as he found no basis for a charge against Jesus. But the Jewish leaders insisted that Jesus had broken their laws by claiming to be the Son of God. Pilate who did not know what to make of this case was even more afraid now and went back inside to talk to Jesus. He tried questioning Jesus but got no response from Him. Pilate claimed to have the power to free Jesus. To which Jesus replied
“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”John 19:11
Not just political leaders but anyone who is in power has been given that from above. Some who acknowledge God are able to discern the source of their ‘power’ while some attribute their position to their own hard work and determination. However, God doesn’t work only through His people but through all His creations regardless of their acknowledgement of Him. Pilate was handpicked that day to carry out God’s work but he fallaciously believed that he was in control. We too do the same, when we let our status and so-called power that comes with it, go to our heads. Remember that God continues to work through all of us in order to accomplish His will.
From that moment on Pilate tried his best to free Jesus but the Jews had another trick up their sleeves. They threatened Pilate by questioning his loyalty to Caesar, that by allowing Jesus who claimed to be the king of Jews, Pilate was undermining the actual ruler of the land. The Jewish leaders hated being under the rule of Caesar but suddenly now they embraced him, just to get rid of Jesus. Pilate asked them one last time that should he crucify the king of Jews, to which the chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.John 19:15
The Jewish leaders were supposedly crucifying Jesus for the grave sin of blaspheming against God. In pursuit of their goal, they forgot about their true King and boldly claimed that Caesar was their only king. Throughout Israel’s history, they had been captured by many rulers and armies but the leaders of Israel always reserved their loyalty only for the God of heaven and earth. Calling anyone as Lord over them or even suggesting that they had another king would be tantamount to blasphemy. It essentially meant that chief priests had no regard for the God who protected them and their ancestors, and were ready to accept the earthly rulers as their kings. In their desire to get rid of Jesus they were committing an even greater sin by saying that they have no other king than Caesar.
So Pilate finally handed Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified. They made Him carry His own cross and brought Him out to the place of the skull where they crucified Him with two thieves on either side of Him. It was customary to write the crime that the guilty person had been charged with on top of the cross. That way the passersby would know exactly the heinous crime that the person had committed which led them to the cross. Pilate, probably to take one last shot at the Jews for crucifying an innocent man, commanded that the sign should read “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews”. Seeing the sign over the cross many Jews were offended as they did not get the sarcastic overtone but Pilate did not budge and Jesus was crucified that day on the cross that read the king of the Jews. Now near the cross of Jesus, there were few gathered, mostly the women who supported His mission along with His mother and an unnamed disciple.
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.John 19:26-27
Jesus’ brothers and sisters did not believe in His mission and had called Him a madman for continuing in the path of God. His brothers even ridiculed Him to His face when it came to His claims of being the Messiah. With their absence from the scene at the cross, it’s not surprising and perhaps that is the reason why Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to the disciple that He loved.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.John 19:30
Since it was the day of the preparation for the Passover the Jewish leaders did not want the rotting bodies to be left hanging on the cross. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified be broken and for their bodies to be taken down. The soldiers broke the legs of the other two men who were on the cross but by the time they came to Jesus they saw that He was already dead. Thus they did not break His leg but one of the soldiers pierced the side of Jesus and a flow of blood and water rushed out. And yet another scripture was fulfilled on that day that not one of His bones will be broken and that they will look on the one whom they have pierced.
..you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.Deuteronomy 21:23
This is yet another example of the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders where they were okay to kill an innocent man by falsely accusing Him but were against the desecration of their holy day. In adherence to the above commandment from Deuteronomy, the Pharisees did not want the death of Jesus to spoil their festivities the next day. They were blinded to see Jesus as the Messiah about whom the very same scriptures prophesied but were keen to follow the rituals so that they would not defile themselves and not be able to take part in the celebrations.
Our Sins are Buried
Later Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus went up to Pilate to retrieve the body of Jesus. Nicodemus was the Pharisee who had come to Jesus during the night perhaps for the fear of the other Pharisees and Joseph was another secret follower of Christ. While the brave disciples who promised to never leave Jesus’ side where nowhere to be found, these two secret disciples buried their Saviour according to the Jewish customs.
We can never know what is in a person’s heart and how they really feel about Christ. Someone who we may think to be a namesake follower could turn out to be the one who loves Christ the most. No doubt that these two men had access to Pilate and were in a better position to retrieve Jesus’ body than the disciples who were now marked men. But they were willing to go against their leaders whom they had feared previously even after the death of Jesus. Their faith in Jesus had not diminished with His death but the faith of the disciples was completely shaken when they witnessed His capture.
Are we the ‘secret’ followers who truly love Jesus or are we the ‘brave’ soldiers who retreat at the sight of battle? By dying on the cross Jesus bore the sins of the entire world. He died for the sins of His disciples, for the sins of His secret followers, for the sins of the Jewish leaders and even for the sins of the Roman soldiers. He has borne the sins of every person regardless of their love or hatred towards Him. How do we respond to his sacrifice? Do we run and hide from Him or do we draw near to Him to complete some formality or do we come near to Him only during a particular season? Regardless of our actions, the sin Bearer has died for all of us. It is up to us to either cherish His gift and be one with Him or ignore His sacrifice and be separated from Him forever.
V11: Are all political leaders brought to power by God?
V15: “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. What makes them say this? What are they implying?
V26: Jesus never stayed with His mother, and Mary had other sons, then why entrust her with this disciple?
V27: Why did the Jewish leaders not want to leave the bodies on the cross?
V38-39: Any thought on the fact that Jesus was buried by two secret followers while the brave disciples like Peter are nowhere to be seen?