As I read this week’s Gospel I couldn’t help but notice Pilate’s struggle to label Jesus. One sure thing is that semantics played a part in this conversation.
Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?" Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say 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."
The back and forth between Pilate and Jesus revolves around the question of whether or not Jesus is a king. In Jesus’ time people all had different notions of who Jesus was, particularly with regards to Him being a king. Jesus’ true identity was at the core of the controversy that led to His crucifixion. Ironically, Pilate labeled Jesus’ cross accurately, King of the Jews.
In our “pop based” culture the concept of a king is even more blurred by the many different ways we label kings. Google “The King” and you will find everyone from Aslan the King of Narnia, to Elvis, to Lebron James, to Yul Brenner in the King and I. Of course there is the king of pop, Michael Jackson, and then the creepiest of all kings:
One of my favorite depictions of a king is Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings series:
Aragorn descends to the dead in what proves to be the turning point that saves Middle Earth in the movie The Return of the King.
However, as kings go, I have always looked to one line in the Book of Revelation to clarify everything for me. Revelation 19:16 says, “He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Await with great joy and anticipation the return of the one true king!