The Irony of the Lord
John Telgren

One of the well known episodes in the arrest and trial of Jesus is when he stood before Pilate. The Gospel of John has the most detailed account of the investigation by Pilate. The account is filled with irony.

The most obvious irony is the treatment Jesus receives at the hands of the soldiers. They mockingly crown him with thorns, dress him in a robe, strike him, bow down in mock worship, and flog him. To them, this was his road to humiliation and death. Little did they know that this really was a king, the king, and that this was actually his road to glory, exaltation, and kingship. After being humbled and put to death, God highly exalted him that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.

Then there is the irony of being questioned by Pilate as judge. Jesus makes it clear that Pilate has no authority over him except what God has granted him. Jesus does the unusual by questioning Pilate rather than defending himself. In asking questions, Jesus and Pilate switch places. Pilate is the one standing before the true judge and not the other way around. Pilate learns that Jesus is no ordinary man. The judge is in the presence of his judge!

Another irony is the fact that the Jews would not enter into Pilate's praetorium in order to avoid becoming unclean by entering into the house of a Gentile. In spite of all their careful attention to purity, they had become impure in their illegitimate and underhanded "trial" of Jesus. In fact, they were attempting to rid themselves of the only one that could make them clean! Another level of irony in this is that it was through this so-called "trial" and execution that the means for their purity was procured.

And then there is the irony of choosing Barabbas over Christ, and in their claiming Caesar to be their only king. In doing so, they rejected Christ which is a rejecting of God himself. The final irony is that their proclaimed "king" Caesar would eventually march against him with his army and destroy their city and temple. The reason Rome marched against Jerusalem was because of men like Barabbas, whom they chose over Christ. Barabbas was not merely a common "robber" as some translations translate, but rather an "insurrectionist," or even "terrorist." Although we do not know what became of Barabbas, it may be that he participated in the Jewish revolt that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

Many accounts and stories in the Bible are full of irony. Why so much irony? Perhaps one reason for this is God's ability to use an apparent defeat, tragedy, or suffering for his redemptive and victorious purposes. The suffering and death of Christ on a shameful cross resulted in life, joy, and victory! The irony of the cross is life through death, peace through suffering, and joy through sorrow!

This should stand as an encouragement for us as we follow in the path Christ has laid down for us. The way of the cross does not end in defeat, despair, or death. Like the song says, "the way of the cross leads home!" The great reversal means no more sickness, pain, mourning, or death. These enemies will be destroyed in the lake of fire, and the saints will shine like the sun.