John 18:33-37; Revelation 1:4-8
Truth is a desire for us all. We want to know the truth. We want to tell the truth. We seek truth and sometimes truth seeks us. We have court systems in place to determine who is telling the truth. Knowing the truth is very important for us as a society.
There’s the famous scene in the movie A Few Good Men, where Tom Cruise’s character is interrogating Jack Nicholson’s character about his actions around the death of a US marine.
Tom Cruise demands the answer to a question from Nicholson’s character who is sitting on the stand in the court room which prompts Cruise to say, “I want the truth.”
Nicholson responds with the famous line we all know, “You can’t handle the truth!”
He tells us there are walls in our world. Walls which need to be protected by men with guns. If these walls aren’t protected, our freedom is threatened. Therefore he is the one who makes the decisions based on the protection of freedom, as he sees fit. He decides who lives and who doesn’t, based on how he predicts the protection of freedom is impacted. If Tom Cruise doesn’t like his approach, he is more welcome to pick up a gun and join him on the walls.
He tells us these things because he had to make the difficult decision to sacrifice a marine’s life in order to save many. In their role as a military force, and in his role as a leader in the military, decisions must be made for the greater good. Difficult decisions some people cannot understand because they cost lives.
All of this ends in a shocking admission that he was the one who made the order that lead to the death of a marine.
Truth. He told the truth. Maybe we don’t always want to know the truth after all.
In our reading from John, Pilate, the Roman representative of the region, is questioning Jesus. Jesus has been handed to the Romans to be killed and it is up to Pilate to determine his guilt and his punishment. The Pharisees told Pilate Jesus wanted to be their king, a option the Romans would not find acceptable.
Pilate interrogates Jesus, seeking the truth as to how he sees himself as king.
Jesus does not deny being a king, but indicates to Pilate that his kingdom is elsewhere, not of this world. If his kingdom was of this world, would not his followers come and fight for his release? Therefor, his kingdom must be somewhere else.
Jesus came for this moment and what follows. He came to be tried and executed, just as it was prophesied about in the old testament. This is how he becomes a king.
In the meantime, Jesus tells us he came to testify to the truth.
That is to make everything right again. To teach the world about how it has come apart from God’s plan. To teach us how to live in right relation with each other, and also with God, especially with God.
Jesus came so we could see clearly how we have taken the gifts God has given us and warped them into our own broken rules and lives.
In many ways this exchange echoes the exchange in the movie A Few Good Men. Pilate is like Tom Cruise the interrogator. Jesus is like Jack Nicholson on the stand. Pilate is probing Jesus, attempting to tease out a confession of guilt. But also like Tom Cruise’s character, Pilate has no idea who he is dealing with. Pilate thinks there is a simple story behind this exchange. And if he asks just the right question he’ll get the truth he is seeking.
But the truth Jesus offers goes far deeper than Pilate expects, and so is unable to grasp just what Jesus is telling him. Pilate does not understand the order has already been given. A man must die so that many may live, and he is looking that man in the face.
We are about to enter into the time of year we call Advent. A time when we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. An exciting time in our world with so much going on.
But first we have this Sunday. We call it “reign of Christ Sunday” or even more directly “Christ the King Sunday”.
It’s important, that before we enter the season of Advent, we understand just who it is we are celebrating.
We are not just celebrating a man who taught us how to act nicely to one another. We are celebrating, as the book of Revelation told us this morning, “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
Jesus, the son of God, the one who was sacrificed for our sin so that we may have eternal life, our Lord and Saviour is the one we celebrate.
Jesus, an innocent man, was tried on our behalf. He did nothing wrong, yet took our punishment upon himself.
A king who died for his people.
Believe it nor not, but next Sunday is the start of Advent. Only five more Sundays until Christmas. This is a season that will pull us in every direction for parties, for shopping, for work, for kids concerts, for family visits, for many things. A time when Jesus is often lost in all the hustle and bustle of the season.
But let’s not lose focus. Let’s not forget his unfair trial. A trial where others conspired against him to make sure he was found guilty. A trial he knew would certainly end in his death.
And he could have easily stopped it. All Jesus had to do was say the word and it would have been over. But that wasn’t the plan. He had to die so he could rise again from the grave, overcoming death and evil so we may see his glory. So he can take his throne in the kingdom of heaven… and so we may be his people.
Remember this. Remember his sacrifice as we prepare to celebrate his birth. And remember, it is his birth we are celebrating, not all this other stuff the world tells us we are supposed to be celebrating.
Think about what we’ve learned about Jesus this fall. What we’ve read in the Gospel of Mark about his life and his teachings. How he taught us to put God first and foremost in our lives, and how from this relationship all other actions will flow, including how we treat one another.
Jesus is God who walked this earth. He came to form a personal relationship with each and every one of us. How is your relationship with Jesus going? Where is he leading you? Or maybe even more accurately, how is he working in you to bring about his kingdom?
Look at how Jesus impacted people. The blind could see, the lame could walk, the dead came back to life, and look how they proclaimed him.
We have a good thing here. Today we celebrate Jesus Christ our King, who came to teach us, to heal us and to save us as we enter into a relationship with him.
Welcome Jesus Christ into your life, let him enter into your heart and change you into all that God has created you to be, his beautiful child.
Thanks be to our Lord of lords, and King of kings, Jesus Christ our Saviour.