There’s KINGS. And then there’s KINGS.
Just look at the British royal family down through history. They’ve had to re-invent themselves for a new century. British society isn’t what it was 100 years ago. In the Westminster system of government, the monarch’s power is really only ceremonial.
And so Prince Charles, if he ever MAKES it to the throne, will need to style himself into a DIFFERENT sort of king to his grandfather, George VI, who reigned from 1936 to 1952, through WW2. And he’ll probably be VERY different to his great GREAT grandfather Edward VII, who ruled from 1901-1910, through WW1.
And if we go all the way back to his ancestor, King Henry VIII, of the House of Tudor. They’d look COMPLETELY different.
Henry VIII ruled in an incredible period of European history from 1509 to 1547. He fought with Rome, and separated the Church of England from the Catholic church. There was plenty of scandal surrounding his many wives, none of which we don’t need to go into NOW.
And he was responsible for the martyrdom of William Tyndale, the translator of the Bible into English.
In contrast, Prince Charles will succeed to the throne at a very DIFFERENT period in history. And so, his KINGSHIP will be very different.
But as different as Charles and Henry VIII were, it’s NOTHING to the differences between the kingship of Jesus, and the reign of EARTHLY authorities like Pontus Pilate.
There’s Kings, and then there’s KINGS.
The heart of the matter is at the end of Ch 18. Pilate’s interviewing Jesus, and asks him (v32), “Are you the KING of the Jews?” Is there some aspect of whatever you’ve done or said/ that’s of RELEVANCE to ROME? Any threat to her AUTHORITY?
And Jesus replies (v36)
“My KINGDOM is NOT OF THIS WORLD. If it were, my servants would FIGHT to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from ANOTHER PLACE.”
A different KINGDOM. Ruled by a DIFFERENT KING. From a DIFFERENT PLACE.
A kingdom with different priorities. With a different way of DOING things. Where FIGHTING AND WARFARE mean something completely different.
And where VICTORY looks completely DIFFERENT.
And if YOU’RE a citizen of THAT kingdom, then your life needs to look completely different from those around you. Because you’re serving a DIFFERENT KING.
Jesus’ kingship. It’s another of the themes John wants to bring out in these chapters. Last week we looked at the theme of how Scripture was fulfilled in the events of Easter. How God had every step perfectly planned to achieve his purposes.
Today we’re going to go through the same chapters, and look out for this theme of KINGSHIP.
1.The king who submits (18:1-11)
We begin back at the start of ch 18. In the garden where we see the king who SUBMITS.
The mob arrives to arrest Jesus. Led by Judas. There’s soldiers, there’s torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus and the disciples are outnumbered and out-armed.
Jesus bravely steps forward, and asks who they’ve come for. And when they reply “Jesus of Nazareth,” he answers (in v5) “I am he. At which point v6 tells us THEY DRAW BACK AND FALL TO THE GROUND.
The lynch mob gathered expecting to see Jesus and his followers cowering before THEM. But instead, it’s the other way around. They’ve got the numbers and the weapons, but THEY’RE the ones falling before JESUS. And it’s Jesus who stands before them, boldly declaring who he is.
They may not recognise his authority over THEM, but there’s SOMETHING about him that makes them want to hide their faces. To cower in the presence of his courageous royalty and POWER.
And it’s a STRANGE sort of power. It’s the power TO SUBMIT. An upside down power. The power that accepts insult and injury. That doesn’t flee or fight. But CHOOSES to yield.
Jesus chooses NOT to defend his honour, because he knows his honour and worth come from ANOTHER PLACE. He knows that dishonour and hatred in THIS world means NOTHING. Because there’s ANOTHER who honours and loves him. And that’s what matters MOST.
And it’s the same power Jesus expects each of the citizens in HIS kingdom to show. The power to SUBMIT. To choose humility and submission. Over retaliation and revenge. To choose a CROSS over a COMMENDATION.
To do it all for an audience of ONE. The ONLY one who’s opinion MATTERS. The one who rewards submission and service in the face of insult and anger.
The king from another place (18:33-40)
(pause) At some point the crowd must get up off their faces. Because they BIND him, and take him to Annas and Caiphas. And then finally, (v28) to Pontus Pilate.
Down in v33 Pilate asks whether Jesus is a king or not. Jesus responds by talking about HIS KINGDOM BEING FROM ANOTHER PLACE. Pilate jumps on that (v37) “You ARE a king then!”
But Jesus isn’t so easily tricked. He literally says “YOU say I am a king.” HERE’S why I came (v37)
To testify to THE TRUTH. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
That’s the only agenda I’ve got. That’s the only ground I’m trying to win. The only warfare I’m engaged in. The only army I’m trying to build. People who LISTEN to me, because I speak TRUTH.
It’s the same picture we find of Jesus over in Revelation. Using the imagery of WARFARE, but describing WEAPONS of words and truth. Revelation 19:11
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called FAITHFUL AND TRUE. With justice he judges and MAKES WAR. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in , and his name is THE WORD OF GOD. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 OUT OF HIS MOUTH COMES A SHARP SWORD with which to strike down the nations.
That’s the kingdom Jesus is from. His victory is paid for by his shed for sin. His rule is seen in the sharp sword of his words of truth.
That’s what’s REALLY going on here. It’s the kingdom Jesus can see. And so it’s no wonder he says that Pilate’s concerns about political agendas, petty jealousies, and power struggles are from another place to Jesus entirely.
And it’s that same perspective WE need to keep in the midst of distracting messages and agendas from the world. Following Jesus in the world is NOT simply about education, or social work, or comfort, or health, or Christian influence in elections or the media. It’s about lifting up King Jesus, his robe dipped in , taking the sharp sword of his faithful and true Word, and cutting down arguments and pretensions and complacency and pride. So that knees might bow in repentance and submission before him.
That’s what Jesus’ OTHER kingdom should be about! That’s what’s TRUE.
And Pilate’s kingdom’s got NOTHING to do with it. Because TRUTH doesn’t have much to do with anything else going on here: in Jesus’ arrest, or interview, or trial or .
Jesus says he testifies to the TRUTH. And that people on the side of truth LISTEN to him. Pilate’s reply (v38) shows his political cynicism, “What is truth?”
That’s the way I take it, rather than being a genuine inquiry. Pilate recognises there’s more going on here than getting to the TRUTH of the matter. There’s diplomatic expediency. There’s giving favours. There’s protecting your patch. And building your power base. But TRUTH! Why would you expect there to be any of THAT / in a TRIAL?!
But Pilate actually speaks TRUTH better than he knows.
He asks the question, What is TRUTH? And the answer is found in the events that unfold NEXT.
What is truth? Pilate goes back out to the Jews, and announces, “I find no basis for a charge against him” In other words, he’s ! That’s TRUE!
Then he offers a deal. I normally release a prisoner this time of the year. Do you want me to release THIS GUY? And look what he calls him. The king of the Jews. That’s TRUE! HE IS!
Pilate probably meant it as an insult, and to put the Jews in their place. “Here’s what happens to any Jew who wants to set himself up against Rome.” But, whatever the intent, his words are TRUE! He’s answering his own question.
The king of the Jews crowned, robed and enthroned
But the crowd want Barabbas instead, And Jesus is handed over to the soldiers. Where we see the king of the Jews crowned, robed and enthroned.
Not quite the intention of the soldiers. But for those of us who know THE TRUTH. We can see the IRONY in their ridicule of Jesus.
Into ch 19 v2. Jesus’ coronation. The soldiers twist together a crown of thorns. Huge, painful spikes. And jam it savagely on his head. They take a royal purple robe, and place on his shoulders. Then they mock him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
More of the same insults Pilate was handing out. “Look at what happens to anyone who claims to be KING!”
Pilate brings Jesus out once more, and speaks MORE truth. V4. Affirming his innocence. “I find no basis for a charge against him.” And he presents Jesus the king, wearing his crown and robe.
At which point the Jews fear Jesus might be slipping through their net, so they come out with SOME TRUTH of their own. They add a RELIGIOUS charge to the political one of saying he was a king. V7. He claimed to be the Son of God. True! But they saw it as blasphemy.
That shakes Pilate. Perhaps there’s more significance in this trial than he’d thought. Where do you come from? Where’s this OTHER KINGDOM you’re part of?
And when Jesus refuses to speak, Pilate comes out with some MORE truth. Well, it’s SORT OF true. V10. “Don’t you realise I’VE GOT THE POWER TO FREE YOU OR CRUCIFY YOU.”
Well, he DOES have that power. But only because God’s ALLOWED him to. And because Jesus CHOOSES to submit to him. V11.
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.
Any time he WANTED, Jesus could have said the word, and escaped.
Said the word, and the soldiers would be powerless to stop him.
Said the word, and Pilate would fall down .
That’s the power that comes from being the KING of HEAVEN. The Son of God.
That seems to rattle Pilate even more. He tries to let Jesus go. But the Jews keep the pressure on.
“If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
Finally Pilate brings out Jesus to stand in front of the judge’s seat. Pilate’s THRONE. And Pilate himself sits down to deliver his verdict. There’s Jesus, in crown and robe, standing in front of the throne. But Pilate sits down instead. He presents Jesus to the ous crowd (v14) “Here is your king!”
“Take him away,” they scream. “Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify YOUR KING?” he continues.
“He’s no king of OURS” say the chief priests. “WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR”. MORE truth. They think they’re serving God. That he’s their king. But in ing his Son, they show they’re not even serving GOD. We have no king, but Caesar.
Perhaps the answer Pilate was after. Putting the Jews in their place. Because he hands Jesus over to be crucified. The soldiers perform their terrible task. But as Jesus is hanging there. Pilate has one final surprise (v19)
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Probably yet another jab at the Jews. They want him simply to write that Jesus SAID he was King of the Jews. But Pilate wants to rub it in. They’d accused him of treason, because he said he was a king. He was found GUILTY. So if they want Jesus , that’s the way the sign’s going to read. V22 What I’ve WRITTEN, I’ve WRITTEN. JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
But the irony is that, once again, he speaks TRUTH. The king of the Jews. Even written in three languages. So people from EVERY NATION can read it. Aramaic – the LOCAL language. Latin – the Roman language, and finally GREEK – the trading language of THE WHOLE WORLD, leftover from the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great.
And even here we see truth. Because Jesus came FIRST to the Jews, but MORE than that. He came to EVERY NATION. His d.eath/ winning forgiveness and cleansing for EVERY tribe and people and language and culture.
God had looked forward to it FOR EVER. Centuries before he’d spoken to Isaiah about Jesus, his servant, who’d come as king and win back EVERY NATION. Isa 49:6
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
After Jesus’ resurrection he makes the same claim as he sends the disciples out to make known in every corner of the world / the salvation he’d won. Acts 1:6. He promises his Holy Spirit to help the disciples in his absence. They ask him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus says, “You’re vision’s too small! I’m king over the WHOLE WORLD! Acts 1:8
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”
And Pilate, unwittingly, speaks the truth of that reign, when he puts the sign about Jesus’ head in three languages: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.
Within hours of the sign being nailed there, Jesus, knowing the plan is nearly complete, calls out (v30) “It’s finished!” Bows his head, and dies.
The end, for TODAY. But only the BEGINNING. Which we’ll see on SUNDAY. When Jesus is crowned King of the UNIVERSE. When God RAISES HIM FROM THE .
So what are we to do today?
Recognise him, bow before him like the mob in the garden. Bow in thanks before the King who gives his life that we might live.
Pilate sat on his throne while Jesus stood. Let’s get off our thrones, kneel before him. And allow Jesus to be king of OUR worlds.
Honour him as your Lord and Saviour, as your sacrificial servant. As your KING.
Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very re God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very re of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to d.eath- even d.eath on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.