Editor’s note: These devotional thoughts are excerpted from the sermon series that accompanies CTA’s new theme for Easter preparation, The Shepherd, the Lamb. The sermon series includes six sermons and six sets of discussion questions based on them – all free! They are designed for use with our new product line, The Shepherd, the Lamb. We think you will find much of value here as you help members prepare to observe Good Friday and celebrate our Savior’s Resurrection! 

Read John 18:33-37 as you begin.

We have all heard stories of what Sunday school children think about Pontius Pilate when they first hear his name. For the record, no, Pontius Pilate is not a pilot named Pontius! He did not fly airplanes. Instead, the name Pontius is a family name referring to a prominent clan that had lived in the region of Judea for many generations. Pilate’s personal name – Pilatus – literally meant ‘armed-with-a-javelin.’ This Roman governor was named after a piece of ancient Roman weaponry.

Jesus’ enemies bring him before Pilate and begin to recite a litany of fabricated accusations against him. They charge Jesus with misleading the people, with forbidding his followers to pay taxes to Caesar, and with claiming to be a king.

Now, Pilate doesn’t care about the charge that Jesus is misleading the people. False teaching is a theological matter, and he will leave that to the theologians. Pilate does care about the taxes. His supervisors in Rome would soon notice if revenue from his region stopped flowing. But that is an accounting matter, and Pilate will let the tax collectors deal with it. Rome’s legions are garrisoned close by, in part to back them up.

Pilate is intensely interested, though, in Jesus’ supposed claim to kingship. Notice that he gets right to the point: “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asks our Lord (John 18:33). If Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews, that would present a huge challenge for Pilate. . . .

Of course, Jesus was not an earthly king like Caesar. He did not claim earthly authority like the authority of Pilate. . . . The apostle John writes:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-2)

Far from being a king like the world’s kings, Jesus was born amidst a symphony of bleating barnyard animals. As an infant, this king was wrapped in a robe of rags and waited on by simple shepherds. His first earthly throne was a feeding trough for cattle.

When he grew up, King Jesus lived the life of a servant. He fed the hungry, healed once-useless limbs, and raised the dead. He proclaimed the truth, lived a life of righteousness, and eventually this Shepherd-King laid down his life for his sheep.

Jesus is a king unlike any king this world knows or has ever known, an eternal king, a gracious king. Christ our king died for us, his rebellious, unthankful subjects. On the cross, our king offered himself up for his constituents. Our Kingly Shepherd was slaughtered on the cross; he was the sacrificial lamb of God who gave himself into death in payment for our sin. And perhaps this is why Jesus’ answer to Pilate’s question sounds so mysterious. No earthly king could ever comprehend the love, the servant heart, of this heavenly king. The question is, do we?

Christ our king did more than just die for us; he was gloriously raised to new life. As Easter approaches we dwell on the awesomeness of Christ our Kingly Shepherd. Easter will bring many distractions: family dinners, Easter egg hunts, and springtime festivities. Yet, we don’t want to allow these distractions to draw our attention away from the eternal gifts we have received in Christ our Savior!

Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

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