What kind of a King is Christ? Pilate asked Jesus this question, “Are you the King of the Jews?” In other words, “Do you consider yourself a political leader?” If so, Pilate could charge Jesus with sedition, plotting to over throw the Roman government.
Jesus gives Pilate one of his famous non-responses, reflecting the question back, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me? Pilate is flustered “Am I a Jew?” He had tried to intimidate Jesus with a probing question, but Jesus stood firm and put Pilate off guard. Catching a second wind, Pilate adds an open-ended question to Jesus “What have you done?”
Jesus says, “My Kingship is not of this world.” If I were a political leader, I could have led a revolution. The people would fight for me, not turn me into the authorities.
Pilate responds, “So, you are a King.”
Jesus says, “You say this. All I say is I was born to reveal the truth. All who hear the truth, hear me.”
Jesus was not a political revolutionary. If he were, he would have helped his people Israel over throw the Roman government. He had stirred up their emotions, then pride. Most importantly, he had helped them discover the Spirit of God within and among them. If Jesus were a political revolutionary he would have restored Israel to power. But he didn’t.
Instead, Jesus says, “My Kingship is not of this world.” The power of God in Christ is different than the power we often find in the world. It is not the sort of power that intimidates others into submission. It is not the sort of power that pushes people around, abuses privileges, establishes itself and then feeds off others. The power of God in Christ is the power to serve, to inspire, to love. This power builds us up. It is empowering. It helps us do things we could not have done on our own.
Those of us in positions of authority do well to notice how Christ exercises his authority. He does not lord it over others. He does not make a big show of it. He does not wallow in its privileges or use it as a vehicle to abuse those who trust him. Instead, he uses it to better serve, to share with more people the good news of God’s love.
Clarence Jordan was a Baptist preacher and Bible scholar in the 1930’s who left a seminar teaching position to start a farm in South Georgia. It became known as Koinonia, the Greek word for “fellowship.” At Koinonia, everyone was treated equally, no matter the color of their skin. Jordan created a scandal by paying black farm hands a decent wage. He even had the audacity to share lunch with them at the same table.
One evening, a group of white men in dark suits knocked on his door. He answered it. Mr. Jordan, One man spoke, “We’ll get right to the point. We’re part of the Citizens Council, and we’re here to tell you we don’t let the sun go down of a man who eats with a nigger.”
Jordan looked down. His face lost all expression. When he looked up again, he was smiling.
He shook the man’s hand and said,
“My name is Clarence Jordan. I’m a Southern Baptist preacher and I always wanted to meet the man who had power over the sun.”
Jordan kept on living and working with people of all colors. He didn’t let the power of intimidation rule, but the power of love. The power of God in Christ.
This power is ours.
The power of love is out of this world, but it also lives in us when when we are in Christ.