Jarrod Jacobs: Christ’s Trilingual Inscription
Four times in the New Testament, we read the statement that Pilate wrote and placed above Christ when He hung on the cross. (Matt. 27:37; Mk. 15:26; Lk. 23:38; Jn. 19:19). The statement over Him declared that it was “The King of the Jews” being crucified that day. While the chief priests protested this statement, Pilate stood firm saying, “What I have written, I have written” (Jn. 19:21-22).
The inscription was commanded to be written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Why was it significant that this statement was written in those three languages? Please consider the following:
•The Hebrew language was the language of revelation. God’s word had come to the world through the Hebrew people up to this time in history (Genesis-Malachi).
•The Greek language was the language of the philosophers and “great thinkers” of the day such as Plato, Aristotle, and others.
•The Latin language was the language of government and imperial power. This is the language that Caesar and Pilate, as well as others spoke within the Roman government.
Therefore, this writing Pilate posted above Christ on the cross was a world-wide announcement! Regardless of who might have been present that day in Jerusalem, those who looked at Christ on the cross could have easily read the writing. When we with our mind’s eye look to the cross, we see a Suffering Savior who was pronounced “King of the Jews” by the Roman governor, Pilate, to the population of the entire world!
In truth, Pilate’s writing had a greater meaning than perhaps even he realized. What do we mean by this? Consider once more the statement written in the languages of revelation, philosophy, and power. Certainly, our Lord Jesus Christ is the embodiment of these things!
For example, we see that Christ being the embodiment of the Word (Jn. 1:1) shows us that He is God’s revelation. In “times past” God spoke to men in various ways, but now speaks to us today through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2; Matt. 17:5).
In addition to this, Christ is also able to discern the uttermost thoughts of men’s hearts (Jn. 2:24-25, 6:64). This makes Him greater than any philosopher on earth. Therefore, His doctrine is the greatest philosophy ever revealed!
Third, Jesus Christ is our lawgiver (Jas. 4:12; Gal. 6:2). He revealed “the perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25) which will lead us to Heaven. No one before or since has been able to accomplish or give as much as Christ.
Pilate may not have realized how true and far-reaching his writing was when he wrote it. Yet, the statement is just that! Today, we have our sins forgiven when we accept Christ’s terms of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; etc.). At the same time, we who are His children are the recipients of God’s blessings (Eph. 1:3) when we listen to the revelation, apply His true philosophies, and obey His law (Eph. 3:4; Rev. 1:5, 22:14)! If we want to have salvation from sin and look forward to an eternal life in Heaven, then let us stop rejecting the Lord. Let us follow what the Lord says unconditionally, knowing that He is the One who possesses all authority “in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18; Col. 3:17). He is our king (Rev. 17:14, 19:16; I Tim. 6:15), and wants us in Heaven with Him.
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