The Rejected King

MEMORY SELECTION: “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” —Matthew 27:22

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 26 and 27

IN THIS lesson we have an account of our Lord Jesus’ trial before the Roman authorities. “And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.” (Matt. 27:11) In answer to Pilate’s inquiry, the Revised Standard Version renders Jesus’ reply, “You have said so.” And indeed Jesus was a King, even as he states in John 18:37: “Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

The episode of the release of Barabbas, instead of Jesus, commands our attention as it is recorded by all four of the Gospel writers. Matthew calls him “a notable prisoner” (vs. 16); Mark associates him with murder and insurrection (Mark 15:7); Luke tells us that he was guilty of sedition and murder (Luke 23:19); and John says that Barabbas was a robber. (John 18:40) In connection with this matter of the release of Barabbas, there is an interesting footnote in the Emphatic Diaglott under Matthew 27:16. Concerning the name Barabbas, it is suggested that some ancient authorities read, “Jesus, the son of Abbas,” later manuscripts omitting the word “Jesus” in honor of the name. If his name indeed was Jesus, then there was a deeper meaning to the question raised by Pilate: “Which would you like me to release to you, Jesus Bar-Abbas, or Jesus called Messiah?” (The New English Bible) The fast-moving events of our Lord Jesus’ trial and execution had indeed been hastened by this fateful decision.

As Jesus hung on that cruel cross, there was placed over his head an inscription which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” He was murdered on the technicality that he claimed to be a king. He was the rejected king, and yet we are reminded that Satan had once offered him the opportunity of becoming a king, under very different circumstances than his life of suffering and denial had led him to.

And the people who watched him hang on that cross shouted abuses at him and said, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (vs. 40) Are we not reminded again that Satan had once tempted our Lord to establish has identity as the Son of God by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple? Jesus, of course, realized the full implications of the temptation and the necessity of obeying the will of his Heavenly Father.

As he hung there, Jesus made no attempt to call upon God to remove the suffering he must endure, or to make any outward demonstration that he was the Son of God. And again, “The chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (vss. 41,42) But Jesus made no effort to save himself. If he had, the corresponding price for Adam’s sin would never have been paid, and the invitation to share with him in his glory would never have been extended to others who would gladly lay down their lives also in following him.—John 12:23-33

Following Jesus means to take up our cross, even as he did. As he was despised and rejected of men, so should his followers be, for the disciple is not above his Master. Jesus was faithful even unto death, and so must his faithful followers be if they are to reign with him in the future thousand-year kingdom of righteousness. To be baptized into Jesus Christ means to be baptized into his death.—Rom. 6:3-5

It was necessary for our Lord to bear the full penalty of sin, even including the withdrawal of his Father’s favor, when he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (vs. 46) However, in full submission to the Heavenly Father’s will he again cried out, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the spirit.” (Luke 23:46) The rejected King, therefore, was the victorious King who bore the sins of the whole world on his shoulders and will, in due time, appear before the world as the Sun of Righteousness who will arise with healing in his wings.—Mal. 4:2

Dawn Bible Students Association
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