truest power & authority, 3 of 3

Biblea biblical reflection, based on John 18.33-38, for the Last Sunday after Pentecost (aka Christ the King Sunday), November 22, 2015

Pontius Pilate, in condemning an innocent Jesus to death, forsook the just use of his power and authority. Ever since, whenever, wherever, and by whomever the Christian creeds are recited, Pontius Pilate is remembered as the one under whose aegis Jesus was crucified.

Yet as grave was the state-sanctioned murder of a guiltless Jesus two millennia ago, there is, for me, a sadly repeatable wrong, replicating Pilate’s error, to which all and surely I can and do fall prey. It is the failure to identify, to see in Jesus the truest nature of power and the truest character of authority.[1]

Power and authority are not found in vast armies, which Pilate would have had no difficulty recognizing, verily dreading as proof of kingship, but in open arms and open hands. Not in a crown of gold, but of thorns. Not in an opulent throne, but the rough hewn wood of a misshapen cross. Not through the shedding of another’s blood, but one’s own for the sake of another. Not in hierarchy and patriarchy by which one sits above and apart from others, but equality and inclusivity because of which one stands with others.

Truest power and authority as beheld in Jesus are found in self-sacrificial love and justice. And the world – our über-partisan, hyper-contentious, conflict-ridden, death-dealing world – needs these two God-given gifts and graces.

Speaking for myself, it is my prayer that I live more greatly each day in loving and just service. Though flawed, feeble, and faltering, I, with God’s help, strive to remain faithful to this pledge. In this, I demonstrate what I believe about power and authority and what, since Pilate, I have learned, if anything, about truth.

Footnote:

[1] I boldly confess that I intend this statement to be universal, thus, applying to all – whether one, as I, is a Christian and proclaims Jesus as Lord and Savior or one follows another religious or spiritual tradition or one, as a secular humanist or philosophical existentialist, agonistic or atheist, considers Jesus only to be the dramatis persona of a fictional story told in the biblical gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). For whether Jesus is believed to be real or imaginary, in my reading of the gospel accounts, in his portrayal as the eternal embodiment in word and deed of unconditional love and justice for all I behold truest power and authority.

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2 thoughts on “truest power & authority, 3 of 3

  1. Paul,

    Thanks for an amazing series. My favorite line of this post by far is “Truest power and authority as beheld in Jesus are found in self-sacrificial love and justice”.

    Wouldn’t we all be better off if we focused on self-sacrificial love and justice. I loved your comment that even as you are getting older you aim to live in this way! I too share in the honorable goal. I pray that if we all work together in kindness even in disagreement, the love and justice that could result would change the world! Thank you for providing us with a meaningful goal! I’m going to work on this every day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Loretta. Weighing heavily on me and, I trust, countless folk, are the recent episodes of violence – the downing of a Russian aircraft, Baghdad, Beirut, Paris, Mali, Nigeria – these being the latest in what appears to be a continuation of our human history’s arc of discord and death. I could despair. And, at times, I do. Still, my faith in the God who creates all life and holds all of life in hand, leads me to believe that whatever any of us can do daily in the name and for the sake of love and justice matters. Our acts of loving-kindness do not and cannot erase the terror, but, even in a small way, if not counterbalance it, can ignite a small candle of grace and mercy. I keep saying to myself, “Everything matters.”

    Like

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