See also ‘CrucifixionTableau : Part 1’
Then there is Pilate’s confession: his proclamation THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
It is Pilate who enthrones this Jesus, from Nazareth, of the Jews; and he does so in the face of protest. This is his view on the matter, his testimony; and it is not universally shared.
It is, in fact, a triple-crown: Jesus’ kingship is declared over not one but three overlapping realms.
Firstly, he is proclaimed king in Hebrew. Living with a heritage of exile and occupation, Jesus and his contemporaries were multi-lingual, but Hebrew was first and foremost a liturgical language, the language of Jewish religious identity.
Secondly, he is proclaimed king in Latin. Though this was the language of Rome, spreading its linguistic influence across the languages of their Empire, it by no means silenced other tongues. It was, however, the technical language uniting the multi-cultural Roman army, which drew-in men from across the Empire and sent them out across it again.
Thirdly, he is proclaimed king in Greek. This was the common language of the known world; not only connecting peoples but cross-fertilising cultures.
Pilate proclaims Jesus king over religious sensibilities; over military might; and, finally, ultimately, over every sphere of life. A man arguably too dangerous to be allowed to live.
And gathered around his throne, representatives of the ‘peoples’ he has ‘conquered’: the Jewish religious authorities, the Roman soldiers, the traders and travellers of every tribe, all milling about, paying their strange homage.
The first group protest, but are silenced. Contrary to first glance, they have no power here.
The second group clothe themselves with the robes of the king. And yet, the clothes do not make the man: neither the uniform of a killing machine – these men have their personal concerns – nor these, the king’s set-aside pre-coronation clothes. Still, these are clothes that people stretched out to touch and by touching were healed. Clothes with memory clinging to them like odour. A tunic assigned randomly by rolling dice. Who won that lottery, and how did it transform their life?
The third group look on and shake their heads in wonder. What, on earth, is going on? And what, in heaven?
What kind of king receives audiences in such a throne room? What kind of reign does this demonstrate?
What, protesting at first, finds room to back down?
What, consumed at first with self-interest, finds room to be transformed by grace?
What, knowing at first, finds room to think again; or, uncomprehending, room to discover?