Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, who has the whole power of the Roman Empire behind him; legions of soldiers at his command. Jesus, it seems, has nothing. His small band of disciples has deserted him, and he is alone, at the mercy of Pilate. And yet, Jesus says, he is a king.
Jesus is not a king like Herod or Caesar. His kingdom is not one of worldly power. Instead, Jesus says that he has come into the world to witness to the truth. Pilate, cynically, replies: ‘Truth? What is that?’ The only truth that Pilate recognises is the truth of fear and force. He knows that Jesus has committed no crime, and yet he puts him to death out of expediency. Over Jesus’ head on the Cross is the title ‘King of the Jews,’ meant as a cruel mockery.
Two thousand years later, the Roman Empire is long gone, and Jesus Christ has billions of followers around the world, from ‘all peoples, nations and languages,’ as the prophet Daniel foretold. Pontius Pilate is remembered by history only for his role in the death of Jesus. The kingdoms of this world are based on fear and force, but the kingdom of God is based on the truth of Christ. On today’s Feast of Christ the King, we celebrate the truth that cannot be silenced, and the kingdom that will not fall.