Before Pilate: Jesus Christ, The King - ICWG

Jesus is condemned to death

Our Lord is led in chains to the residence of the Procurator, Pontius Pilate. They are in a hurry to get things over with. Jesus, with a silent dignity reflected in his walk, passes through the narrow streets which wind their way towards the house of Pilate. It was already daylight and people in the city were awake and appearing at their doors and windows to see this man, famous and admired for his sanctity and deeds, now made prisoner. Our Lord had his hands bound together with a rope which was stretched also around his neck, for such was the punishment meted out to those who misused their freedom against the people. He would be cold so early in the morning and tired; his face was disfigured by blows and spittle, his hair dishevelled after having been pulled at, and his cheeks covered with bruises and blood, now become dry and hard. This is how Jesus appeared on the streets before the people, and they were all startled and frightened as they saw him. It was clear to everyone that the direction they were heading in and the manner of treating him all pointed towards his execution. [1472]

Jesus was passed from the Sanhedrin to the jurisdiction of the Romans, because the Jewish authorities were able to condemn a man to death but not to carry out the sentence. This is why they hurry along to the Roman authorities in the early hours of the morning to get the permission they need, by whatever means they can, for Jesus to be put to death. They want to get rid of him before the celebration of the feast begins. That which had been foretold about him was now beginning to be fulfilled to the letter: For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise. [1473]

Something very strange is taking place. Only a few days ago he had been speaking freely in the Temple with such majesty – no one has ever spoken as this man – and he had entered into Jerusalem acclaimed by all the people. Now he is a prisoner and is mistreated by the Jewish authorities. Once he had worked so many miracles and was followed by a whole crowd of his disciples; now he is dealt with as an evil-doer. The people would be amazed and the whole city would be talking about nothing else. They would call upon others to go and see such a surprising event. Jesus of Nazareth had been arrested!

They led Jesus to the square in front of the praetorium. His accusers, however, did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover, [1474] since the Jews became legally impure if they entered the house of a foreigner. What impious blindness!exclaimed St Augustine. They think they are going to get contaminated by going into the house of another, and yet they have no fear of impurity brought on by a crime of their own doing. [1475] Once again are fulfilled those very strong words which Our Lord had levelled at them on an earlier occasion: You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! [1476]

So Pilate went out to them. [1477] Jesus stood before Pilate, [1478] who would be immediately aware of the peace and serenity of the accused, in sharp contrast with the agitation and impatience of those who were calling for his death.

Pilate asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? [1479] Jesus replied, ‘My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.’ Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king.’ [1480] This will be the last statement that Our Lord will make before his accusers; after this he will be silent, like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb. [1481]

The Master now finds himself alone; his disciples no longer come to listen to the lessons he imparts, having abandoned him in the very moment when there is so much to learn. We should wish to accompany him in his sorrow and learn from him to have patience in the face of the small contradictions of each day, offering them up with love.

The King of the Jews. A kingdom of holiness and grace.

Thinking that in this way he might placate the hatred of the Jews, Pilate, took Jesus and scourged him. [1482] This is the scene we contemplate in the second sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, Bound to the pillar. Covered with wounds.

The blows of the lash sound upon his torn flesh, upon his undefiled flesh, which suffers for your sinful flesh. More blows. More fury. Still more ... It is the last extreme of human cruelty.

Finally, exhausted, they untie Jesus. And the body of Christ yields to pain and falls limp, broken and half-dead.

You and I cannot speak. Words are not needed. Look at him, look at him ... slowly.

After this ... can you ever fear penance? [1483]

When this has happened, the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. [1484] Today as we contemplate Jesus proclaiming his kingship before Pilate, we should also meditate upon that scene contained in the third sorrowful mystery of the Rosary.

The crown of thorns, driven in by blows, makes him a mock king ... And with their blows they wound his head. And they strike him ... and spit on him ...

You and I ... , haven’t we crowned him anew with thorns and struck him and spat on him?

Never again, Jesus, never again ... [1485]

Pilate went out again, and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ [1486]

Jesus, adorned with the mock insignia of royalty, hides and yet at the same time gives a glimpse of his greatness as King of kings under this most tragic exterior. The entire creation is subject to his slightest gesture. The weaker he appears, the more promptly should we wish to affirm this title of his, which he possesses by his own right. His kingdom is a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace. [1487] As we contemplate these scenes of the Passion, Christians cannot forget that Jesus Christ is a king with a heart of flesh, like yours. [1488] Neither can we forget that there are many people who are ignorant about him and reject him.

This sad state of affairs makes me want to atone to Our Lord. When I hear that endless clamour – expressed more in ignoble actions than in words – I feel the need to cry out, ‘He must reign!’ (1 Cor 15:25) [1489]

Many people are not aware that Christ is the only Saviour, the one who gives meaning to human events, to our lives. In him is found the joy and the fulness of desire of every heart; he is the true model, the brother of all, the irreplaceable friend, the only one worthy of all our confidence.

Contemplating the King crowned with thorns we should tell him that we want Christ to reign in our lives, in our hearts, in our works, in our thoughts, in our words, in all that we are.

Our Lord wants to reign in our souls.

Jesus Christ is king over all beings, since all things were made through him, [1490] and in a special way over all men, who have been bought with a price. [1491] The Angel had already told this to Mary: you will ... bear a son ... and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, ... and of his kingdom there will be no end. [1492] His kingdom, however, is not like those of this earth. During his public ministry he never once accedes to the enthusiasm of the crowds, who viewed things too humanly and with a number of ambitions which were merely temporal. Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by himself. [1493] Nevertheless, he accepts the messianic act of faith made by Nathanael: you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! [1494] In fact Our Lord recalls an ancient prophecy [1495] in order to confirm and add depth to these words: you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. [1496]

Jesus affirms his condition as Messiah and Son of God. [1497] The Jewish authorities, blinded by their incredulity, even manage to acknowledge the exclusive political power of Caesar, the Roman, as long as they can reject the kingship of Christ and be rid of him. In spite of all of this, however, upon the wood of the Cross stands written for ever, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.’

He had told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world. He tells us that his kingdom is one of peace, justice and love; God the Father has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption. [1498]

Nevertheless, there are now many people who reject him. In many places you seem to hear that terrible cry, We do not want him to reign over us. It must have been with great heaviness of heart that Our Lord commented upon that parable, which reflects the attitude of many people, But his citizens hated him, Jesus tells us in the parable, and sent an embassy after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ [1499] Sin is truly this great mystery of iniquity. We actually reject Jesus!

The reign of sin, wherever sin dwells, is a reign of darkness, sadness, loneliness, deception and lies. All the tragedies and calamities in this world, and our personal sorrows, find their origin in these words, Nolumus hunc regnare super nos, we do not want this man (Christ) to reign over us. We now finish our prayer, telling Jesus once again that He is the King of my heart. He is the King of that intimate interior world of mine where no one can enter and where I alone am master. Here in my heart Jesus is King. This you well know, O Lord. [1500]

[1472] L. de la Palma, The Passion of the Lord

[1473] Luke 18:32

[1474] John 18:28

[1475] St Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel of St John, 114,2

[1476] Matt 23:24

[1477] John 18:29

[1478] Matt 27:11

[1479] John 18:33

[1480] John 18:36-37

[1481] Is 53:7

[1482] John 19:1

[1483] St. J. Escrivá, Holy Rosary, Second Sorrowful Mystery

[1484] John 19:4-5

[1485] St. J. Escrivá, Holy Rosary, Third Sorrowful Mystery

[1486] John 19:4-5

[1487]  Preface of the Mass of Christ the King

[1488] St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 179

[1489]  ibid

[1490] John 1:3

[1491] 1 Cor 6:20

[1492] Luke 1:32-33

[1493] John 6:15

[1494] John 1:49

[1495] Dan 7:13

[1496] John 1:51

[1497] Matt 27:64

[1498] Col 1:13

[1499] Luke 19:14

[1500] J. Leclercq, A Year with the Liturgy

Francis Fernandez Carvajal was born in Granada in 1938. A graduate in History from the University of Navarre, he also hold a doctorate in Canon Law from the Angelicum in Rome. He is a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature. Since his ordination in 1964, much of his pastoral ministry has been with university students. For more than ten years he was editor of he montly magazine PALABRA. Among his published works are   Lukewarmness- the Devil in Disguise, Overcoming Lukewarmness,Through wind and Waves, and Commentaries on the Gospels of St Matthew and St Luke

His Series In Conversation with God can Be found Here

If You Enjoyed This Please Share it to   Social Media.

And Be Sure to Follow Us   on Facebook  or Instagram!