This Sunday is called “Christ the King Sunday”. Christ the King Sunday was not created with the Book of Common Prayer or previous forms of liturgy, but began in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. In that time Mussolini’s campaign was gaining popularity among many European people and Fascism was spreading throughout Europe. “Christ the King Sunday” was meant to send a clear message – Christ reigns within the hearts of all his people, He is King over all creation, and his Kingdom is eternal. That’s a message that preached then and still today with world powers, wars, terrorism, and human depravity which do great injustice, but do not shake the foundation of Heaven.
Though Americans aren’t accustomed to royalty, kings and such, we are very clear about wanting our freedom. Ultimately and ironically that is exactly what we get when we surrender fully to the Lordship of Christ. So on this day we celebrate and declare that “Christ and no other is our King”. The assigned reading is from John 18:33-37, which falls within Section 159 in Phase 5d of the Harmony, on Good Friday of Holy Week.
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Section 159 | First phase of the Roman Trial, Jesus before Pilate
2 and they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “So you say.”
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 He gave him no answer, not even one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
1b the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation, bound Jesus, carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate.
2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered, “So you say.”
3 The chief priests accused him of many things.
4 Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they testify against you!” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate marveled.
1 The whole company of them rose up and brought him before Pilate.
2 They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “So you say.”
4 Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5 But they insisted, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee even to this place.”
28 They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium1. It was early,2 and they themselves didn’t enter into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.3 29 Pilate therefore went out to them,4 and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man weren’t an evildoer, we wouldn’t have delivered him up to you.” 5 31 Pilate therefore said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” 6 Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 7 32 that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying by what kind of death he should die. 8 33 Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, called Jesus, and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Do you say this by yourself, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered you to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” When he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
- Consider the setting and the events – “Who’s in charge here?” Pilate? The screaming crowds? The religious leaders? Jesus? God?
- What would our lives look like if we truly submitted to the will of Christ in all matters which concern us?
- Based on your actions – what are your values? what are your priorities? what rules your life?
Consider using the Field Guide for Ministry Discernment and Discipleship or reading more about Emotivational Needs.
- What allegiances to earthly powers (political, religious, social, personal) lead you to deny, ignore, or rebel against Christ the King?
Christ is King, but not like any other earthly king. He’s the King who wore a crown of thorns, the King whom they crucified, the King who rose from the dead, the King who reigns eternal.
- This is the place where the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, would conduct court cases. The Romans were responsible to judge all offense that called for the death penalty.
- They (chief priests, with the elders and scribes – Mark 15:1b) had been plotting all night to establish a solid case against Jesus. Now that it was morning they sought an audience with the governor as early as possible so as not to let the opportunity slip from their hands.
- Here’s yet another example of the duplicity of these religious leaders – they wouldn’t enter the Praetorium (because it belonged to an Heathen governor and was filled with heathen guards) but the could go to the garden, having bribed Judas, to apprehend Christ, stay up all night plotting how to build a case by which they could have him condemned. Strangely enough, when the sanhedrim had condemned anyone to death they were forbidden to eat that day (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 13. sect. 4).
- to the square block or platform called a Gabbatha.
- They were indignant that Pilate, a heathen, would question the earnest judgment of such godly that they posed to be.
- For the Jewish leaders had authority to exercise all other forms of punishment other than death.
- It seems that they wanted to avoid the wrath of public opinion which would certainly come if they themselves had him killed, so they hid behind this law (in place for about 40 years since the beginning of the Roman occupation).
- Of Jesus words to this you may read: Mt 20:19/Mk 10:33-34/Lk 18:32-33 in Section 125a; John 12:32-33 in Section 130a and way back in John 3:14 Section 32b.