Summary: The only man who seemed to know who Jesus was was Pilate, and he says things that make you think he's reading from a script... God's script. Why would that be?
A group of people volunteered to do a parachute jump for charity. On their first day of training, the instructor made an important point about preparing for landing at 300 feet off the ground. One woman asked “How do you know when you’re at 300 feet?” The instructor smiled and said: “Good question. At 300 feet you can recognize the faces of people on the ground.” The woman thought about this for a moment and then said: “What happens if there’s nobody there I know?”
Recognizing people… it’s an important part of living. It’s embarrassing when somebody comes up to you and they know you but you’re pretty sure you don’t know them!
In our text today, we have a number of people who don’t know WHO Jesus is. “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands.” John 19:2-3
THEY DIDN’T REALLY BELIEVE HE WAS A KING… BUT HE IS!
“The Jews answered (Pilate), ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.’” John 19:6-7
THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE HE WAS THE SON OF GOD… BUT HE IS!
“Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’” John 19:15
THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE JESUS WAS THEIR KING and yet Philippians 4:9-10 tells us the day is coming that “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The soldiers, the Jews and the chief priests none of them recognized who Jesus was! But there’s one man on the scene who seemed to get it right. One man who spoke as if he almost knew who Jesus was. Pontius Pilate
He stands before the masses and declares: “Behold the man!” John 19:5
And again, Pilate speaks and says: “Behold your King!” John 19:14
And he asks: “Would you have me crucify your King?” John 19:15
Each phrase has power. Each phrase has a deep a powerful meaning. Each phrase was spoken as if they were the very words of God. It’s almost like… Pilate is reading from a script. In fact, I think he was reading from a Script… God’s script.
Acts 4:27-28 declared that “Herod and Pontius Pilate … did what (God’s) power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”
You see, there was a script and Pilate and Herod were reading from that same script. It was a script God had written LONG beforehand. And this wouldn’t have been the first time that somebody read from God’s script: In John 11:48-51 we’re told “Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘… You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation’”
Caiaphas didn’t speak on his own he was reading from the script. And I don’t think Pilate said what he said (that day) on his own. I personally believe that the words that Pilate spoke that day were the words that God spoke… through Pilate
For example, Pilate stood before the crowd & declared “BEHOLD THE MAN!”
Now, this puzzled me for a little while. The phrase didn’t seem to make any sense! Why Pilate would say that? It just doesn’t seem to … mean anything.
Then someone noted that Pilate didn’t want to crucify Jesus. Pilate saw this whole episode as totally unnecessary and irrational. He didn’t understand the hatred that drove these people. And so, Pilate’s made this declaration “HERE IS THE MAN you find so dangerous and threatening: can you not see he is harmless and somewhat ridiculous?” (Pillar’s New Testament Commentary).
Essentially, Pilate is mocking the Jews for their cruelty, and he’d like to shame them into changing their minds. And that’s probably what drove Pilate to say what HE said. But there’s another layer of meaning to that statement: “BEHOLD THE MAN.” There’s a layer of meaning that I believe GOD wants us to see.
You see, without realizing it, Pilate had quoted a Messianic prophecy from Zechariah 6:12 “BEHOLD THE MAN whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.” This was such an obvious Messianic prophecy, that the Targum (which was an ancient Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible from about the 1st century AD) - the Targum declared: “BEHOLD THE MAN, Messiah is his name.”