For audio version: https://youtu.be/k3C5lg8bNGA
Prepare to Listen. As you quieten your mind and heart, offer this prayer: O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! (Psalm 71:12)
Prayerfully Read John 18:33-38a
33Then 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?’
Are you a king, Pilate asks? Jesus, as he so often did, doesn’t give a straight answer. “My kingdom is not from this world,” he said. He doesn’t mean it’s somewhere beyond and he plans to return there, leaving this world behind. Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve often assumed thanks to a mistranslation in the King James, that states, “not of this world.” Jesus means that his kingdom is not of the sort that is common in our world today, “the sort where people fight to defend territory,” where they take up arms and attack a perceived enemy . His kingdom, as Rowan Williams writes, is of the sort where Jesus exercises “the kind of power that cannot (not should not, but cannot) be defended by violence” . It seems the Church still struggles with this. Christians, through the ages, have been guilty of taking up arms to violently defend Christ’s Church and Rule. We saw Christians do this again in the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. Many mistakenly believed they were fighting for Jesus. But that’s not the sort of power Jesus exercises in his Rule (Kingdom).
His power is a different sort, a power governed by truth, the truth about the Father and the world to which Jesus came to testify. A truth that will set us free, as he said much earlier: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). His authority and power are inseparable from his calling to embody truth, a truth that compels people to listen to Jesus. And when we fail to listen, truly listen, we’ll fall prey to temptations to defend our versions of truth, that are really lies, with violence; or, like Pilate we’ll simply mock, wondering, “What is truth?”
How does Jesus’ rejection of violence make you feel?
Respond to Jesus
Help me, O Lord, to choose today your way of power; a way that rejects violence in both words and actions; a way that embodies truth, your truth. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Live the truth of Jesus’ sort of Rule.
 Both R. Williams in Christ on Trial, (2000, p. 76) and N. T. Wright in How God Became King (2012, p. 144) make this same point.
 Williams, Christ on Trial, p. 76.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.