And set up over his head his accusation written
The Evangelist John calls it a "title", ( John 19:19 John 19:20 ) , and Luke, a "superscription", ( Luke 23:38 ) , and Mark, the "superscription of his accusation", ( Mark 15:26 ) : it was what contained the sum and substance of what he was accused, and for which he was condemned, and suffered. The Syriac and Persic versions here render it, "the cause of his death". It was written by Pilate in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, that all might read it; and by his orders it was put upon the cross, and over the head of Jesus by the soldiers. This title, or inscription, setting forth the person's crime, used to be carried before him, or put upon him, as he was led to execution F24: but here it was set upon the cross, and perhaps nailed unto it; to which the apostle seems to allude in ( Colossians 2:14 ) , the substance of it was,
this is Jesus the king of the Jews.
This was what the chief priests accused him of to Pilate, and about which he questioned him, and for which they desired he might be crucified; urging, that should he let him go, he could not be Caesar's friend. Hence Pilate wrote his accusation in this form, not so much in derision of Jesus; for by conversation with him he understood what sort of a king he was, as to the reproach of the Jews for crucifying him who was their king; being the person that was prophesied of in their books, as king of Zion, and whom they expected as such, though now they denied and rejected him.
F24 Lipsius de Cruce, l. 2. c. 11.