Last Pentecost – Proper 29 – Year B
2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-13(14-19); (or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93); Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
“The present age … prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence … for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.” – Ludwig Feuerbach
Pilate is involved in religious activity with Jesus. That is because religion is more about questions than it is about answers. Pilate asks if Jesus is a king (John 18:33 & 37). He is just getting warmed up. In verse 38 (which is not part of today’s reading) he asks a much deeper religious question: “What is truth?” Jesus says that indeed he is a king but not of this “world.” We will not make the mistake in thinking that he is a mere king in some heaven. Most of the time that the New Testament uses the word “world” in a negative sense, it does not mean the world as such, but merely the evil things that are all around us. Jesus equates being a king with testifying to the truth (John 18:37). Jesus is not the king of lies, deception or mere appearances. His kingdom is not of that “world.” He is king of truth, reality, essence and sacredness. That’s his world. Both worlds exist side by side here on planet earth. Pilate, in his religious insight realizes that Jesus is no competitor in his world of corruption. Indeed, Jesus’ kingdom is not of that “world.” The question for us, (remember religion is about questions) is, as we go through our lives, what world will we live in? Who will be our king, the Pilates if our age, or Jesus? Do we know the questions?
In John 18:30 Jesus says that his “servants” would fight or struggle for him. The word is variously translated my followers, my men, my servants. The NAB and the NRSV come closest to the meaning of the Greek word. They translate it “attendants.” The Greek word literally means attendants or assistants, those who look after the needs of another. These are not soldiers, not military guards of some Near Eastern king. Could we be Jesus’ attendants? Would that be us?
There a deceit world.
Here a truth world where our king.
Truth – sacred essence.