This winter and spring, we have been working our way through the Gospel of John, hearing the story of Jesus’s life and ministry in more or less chronological order. As it turns out, nearly half of John’s gospel is concerned with what happens to Jesus after the entry into Jerusalem; that is, his final teachings, his last night with his disciples, the prayers in the garden, his arrest, Peter’s denial, the interrogation, condemnation, crucifixion, and of course, the resurrection. We usually cram all those stories into Holy Week – the week between Palm Sunday and Easter – but this year, we’re taking our time, spreading the story out over several weeks, and trying to hear them in a new way.
All of which means that this week, we find Jesus standing before Pilate (John 18:28-40), who is stuck between the demands of the crowds outside – who are calling for Jesus’s execution – and his own desire to stay out of the whole mess. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he famously asks Jesus, who, characteristically, doesn’t give him a straight answer.
“I’m not that kind of king,” Jesus says (as paraphrased in The Message), “not the world’s kind of king.”
So, if Jesus isn’t a king in the traditional sense – no throne, no crown, no royal entourage, no authority or power – then what kind of king is he? And what kind of kingdom is he talking about? And if we are followers of Jesus, what does that mean for us? I think those are really compelling questions that are worth wrestling with, if we want to live faithfully here in this life.
Marcus Borg says that the Kingdom of God “is what life would be like on earth if God were king and the rulers of this world were not.”
I wonder what that looks like here in this time and place. What do you think? Come Sunday and we’ll talk more about it.