In fairy tales, kings live in a castle, usually located on a hill (a safe place), surrounded by a moat for the utmost protection for the king and family. Modern political leaders often have more technologically advanced means to provide a similar level of safety against would-be attackers. Because of these preconceived notions of what kings are, hearers will need to be reminded that Jesus redefined the title “king.” The appointed psalm says, “The waters have lifted up, O Lord, . . . the waters have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, mightier is the Lord who dwells on high” (Ps. 93:3-4). While a king might have the ability to sail atop a roaring, chaotic sea, Christ the King is one who stills the waves (Mark 4:35-41).
In John’s gospel for today, Jesus says “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Perhaps the ‘this’ Jesus is referring to is a motioning with his hands to the cross, the most clear demonstration of God’s love for humanity and the truest definition of kingship. Jesus redefines what power is and what people think God’s power looks like to fight evil and suffering in the world. Jesus does not resist the way of the cross with force.
Rather than protecting himself from harm in any way, the vulnerable King Jesus dares to demonstrate God’s love for all people. Jesus does not run from pain, anguish, or suffering. Rather, the risen Jesus, “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5), rushes to the places of disaster and suffering in the world. Jesus goes where storms are ravaging and have ravaged lives and brings life and calm into the chaos.
Gospel: John 18:33-37
In John’s gospel, the story of Jesus and Pilate presents two different ways of exercising power: through force or with love.
33Pilate 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.”