The title of King is foreign to us.
To our 21st century American ears, it
It goes against our cherished values of freedom and
liberty for all.
It excludes the female half of the population.
not a positive or attractive metaphor, not helpful.
So what are we to make of
Some would have us throw it out.
Some would just ignore
But our ancestors in faith
heard the words “king” and
very differently from the way we
For ordinary Jews it was
time without much hope.
Most of them lived lives of quiet desperation.
few of them fought back with violence,
leading to the First Jewish
that ended in the destruction of the Temple,
but most of them just
kept on the best they could.
They knew from their own experience
values of the world around them were askew,
and they saw those false values
enforced by a despot—
Herod Antipas—who called himself “king of the
and an emperor—Tiberius—who was hailed as a god.
When Jesus came,
preaching a reign
of justice, peace, love, truth, and freedom for
what he proclaimed was very good news to them.
He told them that King
Herod is not #1.
King Herod may have power, but God is in charge.
rules with force and domination.
God rules with love.
And God's rule is
here right now.
between the powers of domination
and the Way of Jesus
those Jewish farmers and laborers and slaves
under the civil rule of the
found hope in following the Way of Jesus of Nazareth.
brought them peace that lasted.
His Way brought them justice.
In spite of the
in spite of scholars telling us
that Jesus himself
never claimed to be a king,
this passage from John's Gospel
still has a
lesson for us about the Way of Jesus.
One of the points today's passage makes
revolves around power:
Who is king?
As we would ask, Who's in
Pilate thinks he is.
He's the prefect of the Roman province of
He works for the emperor.
Pilate's politics rule his
If this Jesus from Nazareth is claiming to be the King of the
that's treason, because the Roman Senate
has designated Herod
Antipas as its vassal
and given him the title “king of
So John teaches what
the Way of Jesus is like
by creating this interrogation scene.
It has the
structure of a dialogue, but it's not.
Pilate asks questions, but he doesn't
listen to the answers.
We've all been in situations like that.
whether in the state or in the church or on the job,
too often make
decisions without listening.
Instead of entering into dialogue, they
Pilate starts with the blunt question, “Are you the king of the
Jesus doesn't answer the question.
Instead he asks Pilate who made
He enters into dialogue.
Pilate's answer makes the source of
the accusation clear,
and he asks Jesus what behavior of his
the charge to be made against him.
And Jesus continues to
explaining to Pilate that his is a different kingdom,
the Roman empire that rules by force.
The only thing Pilate is able to
is that Jesus has a kingdom somewhere;
he interrogates, “Then you are
Jesus continues the dialogue once more,
explaining that his
mission is not political
but is to witness to the truth.
Still unable to
hear what Jesus is saying,
Pilate concludes that Jesus says he's a
doesn't matter where or what he means by it—
and that's the end of
Jesus is guilty of
That same dynamic
Some people still hear like Pilate,
ears closed to
anything that is not what they're after.
Pilate's mindset too often
our government, our business, our world.
We have seen it in the Roman
We see it in Congress.
We see it in our city.
that oppresses people and destroys lives.
In the face
of power, Jesus stood and spoke truth.
We're called, following Jesus,
listen, to learn from others, to dialogue.
We're called to speak truth to
Our gathering here speaks
truth to power
about patriarchy and hierarchy and inclusiveness.
letters to the editor
and our calls to public officials
and our testimony
at government hearings
speak truth to power.
Our contributions to
organizations working for social justice
speak truth to power.
week long, all life long,
the way we live our faith
speaks truth to
It may not be very helpful for us to think of Christ as king.
we know that when we follow his Way, God's in charge.
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
West Central Avenue (Washington Church)