April 29, 2011
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. John 19:19
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
I bought a wooden work of art while I was in Zambia.
It was a crucifix: a representation of Jesus crucified on the cross. Now you should know many men in Zambia earn their living by making different kinds of items out of wood. They have many tools and are talented in what they do.
For example, this crucifix was extremely well done and beautiful. Beyond that, there are two things which command most people's attention.
First, this African artist made Jesus black.
I suppose this is not a mistake; nor was it done in ignorance. The author wanted people to know Jesus had come to preach the Gospel to all people -- not just white people, but all people. Jesus died for everyone, and the sins of everyone are forgiven. Now all people are called to believe in Him as Savior so His forgiveness might be theirs.
Second, when Jesus was crucified, Pilate commanded a sign of His made-up crime be hung over His head. The notice said, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
In Latin, these words are written: "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" (see John 19:20). When you take the first letter of each word you get INRI. We recognize these letters from many Christian paintings.
On my Zambian crucifix, there are only three letters: INR. The last "I" is missing.
Two explanations are possible. Maybe the carver just left off or forgot the last "I" or -- and this is the explanation I like better --
maybe he left the "I" off intentionally. If that was the situation, the sentence would read "Jesus, of Nazareth, the King." It was the carver's way of letting all of us know Jesus is the King and the Savior of the world.
So, my friend, the Holy Spirit has used a nameless woodcarver from Zambia to remind us all that Jesus is our King -- the King who gave His life to guarantee ours.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be our King. Help us spread the message of His love to all the world. In the Name of my cruciifed and risen Savior, I pray it. Amen.
Biography of Author: The preceding devotion was written by Reverend Esa Luomaranta, pastor and missionary in the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries