“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10
There is so much noise.
So much noise in our world today.
So much noise in my own mind and heart and soul.
I long for peace.
Maybe you do too. Maybe you’re like me and just want to turn off the noise of racism and viruses and shouting voices of dissension and hate and destruction.
Our Creator summons us. He calls to us. Not in the loudness, not in the chaos, not in the fear that threatens to consume our world.
Our Creator whispers to us.
Can you hear Him?
Are you listening?
As I have journeyed into the historic Church, one of the things I find so glaringly is a lack of noise. The great saints of our tradition, great minds of Christian thought and the Church Fathers all seemed to have some things in common.
One thing I noticed that they all seem to have in common is quiet; a quiet heart and mind, kneeling before God our Maker to listen. There is a contemplative depth to their writings and prayers and liturgy and thought that we seem to lack today…even in the Church. As I’ve thought about why that is, I really think it’s a lack of stillness.
I wonder…are we afraid of stillness? Are we afraid of what we’ll find when we come before God and sit in silence and wait for His voice, His Word to us? What will we find?
There is so much that seems uncertain in our lives, our homes, our world. The world seems to be shifting on some spiritual and sociologically tectonic plates constantly. Nothing seems solid. Nothing seems certain.
In this time of uncertainty, God calls us to know. He tells us that there is a Rock in our ever-shifting world. There is a Cornerstone. Truth exists and it stands unbroken before and after all time.
“…that I am God.”
It seems like everything these days is up for grabs…including identity. We take our identity cues from what we see on TV, social media, the mass media, our friends. So-called gender fluidity and racism and all of it threatens to overwhelm us and we don’t even know who we are anymore. Don’t think for one instance that our great enemy, Satan, isn’t behind all of this. But, in the midst of all our identity crisis, we can know one thing for certain.
One thing that has never changed and will never change.
One thing that has stood before all time and will stand when time as we know it passes away.
He is and always was and always will be.
He is the great I AM.
He is YHWH, the unnamed One.
His identity has never changed. He remains unchanged. Oh, what comfort that brings me! I pray it brings you comfort as well!
I just want you to know that God is and always has been and always will be.
And He desperately loves you. He loves you so much that He was willing to become incarnate, to become His own creation so that He could remake you and me and us into a new creation.
One fit for a perfect relationship with Him for all time.
Did you hear me?
You who are tired and weary and trying to block out the noise…God loves you.
Be still before Him…His peace will come.
Know that there is Truth. That truth has a name. His name is Jesus, Yeshua, the Son of the Living God, begotten of the Father before all time; God from God, Light from Light.
He is God alone.
He is the One who has redeemed you.
He is the One who has come for you…because He loves you.
He is the One who is and was and always will be.
Rest in Him.
Do you hear Him?
“Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews, but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
John 18:33-38 (RSV)
I’ve been thinking about this text all week. I guess it’s appropriate, given that we have entered the Easter season. This exchange, in various forms is found in all four of the Gospels, by the way. There are variances of the exchange but, in all four Gospels, the question “Are you the King of the Jews” is asked and answered.
This is something we’re meant to pay attention to.
I have some thoughts and questions for us to consider on this most holy weekend.
Pilate’s question seems kind of funny, don’t you think? Why does he care who calls themself a king in Judea? It’s not like his power or the power of Rome could actually be threatened by some backwater, podunk carpenter who claims to be a king, right?!
It’s fascinating to me that Pilate asks a question that is markedly sarcastic and seems politically motivated…at least on the surface. Consider it for a moment. Pilate was governor of Judea. This was probably not exactly a choice spot for someone with political ambitions. I mean, it’s the middle of the desert and he probably had to put down insurrections frequently. But…if this man he’s questioning is some type of king that the people will listen to, he could become an ally for Pilate to help him control this district. Pilate is thinking about his own personal agenda.
So Pilate asks a political question. But it was also prophetic. What Pilate probably didn’t know was that the Messiah foretold, the king that had been prophesied, was to be the King of all the world. He would, according to prophecy, bring all nations pouring in to Zion to worship and he would rule the whole world with justice and mercy. This was foretold.
I doubt Pilate knew that or had studied the Hebrew Scriptures much. His question, as sarcastic as it was, underhanded and politically motivated, was also prophetic. Out of the mouth of a pagan Gentile was Old Testament prophecy fulfilled.
Jesus’ answer is telling. He sees through Pilate’s question and answers him accordingly. Pilate is thinking worldly power and Jesus throws it back in his face. Jesus says to him, basically, “You’re coming at this all wrong, Pilate. If this was a political power struggle, my people would have never let this happen. If this was a power grab on my part, I wouldn’t be here. My people would have fought to make sure this didn’t happen.” Jesus confronts Pilate’s question head on and identifies what’s really important to Pilate: power and ambition.
Pilate was looking for an opportunity to get ahead. Jesus was fulfilling the Father’s will.
Here are the questions I’ve been considering all week as I’ve thought about this text.
How do I see Jesus?
Is He a means to an end, as He was with Pilate?
Or, is He the King of the world?
Here’s the thing. It really didn’t matter if Pilate acknowledged Jesus to be the King. Jesus was, and is, the King. Jesus didn’t need Pilate to acknowledge that, or even believe it. It was and is a fact regardless of Pilate’s belief. And Jesus tries to tell Pilate that. He says, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
There are some things that are objective fact, no matter how you or I feel about them. There was something that was objective fact staring Pilate right in the face.
The Truth was standing in front of him and Pilate asks, “What is truth?”
The King of the world was standing in front of him and Pilate is thinking about his own ambitions.
It really doesn’t matter if Pilate acquiesces to the fact of Jesus’ kingship. Jesus is King, no matter what Pilate thought. Jesus is truth, despite Pilate’s sarcasm.
How do you see Jesus?
Your King stands before you on this most holy weekend. Not like a king you would expect in pomp and circumstance. Not one who can fulfill your own personal ambitions or give you power. Your King stands before you bloody and beaten, dying on your behalf, proclaiming to the world the truth of sin and redemption.
The King has died so that you and I may live. Look long at your bloody and crucified King today. Worship at the foot of the cursed tree where Life died so that we may live. Go to that rocky tomb; anoint His body with the oil of your tears.
But know that He did not stay dead! In three days, He rose again! He has beaten back all our ambitions and selfishness with His love and obedience and sacrifice! He has risen again so that we may know freedom! He has risen so that we may know joy! He has risen again so that we may know the truth!
Behold your King!