Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
In the scene of Jesus’s encounter with Pilate, Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king. Jesus responds that the very reason he was born was to “testify to the truth.” The meaning of truth is not clear to everyone and has taken something of a beating in recent times. But at the end of the first century, the community for whom John’s Gospel is written understood Jesus as expressing the truth of God by his life. What makes the scene so powerful is that, while it seems that Jesus is on trial, it is really Pilate who is on trial before Jesus. The Johannine account makes clear who is the real king.
The season of Pentecost concludes today with the feast of Christ the King. Christ’s Kingdom is no ordinary kingdom: It expresses the fullness of God’s love and justice. It is not established by fear or by force; it challenges oppressive power and wealth; it upends the image of the distant monarch. The gospel writer, by pairing kingship with truth, seeks to call us to the fundamental reality of God and God’s power, as expressed in Jesus’s healing ministry, care of the poor and vulnerable, love for the sinner, solidarity, and inclusion for the outcast. Followers of Jesus are called to give witness to this truth.
How do you understand truth, considering your Christian witness? What is your experience of God’s reign as expressed in Christ? How do you express the truth of God with your life? —Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
James Martin, S.J., gives a short history of this feast day and asks the question: is Jesus your leader?
“There was a complex array of power blocks at the trial of Jesus,” writes Trevor Williams in a commentary on John 18.
To the question, “So you are a king?” Fritz Eichenberg’s woodcut “Christ of the Breadlines” provides a powerful answer.
Andraé Crouch and The Disciples sing the gospel song “Soon and Very Soon.”
A short poem called “The Kingdom” by renowned Welsh poet and Anglican priest R.S. Thomas.
The Ministry of Hospitality at Trinity and in our Neighborhood Discovery series continues this Sunday, November 21, at 10am. Congregational Council member Regina Jacobs leads us in a discussion about practices of hospitality at Trinity, in our neighborhood, and in a hybrid world.
Communion and Community is back this Sunday, November 21, from 1–3pm. Parishioners are invited to this spiritual exercise in personal and community formation as Father Phil joins Christian McBride and Melissa Walker in conversation.