Scripture — Luke 23:1-5 (ESV)
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
Jesus’ teaching threatened the privileged status of the Jewish religious elite. (Luke 20) It was not simply that the chief priest and scribes were opposed to the truth Jesus taught (that He is God), but that if this was true, they would be in great trouble. Under Jesus, they would have no power, authority, or rule. Logically, when someone threatens your livelihood, reputation, or power, the most effective option is not simply to passively reject them but to actively remove the threat. For this reason, they presented Jesus to Pilate as a threat to Rome.
Under Roman rule, only the Roman Empire could put a criminal to death. The chief priests and scribes painted Jesus as a revolutionary, one who disturbed the tranquility and peace of Judea. Their hope was that Pilate would believe the lie that Jesus was rising up to overthrow Rome as a Jewish king opposing Caesar.
It’s no mystery why Jesus was rejected.
In the eyes of His accusers, Jesus was not the right type of prophet. Jesus was not the right type of teacher. Jesus was not the right type of Christ. Jesus was not the right type of king. Jesus was not the right type of god.
He was rejected by the chief priests. He was rejected by Pilate. He was rejected by the Jews. And you and I reject Him too.
The truth of Jesus as Lord over all brings trouble. We no longer can sit on the throne of our life when the true King shows up. There is a new Sheriff in town, and those crooked scoundrels must either scatter or take Him out if they want to continue in their mischief.
Part of our problem is we wrongly assume which characters we are in the story of the Gospel. We aren’t the disciples. We are the religious elite. We try to remove Jesus as a threat to our rule and reign in our lives. We are like Pilate, dismissing Jesus as One who has no authority over us. We are the crooked scoundrels who will stop at nothing to continue in our sin, terrorizing others and ourselves. We are threatened by Jesus as He exposes our sin and rightfully calls for our allegiance.
The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus was rejected so that the religious elite, unjust rulers, and scoundrels like us might receive God’s forgiveness. When we live our lives under the rule and reign of Christ, we come to learn what it is like to experience true peace. By God’s grace, may we be transformed from those who reject Jesus to those who rejoice in Him.
We tremble as we fall on our knees to adore our King. O persecuted Redeemer who set us free from death, You are not just the Bringer of Good News but the Good News itself! You are both the Joyful Proclamation and the Joy!
The temptation to be the kings of our own lives is both all around us and within us. And we must confess: while chasing the promise of autonomy, we fail to submit to your authority. While the world may persecute us, we sorrowfully align more with Pilate, the one who rejects You, than with the Martyr.
We repent of often hearing the Gospel as bad news. Our culture preaches that following You is restrictive, but we know that it truly sets us free.
Disentangle us from the messaging the world drives to us:
through work, school, social media, entertainment
that we ought to be lords over our lives. Help our unbelief! Let us bring our foolish ways into the shadow of the cross that we might instead bow down to the King of Kings.
We surrender today the desire to live our own truths, and beg that You replace that hollow craving with an eagerness to follow only the truth of the Gospel.
Let Jesus’ lordship be not trouble to our hearts but sweet words to our ears. May we rejoice fervently and never cease!
Oh Hope of Glory, as sojourners toward our eternal home, we ask that You would sustain us with your reign and kingdom until their consummation, when we will bask in your glory forever.