Today is Christ the King Sunday. All the great Kings in Shakespeare, they all die prematurely often tragically and sometimes badly. Remember the hymn Crown Him With Many Crowns? Remember it is the sacrificial lamb that sits on the throne, which is an image from Revelation
Today’s lesson is Pilate and Jesus. Pilate is King of the world and Christ is another kind of a King the king of somewhere else. His kingdom was not from this world. Pilate is a representative of earthly power which is based on a lie and Jesus represents the power of his father which is The Truth. John’s gospel begins with this. “And the word became flesh and lived among us… full of grace and truth.” Jesus whole reason for coming to us was so that we might begin to hear his voice and know the truth.
So today we must allow this text to ask us sharply: Do you belong to the truth? Do you hear Jesus voice?
Last week when Jesus spoke
about the destruction of
For Jesus there was great urgency. He wanted to get the message out that human culture was corrupt because it was founded by corrupt people. Jesus came into the world so that each one of us could be reborn with Christ, and with him live in grace and truth.
I know of no better illustration of this than the lesson that is before us. As Jesus stood with Pilate he was about to live out the world’s lie. He was going to be executed because the kingdom of the world could not bear the light that Jesus was shining on its lie. This truth is further highlighted in John 8, where Jesus says to his disciples: “If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. Jn. 8:31-32.
In other words if you follow Jesus to the cross and beyond it to Easter, the foundational lie will be exposed. Jesus said to the representatives of the temple and government: “You are from your father the devil and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murder from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature for he is a liar and the father of lies. I tell you the truth but you do not believe me.” Jn. 8:44-45
The lies and murders go all the way back to Cain who is our common ancestor. Here in the lesson for today the Roman state and the Jewish religious leaders are doing it again. They are about to re-assert their brand of order by murdering Jesus. “For this I was born and for this I have come in to the world.” Jesus came to expose the mechanism by which we order everything we do together.
The words spoken by Jesus to Pilate continue echoing strongly among the early followers of Jesus, decades later: Paul wrote about this struggle between truth and the lie: “Although we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does” (2 Corinthians 10:3). We do not fight with fleshly weapons against flesh and blood — as if human beings were our enemies. No, we struggle against dark spiritual forces that are described as thoughts, arguments, pretensions, faulty reasoning. And we do not use the kinds of physical weapons used by typical kingdoms — swords, spears, or shields (Ephesians 6:10-18). Instead, we engage the falsehood and deception so prevalent in the world with “unarmed” truth, prayer, justice, alertness, peace, faith
All through this past year
we have been following along in the gospel according to Saint Mark. There Jesus exposes demons by casting them
out from the places they don’t belong, which is within people. He freed the Gadazerine
demoniac, he released the paralytic from his mat. He coaxed Jarius to
step out of the old ways of the synagogue and into the
Human beings are the heirs
of Cain and are marked with his stain unless we pass out of the Kingdom of lies
and into the
The only way to free us is by killing us through the sacrament of Baptism so that we can arise to the new life won for us by Jesus.
When we step into the water we are the descendent of Adam and Cain. When we step out of the water we are children of Jesus’ Father and heirs of his Kingdom. I don’t like to say that we are washed in the water of Baptism because that implies that we get cleaned up, or reformed, that is wrong. We die so that we may be reborn. We exchange our old origin of murder and death for a new origin of grace and life.
Nothing less than a clean break from the past is what Jesus’ kingdom is about. This is Jesus’ way of revealing the truth. The truth of His cross is a word of forgiveness that can help us, that can help this world, little by little, step by step, to step out of the lies and into Jesus’ truth.
You are called to be part of this transformation. As Jesus was born to live the truth, in the waters of baptism you are re-born to live that grace and truth. The Holy Spirit empowers you to step out of the lie and to stand in the truth so that others may know and see also.
1. Why does it only sound like a good deal to be a king?
2. In what way do both Jesus and Pilate have their own brand of truth?
3. Why must we make a clean break with the past to live in Jesus Kingdom?