Scripture: John 18
Observation: Following Jesus’s arrest and being questioned by the High Priest, Caiaphas, he is sent to the Roman governor, Ponius Pilate. When Jesus speaks to Pilate, he explains who he is and why he’s here. While Pilate doesn’t personally find hm guilty of any sin or crime, the people demand that he be persecuted.
Application: I was a pretty good student in high school – except when it came to science. Chemistry was just about the death of me. Titration, periodic table of elements, mole, absolute zero, Kelvin – I remember exactly 0% what any of these things are about. (The only real memory I have from Chemistry is breaking a beaker full of purple liquid, permanently staining the sleeve of my favorite shirt. Not cool.)
When it came down to it, I never truly understood how chemistry worked or how everything fit together. I spent most of my time trying to make sense of it all (and failing pretty miserably).
When Pilate meets with Jesus, I think he’s experiencing the same thing I did in chemistry class – confusion and a lack of clarity. He’s just trying to make sense of the situation. This group of Jewish leaders show up after Jesus’s trial with their high priest, asking Pilate to convict him. This was a pretty unexpected interaction, since Jews and Romans rarely interacted during that time. And these Jews aren’t simply suggesting Pilate help them out; they’re demanding that they sentence Jesus the death penalty. Needless to say, the whole thing is pretty confusing.
Pilate is left talking to the Jesus and trying to get some clarity.
“’Are you the king of the Jews?’ he asked him.” (v.33)
In typical Jesus fashion, he doesn’t simply answer the question; he asks Pilate one instead. It seems that Pilate gets more and more frustrated and finally demands that Jesus tell him who he is and what he’s done.
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my kingdom is not of this world.’” (v.36)
In other words: stop trying to make sense of something that won’t make sense through the lens of human constructs. Jesus says – I’m not of this world.
So often, I’m just like Pilate – trying to understand God and his plans for me through what I can know and understand, only to be disappointed because it doesn’t work like that.
The Kingdom of God is beautifully whole and holy, a complete departure than the world we experience each day.
It won’t always make sense to us because it’s too heavenly, too holy to be contained by our limited understanding.
Our faith is formed through the moments that don’t make sense to us, but only to our God.
Where do you need to ask for a heavenly perspective today?
Prayer: God, I want clarity; I want to be able to know and be in control and ready for what will come next. I pray I wouldn’t desire clarity more than I desire you. I pray you’ll continue to stretch me to do and become things that don’t quite make sense. Amen.