Are you a king?
40 blogs of Lent, day 24
Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth? John 18:33-38
Jesus is talking to a person whose authority he has recently challenged, but I will be saying more about that in a blog I will publish on Palm Sunday, 20th March, 2016, so if you want to know how, you’ll have to wait a few days. Pilate is wanting to know about Jesus’ claims to be a king.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. As I have said before, we have to look carefully whenever Jesus says I am in John’s gospel, as John adds significance to them in many places, not just the ones starting I am the …
Jesus is saying, “I am a king,” but it is not the sort of king Pilate is expecting. Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this word, so where is it?
This is the point in a blog where I try to find an angle different to that found in sermons I have heard. But I can’t find it. But I can’t see how Jesus could expect to be understood by a Roman either, as he is talking some kind of Jewish code. Pilate’s reply, What is truth? sums up the position. He is giving Jesus the opportunity to defend himself, and all Jesus says, as far as he is concerned, is philosophy and theological gobbledegook.
What Jesus is saying is closely tied in to the book of Daniel, which being written in an apocalyptic style is hard to understand. Taking it literally may not be the best interpretation. But even so, the general interpretation, as found in the footnotes of the ESV Study Bible, is that the coming kingdom of God, that will replace the other kingdoms, will start small and grow to fill the world. But as I said this is an interpretation of apocalyptic writing, so it is open to other readings. What Jesus does make clear, though, that his leadership was never about a military takeover.
In short, I have no conclusion to this, other than that the issue of Jesus kingship, and the relationship with Pilate, run over into the next blog.
It’s a cop out, I know. Sorry.