John 19…So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
The chief priests of the Jews have their victory! Pilate has agreed to the purposeful destruction of Jesus. In this place of death there are three men being crucified but Pilate chooses an inscription for only one — “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The Jews object to the wording but Pilate will not change what he has written in Aramaic [Hebrew], Latin and Greek.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Sovereignty of God allows Him to select anyone He chooses to complete His plan to identify Jesus.
What does it say about people?
God choses those who complete His plan to identify Jesus even if they happens to be someone who is only a powerful, pragmatic pawn of providence.[a]
Is there truth here for me?
There’s a repeated pattern of “three” in the Bible that relates to God’s own identity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It begins in the book of Genesis. God had completed a perfect creation as He spoke the life of man into being, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”…and it was good…for a brief time. Remember some of the other threes? The iconic three of faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jesus’s three temptations, and Peter’s three denials? Three times Pilate saw something in Jesus that made him unable to declare Jesus’s guilt but still he accepted the crowd’s hysterical condemnation of Him. Pilate put that controversial sign the Jews objected to on Jesus’s cross — “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” — but is unwilling to defy them to save Jesus’s life. People would read what Pilate had written in three languages; words that would either cause them to mock the man they saw pinned there or shock them into the realization that the sin of mankind had once again ruined any hopes they might have pinned on Jesus. But there is another three to this story! In three days Jesus will be the visible evidence of God’s miraculous intervention to restore people to His perfect creation.