Christ the King Sunday. What a curious, yet lovely way to end the year. The shape of his kingship begins next week, in silence, waiting, hope hidden in a womb, then a cry, the vulnerable being held tenderly. Jesus got bigger, but never in a muscular, threatening way, always humble, vulnerable, downright laughable and puzzling, so un-powerful did this powerful one seem. His crown was of thorns, his entourage common criminals and poor fishermen, his throne a cross, his palace a tomb. When explicating this week’s texts, it’s this King, not any other, who is the lens through which we read and preach.
Indeed. Jesus is God’s “witness,” translating the Greek martus, yes, like martyr. God’s coming provokes hostility and ends in suffering – but doesn’t really end at all.
Watch this! Fred Johanson is pitch perfect as Pilate, strong, muscular, impressive, yet with an undercurrent of uncertainty, then defensiveness, a grief that can still retaliate.
I don’t know how to “illustrate” all this in a sermon. I’m not sure the preacher needs to. The story is the story, and it’s plenty sufficient, it works as is, doesn’t need dressing up. It is worth pondering that “king,” on this Christ the King Sunday, was far from Jesus’ preferred way of thinking of himself.