April 1, 2022
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and put a purple robe around Him.”
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“Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and put a purple robe around Him. And they repeatedly came up to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and they were slapping His face. Pilate went outside again and said to them, ‘Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.’ Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’ When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’ Pilate responded, ‘Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.’” John 19:1-6
It’s interesting how Pilate defended Jesus three times and recanted. At the same time, Peter denied Jesus three times, then repented. It’s not always as important how you ran the race but how you finished it.
Pilate’s defense of Jesus came from three of His most trusted sources: His law (John 18: 38), his wife (Matthew 27: 19), and his own religious omens (today’s passage).
If you visit Jerusalem, you have probably seen the “scourging floor.” This is the spot where the Romans scourged their prisoners, many of whom were eventually crucified. This is most likely the place where Jesus was scourged, as well.
Etched in the stone scourging floor and its adjacent stone wall is depictions of a torturous game the Romans played, called “The King’s Game.” This was a game of death and mocking. In this game, the “player” would move through various brutal stages with hopes of gaining all the vestments of a king. It involved casting of lots and was nearly impossible to complete. If the player made it through the game, he earned his life.
It is crucial to consider the King’s Game when we read the story of Jesus’ trial. If, indeed, the soldiers ran Jesus through this torturous game, then by all evidence & twisted Roman honor, Jesus won the game. I say this because He appeared wearing all the “vestments” one must accumulate to win freedom. It also explains why Pilate used this moment for one last attempt to defend the Lord.
Eventually, Pilate caved, and Jesus was crucified. God’s Spirit used every angle to dissuade Pilate from crucifying Jesus, but he rejected the Spirit’s testimony. Peter, on the other hand, eventually listened to God’s Spirit after having committed a great blasphemy: denying Jesus. Peter humbled himself, repented, and became a passionate preacher of the Gospel. Peter accepted the Spirit’s testimony and found forgiveness. After all, to defend Jesus, Pilate blasphemed the Spirit by refusing to accept to its testimony.
“Anyone who is not with Me, is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters. Because of this, I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” Matt 12:30-31
(This is a photo of the "King's Game" on the ancient scourging floor in Jerusalem.)