Christ the King Sunday

by Bear Wade

Telling The Truth
John 18:33-37
Christ the King Sunday
Analysis by Robin Morgan

33Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate 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?” 36Jesus 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.” 37Pilate 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.” [38Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”]

DIAGNOSIS: Truthless

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Pilate is standing between Caesar on one side and the people on the other with Jesus in front of him. Not an enviable place to be. Pilate questions Jesus, a reasonable thing to do considering the circumstances, and yet it becomes apparent that the tack of his questioning isn’t really about gaining knowledge to make an informed decision. Pilate is trying to find a loophole to get out of this volatile situation with his skin and job intact.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – CYA (Cover Your…Assets)
Pilate’s conundrum only deepens as he asks and Jesus answers. Pilate: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus: “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate: “I’m not a Jew, am I?” As their dialogue continues, Pilate must feel as if the walls are closing in around him. He’s looking for a way out that keeps his position secure as well as Jesus’ head on his shoulders, but every time Jesus answers he makes it harder for Pilate to find a solution that saves face for all concerned. Fear for his own life prompts Pilate to keep pushing at Jesus for some answer that will cover them all. Pilate asks, “So are you a king?” Jesus answers, “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.”

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – Divine Exposure
It is Pilate’s last question that exposes the divine judgment in this dramatic moment. The one who confesses, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me” stands before Pilate and yet all he can ask is, “What is Truth?” The silence that answers his question is deafening…and damning.


Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – The Divine Right of the King
Jesus’ royal character is never more apparent than when he hangs on the tree. It is here that Pilate’s last question is finally answered. What is Truth? Truth is the Son of God staying on the cross until “it is finished.” Truth is the empty tomb and a new creation for all humanity. Truth is Pilate’s quibbling and sidestepping swallowed up by the work of the Son of God who was sent, lived, died, and was raised because God so loves the world.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – CYA (Christ Your Advocate)
Pilate’s trial of Jesus turned in a direction that Pilate certainly never anticipated, the initiative belongs to Jesus. And so it remains: “Peace be with you.” “Receive the Holy Spirit.” “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out you hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” The salvation work is done. And that is a promise that can open the feeblest hands and hearts to Christ-who is always ready to give the great gift of God’s love.

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – Q&A Revisited
Jesus is King. He is the One who asks the questions and gives the answers now-whether to Pilate, Thomas, Peter, or us. “Do you love me? Feed my lambs.” “Do you love me? Tend my sheep.” “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” “Follow me.” Regardless of who is to our left or who is to our right, with Jesus out in front, our way is clear.


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