Jesus is condemned
And then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. Skin and muscle and bone exposed with each lash of the whip. Soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and placed them on the head of Jesus, the King who loves even those outcast in this world. They clothed him in a robe of purple and again and again, they mocked him, Long live King of the Jews, Long live King of the Jews, as they punched him in the face.
After the soldiers have their fun, Pilate brings out Jesus, severely beaten, severely scourged, wearing a crown of thorns, and wearing a royal robe. Pilate calls out, look, here is the man, I have no reason to charge him under Roman law but before Pilate could even finish, the religious elite cried out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” They weren’t satisfied with a bloody and suffering Jesus. They wanted him dead.
Pilate takes Jesus back inside to question him. Directly addressing Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know who I am? Don’t you understand that I have the power to free you or crucify you?” Jesus finally responds, “You would have no power over me if it weren’t given to you from above.”
Deep down Pilate knew this was true and tried setting Jesus free but the crowd that had gathered wasn’t having it. If Pilate wouldn’t crucify Jesus then they would tell Caesar that Pilate had allowed a man claiming to be king to walk away free, putting Pilate’s power and life on the line. Again Pilate tried to free Jesus but even louder they shouted, “Crucify him! Take him away!”
Testing their loyalty, Pilate asks them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The people answer that they have no king but Caesar. Finally Pilate hands over Jesus to be crucified.
And it’s in this moment that something becomes crystal clear.
God’s kingdom is nothing like the kingdoms of this world. Jesus knows something that none of the rest of us do. Dying for God’s kingdom is worth it even in the face of excruciating pain and humiliation. God’s kingdom doesn’t work like any of the kingdoms we know around us. While the economy of the kingdoms of this world are rooted in the threat of violence and fear to keep them going, God’s kingdom is rooted in what some might say is reckless mercy, grace, and love. That alone makes it worth dying for.
Setting Jesus has been handed over to Pilate, whipped, mocked, dressed in a robe of purple, and crowned with a crown of thorns, an image fitting for a King who welcomes in even the outcast.
Characters Jesus, Pilate, Roman soldiers, Jewish Leaders
Tension Jesus has been sentenced to die
Jewish leaders want Jesus dead because he’s a traitor and blasphemer to the Jewish faith as they understand it.
A tension is building between the difference between Pilates kingdom and God’s kingdom. Ask your self how traitors are treated in each kingdom and you begin to get a glimpse of the difference.
Resolution Jewish leaders will get their wish.
Jesus has been arrested and handed over to Pilate. Jewish leaders are convinced that he has committed treason and blasphemy and they’ll stop at nothing to see Jesus die. Even after Jesus has nearly been scourged to death and ridiculed, Jewish leaders still want Jesus dead. It’s in this moment we begin seeing the difference between God’s kingdom and earthly kingdoms.
Pilates Kingdom vs Jesus’ Kingdom
How are traitors treated in God’s Kingdom?
This story that directly tells us about Pilate, the Jewish Leaders, and the kingdoms they lead is a story that indirectly tells us about God’s kingdom and the kingdom Jesus leads.
How does this story help me love God better? God’s kingdom is vastly differently than our earthly kingdoms. God’s kingdom runs on mercy and grace. Our earthly kingdoms run on the threat of violence. God is to be praised as we remember, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
How does this story help me love others better? By helping others understand what it is that Jesus did for them, how it’s so much bigger than just the cross.
How does this story help me love my enemies better? This one is hard. I have to realize that my enemies don’t have any power of me that God doesn’t allow them to have (that doesn’t mean they’re using the power God has given them in a way that is honoring to God). Ultimately I’m under God’s power and trying to keep that in view while I’m loving my enemies helps to keep that perspective. This world doesn’t fully abide by the way of God yet and it’s hard to navigate that while we make our way through this world.