We have been remembering this month, remembering those who have died on All Saints Day, remembering a man who tried to blow up parliament because of the persecution of Catholics at the time (Lyvedon New Build) and remembering those we have lost in two wars that devastated this country and much of the world. Now we are remembering who we serve, try to follow. In this passage before Pilate Jesus is being questioned about who he is. To a Roman governer he was probably just a nuisance, a rebel rouser. Pilate had no Jewish background so he doesn’t care about the Jews concerns about Jesus. In fact Jesus constantly hides who he really is except for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. In this day we like to follow gurus, leaders
favourite Christian leaders/speakers, politicians, journalists, tv stars. But Jesus in contrast has a quiet power choosing a small group of people to love and nurture. He spends three years preparing a small merry band for life when he is taken away from them. Teaching, praying, healing and baptizing. Eating and drinking with them. This is his style of leadership. The power is in its integrity. He is wisdom and truth. Jesus is not a king as we know kings, a servant king who came to serve and not to be served.
Pilate asked him “Are you the king of the Jews?" Pilate is being sarcastic. Jesus says “You yourself, you say this”. Almost Irish! “Whatever you think!" Pilate doesn’t want to know the truth about Jesus, but is just playing games, “So did you work this out for yourself, or are you just copying what the Jewish authorities have told you?"
Pilate in response says "Am I a Jew?" - "Are you my king?".
Jesus does not defend himself by answering the question "What have you done?", rather he answers the question asked about kingship. The fact that Jesus now answers the question, possibly indicates that he considers Pilate's enquiry genuine.
“My kingdom is not of this world". Jesus establishes that his role, as deliverer-king, is spiritual and not political and is therefore, not a threat to Roman rule, so not a threat to Pilate. Jesus supports this claim with evidence. If he was a political leader, his followers would have violently resisted his arrest; they did not do so. Jesus' "guards" unlike Pilates, didn't take up arms to resist his arrest, and the one who did was told to sheathe his weapon. The Jews are the enemy, not the Romans.
Pilate says “You are a king, then!"
But the title "king" is not one Jesus would choose himself. He is the servant king, but avoids the title. Jesus is speaking with a pagan Roman, not a Jew. His words, his truth is a mystery to the crowds, but to those who know who Jesus is, the mystery or truth is revealed. "Everyone who loves truth knows my voice".
This then is the king we serve and follow encouraging us on a humble, patient way, speaking truth and having integrity pilgrims on a journey to another world beyond this one. A king who has come to live with us, pitched up his tent among us to show us another way of being.