My thoughts today gravitated towards Peter. When Jesus is arrested, or about to be arrested, John tells us, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (18:10-11)
Violence wasn’t an answer for Jesus. To this point in Jesus’ ministry he hasn’t condoned violence, and it wouldn’t fly here either.
We see that Jesus is of a nonviolent sort of Kingdom. His throne wouldn’t be established through violence, rather through love and peace. He explains to Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (18:36)
He tells Pilate also that his purpose is to “bear witness to the truth.”
The way that Jesus responds to the interrogation of Pilate and the violence of Peter reveals the unusual nature of God’s kingdom. We need this reminder that the kingdom of God is unlike the kingdoms of the world. God’s kingdom is not a kingdom of force, but a kingdom founded on the Truth in peace and love.
Pilate appropriately asks, “What is Truth?”
I find his response almost humorous. Modernity is defined by absolutes and objectivity. We live in what is being described as a Post Modern world, where absolutes are absent and objectivity is replaced with subjectivity. There are many more generalizations of Post Modernity to be had. We have Pilate asking a Post Modern question here, “What is Truth?” He wants it to be defined, held onto.
I think our world still desires for truth to be defined. And we have the shining example of truth in the life of Jesus Christ. Pilate, has the audacity to ask the Truth, what truth is. Pilate doesn’t know what truth is, even though it was staring him right in the face.
Jesus’ job was to witness to the truth. He was the truth, he spoke the truth and he led people to the truth. When we want to know what Truth is, we turn to Jesus.
One of the important aspects of Chapter 18 then is what Jesus reveals about the Kingdom of God. The Truth tells Peter to put down the sword and as far as I can tell, the church is never asked to pick it up again. Are their Christians who believe that the Kingdom of truth will come by way of the Sword? Certainly. But the Kingdom prevails because of God’s love, not the sword. Anyone can come to power through the sword, but the kingdom Jesus brought is not of the world. His kingdom is of God and his kingdom is incredible and its founded on love.
My Prayer: Father, I am so prone to picking up the sword. It is my human default to think that your kingdom comes through my efforts, strength and power. But your kingdom isn’t like the kingdoms of this world. While they come and go, your kingdom lasts forever. And you kingdom has come by the love of Christ on the cross. Your kingdom is not of this world. Let me see the truth that is Jesus Christ and bear witness to that truth with my life. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
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Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.