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John 18:28–19:16a

“Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’” (19:5).

Unlike many other ancient Roman governors, who are obscure to most people today except for scholars who specialize in ancient Roman history, Pontius Pilate is familiar to billions of people around the world. That is due to the key role that he played in the life of the most important man who has ever lived, Jesus Christ. Today we are looking at John’s account of the meeting between Jesus and Pontius Pilate.

Pilate presided over the Roman trial of Jesus that resulted in the sentence of crucifixion. During this trial, John 19:5 explains, Pilate brought Jesus forth to the Jewish priests and Roman officers, declaring, “Behold the man!” Generations of Christian thinkers have found Pilate’s words theologically significant even if Pilate himself likely did not realize the full import of his statement. In light of the full biblical teaching on Jesus, Pilate was unknowingly delivering words from God. In declaring the manhood of Jesus, Pilate alluded to the importance of the incarnation of Jesus in our salvation. As the Bible teaches in texts such as Romans 5:12–21, it was not an angel or animal that had plunged the world into sin and caused the human race to lose access to paradise. Instead, it was a human being, specifically the first man, Adam, who had brought about the fall of creation (Gen. 3). Because a man brought about the fall into sin and corruption, it took a man to bring about the restoration of the world (1 Cor. 15:21). Only a man could bring about salvation, and this is why the Son of God became incarnate in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:5–11). Because our Savior is the God-man, He can represent the interests of both our Creator and human beings, serving as the Mediator who reconciles us to God and shows us what it truly means to be fully human and modeling the perfect relationship with our Maker that was intended from the beginning.

By way of contrast with Jesus, Pilate shows us the depths to which people can plummet in their wickedness. Instead of securing justice for our Savior by setting Him free, Pilate did not let Jesus’ innocence move him to make the right decision. Instead, he condemned Jesus for the sake of preventing a revolt (John 19:1–16a). He was unconcerned with truth, which was Jesus’ driving passion (18:37). Too many people in history have followed suit, choosing what is easy and convenient when obeying the truth would be much harder.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Declaring and following the truth does not always lead to an easy and comfortable life. Our Savior died because He preached and lived the truth, so we should not think that we are guaranteed a different end if we remain committed to what is true. Yet we must remain obedient to God’s truth, knowing that the worst that anyone can do to us is but a light momentary affliction compared to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us (2 Cor. 4:17).

for further study
  • Psalm 15
  • Proverbs 12:19
  • John 14:6
  • 3 John 4
the bible in a year
  • Ecclesiastes 10–12
  • 2 Corinthians 11:16–33

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From the September 2023 Issue
Sep 2023 Issue