Back and Forth

The Gospel reading for Christ the King Sunday, November 22, 2009 can be viewed here.

Jesus in on trial before Pilate in the 18th chapter of John.  But as you read even these few verses (or if you’re ambitious and check out the entire chapter!) you will grasp the amount of vacillation, in every way.

Physically, Pilate is the one who travels.  Out to check with the Jewish leaders (they cannot travel inside Pilate’s headquarters or they risk ritual defilement), back inside to talk with Jesus.  Again and again.  Back and forth.  Emotionally, things are at a fever pitch.  The Jewish leaders are firm and fixed, insistent.  Pilate is portrayed, somewhat, as a dimwit who is trying to bridge a cultural and political gap.  Spiritually, there is vacillation as well.  The disciples have now abandoned Jesus; he stands alone and speaks truth to power.  As chapter 18 draws to a close, the excitable crowds insist on one criminal to be let free as was the Passover custom.  And they insist that one be Barabbas. 

No one political system, no single gifted ruler, no well-intentioned process of deliberation will ever meet everyone’s needs, solve every dilemma, or bridge every gap.  It is not human loyalty that is lifted up on Christ the King Sunday.  Jesus spoke of an eternal hope when he answers Pilate in John 18:36 with, “My kingdom is not from this world.”

For our prayer, we meditate on the famous hymn by Isaac Watts, “Jesus Shall Reign.”

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

Does its sucessive journeys run;

His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.