"Testify to Truth"
22 November 2015, Christ the King
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor
East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches
John 18:33-37 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=409810532)
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.”
Context is everything.
The Armistice that brought an end to our global conflagration
Had been signed only seven years earlier.
The year was 1925.
Pope Pius XI created a new feast day to add to the Liturgical calendar;
“Christ the King” Sunday,
To celebrate the kingship of Christ,
“To combat the destructive forces of this age.”
(Preaching the New Common Lectionary, Year B, Craddock, Hayes, Holladay, Tucker, p.263)
The world knew destruction.
Winning the First World War was bitter-sweet.
Even as the dead were being mourned and buried in military cemeteries across the land,
Victorious allies longed with hope
For political stability and peace.
The political solution, as we all know, was doomed to fail.
Exemplified by the efforts and writing of Pope Pius XI,
The Church, however, had far loftier goals,
Later expanded upon and supported by
The Second Vatican Council forty years later.
The Church of Rome’s goal?
To celebrate Jesus Christ as king.
The contrast of goals can be seen in the Gospel of John,
In the account of Jesus being questioned by Pilate.
Pilate’s world was one of geography, power, and politics.
Had he lived in the 20th century, he could have been the Kaiser
Starting the First World War or signing the Armistice.
Jesus’ kingdom is something all together different.
“Christ the King” is the final Sunday of the Liturgical Year.
The culmination towards which the Gospel has moved us.
Christ the King calls us to look forward,
Toward the consummation of history.
Documents from Vatican II conclude
That the feast of Christ the King is
“to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
In his carefully scripted trial,
Presided over by Pontius Pilate,
In the presence of an angry Jewish crowd,
Jesus is in command, yet he has no troops.
Jesus is in authority, yet he is held prisoner.
Jesus is soon to be dead, yet he would rise again.
Jesus is king, whose crown was not placed by human hands,
And, therefore, no person could remove it,
Not even the crowd,
Not even the Jewish authorities,
Not even Pontius Pilate.
“I came into the world,” Jesus testifies,
“I was born … to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (18:37)
Pilate could make war and peace;
But our king, Jesus Christ, is the peace.
Political peace is temporal.
The peace of Jesus Christ is eternal.
Pilate could lead the people by his raw power and authority,
Yet, even he was limited by the emperor’s leash and mortal life.
Our king, Jesus Christ,
In contrast to the world,
Is the way.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life,
Whose kingdom transcends eternal generations
And will never pass away.
Follow Christ our king, in the way,
In truth, and in life,
And all things in heaven and earth will be united in him.
Pilate could let you out of jail or crucify you on a cross.
Jesus our king can actually erase our record clean and forgive all our sins.
Jesus our king actually saves our souls even when our corpse is dead and buried.
That’s the testimony of Jesus.
Join with me today
Celebrating Jesus Christ as our king,
Whose kingdom transcends
Time and space,
Generations and geography.
Join with me today
Leading a kingdom-living lifestyle:
Loving God, and loving neighbors,
Leading others to Jesus and teaching them the Gospel.
That’s how to celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ is our king.
Christ our king unites us
One with Christ,
One with each other,
And one in ministry to all the world,
Eagerly looking forward to his return and final victory.
Behold! The king is coming!