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The DEEP

Paybacks

Sometimes words carry power.

John 19:17–22

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ”

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Behold Pilate’s anger! How sweet it must have been for him to hear the chief priests whine about the title he put on the cross. It’s payback time.

The title Romans put on a cross states the crime the criminal being crucified for. Remember, the point of crucifixion is to suppress crime through intimidation. The thought of being crucified is an incredibly powerful deterrent. You don’t want to be “that guy.” Whatever “that guy” did, you’ll take care to avoid doing the same thing.

This makes what Pilate wrote massively insulting. The thing you’ll take care to avoid doing is being The King of the Jews. And to make this as clear as possible, Pilate has it written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

But that’s not all. Pilate is directly contradicting the chief priests. He’s saying that Jesus is The King of the Jews. Remember, he investigated the charges, and found no fault in Him.

The chief priests don’t like Pilate labeling “King of the Jews” as a major crime, but they can’t bear Pilate labeling Jesus as that king.

Welcome to payback, boys.


Pilate is furious over having been maneuvered into a corner.

From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” — John 19:12

They’re threatening to report him to Rome! That has to be a first—a Roman governor being threatened by his subjects. Kudos to Pilate for keeping his temper.

He has the power to “execute” paybacks literally.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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