Summary: Jesus says that he is not king of this world. So, whree is Jesus’ kingdom? How does Jesus’ kingdom impact the owrld in which we live?
John 18:33-37 “Where’s the Kingdom?”
We who live in the United States have a difficult time understanding the concepts of “King” and “Lord.” Our limited exposure to kings comes mainly from England’s tabloids and their tales of intrigue in the House of Windsor and the shenanigans of Princes William and Harry. We might also have seen or heard the exploits of other European royalty in “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” What we have learned is that kings are a privileged class, who are often above the law. They spend their time at public functions, or jetting about in an endless exhibition of extravagance. This type of king doesn’t fit with Jesus of the gospels. Still Jesus eventually proclaims to Pilate, during his questioning, that he is king.
We are not alone in our misunderstanding of the concept of “King.” The Jews also had different thoughts and ideas on the subject of king than did Jesus. They thought that the Messiah, for whom they were waiting, would be a powerful king who would overthrown their oppressors and bring power and prosperity to Israel. This type of a king was not what Jesus had in mind when he said that he was a king.
A DIFFERENT KING
In the age of kings, they were understood to bring peace, security and prosperity to the people of their kingdom. People pledged their allegiance to the king and were devoted to him. In return, they could go about their lives in relative peace that allowed them to prosper while enjoying a full and satisfying life.
Earthly kings go about providing this peace and prosperity in very different ways from what Jesus does.
• Earthly kings wear a crown of gold and jewels. Jesus wore a crown of thorns.
• Earthly kings rule from a throne that is frequently made from the finest fabrics, metals and jewels. Jesus rules from a cross of rough wood.
• Earthly kings rule by strength and power. Jesus rules by love.
LOYALTY AND DISLOYALTY
Kings are able to provide the security, peace and prosperity only when they have loyal subjects. Things fall apart when the subjects rebel. The king of England discovered this when the colonies threw off his rule. A short the later the king of France discovered how fragile a privileged life could be at the hands of his rebellious subjects.
In a serious of ironic actions and statements, the writer of this gospel, uncovers the disloyalty of the Jews and of the Romans.
• The charge against Jesus is that he claimed to be the King of the Jews. Yet, the Jews reject him. They are outside the Roman building shouting for his execution. When asked if Jesus was their king, the Jews compromised their faith and said that their king of Caesar. They separate themselves from Jesus
• In his conversation with Jesus, Pilate asks Jesus, “Am I a Jew?” Of course Pilate wasn’t a Jew, he was a Roman. He, however, acted like a Jew in that he separated himself from Jesus and went against his conscience and ordered Jesus’ crucifixion.
Jesus’ true followers are those who know the truth—who he is and what God is doing through him—and who subject themselves to his kingship. The true followers of Jesus span nations and continents.
A DIFFERENT KINGDOM
Earthly kings have their own “turf,” it’s called their kingdom. They rule the people in the kingdom and if necessary they use force in order to keep the order. When threatened by outside forces kings also use force in order to defend their people and possessions.
We often expect Jesus to act like an earthly king and use physical force and supernatural power in order to thwart and establish his kingdom. We are often disappointed when Jesus doesn’t answer our prayers as quickly as we would like or keep sickness, tragedies, and struggles away from us.
Jesus’ kingdom is not geographical. Jesus’ kingdom is the lives of the people who respond to the gospel and follow him. Jesus’ kingdom is in relationships and he rules those relationships in love—steadfast, overwhelming love.
Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords no matter how we respond to him and to his gospel message. We proclaim this truth on this Christ the King Sunday.
The question before us is not, “Is Jesus a king?” but “Is Jesus my king?” Do we speak and act more like the Jews and Pilate in this story, or are we like those who hear the truth and line under the Lordship of Jesus?
Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of Lords! Jesus Christ is our King and the one who is Lord over us.