As the events unfold in John 19, they are filled with irony. When Pilate had Jesus scourged the soldiers mocked Jesus and said, “Hail, King of the Jews” as they slapped him in the face (John 19:3, NASB). You could say they were blaspheming the Son of God. Then Pilate returns Jesus to appear to the crowd repeatedly insisting, “I find no guilt in Him.”
Yet the crowd, the “chief priests and officers” insist, “Crucify, Crucify (19:6)!” They claim Jesus is the one blaspheming God. The Jews told Pilate, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God (19:7).” It is their disbelief in Jesus as the Son of God that causes them to falsely accuse Jesus, the Son of God, of blasphemy. It is the soldiers disbelief in Jesus that caused them to blaspheme him.
Dictionary.com defines blaspheme as “to speak impiously or irreverently of (God or sacred things).” The Jews thought they were adhering to the law God gave Moses as stated in Leviticus 24:16: “Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.” The irony is that Jesus is accused of the very thing that was done to Him.
Disbelief in Jesus, in God, can prompt people to do all sorts of things. It can cause them “to speak impiously or irreverently of God or sacred things.” At times I wrestle with whether I am irreverent toward God; whether I respect His holiness, purity and sacredness. I may not blatantly mock Jesus like the soldiers, but I wonder if sometimes I mock Him with my behavior. Are their times I strictly adhere to God’s law like the Israelites and obscure who Jesus really is — that He is truly the Son of God?
Disbelief in Jesus is easy to find today. There are still people who mock him and don’t recognize Him as the Son of God. Disbelief in someone who claims to follow Jesus is more difficult to identify. As a Christian I can insist I know what scripture says yet act like the crowd in Jesus’ day. I may even mock Jesus with my sinful actions. I think this behavior is related to my inability to fully grasp the holiness of God; to fully understand the sacred things of God.
The crowd chanted, “crucify, crucify” that day. The irony is that crucifixtion, Jesus’ death and resurrection, is the only way the crowd could be saved from their impurity. It is the only way we can be saved from our impurity. The cure for blasphemy, for disbelief in Jesus, is to humble ourselves before God and recognize His holiness. It is something I am working on each day.