Today’s Passage: John 18-19
In the ancient world, there were two main ways to rise to become the leader of a nation. You either had to be born into the right family, or else you had to use violence. The history of Israel is full of both kinds of kings.
But the most famous dynasty was that of King David. In 1 Chronicles 17:11-14, we read of God’s promise to David. God said, “For when you die and join your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my favour from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.’”
To a degree, this promise was fulfilled when Solomon, David’s son, succeeded his father. But not completely. His throne was not secure forever – for Solomon also eventually died. In fact, although there continued to be Davidic kings for a long time, the nation was eventually sent into exile, and left without a king on the throne.
So did that mean that God’s promise had come unstuck? No. It meant that the promised Son who would rule over God’s kingdom had yet to come. Israel pinned their hopes on the coming of this king – the Annointed One, the Messiah. They awaited His arrival, looking forward to His setting all things right.
And then Jesus arrived. And it seemed like the long wait was finally over. Jesus had such authority. And then there were the things He did – and the claims that He made.
On the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, many people were convinced. Matthew 21:9 tells us that the crowd shouted out things like:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” and
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
They were convinced that Jesus was God’s promised King. And yet it wasn’t long until the crowds stopped crying out to glorify Jesus, and instead started crying out to have crucified.
Maybe they expected Jesus to get on with throwing out the Romans. Maybe they were waiting for Israel to take centre stage in the world. But Jesus wasn’t raising up armed fighters. He was a threat to the religious elite – but not a militant revolutionary.
Maybe he just wasn’t the sort of king they were expecting.
So His own people had him executed. It fell to Pilate to stand in judgement over Jesus. Pilate was concerned with eradicating potential rivals to the power of Rome. But Jesus wasn’t the kind of king that Pilate was expecting.
What kind of King willingly heads towards His own execution? What kind of King refuses to fight violence with violence? What kind of king was and is Jesus?
The kind of king who loves His Father and who loves His people.
The kind of king who would sacrifice Himself for us.
The kind of king whom death not hold.
In a word: a godly King – God.