The Sarcastic Humor of God

“And Pilate also wrote a notice and he put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews.”

(John 19:19)

At times, God indeed has a sarcastic and stinging sense of humor. Pilate’s words are largely meant as a warning to those coming along the road. He is saying to “would-be” insurrectionists, “don’t do what you are thinking about doing because if you do, then you will be the next person hung on a cross to die.” It was a calculated message that was also intended to rile of the Jewish authorities. It is clear to any observer that Pilate had been manipulated by the Jews to put Jesus to death and so this is also Pilate’s way to get a final jab in at the Jewish authorities…something that would embarrass them as much as it would warn off potential traitors to Rome. Such are the games of politics.

At the same time, while Pilate is making his not-so-subtle jab at the Jews and warning the people against a possible insurrection, God was making a point. Jesus indeed was, and always will be, the King of the Jews (as well as being the King of the Universe!). Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophesy given to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-13. The King has come and the people crucified him. God makes his point known, though he does it through this very unusual way — a reminder that God is sovereign over the action of the pagans as well as the believers.

And so, the King of the Jews is the pronounced title nailed onto the cross above Jesus’ head. The Jews rejected his Kingship and the Romans mocked it. True believers submit to it. The sad thing is that many who profess Christianity act more like the Jews and Romans than they do like genuine believers. A King’s word must be obeyed and submitted to. How many people pick and choose what words of Christ or of the scriptures that they allow to rule their lives? How many people follow aspects of the Bible they like rather than submitting to the unified whole of the Biblical texts? Is that not what the Jews did? Indeed, may we bow before our King not only with our words, but with our actions.

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