John 19:17-22, The Eye of the Storm

Readings: John 12:32, 19:17-22

As we read this text we enter into the climax of a story.  This is Christ’s story.  From the beginning of the Scriptures to the end it is all Christ’s story, but for much of it, in fact, most of it, Christ seems notably absent.  Christ, who is the very center of the whole Bible, for whom the entirety of redemptive history is for, seems to be absent.  

But as Christians, we cannot help but see Christ in the Scripture.  All over the Scripture, he is present.  One needs only to read the book of Hebrews in order to see that Christ is, and always has been, the essence of the narrative of the entire world.  1 Corinthians 8:6 tells us that there is “one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”  All of creation, yes even all that was and is and will be is for Christ.  In this way we are but accessories to his story, bearing it aloft and presenting it to the world for it to sing “Glory, glory, glory.”  When we read the Scriptures, we remember Christ, and we embrace him as the lord of all.

And yet in this text, in John 19:17-22, we see Christ rejected by the world.  He, who the world exists for has been rejected and disposed of.  He has been stripped bare and made desolate.  And he has been crucified, cursed, and forsaken.  He has been cast into the pit of hell along with two common criminals (both nameless), testifying that the world regards him, who 1 Corinthians 2:8 identifies as “the Lord of Glory”, as no better than a sinner, and worth forgetting.

This is a terrible contradiction is it not?  Creation itself has forgotten its role.  The Lord, full of grace and truth, has condescended to meet her and grant her peace, and she has taken him by sinful hands and crucified him, “the Lord of Glory.”  Earth has issued a hateful divorce against heaven, forsaking God’s plan and redemption.

The worst has yet to come though, Christ has not yet died, and so the wicked deed has yet to be finalized.  And so this moment in the story in between the crucifixion of Christ and his death, in the midst of this most hateful act, is the eye of the storm, where a weary peace settles. At this moment we see a flicker of light.  This light comes to us in verses 19-20 which read:

Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:


Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was 

crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

This flicker of light comes to us in the form of Pilate unknowingly naming Christ as king.  As Christ hangs here, a crown of thorns upon his sacred brow, wounded for the sake of the world, he is named king, and declared to the world to be king, and for the briefest of moments, the Christ is vindicated.

Now nobody who looks upon Christ can fail to remember who he is, that he is king.  Though he bears the common form of a man, though he is being disposed of by the world as a common criminal, nameless amongst the nameless, his claim to his kingdom is plain for all to see, and an invitation to join his kingdom is posted for all.

Something to briefly note about the sign that Pilate posted.  It is written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  The presence of these three languages upon this sign means that not a single soul that went by would fail to see that Christ was king.  These three languages were the most widespread, the most commonly used.  Any Jew or Gentile who walked by could read it, and so they all would be confronted by the Christ, and invited by the Christ.

What is the Christ inviting us to?  Nothing less than his kingdom, nothing less than the heavenly family, nothing less than justification unto life, and nothing less than sweet communion with him.  In short, Christ invites us to peace through his broken body, hung upon the tree.

And so friends, I now likewise confront you with Christ and invite you, seeking to comfort you who believe.  You who do not believe, Christ reigns now as king against you, and not for you.  He comes with a sword in his hand, and he will make himself known upon the earth.  Believe in him, and he shall greet you in peace at his coming.

But you who believe, rejoice!  Christ has been named king, and his kingship has been confirmed by his resurrection from the dead.  Therefore, all who trust in him will not find their faith to be in vain.  He is the mighty king, God of the angels.  Though the world has seemingly forgotten him in this age of secularism and apostasy, he is still named king, that sign on the cross still stands.  Trust and believe, and you shall be comforted, for he shall be your king and lord, and he will return in the last day for you.


Published by ClogTheology

23 y/o, in between a B.Th and M.Div

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