Christ the King – Sunday 25th November 2012
John 18: 33-37
One of the most iconic moments in cinema history comes in the film Titanic, when Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) stand on the forward deck of the ill-fated ship and Jack shouts out “I’m the king of the world”. Those six simple words have inspired millions ever since to stand at the bow on a cross channel ferry – or even a boat in the park – and mimic that scene.
Apparently, those words were never in the original script. Remarking on the 15th Anniversary of the film, producer James Cameron said, ‘The shot was already lined up, and I radioed up the line “I’m the king of the world.” I said, “Leo, in the next take just say that because that’s what you feel like. You don’t have a dime in your pocket, but you’re the king of the world.”’
Pilate said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”
“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”
Getting to grips with Jesus is the most difficult thing ever. We want to address him, to understand him on our own terms. We want to crown him King. We want to usher in his Kingdom. But his definition of Kingship and ours are way out of kilter. “My kingdom doesn’t consist of what you see around you.” Did Jesus mean that geographically? Did he mean it politically? Or was it a philosophical statement? And combined with some of the parables that begin “…to what can we compare the kingdom…” we are left confused and puzzled.
We’re always trying to build a picture, to construct a reality. We want to map out how the land lies, and the right route to take. That way, we can tell others how to make the journey. If I plan to make a journey from Oldham to Wakefield this weekend I will have my map and sat-nav to hand, mainly because I’ve never been to Wakefield before. They’ll be a great help … but they’re not fool proof. Just over the border in Ashton-under-Lyne there’s a big sign at the side of the road which says, “Do not follow Sat-Nav and turn right at next junction”. This is because lorry’s and HGV’s have done just that and the road isn’t suitable for vehicles such as these. Maps aren’t much better, they go out of date so quickly as road improvements are made and new housing estates spring up. And don’t rely solely on advice from friends how to get somewhere, they often send you ‘the scenic route’.
This is how it is with Christ the King and his Kingdom. So much of it comes down to our personal encounter with the living Lord. It’s all about belief and trust in God. And when we come face to face with the King, we aren’t proved right, we can’t say do it this way, or I know where I’m going follow me. It’s about meeting and working with fellow pilgrims along the way, about showing the Kingdom because of our obsession with compassion, peace, joy and love.
Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”
Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”
Final word must go to Brian Stoffregen over at CrossMarks Christian Resources, and his exegetical notes on Christ the King:
An approach to this question might be to tell this brief story:
An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved, and whether he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour?
The gentleman replied, “Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here are the names of my banker, my grocer, and my farm hands. Ask them if I’ve been saved.”
Jesus could tell Pilate anything. What is important is what Pilate believes.
This week, as the end of the lectionary and liturgical year draws to a close, we are called to acknowledge Jesus Christ as King of kings, and Lord of lords. We are called to believe and trust in him, although we have no real confidence in knowing what his kingdom looks like. But that is part of what faith is all about, stepping out into the unknown and putting your complete trust, your whole trust, your very life in the hands of God.