Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not from this world, which might appease Pilate. After all, Pilate's business is protecting Caesar's worldly kingdom. Yet, Jesus preached God's kingdom coming near, approaching closer every day, even breaking into this world, perhaps more of a threat to Caesar than any human king. In the end, Pilate hands Jesus over to crucifixion out of fear, even against his own judgment and conscience.
The Kingdom of God is scary. It requires us to change, to accept that we are not in control, to look outside of ourselves. No wonder Pilate is frightened, looking for a way out. Yet, God's Kingdom includes even Pilate, in all of his confusion, hesitancy and fear. In spite of our reservations, God's Kingdom comes, and God's will is done, on earth as it is in heaven. And that is good news for all of us, even those of us who would kill our king.
Merciful God, you come to us, including us in your Kingdom, even as we push you away. Give us the wisdom to welcome you, and the courage to change our ways to yours. Help us to put away our fear and embrace our role as ambassadors of your Kingdom for the world. Amen.
John 18:33-37 (NRSV)
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
34 Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"
35 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?"
36 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."
37 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."