New Testament Eucharistic Readings for Sunday, Christ the King Sunday: Year B
“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?” (John 18:35)
We can learn so much from the words of Pontius Pilate. In our NRSV translation of John 18:35 above, we have the words “your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me.” In the NIV translation we have, “it was your own people and your chief priests who handed you over to me.” While this might sound the same, I have to side with the NIV because the Jewish people were not then, nor now, a nation; Israel is a nation. They were and, are Israel, believers of One God who struggles with God as their father Jacob did and was so named when he wrestled with God after sending his family before him to safety: (Genesis 38:24 to 30).
So when Pilate says to Jesus, “I am not a Jew, am I?” He is correct. But I believe the NIV is closer to the truth with its wording of “your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me.” Judas was one of Jesus’” own people.” He was not a nation, but a member of the twelve and he was a Jew. You and I are Jesus’ own people. So, do we hand our Lord Jesus over again to be crucified? Do we disown him as did Peter and Judas did? We too struggle with God. We too are Israel. We too are Jews, like it or not. Pilate says “your own people handed you over to me.” Are we the people of Jesus or not?
“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.” I must remind us now that no matter the translation, the term “the Jews,” really meant the Temple authorities. For you see, Jesus and the twelve, were all Jews. So there must be some distinction between the followers of Jesus and the Temple Authorities, the scribes and the Pharisees. And while the Temple Authorities did stir up crowds of anti-Jesus Jews, the term “the Jews” is used too broad; and at the same time, too narrow as it does not include Jesus’ own.
Let us not get caught up on the name given to us One-Goders of today? There is a lot we must get over. What we Christians really want is the truth. To this Jesus says to Pilate, “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:” (John 18:37). If our Eucharistic Lectionary had gone one verse further for today we would have what the former Arch Bishop of Canterbury, (the Most Reverend Rowan Williams), called “the most profound question in the whole of the New Testament; which comes from the lips of Pontius Pilate; “What is truth?
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John