Sermon written for Sunday 22nd November 2015 by Revd. R Suttie
Gospel: John 18: 33-37
“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.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer. Amen.
As I read the Gospel passage reading for today’s sermon, I was kind of struck by ‘how do I relate to Jesus as Christ The King’. Upon some reflecting on the passage, this is what came to my mind.
A king who is crucified. A king who is raised from the dead. A king who raises the dead. That’s what kind of king Jesus is. A king who looks at power and dominion with different eyes. A king who turns power and dominion and death on its head. A king who reconciles, who instills love into the midst of hate. That’s what kind of king Jesus is.
We celebrate the kingship of Jesus with John’s Gospel account of what is perhaps Jesus’ most humiliating moment: his appearance before Pilate. It is a strange exchange: Pilate has been blackmailed by the Jewish establishment into executing Jesus for their ends; it is the accused who dominates the meeting and takes on the role of inquisitor; Pilate has no idea what Jesus is talking about when speaks about “the truth.”
Pilate, a man of no great talent or competence, was under a great deal of political pressure. He had needlessly alienated the Jews of Palestine by his cruelty, his insensitivity to their religious customs and his clumsy appropriation of funds from the temple treasury for public projects. Reports of his undistinguished performance had reached his superiors in Rome. Jesus proclaims himself ruler of a kingdom built of compassion, humility, love and truth — power that Pilate cannot comprehend in his small, narrow view of the world.
We cannot be Christians by default but only by choice; we cannot respond passively to the call to discipleship, only actively can we embrace the spirit of the “kingdom” of God, a kingdom built on compassion, justice and truth.
The kingdom of Jesus is not found in the world’s centres of power but within human hearts; it is built not by deals among the power elite but by compassionate hands; Christ reigns neither by influence nor wealth but by selfless charity and justice.
When we think of Christ as King, we don’t end up with the definition of nobility that we were expecting. Instead we end up with an itinerant farm boy preacher from the hills who washes feet. Instead we end up with a King who was bloody and beaten, hangs half naked from a cross, publicly tortured, for speaking truth to power and not backing down from that truth. Instead we end up with a King who shines brighter than the Sun with truth and justice, a Light for all nations, which the darkness cannot overcome. Instead we end up with a noble King who lifted up on the cross draws all people to himself, that they might be reconciled to God and one another, that they might become children of this servant-slave King of Kings. Instead we end up with a King who is raised from the dead, a King who raises the dead, restoring light and life where there is despair and desolation. Instead we end up with a King, the Word made flesh who says to you: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
To be faithful disciples of Christ is to be servants of truth — truth that liberates and renews, truth that gives and sustains life and hope, truth that transcends rationalisations, half-truths and delusions, truth that serves as a looking glass for seeing the world in the intended design of God.
Christ’s reign is realised only in our embracing a vision of humankind as a family made in the image of God, a vision of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, a vision of the world centred in the spirit of hope and compassion taught by Christ.
- Image source: www.wikiart.org. 2016. Christ before Pilate – Duccio – WikiArt.org – encyclopedia of visual arts . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wikiart.org/en/duccio/christ-before-pilate-1311. [Accessed 12 August 2016].