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My Kingdom is Not of This World

November 25, 2018

John 18:33-37

 

I feel a little sorry for Pontius Pilate. The Jewish leaders set him up. He probably told his wife he’d be home on time. They didn’t warn him about questioning Jesus. They didn’t tell him that Jesus rarely gave a straight answer. I bet Pilate was late for dinner that night.

Pilate thinks he is asking questions with straight forward answers. Jesus responds with answers that seem evasive. But Pilate, doesn’t really understand; he doesn’t understand the context and he doesn’t understand who he is talking with. 

To him, Jesus is merely some Jewish guy who has made the religious leaders mad enough that they want him out of the way. He can’t possibly be anyone of significance. 

The authority was Tiberius, the emperor. Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. Pilate assumes that Jesus should be cowered and concerned. Pilate was, after all, the prefect, Rome’s version of all that, but without the chips. They had all the authority. Jesus was living under occupation and had no authority whatsoever. 

Jesus, the King of the Jews? In Pilate’s mind, Jesus was being railroaded. If he claimed to be the King of the Jews, he was probably delusional but not a criminal. 

Are you the King of the Jews? On the surface it seems a simple yes or no question. But not exactly!

Jesus wasn’t being evasive. If he answered no it would not be the truth. If he said yes, he wouldn’t be fully truthful, it would be a gross understatement. 

Are you the King of the Jews? I would have loved to see Pilate’s face if Jesus told him who he really was. If he said “I Am - who was, who is, and who is yet to come. I am King, the King of the Jews, the King of the Gentiles, the King of all creation, forever and ever. Amen.” Instead he says, “my kingdom is not of this world,” Pilate probably assumed his kingdom lay outside the borders of the Roman Empire, far enough away that Jesus couldn’t summon help. No real threat to the Empire.

His kingdom “is not of this world;” it is beyond earth and sky yet it is of all and in all. 

His kingdom is not merely spiritual or in heaven or solely at the end times; Jesus’ kingdom encompasses all of those and so much more. His kingdom includes our hearts and our relationships. It is a kingdom of love, mercy, peace, and justice.

If we say Jesus is our Lord, when we say Jesus is our King, we proclaim that the values of this world are not our values. We proclaim that our citizenship is first and foremost with the Jesus that embraces everyone - seekers, sinners, refugees, the lost and broken, and people of other faiths. 

Jesus welcomed Nicodemus and the centurion, the adulterous woman and the tax collector, the lepers and the blind, the Samaritan and the Gentile. 

“My kingdom is not of this world,” ”they who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me;” 

When we say Jesus is our King, we proclaim him as King of Love. We have placed ourselves among those who love him. We love him because he first loved us despite our faults and flaws.

We dwell in his kingdom as we pray and worship. We share our faith and we give thanks. We seek forgiveness and work towards forgiveness and reconciliation with others. 

We proclaim the Jesus who challenges oppression and injustice. We become the voice of the voiceless, acting justly and with mercy. We examine our hearts and our actions, striving to remove our own log before condemning the speck of another. The means are just as important, if not more important, than the ends so we strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

“My kingdom is not of this world,” “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

And he knelt, after sharing the Passover meal at the Last supper, to wash their feet. In the garden of Gethsemane, he healed the ear of the high priest’s slave. From the cross, he claimed dominion over death and granted life everlasting to the thief and to all who believe.

When he took his last breath, our sin was forgiven. When he rose from the dead, he broke the bondage of death. His ascension created a place for us in our Father’s house.

We proclaim the servant King and the King of Salvation. We share in the gift of new life when we share our stories and our love for Jesus. Visiting the elderly or home bound, feeding the hungry, we kneel at the feet of the lonely or downtrodden.  Tending the sick and dying and listening to share another’s burden, we heal the heart and soul of the broken. 

Pilate, didn’t really understand; he didn’t understand the context and he didn’t understand who he is talking with. But we do.

Was Jesus the King of the Jews? We proclaim that Jesus was, and is, and is to come. That He is King, the King of the Jews, the King of the Gentiles, the King of all creation. Jesus is the King of Love, the King of righteousness and the King of salvation.And He shall reign forever and everKing of kings and Lord of lords, Hallelujah

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