"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be the king of the Jews." Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."" (John 19:19, 21, 22)
Mom and I have been reading the Bible together out loud for a few years now. Going to college made for a more complicated nighttime tradition. Last night, we read John chapter 19. It was one of those moments where you read a story you've heard thousands of times, but you suddenly see it in a different way.
When I read what Pilate wrote on the sign for the cross, I immediately thought that he was mocking Jesus. The entire time before the crucifixion, Pilate seemed to be advocating for Jesus to be released as he couldn't find any solid reason for Jesus to be put to death. He seemed to be acting like the good guy, so why was he putting such a sign up on the cross for all to read?
But then I kept reading.
The chief priests went up to Pilate and started complaining. "Dude,"--(this is my paraphrase of course)--"don't make it look like you're buying into this 'King of the Jews' junk just because he said so!" They wanted him to change it, to change the notice to say "Jesus of Nazareth, who claims to be the king of the Jews." King, with a small "k". But Pilate would have none of their ranting and raving, instead, he stood his ground. "Guys, what I wrote on that notice is what I wrote. I'm not going to change it because it ticks you off."
Now let's stop and think about this. Pilate is a Roman official. He's not a Jew. Pilate is a man of many gods. This whole "follow Jesus" thing isn't exactly up his alley. But he is better able to see Jesus than the Jewish priests are because he's not blinded by their same laws and commands. He sees Jesus' innocence and wants to fight for it, but can only fight so hard before he recognizes it's a losing battle. So what does he do? He acknowledges who Jesus claims to be. He puts it up in big letters on a sign, telling the world that Jesus is the King of the Jews.
What is wrong with this picture? Is it that the Roman is the one who acts like he believes Jesus instead of the God-fearing Jews? That's what bugs me. Shouldn't it have been the other way around? That's the logical answer. But God doesn't always work that way. No, He likes to throw us little curveballs and show us again and again that He is in control and will use people how you would least expect them. The Jews were filled with Scriptures; they knew the Old Testament backwards and forwards. The high priests were like the professors with the PhDs. But sometimes, the less we know, the better we can see. And I'll let you take that however you will.