Wayne's Worldview is a place to share my unique perspective of the world as formed from my interpretation of the scriptures and my experience as a Christian. As a pastor, I am asked a lot of questions about current issues, life dilemmas, personal problems, politics, biblical interpretation...etc.I offer these "How I see it" thoughts in effort to challenge people to think about their worldview, and to stimulate good conversations that will help us become more whole.
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Monday, August 12, 2013

INRI Not Just Letters on the Cross

INRI - What do these letters, commonly printed on top of the cross mean? Answer: The letters to which you are referring are "INRI." When crucifixions were commonplace, throughout the Roman Empire, it was customary to affix a board at the top of the cross detailing the crimes of the crucified person. This board was called titulus cruces. The letters "INRI" is an acronym of the Latin title that Pontius Pilate had written over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross, as recorded in John 19:19. The Roman procurator Pilate was reluctant to crucify Jesus because he could see no real justification. At that time, Jews had a treaty with Rome for self-government. The Jewish priests complained to Rome (Pilate) that Jesus was interfering with their self-rule, by establishing that he was a king. When Pilate challenged Jesus to deny this, Jesus did not refute the charge. With no denial forthcoming, Pilate announced a 'guilty by default' verdict. The priests demanded the death penalty. Pilate attempted to spare his life by offering the release of either Barabbas, a convicted murderer and thief or Jesus, who was well known for his good deeds. He was appealing to a Jewish custom of releasing a prisoner at the time of the Passover. His attempt failed when the Jews chose to release the notorious criminal. Therefore, the crime for which Jesus was crucified was 'King of the Jews', and this was duly painted on the titulus. The soldiers mocked Jesus for this so called crime by accenting his Title by placing a crown of thorns on His head and a dressing him in a scarlet robe. Pilate's title for Christ was written in three languages- Latin, Greek and Hebrew. The Early Church adopted the first letters of each word of the Latin (which later became the primary language in church) as a symbol and it appeared in many early paintings of the crucifixion. This title in Latin is "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum." That is: Iesus: Jesus, Nazarenus: of Nazareth, Rex: King, Iudaeorum: of the Jews. Latin uses "I" instead of the English "J". This title recognizes who Jesus truly was and is at the very moment he finally fulfilled all that the King of the Jews was to do for his people. He died for the sins of all who place their faith in him. By this work, he made the people of God to be far more than those who are Jews by birth. Rather, the true people of God are all who believe in Christ for salvation: If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29) So when we see the letters, we are reminded that Jesus, our King, died in our place and paid for the sins of his people.

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