We talked yesterday about the Jews, Jesus' own people, rejecting Him, and how the cross affected them. But what about the Romans? I want to draw your attention first to Pilate, and then the Romans at the foot of the cross.
Straight away on Friday morning, we're told the chief priests hold their council, bound Jesus, and take Him to Pilate, who was the Roman ruler over the region. Pilate asks him,
Art thou the King of the Jews?
No doubt by now, the Jews had spread the news that their king had come. While many zealots and rioters had tried to rise up against Rome in those days, and Rome had fought back, Jesus probably still made them wary. This man could perform miracles, He had a great following, He fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. Pilate asked, are you claiming to be king?
Thou sayest it.
The chief priests jumped in now, accusing Him of many things, but Jesus didn't answer. Pilate marveled. We're told in Matthew chapter 27 that while Pilate is holding the proceedings, His wife sends word to him, saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." (Matthew 27:19). His wife knew Jesus was innocent. Pilate knew He was innocent. "Why what evil hath he done?" The chief priests accused, but their accusations couldn't hold up.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
We're told next that the soldiers of the governor, Roman soldiers, took Jesus, stripped him, put on a scarlet robe, placed a crown of thorns on his head and put a reed in his hand, and bowed before Him, mocked him, saying "Hail, King of the Jews!" They didn't know. They didn't believe. Many men had claimed to be the Jewish Messiah, this man was no different. They thought they could take him down just like they had done with countless others. They spit upon him, and they took the reed and smote Him and beat Him.
After they finished, they led him away to crucify him. Simon of Cyrene carried His cross to Golgotha, to Mount Calvary. There they crucified Him. They set a sign over His head that read THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
They roman soldiers at the foot of the cross continued to mock, continued to embarrass, and they continued to put Him through the worst pain a human can go through. They didn't understand the gravity of what Jesus was doing. This King, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords left His throne in glory, seated at the right hand of the Father, came down as a baby, lived a perfect, sinless life, threw off the bonds of death, hell, and the grave, and died in my place. He died in their place, He died for them, He died to save them so that they, too, could be restored.
When He returns, every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He's the King. He could have easily ended it right there, He could have ended His suffering, ended His torment, killed His captors, and taken the kingdom. But He didn't. To save the Jews, to save the Romans, to save anyone that calls upon the name of the Lord, He had to die. Because the sacrifice at Calvary wasn't the job of a King, even though that's who He was, it was the job of a High Priest.