Today’s Scripture Focus: John 19:1-16
Today’s scripture focus gives us the account of the final scene of Jesus’ trial. It takes place in the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate was unpopular with the Jewish authorities for the most part. This is evident in the hostile exchange that takes place here. What happens to Jesus at Pilate’s home was not just meant to punish Him. It was mostly intended to insult the Jews. The Jewish authorities had tried to insult Pilate by forcing him to release Barabbas, a social bandit and enemy of Rome. This would make Pilate look bad in eyes of his superiors. Pilate, in turn, attempts to demean the Jews by making Jesus their “king”.
The initial sentence given to Jesus was flogging. Flogging was a punishment for slaves, and it was meant to be a humiliating experience. Victims were stripped bare and whipped front and back. Often they lost control of all bodily functions. After this humiliating experience, Pilate’s soldiers put royal clothes on Jesus and continued to abuse and mock him. Again, this was more about presenting him to the Jews as to insult them, thus Pilate’s dramatic statement “Here is the man!” The idea was to shock the Jews with his horrifying appearance. By proclaiming a bloodied, filthy slave as their king, Pilate was attempting to shame the Jewish leaders.
The Jews were shocked and enraged by what Pilate was doing, and immediately demanded Jesus be crucified. Again, insults and challenges are traded back and forth. For the second time, Pilate announces Jesus is innocent. However, the Jews now bring a new charge against Jesus. First they claimed that Jesus was trying to make Himself king. When that didn’t work, they claimed that Jesus tried to make Himself God. This had a strong effect on Pilate, who now had to bring Jesus back inside the palace for a new trial. This time when Pilate questions Jesus, he is met with silence. Even after all He had endured, Jesus remained in complete control.
What happens next is very important to the author, because he gives us the exact name of the place and time it happened. Pilate brought Jesus back out and sat Him down on the judge’s seat in front of His accusers! The best translations say “he brought Jesus out and sat (him) down…” Pilate was declaring Jesus as rightful ruler and judge of the Jews. The chief priests were so enraged by this shocking action that it actually caused them to blaspheme— “We have no king but Caesar” meant that God was not their king. They became guilty of the very crime for which they wanted Jesus killed. Yet, for the first time, they were telling the truth. So blinded by sin, they couldn’t recognize their true king.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask the discussion questions below*. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
*How have you seen God at work in your life this week?
*How have you struggled to follow God this week?
* Is Pilate a good guy, a bad guy, or both in this story? Why?
*Is there anything about today’s scripture focus or this week’s scripture readings that especially stood out to you, or that you had trouble understanding?
*How can we pray for you this week?