“Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’”
John 18: 37
It was a classic showdown: Jesus, the carpenter’s boy turned itinerant preacher and healer, versus Pilate, Governor of the Roman province of Judea. This was a contest of authority. Pilate represented the mighty and powerful Roman Empire. Jesus represented God. Pilate’s authority was backed up by vast wealth of land and resources, and by a military unequaled in the ancient world. Jesus’ empire was “not of this world”. The only authority he appealed to was that of a “heavenly father” or “the spirit”.
From one point of view, it was no contest at all. Pilate and his armed forces (and their powerful political and religious connections in the Judean province) easily trumped the pacifist Jesus and his wavering band of would-be followers. Jesus was taken outside Jerusalem’s city gates, there to be crucified -- tortured, killed and forgotten like any other convicted insurrectionist.
Yet, beyond all belief, it is Jesus’ empire that has endured over the millennia.
The representatives of Empire today want to sell you their particular brand of truth. It’s summed up in maxims like “Might Makes Right” and “Money Talks”. But it’s a short sighted vision of truth and its kingdom cannot last. The wise listen to the voice of a deeper truth, whose watchwords are Peace, Mercy and Love – a voice that cries out from the cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”.