Luke 23:1-7. Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd. “I find no basis for the charge against this man.”
But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s Jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
Let us imagine that you are Pilate; Jesus is facing you. What are you feeling in your body, uncomfortable? In your mind, anxiety, fear? That all this could get out of hand? Sense of injustice?
Pilate is in a dilemma, he sees no challenge to his authority in Jesus, he knows Jesus is innocent, and would like to help. And this as we read elsewhere, produces indecision. However, the system supports his fear and enables him to justify himself.
Is Pilate so different from many of us? Faced with a crucial decision, he weighs the consequences that choosing Jesus will have on his career, his future, his family, his loyalty to country and Caesar, his access to power and so forth. And while we may rightfully criticize Pilate for his choice, is it not easy for many of us to make compromises with the world for the sake of similar things? We say we love God, but we also love the world. We want to please God but we also want to please others. We cannot do both. We have to decide. But instead we vacillate, we go back and forth.
We are Pilate. We are often locked in indecision, we vacillate, we pass the buck, trying to please the world, trying to please others and to please God.
Do we recognise ourselves in Pilate? How often does Jesus take the back seat to career, politics, convenience and so on?
Pilate begins with his own question: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33).
Is Jesus Christ really your King? The faith of the Church is essential, normative and determinative, but at some point to be Christian we have to step up and say, I personally affirm that the faith of the Church is true and is mine and I hereby declare: “Jesus is Lord and King of my life.”
How have you and I have demonstrated that Jesus is our King in the past year?
If he is our king then he has authority to command us. Do you and I give Jesus authority over our lives? Can Christ command you or me? Or are we more typical of the modern person who doesn’t like to be told what to do? Do you and I have the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5) and do you and I base our lives upon His will? We must ask ourselves, does Jesus have authority in your and my life? And how do we demonstrate that?
But Jesus who is on trial, turns the tables on Pilate by putting him on trial as he asks a crucial question:
“Are you saying this on your own or have others been telling you about me?”(John 18:34)
Maybe this is also putting us on trial. He is asking you if you call him a King merely because you have heard others say this or because you personally know him to be a King. Is he really your King, or is this just a slogan you’ve heard in church before? Do you believe he is King or do you merely parrot what you’ve heard others say?
And so again the question for us as Christians is: Is Jesus the Lord of our lives, or do we just give him lip service when it is convenient?
A King establishes a rule of life and Laws for the land. Two great commandments for living in the kingdom of God are that we should love God with all our hearts and our neighbours as ourselves. How much do we love God? When have we or have we not shown unconditional love to the unlovable in our neighbourhood or families?
A King loves his people and is often willing to die to protect them from enemies. The whole of creation is the realm of Jesus’s Kingship whose main enemy is satan. It is because of Jesus’s love for you and me that he stands before Pilate and is prepared to go through the agony of death on a cross to defeat the power of satan and liberate you and I from the chains of corruption. Do you feel unworthy, weighed down by sin? Do you feel afflicted and oppressed by your circumstances and way of life? Do you feel in need of forgiveness? Or are you bitter and feel unable to forgive? Then bring them to Jesus our King and believe that he lived and died and rose again for you. He loves you and wants to protect you as a citizen of his Kingdom, but you must let him into the kingdom of your heart. We need to ask ourselves whether he reigns in every part of our heart, or are there areas where rebellion lives? What are we going to do about it?
A King is also concerned with providing and caring for his people. Jesus is a servant King. He provided for the needs of the 5000, he healed the sick. Are we struggling or do we know persons’ who are struggling with lack of provision or in poor health? Let us lift ourselves or them up to Jesus who wants to provide for them as citizens of his kingdom. And what do we think about our own servanthood to those in our community? How much do we let our fears prevent us from helping others? What are we going to do about it?
Lastly a King is concerned with justice. Jesus frequently railed against injustice particularly that meted out by the Pharisees. Which of course is what ultimately brought Jesus before Pilate. What is our reaction to injustice? How often do we wash our hands when we see injustices being done?
A King usually wants to expand his kingdom. Jesus is a special King in that his kingdom not only embraces the whole of material creation but also the spiritual realm. Which is why Jesus states that his kingdom is not of this world. It exists in the heart of every believer who accepts him as King. We who accept him as King are co-heirs with him in his heavenly kingdom. We are therefore commissioned to promote this gospel of love and to expand his kingdom.
Do you really accept Jesus as your King, in the kingdom of your heart? If you do, then determine what it means for you to live as a co-heir with Jesus in the kingdom of God, commissioned to bring the gospel of love into the kingdom of human hearts.