My observations are of 5 different parties or groups in this chapter.
- Political Pilate (v1-16): Pilate did not want to crucify Jesus and he fully desired to release him for the whole matter to “go away”, but more than that, he feared anything that would diminish his power and authority. When the Jews tied Jesus to disloyalty to Caesar, the political risk of freeing him became too much. Pilate ordered Jesus to be crucified.
- Jesus (v 11, 26, 30): Jesus establishes God’s control over the situation. Jesus told Pilate that he only had power because God allowed it to be. The sign on the Cross rightly proclaimed Jesus as King of the Jews despite the Jewish Leader’s protests. Finally, Jesus gave up His Spirit describing some sort of act of will or control on His part.
- The Desperate Jewish leaders (v1-15, 21): These Jewish leaders are adamant that Jesus needs to die for claiming to be the Son of God. This claim threatens their power and position as well, which make them all the more desperate for Jesus to be crucified.
- The Indifferent Guards (v1-3, 16-24, 32-34): The guards in this story are just doing the bidding of Pilate as they punish flog, insult, taunt and eventually crucify Jesus. They don’t seem to give much thought to Jesus and are more interested in having cruel fun at Jesus’ expense and getting their share of his clothing.
- The faithful followers (v25-27, 35-40): John, Jesus’ mother Mary and others risk insult or other consequence to be there near him as he is crucified. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus risk accusation as well by asking Pilate for permission to take Jesus’ body down. Then, they lovingly prepare his body for burial before the start of the Sabbath.
In reflection, these caricatures are still played out every day around us – when it comes to Jesus. Many, like Pilate and the Jewish leaders, will disrespect, disown or disgrace the name of Jesus because He is a threat to their position, comfort or beliefs. Some, like the guards, will take Christ’s name in vain or dishonor Him just for sport or out of sheer disengagement. But then there are the few who, quietly and at risk to themselves, stand loyal in honoring the name of Jesus both publicly and privately in word and deed.
My application question is which group do I represent? Do I follow the masses in disregarding or dishonoring Jesus or do I stand loyal by Him despite the risk or consequence? When the truth of Jesus threatens my position, power or comfort, do I desperately try to maintain my status quo – or am I willing to honor him despite risk of reprisal?
And there still is Jesus. Just the same today as then, He still establishes the proof that God is the One in control and is Sovereign. Those who mock or oppose Jesus only can do so because God allows it now for a season. But the day will come when “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” (Philippians 2:10).
Lord Jesus, my desire is to be a John, Mary, Nicodemus or Joseph who will stand by you even if it gets tough or means risk of some consequence. Please, Lord, help me through your Holy Spirit to stand firm as your servant and your disciple. In Your name, I pray. Amen.
Posted on Tue, November 17, 2015
by Brian Landers