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"We have no king but Caesar" - A chilling declaration.

I have not posted for several weeks. It feels like I have been busy, and I don't even have a job right now. Since I became co-leader of a bible study I find myself prepping for it even if it is not my week to lead. I think that I operate on the principle of always be prepared. You find the basis of this in:  2 Timothy 4:2 NASB  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Here is the problem; every time I have to lead I struggle with confidence issues. Don't get me wrong, I am comfortable being in front of groups. Admittedly there is always a trace of shyness, but the biggest issue has to do with how I am received. With a very small group, pretty much the same four to six guys, every week, you effectively have them in your face (by that I mean we are separated by about five feet because of the way we set up the tables.) Another aspect of this group is that it was handed off to us with the admonishment that it is also a life group, and therefore we, as leaders, have to give the men an opportunity to talk, as needed. Often what is said triggers off some personal conversation, and I am okay with that.

What becomes a problem is things like the last two weeks, where no one shows up until fifteen to twenty minutes after the start time. The other thing that has become a problem to me is the guy whose favorite saying is, "I take issue with that." He has some form of theological training and a retentive mind.

I never claimed to be right, that is why I include the scripture to back up my statements. Truth be known, I look at multiple translations. I get a sense, based upon what I think is reality, put flesh and blood on it, and then try to find a translation that seems to convey what I believe the Holy Spirit is trying to say. (Truth be known, I lean heavily upon the Holy Spirit.) Gather two or more people together and you will get a conflict over religious things. The key word here is religious. I will give you an example: At a recent book study the subject of the creation in Genesis came up. If God created man in his image then you have to answer the question, what is God's image? Jesus told us that no one had seen God, and yet he also said, "if you have seen me you have seen the Father." I think it is safe to say that God has an appreciation for the way we look. If you are paying attention and understand God's love then you know that the way we look has nothing to do with the Hollywood version of beauty. If you are going to be honest, then you, like me can see two phases to the creation of a solitary man and woman. Is it worth losing sleep over in a fight? No, if anything it only makes my God bigger than I had previously understood.

That said, here is the introduction to this weeks bible study.
We are currently looking at John 19:16 - 24. I never made it that far. I was only able to get through three verses. I had to introduce the study by pointing back to a brief aspect we had covered the previous week. You will see that as I developed my thoughts.

It is a little long, but you should have seen my previous study notes that finished off chapter 18 of John's gospel.
John 19: 16 -
Below are the questions for our next study:—
  1. Why was Christ "delivered to them," verse 16?
  2. Why "in the Hebrew," verse 17?
  3. Why were two others crucified with Him, verse 18?
  4. Why the inscription, verse 19?
  5. Why in three languages, verse 20?
  6. What is the meaning of verse 23?
The religious leadership of the nation, speaking on behalf of the nation, said, “We have no king but Caesar.” A chilling declaration, and yet a repetition of all this nation had ever done, turn their back on God. How does one do something like that and expect anything other than God's wrath? A question like this implies that the person committing the act is aware of their sin. Perhaps they were, but what we see is a self absorption that ignored the foundation of the twisted religious ideals they held.

The death of Christ may be viewed from five main viewpoints.

  • From the standpoint of God the Cross was a propitiation [an antoning sacrifice] (Rom_3:25-26), where full satisfaction was made to His holiness and justice.
Romans 3:25 GNB God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people's sins are forgiven through their faith in him. God did this in order to demonstrate that he is righteous. In the past he was patient and overlooked people's sins; but in the present time he deals with their sins, in order to demonstrate his righteousness. In this way God shows that he himself is righteous and that he puts right everyone who believes in Jesus.
Numbers 21:7-9 NET Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD that he would take away16 the snakes from us." So Moses prayed for the people. (8) The LORD said to Moses, "Make a poisonous snake and set it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks17 at it, he will live." (9) So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole, so that if a snake had bitten someone, when he looked at the bronze snake he lived.
The image of the snake was to be a symbol of the curse that the Israelites were experiencing; by lifting the snake up on a pole Moses was indicating that the curse would be drawn away from the peopleif they looked to it, which was a sign of faith. (Net bible notes)
  • From the standpoint of the Savior, it was a sacrifice (Eph_5:2), an offering (Heb_9:14), an act of obedience (Php_2:8).
Ephesians 5:2 NET. and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
Hebrews 9:14 NET. how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.
Philippians 2:8 ESV And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
  • From the standpoint of believers, it was a substitution, the Just suffering for the unjust (1Pe_3:18).
1 Peter 3:18 AMP For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit,
  • From the standpoint of Satan it was a triumph and a defeat: a triumph, in that he bruised the heel of the woman’s Seed (Gen. 3:15); a defeat, in that through His death Christ destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil (Heb. 2: 14).
Genesis 3:15 GNB I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's heel."
Hebrews 2:14 NASB Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
  • From the standpoint of the world it was a brutal murder (Acts 3:15). It is with this last-mentioned aspect of the death of Christ that our present passage principally treats.
Acts 3:15 ISV and you killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead. We are witnesses to that.
The previous portion was abstracted from Arthur Pink's commentary on John's Gospel.
John 19:16 Moffatt NT Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,
Who now has possession of Jesus? The Jewish priesthood.
(Acts 2:23) This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
Let us not forget, however, that behind the governor of Judea, who delivered the Lord Jesus unto the Jews, was the Governor of the Universe, who "spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32). And why? Because He was "delivered for our offenses" (Rom. 4:25). Christ was delivered to death, that we might be delivered from death.
John 19:17 NASB They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.
Why would John make the declaration, “the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha”?
John's Gospel is the only one of the four that contains a precise statement regarding the author's purpose (John 20:30-31). He declares, "these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (From the MacArthur commentary)
MacArthur continues by saying, “The primary purposes, therefore, are twofold: evangelistic and apologetic.
While John made no effort to exclude anyone, you can see from some of his other writings that he wrote primarily to the Jewish community. The Revelation for example, is a predominantly Jewish book, and almost requires a Jewish mindset to assist in understanding.
Apologetics is the defense of your faith, and God certainly needs no defense, but if MacArthur is correct then John is mounting defenses against Jewish argument. In the immediate case the argument tends to form around the age old question of who killed Jesus. To gain the truth, which becomes important in light of the priesthood screaming out, “We have no king but Caesar”, Jesus answered that question personally by responding to Pilate's questioning with,
John 19:11 NASB ... "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."
So God himself put Jesus on that cross just as Moses put the serpent upon the pole, so that all that look upon it can be saved. 

John 19:18 AMP There they crucified Him, and with Him two others--one on either side and Jesus between them.
I think we can be comfortable with the idea that Roman soldiers performed the act of nailing Jesus to the cross. We know that Roman soldiers gambled to gain his robe, and pierced his side, but the Jewish religious leadership forced him to the top of that hill.
Why were there two others crucified with him that day?
Isaiah 53:12 AMP Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great [kings and rulers], and He shall divide the spoil with the mighty, because He poured out His life unto death, and [He let Himself] be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore [and took away] the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors (the rebellious). [Luke 22:37.]
As I mentioned earlier, 1 Peter 3:18 tells us that, “Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous”. So the screams to crucifiy him and release Barabas to us, suddenly make more sense. God is busily injecting analogies all throughout these scenarios.
Now regarded as a criminal (because according to the high priest he broke the law of blasphemy, calling himself God) he, the righteous, is again contrasted between those who were guilty of sins.
Luke 22:37 AMP For I tell you that this Scripture must yet be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted and classed among the wicked (the outlaws, the criminals); for what is written about Me has its fulfillment [has reached its end and is finally settled].
Note: One of those hanging next to him was painfully aware of his sin, and of the righteousness of this Jesus hanging there, while the other was arrogant.
Luke 23:39 AMP One of the criminals who was suspended kept up a railing at Him, saying, Are You not the Christ (the Messiah)? Rescue Yourself and us [from death]!
Even this criminal hanging there had an awareness of who Christ had claimed to be. One might say, his awareness could have easily come from the placard that had been placed above the head of Jesus, but doesn't that indicate that this criminal had the leisure and ease to turn his body so to read the sign, and how does that explain the depth of understanding that it took to make such a statement. To say, “are you not the Christ” is to acknowledge that he understood that Israel longed for and awaited a conquering king, and I, like priests that put you here, refuse to believe that. And yet the criminal hanging on the other side did.

John 19:19 AMP And Pilate also wrote a title (an inscription on a placard) and put it on the cross. And the writing was: Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews. John 19:20 KJV This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

Keep in mind that nothing in scripture is insignificant. So what is the significance of this action?

The reading from the Amplified does not adequately convey the implications and effect of such a sign.Whether it was common to indicate the crimes or not does not matter, for this day the utter foolishness of the charge was placed above his head so that all passing could understand why this “criminal” was being hanged; should not the public have the right to know. 

If you had little understanding of the Torah then it may not have made that much sense, but every Jew would have, through oral history, known that they awaited a Messiah. This is harshly contrasted when you think about the fact that wise men from the east came to seek out this awaited king, and found him. What did these wise men say? “We have seen his star.” So there were definite signs to indicate when, and prophecy to tell them where. (These were quite possibly educated men that were produced through Daniel's training while a captive of Babylon – Daniel himself, had determined from scripture, that the time of captivity was coming to an end. It did not take a genius to figure these things out, it merely took an understanding and an mind willing to look beyond circumstances and tradition.) 

Need more convincing? While the priests, that Pilate had to deal with, refused to accept any king other than Caesar, Simeon (Luke 2:25-29) and Anna (Luke 2:39) both recognized that the messiah was before them. Why? For they had been waiting for Him.

The sign, hung above Jesus, seemed to convey Pilate's disdain for the heretical priesthood, and, though it may have been inadvertent, declared in multiple languages that this was the king they had been longing for hanging upon that cross. Even Pilate, without understanding, declared and emphasized that their king had come. 

There is also that horrid comparison between Jesus the king, and the serpent he represented; the serpent which kills the world, hanging there, placed there by the high priest just as Moses had done. (Numbers 21)

John 19:20 KJV This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

Arthur Pink stated, Hebrew was the language of religion; Greek of science, culture and philosophy; Latin of law. In each of these realms Christ is "king." In the religious, He is the final revelation of the true God (Heb. 1:2; John 14:9). In science, He is the Force behind all things. "By him all things consist" (Col. 1:17). "Upholding all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3); so, too, in Him are hid "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). In jurisprudence, He is supreme; the Law-giver and Law-administrator (1 Cor. 9:21).”

John 19:21 ASV The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

Arthur Pink noted that the phrase, “chief priests of the Jews” only shows up once, here. Pink seems to feel that, “the Holy Spirit thereby intimating that God no longer owned them as His priests: having rejected their Messiah, Judaism was set aside, and therefore its official leaders are regarded as serving the Jews, but not Jehovah.”

What are the implications of this?
Something we tend to forget because we base our understanding of scripture on the last movie we saw on the death of Christ, and though sufficiently graphic and bloody for most, it may not convey what was really going on. What this tells me is that Annas and Caiphas were both standing there, in a sense performing in detail the slaughter of this perfect lamb, and having laid hands so brutally upon Him, they are sending him off into the wilderness of death (or so they think.)

The Jews saw what Pilate did as an insult, in total opposition to all their screaming and demands. These claims, that Jesus made, were the ultimate insult as far as they were concerned, and their full intent was to make him go away as quickly as possible. How ironic that those words, nailed above his head, ring out through history, still declaring that this was the Messiah, willing to accept all those that recognize fully who he is, just as he did that criminal that asked him. 

John 19:22 CEV But Pilate told them, "What is written will not be changed!"
While Pilate was able to see that there was no reason to kill Jesus, he did not seem to have the backbone to reject the demands of the chief priests. This statement demonstrates that he could stand firm when he wanted to.
Play a scenario out in your mind for a moment. What if he had taken the sign down? Would it make any difference? I don't think so, but it stayed, so God must have had a more significant reason. Again, the sign has rang out the kingship of Jesus throughout history.

John 19:23,24 ESV When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." So the soldiers did these things,

It seems such a selfish and insignificant scene. Soldiers tend to do things that play into the dominance theme, and while we may not want it done to us, we think little of it. The images I pull up in my head are mostly from movies and many make sense. Why wouldn't you strip the man down to a minimal amount of clothing if you wanted to do the most damage to his body?
The damage was done and he is still alive. With every nerve ending sending impulses to the brain, putting clothing back on him would only enhance the pain. And there is the act of cruelly leading him back out to the priesthood to show them their king.

What did he have on his body?
Not a beautiful white 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheet. He had the classic attire of any decent Jew. Now how would I know this? Because when he asked the Samaritan woman for a drink she responded with,
John 4:9 ESV The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
How did she know that he was Jew?
He looked just like anybody else with one huge exception.
Numbers 15:38-40 ESV "Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. (39) And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. (40) So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
He wore the garments of a Jew, garments still worn today, and even in this it fulfills prophecy.
Psalms 22:18 ESV they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
 
[If you do not know this Jesus Christ I speak of, it is really quite simple, and takes a simple faith. Israel at one point merely had to look, in faith, at the serpent upon the pole. Jesus represented the same thing that serpent did when He was hanging there. All you have to do is look to him in faith that he will deliver you from the deathly sting of Satan. Do you have to believe that? No, and many of Israel chose not to believe it either and died in that lonely desert. This Jesus is real; he put himself willingly on that cross knowing full well what it would cost, but also knowing the reward the Father would gain, the restoration of a family, that is you. Ask him to come into your life and rescue you from the wrath that is about to be poured out upon the world. He already forgave you; your sins have been wiped away, and He did that knowing full well that you will mess up again, we all do. It is that faith that we place in Him that makes us whole. You are loved, wanted, and welcome, so just come to him.]

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