Summary: Jesus identified with sin and sinners on the cross. As He died, He continued to fulfill prophecy and obey the Father.
7 10 2016 “The King of Glory on a Cross” John 19:17-30
Pilate could not stand up against the pressure of the Jewish leaders and so he freed Barabbas and sentenced Jesus to die by crucifixion. After receiving beatings and scourgings, we read that Jesus begins his walk to Golgotha. In John 19:17 we read: “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”
The King of Glory identified with sin and sinners
The brevity of John’s writing still includes a reality of Jesus’ life: The King of Glory identified with sin and sinners throughout His humanity, and now, also, on the Cross. Jesus was placed under the weight of the cross, struggling to a place just outside the city gates to Golgotha, the place where guilty criminals, murderers, thieves, and betrayers were executed. It was a place that had known many excruciating deaths.
Luke 23:33 calls the place “Calvary” which is from the latin word, “calvaria”, which also means “skull”. In the Greek, Calvary would be “kranion” (the cranium is the skull). You hear churches by the name “Calvary” but not very often Golgotha, but they mean the same. The “place of the Skull” is where criminals and traitors were crucified outside of Jerusalem.
Crucifixion was a trademark of the Roman Empire reserved for traitors. Sinners have committed COSMIC treason against God, having betrayed Him with their sin. It was us who deserved to be killed for our sin against the Holy God, but instead it was here that the innocent King of Glory would give His life as a ransom for many who would believe in Him. Paul would later write: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus was surrounded by sin and sinners throughout His lifetime, yet never once committed a sin Himself; now He would be crucified between two common criminals. The text makes a clear point of it: ”They crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.” Isaiah 53:12 had prophesied this when it said: “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”
We know from Luke 23 that being crucified among the transgressors gave Jesus one more opportunity to reveal His saving power when the one thief on the cross is saved in the last moments of His life on the very edge of eternity, showing that no one is exempt from God’s saving Grace while they are still alive. Imagine the eternal joy of that thief when he went from the agony of the cross to the unbelievable dwelling place of God.
A True Inscription
19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, "I am the King of the Jews." 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."
Pilate had repeatedly referred to Jesus as “King” even though the Jews had denied Jesus’ Kingship, but in the end Pilate writes a true inscription to refer to Jesus: “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.” It is amazing that after all the lies, false accusations, and a sham of a trial, the inscription which was placed above the Jesus to announce the reason for His execution was actually a public announcement and declaration of the Kingship of Christ. It is ironic that the Pilate, who asked, “What is truth?” placed this true inscription above the head of the King of Kings, declaring the truth in the three major languages of the day, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, so that none would miss this truth which had eluded so many.
As you may remember, the wise men had asked the question early in Jesus’ earthly life: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matt. 2:2) Jesus had never said that He was King of the Jews or King of Israel, but had not denied it either. He boldly said in John 18:36: "My kingdom is not of this world". Throughout His ministry, He used many parables to explain the very essence of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven). Kings reign and Jesus first ascended the Cross and then ascended from the dead as two steps leading to His Heavenly throne. His suffering and humiliation were necessary for His imminent glorification and exaltation: He is not only the King of Israel or the King of the Jews but King of Kings and Lord of Lords over Heaven and Earth, and that, FOREVER.