We Have No King But Caesar?
So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. — John 19:13-16
So Pilate is engaging in a lot of pomp and circumstance to make public peace with this angry crowd. Remember, Roman Governors were appointed to maintain the peace of Rome. And this situation keeps escalating on Pilate, so to calm the crowd, he parades Jesus to the high pavement, probably a place of judgment where verdicts were delivered. Here, he makes his judgment final and presents him as "Your King." But this phrase appears to be an intolerable judgment for the religious leaders.
But then notice the response by the religious leaders.
"We have no king but Caesar."
Just ponder over that one for a minute. Jews deny they have a king and that the emperor of Rome is their only king.
So, I want you to understand the gravity of this statement. But to see it, I will have to take you on a quick history of the Kings in Israel.
Originally, God was Israel's King. Then, the people wanted a king like other nations, so God gave them kings like Saul, David, and Solomon. Then, the kings proved unfaithful, so the kingdom was divided. Eventually, both divisions of the kingdom fall and foreign kings rule them. Then, here, the actual King shows up during the reign of a mighty empire, and they deny his Kingship. Not only that, they reject they have any other King and proclaim there is no king but Caesar. They pardoned a criminal to Rome in exchange for crucifying an innocent man who was the actual King of Kings. On top of this, they sentence him for being a King they don't believe he is. And by declaring, "We have no king but Caesar," they make themselves guilty of blasphemy.
Ludicrous. Preposterous. Inconceivable.
And yet, at the same time, it is ingenious of God. Because they don't see it, but the one standing on the seat of judgment is proclaiming judgment on them. They are the ones on trial and pronounced guilty by their own words.
I guess we know what Paul was thinking about when he said this:
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. — Romans 14:10-12
This is just conjecturing but don't you wonder if Paul was standing in the crowd on this day? I do.
See Jesus's Kingship today.
In what ways might we, even unintentionally, reject the kingship of Jesus in our daily lives?
How can we ensure that our actions and words align with recognizing Him as the ultimate King?
DO THIS: Judge with care.
PRAY THIS: Lord, open my eyes to recognize Your true kingship in every moment of my life. Strengthen my resolve to prioritize Your truth over the pressures of this world. Amen.
PLAY THIS: King Jesus.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.