We see the letters “INRI” written on the crucifix. What is its meaning? Why is it displayed there?
The offense of a person condemned to death by crucifixion was written on a tablet that was displayed on the way of the cross and nailed on the cross. Since the Romans did the execution of Jesus, Jews had no control over this. The charge against Jesus by the Jews was that he had claimed to be the King of the Jews.
However, Pilate purposefully wrote: “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” The inscriptions were written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. In Latin it was “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” (INRI). That is why this acronym is on the crucifix.
The chief priests requested Pilate to change it as, “He said, I am the King of Jews.” But Pilate did not change it, affirming from his part that Jesus was their spiritual king.
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.