The Charge for which Jesus was Executed

“So, they sat down and guarded over him there, and they put over his head the accusation against him, reading, ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”

(Matthew 27:36-37)

“And there was an inscription of the accusation against him, reading, “The King of the Jews.”

(Mark 15:26)

“And there was an inscription over him: ‘This is the King of the Jews.”

(Luke 23:38)

In John, we already have been introduced to this inscription, but here we see it finalized for all to see. Jesus is crucified and hung on the tree (the cross) with the inscription above him, but Matthew and Mark add an important tidbit to the conversation. Not only is this a dig at the Jewish authorities who have conspired to see Jesus executed, here is the charge or the basis of the execution.

The word that Matthew and Mark introduce here is αἰτία (aitia), which is often used in a legal sense to speak of the charges brought against a man or to explain the reason for his sentence. This is particularly important because the Jewish leaders were accusing him of claiming to be the Son of God (John 19:7). Yet, Pilate is making clarifying the reason for the execution…it is not because he claimed divinity, it is because Pilate saw him as a revolutionary: hence the accusation.

And so, as Matthew records, they sat down and watched over him there. As we have already mentioned, the morbid curiosity of man is enough to explain many actions, but add to it the curiosity of people who wanted to see if yet another miracle was about to happen, then you can only imagine the circus that must of been taking place. How sad it must have been for those close to Jesus to grieve this tragic event while the whole world was watching.

It seems to me that we gravitate, as people, to the spectacle rather than gravitating toward the truth or to the human element of an event. We get excited when big news is happening, but when real and genuine issues take place all around us, we sometimes ignore them, not wanting to get involved. How radically upside down this is in the scope of things and how much more of a significant impact we could make in one another’s lives if we were more intentional about the little things and would leave the spectacles to the masses.

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