So, You Are a King!

Pilate … summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” (John 18:33-34).

For a busy Roman procurator of a restless, troublesome province, this was one more annoyance.  Early in the morning, way before “office hours,” a band of religious leaders requests an audience.  They have with them a man who has obviously been beaten and abused, and want Pilate, Rome’s man in Jerusalem, to do something about this troublemaker.

“Does Rome care?” is Pilate’s first, unspoken question: “Is there anything to this that Rome has any interest in?”  So he and the Jewish leaders have a bit of a fencing match.  Pilate refers them to their own court system, assuming that the issue is “a religious matter,” hoping to clear it from his inbox.  The leaders reply that they are accusing this man of a capital crime, which only Rome can enforce.  Pilate agrees to interview Jesus.

Whenever we use the name Jesus Christ, we invoke a king and a kingdom.  Christ is the Greek form of the Jewish messiah.  Both words mean ‘anointed,’ one who is set apart by God for a special purpose.  In first-century Jewish thought, the Messiah was a kingly, Son-of-David, leader who would set things right.  To say of Jesus “You are the Messiah!” was a political statement indeed.  Then … and now.

So “Messiah” gets Pilate’s interest.  His administration regularly had to deal with “messianic” leaders who, believing they were the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, gathered a following and began fomenting unrest against the already unpopular Roman occupation. It always ended badly for these “messiahs.”

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asks Jesus.   If Jesus answers Pilate’s question in the affirmative, he dooms himself.  If he answers in the negative, he denies himself.

“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus tells Pilate.  So yes, Jesus is a king.  But his kingdom is not of this world—it is not sourced in this world, it does not operate according to this world’s rules.  

As we’re thinking about Real ID, this king and his kingdom rearranges everything.  Real ID doesn’t come from you, or from the kingdoms of this world.  We are not who we say we are.  We are who he says we are, because he is who he says he is: “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

To whom or what do you spend the most time listening?  What is a step you could take towards the side of truth?

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