Sunday marks the end of our liturgical Church Year. On the following Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, we begin anew the ancient pattern of days, the circle of the Church Year.
The Scripture passages proclaimed this weekend tell the story of Christ the King. The Psalmist portrays a King, a man with splendid apparel, whose throne stands firm and will not be moved.
The Second Reading from the Book of Revelation has Jesus rolling in with the clouds proclaiming, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Strength, power, dominion, glory. This is the picture of the King these passages convey.
But then we get to the Gospel and the picture changes. We find Jesus in front of Pilate. Already arrested. Already committed to what He knows will take place all too soon.
The exchange between Pilate and Jesus is about kingship. Jesus’ royal status dominates the interrogation of Jesus by Pilate.
What kind of King is Jesus and what exactly does His kingdom look like? The Gospels are full of parables about the Kingdom of God. “The Kingdom of God is like…” they begin.
Jesus is a King whose power does not come from amassing troops or money or land. Rather, He is a King whose dominion comes from His willingness to lay it all down; to lay His very life down for others – for us.
It is not the kind of King Pilate was familiar with nor anybody else around Jesus for that matter. A King whose strength and power come from love and sacrifice not dominion and might. The boundaries of His kingdom are not defined by anything other than God’s unfailing love.
It is easy for us to agree with Jesus, to confess Him as King and agree that His kingship was something quite different than either the Roman or the Jewish leadership understood by the term.
The problem for us is not proclaiming Christ’s kingship. Rather, the problem may be living as if we believe that Christ is King, that our allegiance to Him transcends every other allegiance or commitment or connection.
The problem may be that we suffer from the same malady that plagued Pilate. Throughout his dealings with Jesus, Pilate reveals himself as indecisive and noncommittal. He is looking for ways to negotiate through the situation in order to preserve his power and avoid difficult decisions.
It is that temptation that confronts us today. The temptation to confess with our lips but deny with our lives that Christ is King.
When Pilate begins his interrogation with his question to Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus, in typical fashion, responds with a question of His own by asking Pilate a crucial question: “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
Today Jesus is asking us if we call him King merely because we’ve heard others say it or because we personally know Him to be King. Is he really our King, or is this just a slogan we’ve heard in church? Do we believe that He is King or do we merely parrot what we’ve heard others say?
Today, the Lord invites us to allow Him to be our King. And to those who say “yes”, the Lord has this further question: “Are you saying this on your own…?”
Is He really your King? There are implications to your response.
Let us thank God that through the length of our days, from season to season, we are enabled to grow into the knowledge and love of His kingdom by pondering the King’s proclamations!