John 18:36, NIV
36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my
servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now
my kingdom is from another place."


February 16, 2010
No where in John's account does Jesus claim to be a king. Have there
been any references so far in this gospel to the kingdom of God? Any
stories about the kingdom of heaven? Is Pilate's concern about "king"
Jesus warranted?

I did a little research to answer those questions, and here's what I found.
There is only one reference to the kingdom of God and that is in a
conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. The only other time Jesus
mentioned a kingdom is in the verse printed above. In sharp contrast
to the other three gospels, John does not use the phrase, the kingdom
of heaven. Most of what we know about the kingdom of heaven is
from Matthew.

In John 1:49, Nathaniel is the first to proclaim Jesus to be Son of God
and King of Israel. John 6:15 describes how, after Jesus performed
the miracle of feeding 5,000 men with only five small barley loaves
and two small fish, the people who were feed that day had their eyes
opened and they intended to take Jesus by force and make him their
Messiah-King.

These sentiments arose again the last time Jesus entered Jerusalem.
He was riding on a donkey and crowds waving palm branches lined
the street and hailed him as the king of Israel. They shouted,
"Hosanna!", which means, "Save us!" All four gospel writers highlight
that event, which occurred just days before Jesus was arrested and
now stood before Pilate awaiting his judgment.

We are lead to believe that ordinary people in the crowds who came
to see and hear Jesus liked to ponder the possibility that Jesus could
be the long awaited Jewish Messiah. It was a desire, it was a possibility,
that lay just below the surface. Now throughout his trial and the
pronouncement of judgment, the title of king mushrooms into a big
concern in the halls of Roman governance.

Jesus--lamb of God,  son of man, bread of life, the way, the truth and
the life,--is now challenged to defend and explain his kingdom. The
Roman governor brought up the subject, not Jesus.

He told Pilate not to worry, his kingdom did not belong to this world.
We know from earlier portions of this gospel that if Jesus had a
kingdom, it would belong to those who believe Jesus was sent from
God and did the works of his Father in heaven.

Whereas in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spoke and taught
frequently about the kingdom of heaven, in John's gospel he preached
eternal life. Are those two concepts one and the same? Both present
and future tense? Within and beyond us? Present reality and future
hope?

Did Jesus really mean he would have ordered his believers to fight
on his behalf to promote or save his kingdom? Did Jesus imply he
would use violence? Or order his followers to attack people? It's a
common theme throughout the Bible--the righteous triumph over evil
through fierce battles with help from the armies of heaven.

If Jesus' kingdom is not of this world, then he was/is king of what he
referred to as "another place." Within the context of this conversation
with Pilate, both eternal life and the kingdom of heaven are a great
unknown out beyond the boundaries of the Roman palace.

Yes, Jesus was king. But not here, not now. Certainly his mission
and goal was not to conquer nor replace the Roman authorities.

 

                                               John 18:37, NIV
37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are
right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and
for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone
on the side of truth listens to me."


February 17, 2010
Here is the mission statement that guided everything Jesus did. He
was born into this world to testify to the truth of God, the truth about
God. So that everyone who believes in him and obeys what he said
will be on the side of truth.

The role of a king is to testify to the truth. To testify means to tell the
truth about what you have seen and heard. Pilate was about to pass
judgment on Jesus. He wanted to get it right. But getting it right for him
had more than one standard. For Jesus there was only one standard--
truth. For Pilate he had to appease his influential constituents, and
truth had nothing to do with that.

It's interesting that Jesus is talking to Pilate about things we have not
heard him say up to this point. Jesus is a king. He was born for that
reason. He is a king who knows the truth and testifies to it. And
everyone would be the wiser if they listened to him. Everyone including
Pilate. King is a title bestowed; its authority earned.

Jesus often spoke in symbolic language. Bread was not necessarily
physical but more often referred to spiritual nourishment. When we
hear Jesus say Pilate was correct in calling him a king, we think of
human monarchs and all the many trappings and appearances of
power which they bear. But what did Jesus mean? Jesus attached the
word, truth, to being king. Truth, which is something we can't quite get
our hands around. Truth was the first image that came to his mind
when talking about being our king. 

 

                                            John 18:38-39, NIV
38 "What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again
to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him.
39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner
at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the
king of the Jews'?"


February 18, 2010
Jesus may have known what the truth is, but Pilate reveals his humanity.
Like me, he was not so sure he really knew the truth concerning much
of anything. It's always just around the next corner, but then moves
away again before I can catch ahold of it. Whenever there is a national
debate, I can see truth on more than one side of the argument.

What was the truth about Jesus who stood before the Roman governor
awaiting his judgment? Pilate saw no fault in Jesus worthy of the wrath
of his accusers. However, despite his personal inclinations, there were
political considerations. He was governor of the whole region. He had
to keep the peace by keeping the most influential citizens happy and
satisfied. The mobs could be controlled by the force of his army. Their
established leadership would have to be appeased by favors.

Pilate had asked Jesus a question. Unfortunately he did not wait for
a reply. Maybe he didn't want to hear it anyway. It was the middle of the
night; weariness was probably settling in.

 

                                             John 18:40, NIV
40 They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now
Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.


February 19, 2010
Pilate had not asked to get involved in the conflict between Jesus
and the religious leadership. He was not comfortable judging Jesus.
But the politics of the situation demanded that he side with the
authorities.

My footnote tells me Bar means son of. Abba is an affectionate word
for father. The name Barabbas can be interpreted as son of the father.
Jesus often claimed to be the Son of the Father. Therefore the word
Barabbas could be seen as a word play, and an attempt to cut Jesus
down to size, to make him a man like any other. In their minds, there
would be no capital letters for Jesus, king or otherwise.

Luke informs us that Barabbas was linked to murder and insurrection.
He was a sharp contrast to Jesus whose only crime was telling the truth.

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