If you worshipped with us on Sunday you know that our service did not include a sermon due to unexpected time constraints. During Holy Week, we will be posting a series of three reflections on Luke 23, the narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion, that was intended as a Palm Sunday message. We will look at these passages through the lens of our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, particularly the final phrase: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.”
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”
Luke 23:1-16 (ESV)
We see in this passage a lot of wrangling about kingdoms. More than that, we see a lot about just how kingdoms operate in this world.
It seems to me that Pilate’s chief concern in this whole matter boils down to one crucial question: “Does this situation threaten my kingdom?”
Pilate is pretty quick to pass the responsibility off to Herod once he finds a loophole, but ultimately he has to stand up, be a leader, and make a decision. And he does.
Pilate says three times in this passage that he finds Jesus not guilty of any crime. Twice he tells the crowd what he intends to do–he says that he will release Jesus. Herod is in charge. This is his territory, this is his call.
But look at verse 23: “the voices prevailed.”
In the kingdoms of this world–those in charge often find themselves enslaved to those whom they claim to rule. Those who set themselves up as little kings and have territories to protect, often find themselves allowing the voices to prevail when that territory seems to be under threat.
I’m going to leave this a little untranslated for you this week because I don’t know what this looks like in your life. I know what my kingdom is. For me, in almost every situation, every conversation, every interaction I have, there is a part of me thinking about whether or not my image is threatened. Will I still be perceived as smart? As a good guy? As someone who has their act together? And I can certainly count the times in which I’ve let other voices prevail upon me and change the way I act and the way I speak simply because I felt my little kingdom was under threat.
So I want to ask you: what territory are you constantly monitoring for threats and what voices have you allowed to prevail in your own life?
Because we see the opposite in this passage as well. Jesus is completely passive in this passage. Almost maddeningly so. All he has to do is explain himself. All he has to do is pass the blame or perform a miracle. But he does nothing, because he isn’t threatened. He has no territory here to defend. He isn’t subject to the voices around him.
The kingdom that Jesus embodies here is one that is entirely unthreatened by circumstance and is unwavering in its integrity.
So I ask again: What little kingdom are you monitoring for threats? In what areas of your life have you allowed the voices around you to prevail?