We Have No King But You

In the gospel of John we read how the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together to discuss the way in which the popularity of Jesus was increasing among the Jewish people; they were becoming concerned that unless they intervened then the Romans would step in and take away their authority (John 11:47-4847   The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, "What are we doing? For this man does many signs.
48   If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
). Then the high priest, Caiaphas, spoke out and said, "It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." (John 11:49-5049   But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all,
50   nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."

Although the intentions of Caiaphas were anything but noble it is ironic that Caiaphas could never have spoken truer words. For the death of Jesus would indeed be an atoning sacrifice for mankind; as Paul wrote to the Church in Colosse: "But now [God] has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation." (Colossians 1:22).

After this meeting the Jewish leaders began to plot to take the life of Jesus (John 11:5353   So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death.
). They arrested Jesus and took Him before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. But Pilate could find no guilt and tried unsuccessfully to have Jesus released (John 19:1212   At this, Pilate was seeking to release him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you release this man, you aren't Caesar's friend! Everyone who makes himself a king speaks against Caesar!"
). Then Pilate offered Jesus back to his own people.

14Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, at about the sixth hour.{noon} He said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!"
15They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"
John 19:14-15

In the Jewish prayer, Avinu MalkeinuHebrew: Our God, Our King, which is recited during the Ten Days of Penitence, the second line reads, "Avinu Malkeinu, ain lanu melech eleh attah," which translates, "Our Father, our King, we have no King but You."

And yet in this audience before Pilate we witness the chief priests declare, "We have no king but Caesar!"

This is no idle utterance. It represents not only a denouncement of the office of the priesthood but an end to the earthly ministry of this role. Instead the role of high priest would now be transferred to Christ.

Eternal High Priest
19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil;
20where as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20

There is perhaps no greater reminder of this than when Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross and we read that the curtain in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:5151   Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split.
, Mark 15:3838   The veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom.
, and Luke 23:4545   The sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
). This curtain separated the people from the Holy of Holies, the most holy place, where only the high priest was able to enter before. No longer would the holiness of God be restricted to one earthly place, but instead would reside in the hearts of men (Galatians 4:66   And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba,{Abba is a Greek spelling for the Aramaic word for "Father" or "Daddy" used in a familiar, respectful, and loving way.} Father!"
and 1 Corinthians 6:19-2019   Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own,
20   for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
). We need to be careful by not reading too much into these events, but it is interesting to note that the Jewish prayer, Avinu Malkeinu, is spoken each day during the Ten Days of Penitence which ends on the Day of Atonement: when the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies.

We know from the writer of the letter to the Hebrews that no earthly sacrifice was ever going to be sufficient. However, because Jesus offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice then the price for all of our sins has been paid in full.

11Every priest indeed stands day by day serving and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,
12but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet.
14For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:11-14

This leaves us with two challenges regarding the way in which we live our lives.

  • Do we trust in Christ as our great High Priest?

  • Can we pray the prayer, "Our Father, our King, we have no King but You"?