The Cross' Superscription

Date: PM (Good Friday)
Text: John 19:19-22
Psalters: 15, 188, 199, 276
  1. What Pilate meant.
    1. Pilate wrote what He heard the Sanhedrin say: vs. 12; Luke 23:2.
    2. Pilate wrote what He heard Jesus say (vs. 37; Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3).
    3. Pilate’s view of Jesus was evidenced in the way his guards treated Jesus (2,3; Matt. 27:29).
    4. Pilate used this wording to respond to the Jews and to Jesus, using three languages so anyone who passed by would know.
  2. What the Jews meant.
    1. They did want a Messiah, but for an earthly kingdom.
    2. So they did not want this kind of a king.
      1. The superscription identified Jesus with them - very embarrassing, so they did not want to be associated with Him.
      2. The chief priests hurried to Pilate, very irritated, to ask him to change it.
    3. Pilate is firm, even rejoicing at their irritation, for his jab at them was successful.
    4. The result was increased shame for Jesus as His own kinsmen according to the flesh rejected Him.
  3. God has His high and glorious purposes, and He is using the chief priests and Pilate to make His declaration.
    1. First, Jesus is “of Nazareth,” a real human who was identified by the city in which he was raised (Lk. 4:16).
      1. This was the common “I.D.” given to Him as a public person (Lk. 4:34; 18:37; 24:19).
      2. Remember that this is also a mark of disgrace, for nothing good was to come out of Nazareth (John 1:46; 7:52).
    2. Second, He is “Jesus,” i.e., Savior, Jehovah’s salvation.
    3. Third, He is “the King of the Jews.”
      1. He is of the tribe of Judah and He is a Son of David, a successor to King David.
      2. He is “the” King of the true, spiritual Jews (those with circumcised hearts, Rom. 2:28,29).
      3. He is crucified because He is the King and thus the cross and the superscription go together.
    4. The eye of faith sees God’s revelation describing Him as winning the battle; He is victorious.
      1. His Kingship softens the hardened sinner and proclaims the promise of soon entrance into Paradise.
      2. Is He your King? Do you live as under His rule?