"Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified Him, and with Him two others -- one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate,
"Do not write, “The King of the Jews," but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews. Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written.'" John 19:17-22 NIV.
One short, bald statement! That's all John had to say about the crucifixion of his Lord. Perhaps as he reminisced about that day, now an old man with many years of suffering under his own belt, he still felt the pain of the memory of the awful sight of his beloved Master suspended between heaven and earth on a Roman torture stake.
The other gospel writers had told the story. It was enough that he record the fact in as few words as possible. He chose rather to write of the Master's love which shone forth in those terrible hours of suffering.
John also gave us a glimpse of an incident that salvaged some of Pilate's resolve at a time like this. Pilate had given in to the howling mob when he should have stood firm. He had condemned an innocent man to death, shrugging off his responsibility by allowing men full of prejudice and hatred to pass sentence because he didn't have the courage to stand up against them.
Yet he was convinced that Jesus was who He claimed to be, King of the Jews. In some mysterious way, Jesus was a king, but He was no threat to Caesar. Pilate knew nothing about spiritual things, but he sensed that Jesus was from and represented another dimension he could not understand. He had tried to defend Him and insisted on His innocence but the religious boffins, who should have known better, had prevailed.
Pilate had one more opportunity to press home his conviction, by stating in writing for the whole world to read -- in Aramaic, Latin and Greek -- his belief in Jesus as the King of the Jews. What he understood by that we do not know. We could coldly and callously ask, "Did Pilate go to hell?" without considering the intention of his heart. We could condemn him for not being true to his conviction.But in this one thing he refused to be moved.
The Jewish leaders thought they had Pilate in the bag. They had won in the battle over Jesus' conviction. Now they were incensed at Pilate's final dig at them. Did he write the sign to get back at them; to show the utter ludicrousness of the charge against Jesus or to bear witness to his conviction that Jesus was indeed King of the Jews? We will never know but we can at least admire Pilate for his stand against them at this point.
Of course it was too late to save Jesus. The religious leaders had their way but it left a bad taste in their mouths to think that Pilate had got the better of them here and made a bold statement for the world to read that Jesus was the King of the Jews. Whatever it meant to those who read it as they passed by, it was for Pilate a statement of the truth and of his own conviction.
How did this brief encounter with Jesus affect Pilate in the years that followed? We do not know. Perhaps he often mused on those terrifying moments when he was forced to make a choice and he had chosen to crucify the king. No amount of excusing himself by putting the blame on the religious leaders would ease his conscience. He had passed sentence by default and he must carry the guilt of that decision to the grave and yet...
Peter's words never rang in Pilate's ears but God knew what He was doing. "This man was handed over to you (the Jews) by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him." Acts 2:23-24 NIV.
What did Pilate think about that? Did he ever yearn for another encounter with Jesus just to put right what he had done? Only God knows!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.”