Written by Marcus Mitchell
Scripture to Read: John 19:12-16
The Jewish leaders knew how to play this right. They knew that He could no longer live if they were to hold onto their power and authority. They also knew that even though they were under the authority of the Romans, they also had greater numbers and could use that as a threat to get what they wanted. They were playing both sides of the field in order to get what they wanted, shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” The Jews were no friend of Caesar either, but they knew that by saying this, it would get Pilate’s attention. They were forcing Pilate into a corner.
The fervor of the Jewish mob was growing by the minute. Pilate was fearful of an insurrection. If there was any sincerity to his previous question, “What is truth?”, it had long dissipated. He had already had Jesus flogged, perhaps hoping that would appease them, but it didn’t. Verse 16, “Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.”
I’d like for us to think about the last phrase of verse 16, “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.” Here we are quickly coming to the end of Jesus’ life. Jesus is allowing himself to be “taken charge of”. This is much like how Christ entered the world. He humbled Himself to be born a helpless baby and be taken charge of by his earthly parents. Philippians 2:7 says He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Now, at the end of His life He is being “taken charge of” once again in order to be crucified. To think that the Creator of the Universe and the Giver of all good things is now allowing Himself to be taken charge of and be sent to His death–it is beyond comprehension.
At the time, this is also in stark contrast to how He entered the world in that His parents lovingly cared for Him, but now the soldiers were perpetrating the most violent death upon Him imaginable. He was doing this in obedience to the Father and for His love you and me as well as the very ones who were taking His life. He had already emptied Himself as he entered this world. Now He empties Himself even more, dying an inhuman death. A death we would not allow even for an animal. There is no greater depth that has been gone to, no higher price has been paid, to show us love.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.