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April 3, 2022 – Denial, part 3 – 5th Sunday in Lent

John 19:1-16a Jesus is condemned, they have no king but Caesar.

Pilate does odd things to start this passage. Jesus is brought out with no grounds for a charge, but after being whipped and dressed in a purple robe, crowned by thorns. That doesn’t feel right for how we should dismiss someone who has no charges against them, who is innocent. Pilate presents Jesus, whipped, robed, and crowned, to the chief priests. 

The chief priests yell for him to be crucified. Pilate is willing to hand Jesus back over to the Jewish leaders to be crucified. They then say that Jesus has blasphemed. This disturbs Pilate, who returns to Jesus and hears more testimony about who Jesus is. Pilate invokes his authority and Jesus overrules Pilate’s authority. Pilate now wants to release Jesus, and the leaders challenge him on political grounds this time, asserting that Pilate is a traitor to the emperor if he doesn’t battle the king of the Jews. Pilate asks the Jewish leaders if they want him to crucify their king, and they respond that they have no king but Caesar. (Contrast this to the first Christian creed, which is “Jesus is Lord.” As a contrast to “Caesar is lord.” They hand him over to be crucified and Jesus is taken prisoner. He goes from being set free to prisoner in the course of this passage, and the Jewish leaders imitate Peter in denying Jesus once more.

For us, when have we turned away from Jesus’s authority in our lives? When have we asserted that we are citizens of the state rather than citizens of Christ’s kingdom? When have we seen religious people be less clued in to God than secular people? How does the church miss the point of the Gospel, and what might move us into a deeper understanding of the Gospel?

Worship at First Presbyterian Church of Marion, Illinois
Worship at First Presbyterian Church of Marion, Illinois
April 3, 2022 - Denial, part 3 - 5th Sunday in Lent