“King of the Jews”

When Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified, Pilate placed a sign above His head, which carried the inscription, “King of the Jews” (John 19:19; Matthew 27:37). This sign was written in three languages (Hebrew, Latin, and Greek) so that all of the world could know. I believe this inscription was ordained of God (John 19:22), and reveals an important aspect of God’s plan. It could be called, “the second purpose of the cross.”

The first purpose was to offer salvation to mankind. This offer may be seen in Yeshua’s sayings on the cross. “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34), “This day you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43), “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matt 27:46; Psalm 22:1), “Into Thy hands, I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5). These verbal pronouncements were an invitation by God to receive forgiveness and grace.

On the other hand, the written statement of the cross was a declaration by God of His authority and kingdom. While the first offers forgiveness; the second demands submission. The first deals with sin; the second with rebellion. Thus the inscription of the cross fulfills Psalm 2:2; 6, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed (Messiah). Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”

The word “King” means the highest level of governmental authority. God is declaring that He will set up His kingdom on the earth, and that this Man is the one to be the leader of the government. That government will be established in all the earth and its capital will be Jerusalem. It will be an international empire, with Yeshua as the emperor.

The king in ancient times was also the Chief Judge. The judge’s role is to decide who is guilty and who is innocent; and to punish the wicked and reward the righteous. The king was also the commander in chief of the army, who would destroy the enemies (in this case, the enemies of Israel – Zechariah 12:9, 14:3). The sign above the cross lets the world know that Yeshua will fulfill all these roles at His second coming.

You might think this is a strange way for God to announce who would be His sovereign ruler. But this is just the point. God’s kind of authority is different altogether from worldly authority. God’s authority is loving, self sacrificing, serving others. The world system of authority is based on politics, self serving, controlling others. By the cross, God has defined love as a higher value than power in determining who will receive governing authority.

Yet the power will come. God gives power to those who submit to His authority. That rule holds true for Yeshua and for all of us as well. The cross was a test for Yeshua to see if He would submit and obey. Through the cross, He showed Himself worthy to have authority. It was a test of moral character to see if He would qualify as world ruler. He passed.

His death and resurrection prove to all people that He is God’s choice for King Messiah. (Acts 10:42 – “to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge…”; Acts 17:31 – “God will judge the world… by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given us assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”) God declared Yeshua to be the King by the inscription on the cross; and confirmed that choice by raising Him from the dead. The crucifixion was the test; the resurrection was the proof.

Therefore the way of the cross is not just atonement for our sins, but an example for us to follow. It is a pattern for us to obey, to submit, and also to gain authority together with Yeshua. This is the meaning of Philippians 2:5, 8-9 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah Yeshua, who… being found in appearance as a man, humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

Yeshua’s death on the cross not only wipes out our debt; it brings us into our destiny. It not only takes away the minus to get us to zero; it adds the positive to give us a plus. When we believe in the cross, our sins are forgiven. When we take up our own cross and follow Him, we are trained for leadership and authority.

It is our destiny to rule and reign with Him. (As someone has said, “you have to carry the cross before you can wear the crown.”) And what is His destiny? Obviously – as it is written, to be “King of the Jews.” To become King of the Jews is Yeshua’s destiny and His desire.

Note: After watching how many problems the prime minister of Israel has to face, I can’t understand how anyone would want the job. In fact Yeshua often ran away when they tried to make Him king (John 6:15). However, in the millennial kingdom, He will take up His role as prime minister of Israel and as head of the United Nations as well.

John 18:37

Pilate said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Yeshua answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world…

Yeshua Himself has a destiny, a calling, a purpose in life. That calling is to be king of the Jews. If that is His calling, then I want to do everything I can to help Him achieve that calling. After all, He saved my life. It’s the least I can do for Him.

Because of this, we proclaim not only the gospel of salvation, but the gospel of the kingdom as well (Matthew 24:14). At His first coming, He was the king who became savior. At the second coming, He will be the savior who became king – the King of kings, and King of the Jews.

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 27, 2020, and reposted with permission.