When Pilate hung that sign on the cross, he proclaimed truth to the whole world. He wrote, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” in 3 languages. The Hebrew words were understandable to the Jewish and religious culture, the ones who were leading the revolt against Jesus because He claimed to be the Messiah or the Anointed One. The international language at that time would have been Greek, so those words communicated clearly to the culture of wisdom, art and commerce. Latin was the official language of the Roman empire and would have been read by the political and military intelligentsia.* As he made his decisions, Pilate gave in to the pressures of men and to keeping the endorsement of Caesar, but he did one thing without anyone else’s approval and that was to announce to the world, whether he grasped the truth of it or not, the real identity of Jesus.
In contrast to a man who was swayed by the opinions of others, concerned about his position and title, full of fear, insecurity, anger, and driven by the intensity of the crowd, Jesus was totally calm. He knew what His identity was – He was the Son of God and the Son of Man. He was focused only on doing His Father’s will. He understood that while circumstances made it look like Pilate had the power of life or death over Him, He was actually in total control of all of the events. He believed with certainty that He was the King and that His kingdom was not a threat to Roman rule. Those who had listened with open ears and open hearts knew, even in those traumatic hours, what He had told them about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. They knew that someday Jesus would come and establish His kingdom on earth. They knew that His claim to be King – the Messiah – the Anointed One – had all made sense to them. They knew that He had come to bring them the gifts of peace and joy and a future. They knew that they would have to wait and see how He would make His promises come true.
In the darkest hours of their life, perhaps they remembered Jesus’ words to them when He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16) or “Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” (John 14: 19 – 20) Words spoken by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords are worth remembering now, just as they were then, don’t you think?