November 21, 2021 - Reign of Christ (Last Sunday after Pentecost)
The aim of the gospel of John is clearly stated in the last verse of its last Chapter. John 20:31 states, “But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” The question of Jesus’ divinity, who Jesus was, what Jesus represented, and why Jesus was on earth fills the entire Gospel. When Jesus appeared before Pilate, the first question was about the kingship of Jesus. Pilate asked Jesus in verse 33, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
In the preceding verses, Jesus had been arrested following the betrayal by Judas, one of the disciples. The Jewish religious leaders who ordered the arrest had questioned Jesus. Peter, one of Jesus’ close disciples, had denied Jesus. And now, Jesus was being quizzed by the Roman Governor. It is possible that Pilate had heard about the life and ministry of Jesus. It is possible that he had heard Jesus being called the ‘king of the Jews.’ Perhaps Pilate wanted to know what being king of the Jews meant and how that infringed on his authority as Governor under Caesar. Interestingly, Nathaniel, in John 1:49, had said to Jesus, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel.”
Pilate’s second question, however, is the strange one. He asked Jesus, “What have you done?” Pilate had literally mocked Jesus, saying that the people who had betrayed, arrested, and handed Him over to be tried were Jesus’s own people. ‘What have you done?’, is the question that victims can struggle to answer after they have been abused, raped, or violated. As with the first question, Jesus did not attempt to answer. Probably, Jesus knew that no victim ever got justice trying to vindicate themselves. Instead, Jesus points Pilate to the realm of His kingdom as one that has its origin and content from above. With Pilate’s third question, “So you are a king?” Jesus answers in the positive. Jesus was a king and His role as King was to “testify to the truth.” The truth is Jesus Christ, as stated in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus points Pilate to the fact of His kingship, which is not just one of power, but of truth; the reign of one who had suffered abuse, pain, and death.
The passage demonstrates that we can come to Christ the King as one who endured injustice in both religious and political spaces. We can come to Christ whose trust was broken by those closest to Him, but who triumphed as the truth. The passage also challenges us to critique how we might be faithful to relationships and just to all people.
The theme of the recognition of the Christ as King runs throughout the readings for today. If we are called to be priests in Christ’s kingdom, how might our worship influence actions of justice for the whole of humanity? Worship is not limited to the church, it is integral to our lives as Christian believers, and continues in our personal everyday situations.
The words in Daniel remind us of the need for justice. Justice without righteousness is not something true; judgment without morals is a misnomer. Justice and worship are mutually inclusive and effective when done in awe of and in fear of God. Psalm 93 supports this theme by creating an atmosphere that supports the everlasting kingship of Christ; he is mightier than the waters, than the seas. People who are abused do not know the joy of God, so how might we recognize the pains of those who suffer and empower all God’s children to reclaim their fullness in Christ?
John 18:33-37 and Revelation 1:4b-8 carry the theme of the town crier who announces the kingship of Jesus Christ. It is a proclamation of Christ as King. Pilate does so indirectly, providing Jesus with an opportunity to ascertain Christ’s eternal reign that is beyond but over this world. Revelation provides the descriptive names for the King, who was pierced, yet loves and frees. Christ is the “Alpha and Omega, the Almighty.” Hebrews 4:14 assures us that Christ our high priest has been tested in every respect, so understands us, in our pain and suffering. It is this High Priest, who is also King, Saviour, and Redeemer that the proclamation is made for us to look to. Critical to this proclamation is our place as members of Christ’s kingdom to act on behalf of the king in this world as ambassadors (Matthew 25:31-46).
Friends, our question to ponder for this week: if we say that Jesus Christ is King, what is our obligation as we come into the King’s court to worship?