Summary: We celebrate Christmas so that the world may find the truth.
Is He Your King?
What Is Christmas? - Part 2
Today we are here to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Day because it is a holiday (or more precisely a holy day) is a day that we as Christians set aside to think about Jesus Christ.
So why is the birth of Jesus Christ so important? Why is it a holy day? Why do we celebrate it like we do? I would submit to you that Jesus tells us why we should celebrate Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas so that the world may find the truth.
People are seeking truth. People are seeking meaning, and they want to find that meaning in a way that makes sense to them. Does the life I have lead to a logical conclusion? This is one way of asking the question: "What is truth?"
While the question that Pilate posed to Jesus may seem to be a philosophical question, it is in reality a fundamental question.
Then Pilate said to him, Are you then a king? Jesus made answer, You say that I am a king. For this purpose was I given birth, and for this purpose I came into the world, that I might give witness to what is true. Every lover of what is true gives ear to my voice.
(John 18:37 BBE)
What Pilate is really asking is this: Is what Jesus claims to be a true statement? Is Jesus really a king? Pilate may even have been thinking: Is Jesus a King that I need to be dealing with, or should I still stay loyal to Rome.
Pilate apparently struggled with this question. We know this for a couple of reasons. First of all, the opening question that Pilate asked Jesus is: "Are you King of the Jews?" Jesus’s reply was: Is this your question, or are other people making you ask for them? So either Pilate really was interested to know, or he was asking on behalf of someone else. It is entirely possible that Pilate was curious, and not just for political reasons. Second of all, it was Pilate’s wife who had the dream. I believe that this was God’s way of speaking to Pilate. I think God was telling Pilate: You need to be thinking more than just your loyalty to Rome. I am bringing someone your way who is a higher authority.
So if our life is without meaning, and if we need someone to help us find that meaning, who can help us make our life count? Pilate was trying to find it in political manuevers, but we all try it in different ways. Who is going to lead our lives? Who will direct me in my life? Who can I trust to help me in this world I live in?
Jesus said in John 14:6
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.
In other words, Jesus says: You can trust Me. I can help you. I know God and I can help you. Which brings us back to Pilate and the question that he asks:
Are You a King, then?
Jesus says: Yep, Pilate - I am a king. But don’t worry about me messing up your political life. I want to help you with your entire life. My sphere of influence is not political, but relational. I don’t want you to just change political preferences, but your entire life.
Needless to say, Pilate was not in the mood to listen. But apperently Jesus got Pilate thinking. We know this because of what Pilate says and what Pilate does. Pilate says:
This guy is ok. There is nothing wrong with Him. He is exactly as He claims. The problem with Pilate’s judgement was that it had no power. Pilate realized immediately that his political power could not stand up the power He just saw in Jesus.
We know this because Pilate struggles with that very problem in John 19:10-12.
Pilate orders Jesus to be whipped and then brings Jesus back in for a talk. Jesus, cane-whipped, bleeding and skin-shredded comes back to Pilate. Pilate states that he has the power to release Jesus or kill him. Jesus says: You don’t have the power. God has the power. You can’t kill me. God let it happen. Think on that.
Look at the next question that Pilate encounters from the Jews: If you release Jesus, you are no friend to Ceaser. You let Jesus go, and you are not true to Rome. Pilate failed this test.
Of course, it is just theological speculation if we guess what could have happened. But we do know that while He let Jesus die, He did come to accept some truth. He accepted that Jesus was king of the Jews. But Pilate never came to say publicly that Jesus is his king.