The main theme of today’s Gospel reading is ‘king’ or ‘kingdom’, but we also notice other words such as truth and love. We see from the readings the idea of sovereignty. We read in Daniel “his sovereignty shall never pass away” and Psalm 93 praises the great power of God who is king.
The reading from Revelation says, “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness. And to him be glory and power forever and ever.” Those last words are a far remove from the picture in the gospel; Jesus standing manacled before Pilate who represents Rome, the greatest world power. Is it misery before might?
In John’s passion account Pilate gets prime time. Some of his sayings deserve reflection. “Do you not know that I have power to release you and power to crucify you?” “Pilate tried to release him.” “Then he handed him over to be crucified.” “He feared the people.”
So, what is power? Pilate’s power is fragile. Who really has the power, Jesus or Pilate?
Jesus’ words hold our attention: “My kingdom is not of this world.” “Yes, I am a king, I was born for this; for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.” Pilate asked, “what is truth?” He had no time to wait for an answer or maybe he had no interest. Truth is unselfish love. Maybe such love attracts the hostility of a secular world.
A priest was dying. A learned man, he had spent most of his life teaching theology. Shortly before his death, a priest friend said to him, “John, you are a great mind and you know a lot, could you leave some of it behind?” John answered, “There is only one thing worth knowing, we are loved by God.”