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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 18:33–37

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate 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?” 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 to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate 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.” (NRSV)

Every time Pilate speaks in this passage, he asks Jesus a question. “Are you the King of the Jews?” “I am not a Jew, am I?” “What have you done?” “So you are a king?” (If we extend the passage through the next verse, we’ll get Pilate’s most famous question of all: “What is truth?”)

Though academically interesting to ponder Pilate’s agenda and how it intersected with the messy politics of first century Judea, using this passage for prayer demands something else. What if we ask these questions? What if we inquire about Jesus’s identity, about what he’s said and done? What if we probe our own identity, in light of his? (For extra credit, we could even think about how we define truth in our own messy political times!)

On this Christ the King Sunday, these questions provide a framework for reflection. Perched as we are at the end of one liturgical year, about to jump into another next Sunday as Advent begins, it is a good time to take stock. Over the last church year how have I listened to Jesus’s voice? Where do I see Jesus present and active in the world? Which voices have I preferred to his? What—or whom—have I defended staunchly? Which kingdom gets my purest and most ardent allegiance? Standing face-to-face with Jesus, what do I ask?

Jesus, who showed us kingly strength in weakness and sovereign power in powerlessness, we praise and glorify you today. Your kingdom is not of this world, but this world is where we live. Help us reconcile these realities so that we may serve you well, live our lives with integrity, and further your reign of justice and peace. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
Center for Life and Learning

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