The truth, and nothing but the truth. (Christ the King, 2009)

The truth is an elusive object in any age –

and almost entirely dependent

on the point of view of the one who seeks truth,

as Pilate and Jesus both knew only too well.

Pilate and Jesus go back and forth like this every Easter season –

this is a necessary dialogue as Jesus approaches the cross –

so why are we dwelling on it today?

Shouldn’t we be getting our hearts and minds ready for Christmas (like everyone else…?)

wouldn’t it be better to hear a harmless story about the goodness of God

a wonderful miracle – a parable, perhaps…

anything to take our mind from the elusive, troublesome, terrifying truth.

You see, Pilate already had the facts of the case before him.

The stories had been shared – the rumours circulated – accusations made

and Pilate was having none of it.

The facts – the truth of the case of Jesus of Nazareth,

dragged to the governors residence by an angry mob

simply did not support the request for a death sentence.

Pilate knew a lynching when he saw one.

Whether or not Jesus is “a king”, he is no real threat to Pilate’s power.

That was the truth.

But there is another truth in the room –

a gut-level, centre of the soul, reality that begs to be explained –

the truth; capital T.

“my kingdom is not of this world”

my followers are not going to fight for my release (or for my throne) –

You can worry about kings if you want,

but I am a witness to the the truth…

This is not the way to the early release program as a prisoner of Imperial Rome,

but Jesus has finally caught Pilate’s attention

and he should have ours too.

A witness to the truth –

Jesus presents himself as one who has seen/experienced

a reality that will grab hold of us –

this is truth to which we can belong – truth to which we can be held responsible;

not just a collection of facts about the world as it is (or might someday be).

I have heard people argue that Pilate’s parting shot was uttered in disdain –

with a dismissive wave of his hand –

remember when this story is read at Easter, we need Pilate to be the bad guy.

But I believe that Pilate was searching to this truth too –

that he was trapped in a system that was destroying him, and he longed for a way out.

What is truth? Tell me – show me – teach me, Jesus!

So that I can experience that same calm confidence in the face of difficulties as you posses.

The truth is, Pilate’s power was a lie, and he knew it.

Power that depends on the accusation and conviction of the innocent is not power at all.

The truth is, there was a king in the room that day,

of a kind that the world had never seen.

The truth, and nothing but the truth –

is though we celebrate with rousing hymns and triumphant language,

Jesus is not that sort of king –

we still don’t understand the nature of his kingdom.

We come to this text at the end of our year because

we can’t get ready for Christmas until we face the truth – terrible and troublesome –

that God’s reality is beyond our imagination – that our king is ‘not from around here.”

We cannot sing our favourite hymns without admitting

that the truth of Christ’s Kingdom baffles us,

and recognizing that our understanding of God’s promised kingdom is woefully incomplete.

We talk and sing of justice, mercy, peace and love

for we have heard the kingdom will be build on these foundations

but we will not see these things in their true form

until we tune our ears to Jesus testimony of truth.

This Truth is for us both a Christmas truth – unto us a king is born – unto us a son is given.

and an Easter truth – He is not here, he is Risen.

Jesus testifies to life as we know it;

confronted by difficulty, jealousy, arrogance and hatred

and he testifies to life as God meant it to be:

confident, compassionate, and enduring, even in the face of evil

in the coming weeks, we will hear prophets who remind us

of God’s promised deliverance and peace

we will hear the witness of Jesus in story and song

as the calendar counts down towards Christmas

and if we are patient with ourselves and with God,

we will begin to discover the truth.

Then we might truly sing the praises of he who is our king.

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