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Let’s read John 19:17-20, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.”  This is part of the account of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ as given to us in the book of John.  To get the most complete account of the trial, crucifixion of Christ, plus all the things that He spoke from the cross, we must carefully read all four Gospel accounts.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell of the Lord’s crucifixion.  When we read them all, we get a better understanding at what happened during this awful, but wonderful, time when the Lord Jesus died for us.

In the portion before us, we see that Pilate wrote a title saying, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS”, and nailed it to His cross, most likely above His head.  It was a common practice to put a plaque on the cross with the one being crucified, indicating the offense for which he was being executed.  The ‘crime’ for which the Lord was being put to death was His declaration that He was truly, the King of the Jews.  It is worthy of note to see that when the Lord Jesus was born into the world, He was called the King of the Jews.  We read in Matthew 2:1-2, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” 

It is so sad to see that these unbelieving Jews hated their true king so much that they would declare to Pilate in John 19:15, “…We have no king but Caesar.”  The Jews hated being under that dominion of the Romans, and they hated Caesar, but they hated the Lord Jesus even more.  The Lord said of these people in John 15:25, “…They hated me without a cause.”  The One who loved the most was hated the most.

So, in an obvious attempt to infuriate the Jews, Pilate wrote above the Lord’s head, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  This was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  The Latin words would have read, “Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm.”  The initials for these four Latin words are “INRI”.  Although these initials are not found in the scriptures, the early church seems to have adopted these letters as a symbol of what was written above the Lord’s head while He was on the cross.  These letters have come to symbolize those words, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

The Lord, who came to die for sinful people like you and me, was hated beyond measure.  My friend, do you hate Jesus?  Your reaction may be, “No, no, I don’t hate Jesus”, but Christ Himself said in Luke 11:23, “He that is not with me is against me…”  This simply means that if you are not with the Lord, you are against Him.  You cannot be neutral towards the blessed savior.  Either you believe in Him and love Him, or you stand in opposition to Him and all He stands for.  If you have not, I encourage you to put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ today.  He is truly the King of the Jews.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the one savior that can save you by virtue of His death on the cross for your sins.  1 Peter 2:24speaks of the Lord Jesus, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”  (131.6)