Worship Service: Sundays @ 10:00 am

What was written on the sign on the cross?

The question we will be answering today comes from the very cross of Christ: what was written on the sign on the cross? All four gospel writers give us information about the writing posted on the cross above Jesus. The problem we run into is all four gospels have different statements about what is written. So, what was written on that sign on the cross of Christ?

As we begin to take a look at the gospels, we need to note that it was Pilate that wrote this writing in stating the crime committed by Jesus in claiming to be “King of the Jews” (Matt.27:11). This is the statement that Pilate had nailed on the cross above the head of Jesus (Matt. 27:37). The chief priests of the Jews protested this action by Pilate without success as the Roman ruler said to them: “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:22). Also, according to Luke, the writing above the head of Jesus was written in three different languages: Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (Luke 23:38). Since this statement was written in the known languages of the world, it could be read by all people attending the crucifixion of Jesus.

So let’s take a look at what each specific gospel says about the sign on the cross of Christ:
·        Matthew 27:37 - "And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."

·        Mark 15:26 - "And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS."

·        Luke 23:38 - "And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS."

·        John 19:19-20 - "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."

Let’s start out with what is similar—they all report that the sign above the head of Jesus said, “The King of the Jews.” This is an important agreement between the gospels. You see, the gospel writers communicated to us not only a record of events but, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave us the understanding of what all of this means. By their agreement in this statement they were all emphasizing that Jesus IS King of the Jews—He is the fulfillment of the Davidic prophecy that will have a descendant of David rule upon His throne forever! This kind of belief and proclamation of the Kingship of Jesus only a week earlier on Palm Sunday is what so infuriated the Jewish religious leaders.

It is amazing to have the different styles of writing in the gospels and yet, have complete agreement. In many ways, the four Gospels constitute parts of a modern newspaper: Matthew contains the announcements and advertising, Mark carries the headlines, Luke has the special features of songs with the birth of Christ, and John has the editorial section telling us of the bread of life and the true vine. All of these divine testimonies, however, have agreement about what Pilate wrote in full and had nailed above the head of Jesus: “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.”

To this we can say, “Amen!”

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