Sunday, April 3, 2022

Posted on Apr 01 2022

John 19:1-6a = Jesus Is Condemned to Die

Bible Background: Jesus was brought to Pilate (in chapter 18, we read last week), and Pilate knows Jesus is innocent, and tries to release him again. But Pilate also has to appease the crowd. So the verdict is: Jesus is innocent, Pilate is caught in the middle, and Jesus will die. As we’ve come to see in John’s gospel, Jesus is really ‘in charge’ of his fate.

Digging Deeper: 1. There’s a lot of brutality and irony in this reading: Pilate knows Jesus is innocent, but has him flogged anyway. Perhaps to try to appease that angry mob? The soldiers mock Jesus by putting a purple robe (the color for royalty) and a crown of thorns on his head. They have no idea how ‘correct’ they are-that Jesus is a king! The devout religious people who handed Jesus over to Pilate, and who are bound to obey the 1st Commandment (“You shall have no other gods”), claim-“We have no king but Caesar!” (And Caesar is the emperor who claimed to be ‘a god!’)

2. Pilate is quickly realizing the limits of his authority, and is said to be “more afraid than ever”. (Fear and power; fear of losing power, are never good combinations!) He asks Jesus “Where are you from?” This is actually the important question in John’s Gospel, and the answer would be: “I come from God!” But Jesus keeps silent. We readers know the answer!

3. John is very precise about “timing”, and his record of events is 24 hours earlier than Matthew/Mark/Luke portray this to be. It’s the day before the Passover festival starts; the Day of Preparation. It’s believed that on this day the passover lambs were slaughtered for the meal. In John’s Gospel, remember, Jesus is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” He truly is the sacrifice for sin!

4. This sad and complicated scene is also a microcosm of human systems and fears and behaviors. Pilate knows what is ‘right’ and is unable or unwilling to do it. The soldiers give in to the temptation to abuse the power they have over their prisoner. The religious leaders have gotten on this feverish effort to stop someone from appearing to threaten their authority, and so they sell their souls to expediency. Take a breath and give thanks that these are the kind of people (we are the kind of people!) for whom Christ was willing to lay down his life!