A Pastoral Letter - 25 November 2018
Christ the King
by Revd. Ivan Edelson
“CHRIST THE KING”
(John 18 : 33 – 37)
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
All glory to our Lord, our King, our Saviour and our Redeemer!
Our Gospel reading of today, 25 November 2018, coming as it does on the last Sunday before Advent, appears quite strange to me, and possibly to you, as it is a passage possibly more suited to the Easter Passion of Christ and is preparatory to the crucifixion of Jesus.
The background to this is where Jesus has been arrested and brought firstly to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas. The plotting of the Pharisees to denounce Jesus and to have Him put to death is to show the solidarity of the Jewish people with Rome and the Emperor. This is to avert a bloodbath of Jews just before the Passover.
Now the Pharisees have nothing for which to condemn Jesus, which is fairly evident when Jesus is brought before Pilate and Pilate asks the Pharisees what Jesus has done (verse 29). There is a small sideshow going on here which also points to the hypocrisy practiced by the Pharisees. They do not wish to enter the home of a non-Jew and thus defile themselves before Passover, and which would render them unable to partake of the Passover meal. (Note that there is nothing in the Old Testament which says that this will defile them, it is a man-made Rabbinic Law!).
Reverting back to the Gospel, we see the interaction between Jesus and Pilate. Pilate says to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Note how Jesus responds. “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”
Every time that Jesus speaks, it is a teaching moment. If we reflect how easily we form an opinion based on what someone else has said. How often have we condemned someone based on information that has been given to us either through gossip, social media, the newspapers, television reporting? Did we check the facts? Did we seek truth? Have we verified all the information that has been provided to us?
It is so easy to get “sucked into” a cause that either condemns or praises someone based on the views and opinions of others. I believe that this is especially important in this time in our Diocese where we are in the process of discerning and seeking the Will of God in the selection of a new Bishop. In all things pray for the Word of God to enter your heart and mind and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Be kind and gentle and seek out the true facts in all things.
Reverting back to the Gospel, we see how Pilate responds to Jesus. He says that Jesus’ own people have handed Him over. Now Pilate wants to know what Jesus has done. Jesus seeks to answer Pilate by telling him that He (Jesus) is a king, but not of this world, for if it were, His people would have raised up an army to rescue Him.
Pilate then says you are a king and Jesus responds by reminding Pilate, that he has called him a king, but that he was born (acknowledging Christ’s humanity) and came into this world (acknowledges Christ’s divinity as well as the fact that He was here before the world began). But Christ is trying to show Pilate who is the prisoner.
Christ’s teaching at this point is that He is the free man and that Pilate has been made a prisoner of his own beliefs and system. Jesus reminds us that He has come to testify to the Truth (Remember the “I AM” sayings of Jesus ? I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”). Like all Greeks and Romans who through the study of philosophy, Truth is something that all have been seeking. Unfortunately for the earlier civilizations, they were looking for a truth that fitted their intellect and it was not a truth born of faith. In spite of all that has gone before, Pilate can find no reason to condemn Jesus and so he offers the Jews an opportunity to reclaim their king, but one again they refuse.
CHRIST THE KING was from the beginning, is now, and will be to come!
Pope Pius XI wanted the Feast of Christ the King to impact the laity and I believe it is fitting that we should consider his words (copied below from Wikipedia from their article on the Feast of Christ the King)
"If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God."
In His loving Grace.
Revd Ivan Edelson
Date Added: 2018-11-22