The Narrative Lectionary brings us to John 18:28-32 this week. This is the first half of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. The entire story can be broken into seven scenes. This week we look at the first three scenes. The scenes alternate between Pilate’s conversation with the crowd, who stands outside his headquarters, and Jesus, who is inside the headquarters. Feel free to use these images in your teaching or preaching. Enjoy!
Pilate is in Jerusalem at the Passover to make sure things don’t get out of control. The Jewish people are always on the brink of revolution, and the chatter about Jesus of Nazareth has the troops on high alert.
The Jewish leaders and the crowd stand outside Pilate’s headquarters. They dare not enter or else that would become unclean and not able to participate in the Passover.
The leaders have no actual accusation. They just want him dead.
This is not about earth vs. extra terrestrial or pie-in-the-sky. The world represents the human systems of power and violence. Jesus’ mission is to bring the kingdom of God to replace the kingdom of man, in the same physical space. If Jesus’ kingdom was like the world’s, then his followers would be fighting. That’s not how Jesus rolls.
Jesus neither confirms nor denies that he is a king. He simply states that he testifies to the truth.
Here is the question of the ages.
The answer that this passages begs us to answer is for Jesus to say, “I AM”
The silence opens space for each of us to fill in the blank. Will we believe that Jesus is the truth, or will we follow the ways of the world and shout out “crucify him!”
Pilate isn’t sure what to do with Jesus.
The leaders don’t want Jesus. They would rather have a bandit. This scene, once again, goes back to John 10 and Jesus’ claim to be the Good Shepherd. The sheep hear his voice and follow him. The thieves jump the wall and steal the sheep.
to be continued…
Here is the entire image for this week.