And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face.
* * *
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
On Good Friday, this strange coronation of King Jesus comes to a close, complete with crown, robe and royal title. The supreme irony of all of the mockery in this narrative is that it is all, of course, more true than any of them know. Pilate, the highest human authority in this drama, seems to come closer to understanding what is really happening than anyone else when he refuses to correct the sign in response to the complaints of the Judean religious leaders.
Do not miss the fact that the inscription is written in multiple languages. Jesus' "gloriication" or "lifting up" – as its been called – is for all the world to see. Everyone in their own language must read and see that Jesus is now King.
And with this, "It is finished!" (v. 30). In a single moment, a gruesome scene of torture is transformed into a sign of God's love for the world, and we come to see his ultimate victory over the powers that hold the world at bay. It is a stunning paradox/mystery that – to this day – Christians can find both tragic and triumphant, disturbing and exhilarating, all at once.
For Reflection: Imagine the scene of the cross in your own mind. On this Good Friday, what are you experiencing in this scene?
[Note: there will be no Holy Saturday post in this series. The final post will be on Easter Sunday.]