Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
After Jesus’ prayer in John 17, the action moves quickly toward his crucifixion. Judas betrays him, the Jewish high priest interrogates him, Peter denies him, and Pilate, the Roman governor, tries to figure out what it all means.
Consider Pilate’s conversation with Jesus in John 18.
Pilate opens with a contemptuously ironic question to the lone prisoner who had been deserted by friends and hounded by countrymen, “You are the king of the Jews?”
Jesus replies in a suitably ironic fashion, “Did you think this up yourself or did someone tell you?”
Pilate replies, “I’m no expert on Jewish politics. It’s your people who want me to judge you. What did you do?”
Jesus replies, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
“Ahh!” thinks Pilate. “He has a fantasy kingdom.” So he plays along with the fantasy, saying, “Then, you are a king.”
Jesus replies, “You’re right. I was born to speak the truth. Everyone who cares about the truth listens to me.”
Pilate looks at the the unlikely prisoner. Is this man king of the truth? Is this man king of the Jews? He shrugs and says, “What is truth?”
Pilate’s truth was the Roman truth–the truth of power to conquer ancient nations, to suppress news he didn’t want to hear, to grant pardons to friends and crucify those who annoy him. He saw no truth in Jesus’ religious arguments with Jewish leaders. He saw no truth in Jesus’ claim to kingship. He had no time for this fantasy kingdom, a kingdom not of this world. To Pilate, Jesus was the king of fools, living in a country of foolish Jews. Someday Rome might have to crush all this foolishness.
Meanwhile, Pilate had to respond to the Jewish leaders who brought Jesus to him for questioning. “I find no basis for a charge against him,” he said. “But it’s time for your passover festival. I can release one prisoner for you.” And then with ironic scorn that he knew would nettle the leaders, “Shall I release the King of the Jews?”
Jesus, you said that whoever cares about truth listens to you. But we are pragmatic like Pilate. Our truth is things that work. A democracy with good leaders and a Christianity that grows through conversions. Our truth is medical technology that heals bodies, psychology that heals hurts, and a military that protects us and buries our enemies with shock and awe. Our truth is scriptures that tell us what to do and how to do it, and a God who rewards the good in us and punishes the evil in others.
But you did not give Pilate a pragmatic truth. You did not explain the truth to him. You only said that you tell the truth, and that those who care about truth listen to you. O Jesus, give us ears to hear what you say. Give us eyes to see the truth of your kingdom. Give us courage to leave the kingdom of Pontius Pilate, the kingdom of the Jews, and the kingdom of this world. Make us citizens where you are king, in the kingdom of your truth.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.