Jesus – the King
Authority! We are seeing more authority wielded today than in many years. The shut down of our society in light of the Covid 19 pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Who could’ve imagined this kind of shut down, this limiting of our freedoms? Please do not misunderstand me. I am not complaining, just noticing the astonishing control governors and our President seem to have over our lives.
In the days that Jesus walked the earth, the issue of authority was crucial as well. Jesus had been arrested and brought to the Roman Governor Pilate to gain his ‘sign-off’ on an execution the religious leaders wanted. As we mention in our last article, these were dark days for the Hebrew nation. The Hebrews were not free and the authority of the religious leaders had been largely stripped from them. They had been conquered by the Romans years before. The priests and scribes hated Jesus and would’ve killed Him on the spot, but the Romans had commanded that no one be put to death without their say-so. So, the religious leaders sought Pilate’s permission to do the terrible deed.
Pilate’s early Friday morning was rudely interrupted by an angry group of Jews demanding Jesus’ execution, and they gave little proof or logic for their request. As Pilate tries to unravel the mess (remember, he has no background in Christianity or Judaism) he begins a conversation with Jesus covering 4 topics. Each one was critical to Pilate and to us as well. Pilate had a great opportunity which, from all we can tell, he squandered.
We covered the 1st of 4 topics in yesterday’s article when we examined Pilate’s question of Jesus, “What is truth? Pilate doesn’t really want to know Jesus’ answer. He asks this question in a demeaning way. But Jesus answers Him anyway and though Pilate could see that Jesus should be listened to, he doesn’t have the inclination or the time to do so.
Our next topic is, the authority of Jesus. “Are you the king of the Jews?”, Pilate asks (Math.27:11, Mk.15:2, Lk.3:3, Jon.18:33). All the gospels carry this question. We get the complete picture by examining all 4 accounts. Take the time to read them. What else are we doing right now? Pilate has heard part of the accusation of the Jews against Christ – that Jesus has made Himself a king, thereby threatening the rule of Caesar, Rome’s emperor. Pilate must find out if this is true since his duty charges him with protecting the Roman realm from any threat, however meager.
And so, Pilate asks the question just between them, and Jesus gives a curious answer. “You have said so.” It is a short but intensely personal dialogue. John gives a little more detail in 18:34, “Is that your idea or did others talk to you about me?” (NIV). Pilate’s answer reveals he is only going on what has been said to him by Jesus’ accusers. Yet, Jesus tells him plainly that He is a king but in the way most would think (John 18:36-37). His kingdom is not of or from this world. It is not like earthly kingdoms established by force and self-interest. Jesus’ kingdom cannot be disturbed or threatened by humans, movements, governments, etc. Jesus’ kingdom can easily overcome human force. Legions of angels could be called to fight at a moments notice if that were necessary. But it is not since Jesus’ rule and authority is not threatened by human power or opinion.
Jesus’ kingdom is one of truth and by that He means the truth of how God views all that goes on in this world. Jesus’ kingdom is one of conscience, the heart, the inner person where all decisions are truly made; where we attempt to decide right from wrong, and where we all fail so often. Jesus has come to rule in the motives and nature of people as God has always planned and wanted. The Lord challenges Pilate, “Are you asking about my authority because you really want to know? Or is your question just from morbid self-interest in a search of how to relieve yourself of this inconvenience?”
Jesus is most assuredly a king and has come to proclaim the truth, the truth about God, people, life, our debt we owe Him, and our dire need of His grace and mercy. His kingdom is one of right verse wrong, truth verses error, good verses bad, love verses selfishness and evil. Jesus had captured the hearts of the disciples and He is on a mission to keep capturing hearts. In our day, too often we resemble Pilate’s attitude. We seldom see truth as Jesus described it but view it as relative instead. By that l mean, we see truth as not constant but fluctuating depending on the situation and how we feel about things. Can you fathom that? How can truth be subject to my feelings or opinion? That is not truth but a horrible replacement for what really matters which is the truth Jesus, the King, brings – the truth of how God sees us and what He wants from us!
Jesus captured then and is still capturing the allegiance of the hearts and minds of people by persuading them that they have failed God’s high and holy standard. But that He has come to forgive, cleanse, and lead the trusting heart back to a right relation with our Heavenly Father. He has come to lead us into right relations with each other. He moves to convince us that God’s way is right. And He is the Lord, the King, the one with the authority. That authority was bestowed on Him by God. Jesus also earned that place of authority by His righteous, sinless, loving and sacrificial life (more on His innocence next article).
Let us not be as Pilate, too busy with self and our own ideas to care about the authority Jesus brings. Let us instead, ask honestly and humbly, Jesus will you be my King? Have the rule in my life, my heart, my mind, my motives, my family, my values, and my future! Jesus paid a great price in blood for our allegiance. Let us give it to Him!