Bible Society of South Africa

King of the Jews – 23 September 2020

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

19Pilate wrote a notice and had it put on the cross. “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”, is what he wrote.

John 19:19GNBOpen in Bible reader

We have probably all seen the letters INRI on crosses where the death of Jesus is depicted. It is the Latin for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. This notice that Pilate put on the cross upset the chief priests of the Jews quite somewhat. They wanted Pilate to remove the notice, as according to them, Jesus was not the king of the Jews, but only claimed to be him.

Pilate was probably a bit tired of the whole business and especially the many demands of the chief priests, so he said, “What I have written stays written,” and unwittingly made the most important statement about who Jesus really is. He did not go far enough though, as Jesus was not only King of the Jews but King of the whole world.

I cannot be bothered by what the few remaining royals across the world do or don’t do, as they do not have any influence on what I do, but in biblical times, every subject had to take notice as one’s whole life was completely subject to what the man or woman on the throne wanted from one. Some kings were very good rulers who furthered the arts, sciences and literature, but others ruled to the detriment of their subjects and their countries. That was also true of the kings of Israel.

The kingdom that Jesus brought to the world differs radically from those of earthly kings. He was not crowned with a crown studded with jewels, but with a crown made by soldiers and studded with thorns. His biggest victory was not on the battlefields of the world but on the cross. When it looked as though Satan was winning, Jesus was the real winner when He gained the victory over sin and thereby affirmed his power as King for ever. Like all kings, Jesus also reigns over us, his people, but his reign is always one of love. In his kingdom, we are not subjects, but sons and daughters of the King himself.

Prayer: As one of your children, I want to thank you for being willing to wear a crown of thorns on my behalf. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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