a 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.
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.
 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.