September 02, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
Majestic When Mocked
Behold your King
We have all been taught, and rightly so, that the Gospel of John is the Gospel which presents the Lord Jesus as the Son of God. John himself states this as his purpose for writing (John 20:30, 31). Yet as in each Gospel record, John balances his presentation. For example, on seven occasions, the Lord Jesus is referred to as a “man.” As far as being a Servant, could any incident so depict Him in His servant character as does John 13 and His washing of the feet of His disciples? While the Kingship of Christ is uniquely the province of Matthew to reveal, yet John presents the Lord Jesus in that role as well. In fact, in his Gospel record, the Lord Jesus is referred to as King no less than eleven times, beginning with Nathaniel’s confession back in chapter 1:49. The final “confession” will be the inscription on the cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
It is difficult to discern Pilate’s thinking, but he may have brought Jesus forth to the people in an attempt to force a public declaration that they recognized no king but Caesar, thus giving him some legal space to crucify Christ. But whether his motive was to appeal to their pity or to force their hands, his act was still one of mockery and scorn. The Lord Jesus was brought forth and His only crown was one of twisted thorns. His royal robes were the purple robe of mockery, no doubt stained by the blood which was elicited by His scourging. By this time, His face would have been marred and beaten.
Pilate’s mockery is not only of Christ but of the Jews themselves. He is saying in effect, “Here is your King; a King worthy of the nation!” The scorn and contempt that Pilate and his soldiers felt for the Jews was actually heaped on Christ. In mocking Him, they were mocking the nation. And so Christ became the “substitute” for the Roman hatred of the Jews; and going to Calvary, became the substitute for the ungodly (Rom 5:6). He was bearing Rome’s hatred for the Jews, the Jew’s hatred for Himself, mankind’s enmity toward God, Satan’s rage against the throne of God, and, ultimately, God’s righteous hatred of sin.
Mocked and scorned, thorn clad and bruised, He came forth to the gaze of a crowd in the grip of frenzy and mob violence. Yet He was majestic in His bearing, calm in His demeanor, and beautiful in His grace. Gabbatha was “the elevated place.” Mankind never stooped lower than there; but He was never more lovely and elevated in character than when He stood mocked and scorned in “the elevated place!”
1. Look up some of the references to the Lord Jesus as “King” in John’s Gospel.
2. What do you think Pilate was trying to accomplish when he brought the Lord Jesus forth and announced Him as their King?
3. The two names, “The Pavement” and “Gabbatha” both express different thoughts. A pavement is level and suggests fairness and justice; Gabbatha, an elevated place suggests being above the injustice of the world. How were both denied when Pilate passed sentence of Christ?