In John 18:35, Pilate asked Jesus about his crime, but Jesus takes the conversation in a different direction.
John 18:36-38 – "My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king." Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?" Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice." Pilate said, "What is truth?" (MSG)
I grew up in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, during Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's time. In his later years, Diefenbaker often attended the same United Church that my family attended. Canadians of my generation might remember that Diefenbaker had a condition that caused his head to shake uncontrollably. Despite that condition, he always seemed to choose to sit near the front of the church. As a young person, I was more amused by the bobbling of his head than by the fact that I was attending worship with the country's leading politician.
Others were more impressed with attending the same church as the prime minister, so from time to time, people would phone the pastor to inquire if he knew whether or not the Prime Minister would be in attendance that Sunday. Whether he knew or not, the pastor's answer was always the same: "We're never sure from Sunday to Sunday whether the Prime Minister will be in attendance, but we know for certain that the King of kings will be."
This is Reign of Christ Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year before many churches begin their journey into Advent. On this day, we often talk of Jesus as King of kings. It is a time to recognize that despite whomever the world projects as the powerful in the world, the real king in the hearts of Christians and the one who commands our undivided loyalty is Jesus.
Jesus tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. There is another kingdom, an alternate kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, the upside-down world that makes little sense to worldly people. Jesus' kingdom is not a kingdom ruled by force, but a kingdom in the hearts of Christians everywhere. Yes, Jesus' purpose was one of conquest. However, it was not of land and power, but a conquest of love. Too bad Pilate didn't wait around to hear Jesus' answer to his question, "What is truth?" — because Truth was standing right before him!
Prayer: Lord, Your kingdom makes little sense to the outside world. Thank You that You have revealed the truth of that kingdom to Your followers, that we might be guided in Your ways, and by doing so, be truly transformed. Amen.
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