Apr 9, 2020
Based on John 19:1-22 For a video version go HERE
Who is your King?
Pilate asks the crowd “Shall I crucify your King?” and the chief priests reply “We have no King but the emperor.” For Jewish people God alone was king and even kings like David had their authority from God. For the chief priests to say their only King is the Emperor was almost a denial of faith.
They were in a difficult place. They wanted the Roman governor Pilate to condemn Jesus as a threat to the Romans. So they argue that Jesus had claimed to be King, to have authority which could cause trouble for Rome. And trouble for Rome that was trouble for the Emperor. Pilate was one of only two governors in the whole mighty Roman Empire appointed directly by the Emperor. To insult the Roman governor was to insult the Emperor. The way to force Pilate to execute Jesus as a rebel was to convince him that to do anything else would be an such an insuly. If the chief priests has said “God is our King and not this man!” that could have been interpreted as an insult to the Emperor also.
In the end I suspect that neither the Emperor nor God was their only King. Fear was also their King. They were afraid that if Jesus’ following grew, and he became a real threat to the Romans, then the Romans would come and crush the Jewish people. Less than 40 years later that’s exactly what happened. There was a rebellion. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Tradition and the Law was also their King. For centuries through war and exile and occupation, the Law and tradition of the Jewish faith had preserved the people against overwhelming odds. Jesus threatened the traditions and even the Law. Without them could they survive? Finally if the Law and tradition and sacrifice was done away with by Jesus and his movemen,t then the power and position of the Chief priests would also go. Perhaps power and position was also their.
For Pilate the Emperor was the only King in a formal sense, but he too bowed the knee to fear and to his desire to hold on to power and position. Where are the disciples? They have been scattered. Nearly all of them fled in fear, and even Peter, the rock, after following at first has lied and run away when challenged. Fear has also become their King.
Who is our King? Who is the ruler of our life? Is it fear or greed? Some of us out of fear or greed stockpiled toilet paper, or rice, or other things. Is it popularity or celebrity? For some of us the most important thing is the number of followers or likes or clicks on Facebook, Instagram or some other platform. Is our King independence? Some of us would rather die than ask for help from God or a neighbour.
Our King should be God, it should be Jesus the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. We should fear him as a sailing boat’s crew fears a wild sea. We should love him as a child loves her mother, and her sister, her brother and her friend. We should obey him as he obeyed the Father. But sometimes or all of the time we fail. We fail like the crowd, like the chief priests, like Pilate and and the disciples we make other things our King.
That is why Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords became one of us and shared our life and death. That is why he suffered the crown of thorns, the beating, the mocking, the trial and the cross. In these things we recognize and receive the love and forgiveness of God. And in these things we recognize him as King.
Who is your King?