On Good Friday two men stand in the King’s presence. Pilate and the young Apostle John.
Pilate has been appointed procurator of Judea. This office brings him the honor and privilege of authority, but also the responsibility and obligation to rule wisely with justice, impartiality, prudence, and truth – intent on defending the innocent and punishing the guilty. Pilate recognizes that this prisoner is truly innocent and that his accusers act out of envy and jealousy. Pilate, perhaps unaware his question is an insult, asks “Then you are a king?” of the One who is in fact King over all kings. Pilate tells the Author of Life, “I have the power of life or death over you.” and Jesus reminds him of his culpability is mitigated only in that Pilate’s sin is less than that of his accusers and betrayer. But he’s still culpable. Nevertheless, Pilate chooses to set himself above the King of Truth who has been presented before his judgement seat and not found justice. Revelation tells that all people will one day see him and mourn, him whom they pierced, both Gentiles and Jews. What might have Pontius Pilate seen at his particular judgement? Would he have then recognized the King?
John, the Beloved, silently stands by his Shepherd-King on Golgotha. Confused, horrified, but in the company of the Blessed Mother watching the King of the Universe reign from an unimaginable throne, yet confident that this King of Love is in complete control of events and knows exactly what he is doing. Could he, in his being entrusted by Jesus to his Mother, find the joy even to sing a hymn to the King that destroys death itself and reigns everlastingly?
Which man, Pilate or John, do you want to stand by and with? Does your life reflect who your King is?
A hymn to consider contemplating Christ the King: Thou Art Coming, O My Savior by Frances Ridley Havergal. Especially the last verse. Can you hear John singing it?
Image: Christ the King of Kings, Greece, c. 1600 Wikimedia Commons Public Domain