Today’s Reading: Matthew 26:47-68, 27:1-26; Mark 14:43-65, 15:1-15; Luke 22:47-54a, 63-71, 23:1-25; John 18:1-11, 28-40, 19:1-16
“Look, my betrayer is here!” – Mark 14:42b
But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.
But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. – Luke 22:47-53
They took Jesus first to Annas and then to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest – the one who had joined in the plot to kill Jesus. They brought many false witnesses in to tell lies about Jesus and they brought up the moment when Jesus had said, “I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days, I will build another, made without human hands.” Even though they couldn’t get their stories straight, the people still cried out, “Guilty! He deserves to die!” Then the guards mocked him and beat him, they blindfolded him and hurled insults at him (Mark 14:53-65).
The next day, Jesus stood in front of the elders, leading priests and teachers of religious law. They condemned him for saying he was the Son of God. They bound him, led him away and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
When Judas heard that Jesus had been condemned to die, he went back to the leading priests and tried to undo what he had done. It was too late. He threw the silver coins down, left the Temple and hung himself (Matthew 27:3-5).
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “king” is a male monarch of a major territorial unit, especially one whose position is hereditary and who rules for life; or a paramount chief. If the word king is capitalized – “King” – it is by definition God or Christ. The dictionary actually offers 7 different definitions of the word “king”, including the playing card, the chess piece, the crowned checker, or a kind of salmon. The shortest definition and the one I choose again today – God or Christ.
Defining who was “King of the Jews” was the argument surrounding the trial of Jesus Christ. Pilate asked Jesus if he was king of the Jews and Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
Pilate said, “So, you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
“What is truth?” Pilate asked (John 18:36-38).
Finding Jesus not guilty of any crime, Pilate went out to the people and asked them, “Would you like for me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”
But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas” (John 18:39-40).
Just moments before Jesus was going to die on the cross for their sins, the people were emphatically denying him and crying out for his death – “Crucify him! Crucify him!” The soldiers mocked Jesus, placing a crown of thorns on his head and purple robe on his back – “Hail! King of the Jews!”
Still finding Jesus not guilty of any of the charges against him, Pilate again went out to the people and said, “Look, here is your king!”
“Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”
“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away (John 19:14-16).
But Pilate seemed to know who he was handing over to be crucified. It didn’t matter to him that the people and the Jewish leaders were rejecting Jesus, he knew who Jesus was and he was determined to make it known. As was the custom, he had a sign made to hang over each man being crucified. Over Jesus the sign read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Once more the leading priests, men appointed by God to lead His people in sacrificial worship of Him, led the people in their rejection of the promised Messiah saying, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am the King of the Jews.’” Pilate stubbornly refused, “No, what I have written, I have written” (John 19:19-22).
God’s people stubbornly refused to acknowledge His Son as their King at the same time that Pilate stubbornly refused to acknowledge Him as anything but the King of the Jews. Just as they rejected God as their King, demanding an earthly king instead, they were now rejecting His Son – the promised King.
“Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”
Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer” (1 Samuel 8:5-7).
Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. And he said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all the nations that were oppressing you. But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’” (1 Samuel 10:17-19a).
According to Webster, a synonym for “king” is “lord” – one having power or authority over others. Again, when capitalized, the word “Lord” means God or Christ. So, I have to ask myself how good of a job am I doing capitalizing God in my life? As Pilate asked, “What is truth?” I can say God is King of my life but am I truly letting go of control and letting him rule for life? I can claim Him as Lord of my life but is His power or authority evidenced in the decisions I make?
Today, I want God’s Kingship to be evidenced not only in my words but in my actions. I want to look back and see where He has brought me from and from what He has rescued me. He gets to be in charge, He gets all the authority and it is to Him that I bow in reverence this morning as I enjoy my morning coffee with the King of my life!