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INRI: What is the meaning of INRI? Why is it displayed on the crucifix?

What is the meaning of INRI? Why is it displayed on the crucifix?

The soldiers used to write on a tablet the offence of the person sentenced to crucifixion, displayed it on the way to his execution, and nailed it atop the cross. Since the Roman soldiers implemented the crucifixion, the Jews had no control over this. The charge against Jesus was that he had claimed to be the king of the Jews. However, Pilate purposefully wrote: “Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews.” The inscriptions were written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. In Latin, it was Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, the acronym for which, INRI, has come to be displayed on crucifixes worldwide. The chief priests sought a change to, “He said, I am the King of Jews”; but Pilate, not wanting to be dictated to by the Jews, declined, saying, “What I have written, I have written” (Jn 19:22), unwittingly giving official recognition to Jesus’ claim to being the (spiritual) King of the Jews.


Pilate, the gentile governor of Judea knew ordinary Jews considered Jesus as their spiritual king. Jesus affirmed his spiritual kingship to Pilate while questioning. Under pressure from the Jewish leaders, Pilate sentenced Jesus for crucifixion. However, in his verdict, Pilate acknowledged the spiritual kingship of Jesus even at the displeasure of his enemies. We shall also be in between right and wrong like the situation Pilate faced. Standing for truth or justice is challenging as it was the case of John the Baptist and Jesus.


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