Lectionary Reflection: John 18:28-40: The King of the Jews


            A stumbling block for the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.  But here is the thing: 

            The Jews knew who Jesus was or at least who he claimed to be.  And it was a claim massively backed up by the evidence.  Were they offended?  Of course..  But I believe they were mostly scared.  They wanted Jesus to go away, permanently.  So they told the Romans what they believed, that Jesus was the King of the Jews.

            The Romans (Greeks) accepted the word of the Jews – or at least appeared to.  Pilate had to question the man. 

            “Are you?”

            Jesus plainly says his kingdom is not of this world.

            “Aha!  So you are a king.” Pilate jumped.

            But Jesus’ answer suggests he may be king of the truth.

            “What is truth?”

            Pilate may have been simply asking about this king business.  What is (the) truth?  Are you the King of the Jews or not?  He may have been sincerely asking this “King of truth” to explain truth to him.  Certainly in his political circles (as in ours) truth was a slim commodity, hard to come by.  He may have been asking a philosophical question such as one might ask at the beginning of a great discussion.  Then again, he may have been a sarcastic cynic suggesting there is no such thing as truth, and even if there was, we could not possibly know it.

            Sort of like so many modern atheists who insist on empirical evidence for the existence of God, that is scientific evidence that can be measured and replicated under laboratory conditions.  When I point out that there are vast portions of reality not subject to scientific proof, like art, beauty, justice, love, joy, peace – that in fact even these words to communicate meaning between people cannot be measured or replicated in a laboratory, they say I am throwing in a red herring.  All that tells me is they really aren’t concerned about empirical reasoning and they are not really rejecting deductive reasoning they are really just anti-Christian bigots.  Maybe Pilate was an anti-Christian bigot ahead of his time, mocking Jesus with “What is truth?”  I honestly don’t know.

            But I do know this:

            Both the Jews and the Romans (Greeks) neither stumbled nor saw Jesus as foolishness.  They took him all too seriously and did not hesitate to get rid of him, as they saw it.  They both knew full well who he was.  The Jews accused Jesus of being a King, claiming the crown of the Jews.  The Romans nailed that to his cross.  “King of the Jews” it said when they crucified him.



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