Sunday is coming! “What world are you from?” John 18:33-38a

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… But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’” (John 18:36)

This trial scene between Jesus and Pilate reveal two distinct worldviews.

Pilate sees the world in terms of the powerful and the powerless. The valuable and the disposable. Those who matter and those who do not. The wealthy and those to exploit. The conquerors and the conquered. Rome versus the world. Us and them.  Peace through victory. Might makes right. Submission or the cross. The crosses that line the streets as a reminder of who is really in charge. The invincible, eternal empire and those who will be long forgotten. This bizarre peasant rabbi insurrectionist without an army to defend him, who is wasting Pilate’s precious time.

And then there is Jesus, the word made flesh full of grace and truth (John 1). Jesus pointed to the ‘truth’ throughout his ministry – turning water to wine (John 2); welcoming a seeker in the night (John 3); engaging a Samaritan woman and her village (John 4); healing on the Sabbath (John 5); feeding 5000 hungry people (John 6); teaching in the Temple and angering the religious establishment (John 7); defending a woman caught in adultery (John 8); healing a blind man (John 9); declaring himself the good shepherd (John 10); raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11); entering Jerusalem to the shouts of ‘hosanna’ (John 12); calling his followers to love and washing their feet as a servant (John 13); declaring, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ while promising an Advocate to come (John 14); giving his followers a command to ‘love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15); reassuring them that when ‘the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all the truth’  (John 16); he prays ‘that they may be one as he and the Father are one’ (John 17); and even with his betrayal, arrest, rejection and trial – know who he is, who he is for ,and what he has come to do.

In Pilate’s world there are limits. There is a limit of power, wealth and prestige – there are the exploiters and the exploited. Only the successful, important and connected people are of any value. The powerful make the rules. The victors both make and write the history.  What is ‘true‘ is determined by those who matter.

For Jesus there is no ‘us’ versus’ them.’ Reality encompasses both spirit and flesh as the eternal and temporal come together. Love is more powerful than violence or hate. Forgiveness, hope and selflessness overcomes death every time. Truth is not defined or controlled by those who set the rules but is lived by those who know compassion and mercy. And those who know compassion and mercy, listen to Jesus’ voice.

Which world are you from? From which perspective do you engage others? Who is the Jesus on trial? Between Pilate  and Jesus – who is really on trial here? To which worldview do you belong? Which kingdom do you hope to call home?


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