“Jesus’ Kingdom”

John 18:33-37

22 November 2015, Christ the King

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches

 

John 18:33-37

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

 

Prayer.

 

“What is Truth?”

is the question edited out

of today’s gospel lesson.

 

The loyal drone of Caesar

thought he knew a few things about the truth

as he saw it.

Truth was

Pilate had all the power

over life, death, and everything in-between.

Truth and power,

influence and affluence,

all were his to hold or wield

as he saw fit.

Truth was

the strong rule the weak.

The powerful judge the weak.

Rome demanded peace and obedience.

 

Pilate thought he knew a few things about truth:

It had proved to be useful

to befriend the religious authorities

to enlist their help

to keep the peace

to become the conveyor of money

delivering tax income to Rome.

Some considered it collaboration with the enemy.

The religious authorities saw it as a means to an end.

Whatever the justification;

When Rome was happy

Pilate was happy.

 

Pilate held all the cards,

Jesus had none.

Or, so Pilate thought.

 

Truth was

the spineless Temple priests

charged Jesus with blasphemy

but didn’t have the courage

to face him themselves

without the power of Pilate

to back them up.

 

Pity Pilate and his lackey Temple priests.

Their assumptions about truth

had all been wrong.

The question

“What is truth?”

simply points to

the depth of their ignorance,

the absence of their faith.

 

Truth does not change with time.

What was true yesterday

is true today

and will be true tomorrow.

Truth can be replicated by others.

making it universal in its application.

It crosses all divisions

- gender, race, culture, and economics.

Truth is valid

in every time and every circumstance.

Therefore,

Contradiction undermines truth.

It creates an imperfection,

distressing incongruities,

and leads to failure.

 

The truth about God

is that there is more than what is seen.

Had Pilate been able to see

what we see through the lens of history

he would have seen the fall of the Roman Empire

the Ottoman Empire

Nazi Germany

And now,

the crushing of Daesh.

 

Pilate would have been faced

with God’s larger truth that

the strong do not rule the weak.

Rather,

in God’s kingdom,

domination leads to failure

power leads to corruption

and hoarded money leads to not being able to enter the kingdom.

Truth is,

It remains impossible to thread a needle with a camel.

 

If Pilate had been able to see

the larger picture,

absent of contradiction, imperfection, and incongruity,

he would have seen that

that God favors the poor,

the weak,

the least, the lost, the disadvantaged,

all those who get left behind.

 

The truth about God

is rooted deeply in faith;

that what is beyond what can be seen

at any one time

is a reality in which

God is in control.

 

This is God’s kingdom

And Jesus is our king.

 

While we may be preoccupied

with the minutia of everyday

living and dying,

God is doing far greater things:

shaping and molding

into His ultimate, final will

everything

from the vast to the particular.

God creates and recreates everything

From the big to the small,

From the East to the West, the North to the South.

 

Faith that God is in control

frees the self

from equating cure with healing,

from connecting affluence with blessing,

and insisting that punishment

is the only solution for sin.

 

Faith in God

frees the self

from the necessity to always take charge,

and allows us

to give away

and let go.

 

Faith that God is in control

allows one to recognize

the fact that we do not need to know all things,

to be a part of every decision,

to trust,

ultimately,

to allow God to be God.

Justice will prevail.

Peace will come.

 

The truth about God

is also rooted in a foundation of love;

the source of every

divine motive

from the beginning of time

through every eon of eternity.

Love overcame the flaw of sin;

the garden’s imperfection.

Love gave Moses a voice

Abraham a covenant

and the prophets a connection.

 

Love brought Jesus to earth

forgives all flaws

and brings victory over the grave.

Love brings light and salvation

to a world hiding in darkness and sin.

 

We are a forgiven people because of God’s love.

We are a resurrection people because of God’s love.

We are a claimed people because of God’s love.

 

Where ever love can be found

it is possible

to trace its origins

back to the source

back to from whence it came

back to the Lord God, Almighty himself.

 

“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice,”

Jesus informs

the imperfect personification

of stubborn, selfish, human will.

We know in our heart

that he is right.

But to listen

and to obey

implies

surrender

of the will

to the Divine will.

 

Yes,

this is the price of Truth;

the only price that we are asked to pay.

“Are ye able,

said the Master,

to be crucified with me?”

to surrender the self

wholly to Christ,

to go

only where he leads?

to follow

only his voice?

 

“Are you the King of the Jews?”

asked a ruler

who thought he knew.

 

“My kingdom is not from here,”

Jesus answers.

Thank God.

Thank God

Christ’s kingdom was never built on

political power, military might, or state wealth.

 

Thank God

we can handle the truth;

The truth that God is in control

The truth that faith is able to free us

The truth that love is God’s only motive

pure and unblemished

now and forevermore.

Amen.