John 19:16b-22

Jesus is left alone to die.

He carries the cross by himself and, once nailed to it, hangs quietly in the background while the others bicker about what it all means.

Pilate’s already written in ink everything that he thinks needs to be said: “The King of the Jews” (v. 19). The Jewish leaders demand a retraction, “No matter what this man claims, he’s not our king.” But what Pilate has written has been written (v. 22).

Jesus feels no need to settle the argument. No need to explain himself. His inaction speaks louder than words.

As we recall the last days and hours of Jesus’ life, we desperately want to explain his death too. Why was he such a threat to both the religious establishment and imperial order? Why was he so sure he had to die? Why did God use his death to work out our salvation? 

The rest of the New Testament begins to answer these questions with vivid metaphors and similes, but the meaning of the crucifixion is and will always remain a mystery.

What if we stopped our nervous chatter long enough to keep the silence with Jesus? What if, instead of trying to explain his death, we allowed ourselves to experience it.

Jesus alone knows why. Perhaps if we surrender to our own unknowing, we might know him better too.


Who do you see when you imagine Jesus on the cross? How can you keep the silence with him?


Lord Jesus Christ, you alone know why, but your death helps us to know that we are not alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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