Christ the King B
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters* again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ 37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. 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.’ 38Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him.
What Allegiances have you proclaimed?
- I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. Oath of allegiance
What Allegiances have you proclaimed?
The weeks of drinking gallons of Ovaltine, in order to get…
the Ovaltine inner seal to send off for my Little Orphan Annie…
secret decoder pen, was about to pay off.
I got it. “Master Ralph Parker.”
My decoder pen!
- “Be it known to all that Ralph Parker is hereby appointed a member of the Little Orphan Annie secret circle and is entitled to all the honors and benefits occurring thereto.” Signed, Little Orphan Annie. Countersigned, Pierre Andre!
Honors and benefits. Already at the age of nine. Come on. Let’s get on with it.
Wither it’s an official pledge to the USA or a promise to Little Orphan Annie, humans are asked to pledge allegiance to people, groups and institutions. Today, we are reminded of our allegiance to Jesus Christ, through the The festival of Christ the King (or Reign of Christ). Today ends our marking of Ordinary Time after the Day of Pentecost, and moves us to the threshold of Advent, the season of hope for Christ’s coming again at the end of time.
The day centers on the crucified and risen Christ, whom God exalted to rule over the whole universe. The celebration of the lordship of Christ thus looks back to Ascension, Easter, and Transfiguration, and points ahead to the appearing in glory of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ reigns supreme. Christ’s truth judges falsehood. As the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, Christ is the center of the universe, the ruler of all history, the judge of all people. In Christ all things began, and in Christ all things will be fulfilled. In the end, Christ will triumph over the forces of evil.
Such concepts as these cluster around the affirmation that Christ is King or Christ reigns! As sovereign ruler, Christ calls us to a loyalty that transcends every earthly claim on the human heart. To Christ alone belongs the supreme allegiance in our lives. Christ calls us to stand with those who in every age confessed, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” In every generation, demagogues emerge to claim an allegiance that belongs only to God. But Christ alone has the right to claim our highest loyalty.
Testify our allegiance to Jesus Christ?
Christ the King Sunday reminds the church that she bows only to Jesus Christ. Our allegiance is to Jesus only. The body of Christ is called to live out that profession, but what does that look like?
God’s Kingdom is not self-evident in the world in our time or in Jesus’ time
We find Jesus on trial before Pontius Pilate – an earthly power. This Roman authority is attempting to identify Jesus and his kingdom,
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters[i] again, summoned Jesus, and asked him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered,
“Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
35 Pilate replied,
“I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate asked him,
“So you are a king?”
“You say that I am a king. 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.”
38 Pilate asked him,
“What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them,
“I find no case against him.
Pilate is concerned about earthly kingdoms and human authority. Questions about being a king and about Jesus’ kingdom, but Jesus makes an astonishing statement that his kingdom is not from this world. God’s kingdom is about more than power, authority and rulers.
In John, Jesus wants us to see that his kingdom is only about place if place indicates the profound and intimate “place” of relationship with God. Jesus’ kingdom is not about amassing additional amounts of control. Jesus’ kingdom is not about his ultimate rule over and above others. Jesus’ kingdom is about relationship. “My kingdom is not from this world” because it is from God. Pilate attempts to construe the boundaries of Jesus’ kingdom in terms of those perpetuated by the kingdom to which he is beholden. But Jesus’ kingdom is from God, just as Jesus is from God (John 1:1) and Jesus is God’s kingdom. The concept of kingdom is radically recalculated in the Gospel of John, from kingdoms that strain and sever relationships to a kingdom that puts relationship at its core. That’s a whole different perspective on kingdom. When kingdom is construed from the truth of relationship and not rule, from the truth of incarnation and not location, from the truth of love and not law, then Jesus as truth will ring true.
This is the truth that the kingdoms of this world cannot see. God’s truth. Jesus as truth. But it is the truth that we can see and that we are called to preach, that we have to preach, not only on Christ the King Sunday, but every Sunday. To love fiercely even in the face of fear.
But Jesus’ Kingdom is a very different community than the Roman power, the Jewish authority or even our American republic. It is a community that calls us into relationship with God, and asks us to testify daily to our allegiance to our Savior Jesus Christ!
Sermon based upon commentary by Caroline Lewis, David Lose, Jessica Ortner and Susan Hylen