“If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting…” – John 18:36b
O Lord, a disingenuous remark, perhaps?
There was some fighting in the garden when
you were arrested, yes? When Malchus lost
an ear, which you restored with just a touch.
It’s funny how nobody mentioned that
before the Roman governor. It’s like
the movie. “They cut off my ear!” “Your ear?
Your ear is fine.” “Well. It got better.”
In the best taste? Well, no, perhaps. You told
your old friend Peter to re-sheathe his sword,
then he and they decamped while you
were taken to the priests and then to Pilate.
Now, Pilate knew quite well just what to do
with you, Messiah. Crush the serpent’s head;
the rest will follow it to death. What need
a trial for pretenders to Israel’s throne?
What need? The need for truth, of course,
the truth that you defined Messiah unlike those
before, or those to come. You refused
to found your throne upon a frame of shattered bones.
Instead, you said, your reign’s foundation would
be truth itself, and truth its sign, and truth its aim.
To which the governor would scoff, attention gone,
the bitter question, “What is truth?”
Another world you rule indeed, Messiah King,
where those in power seek to rule in truth.
In this our world – and Pilate’s too – the truth
is clay to be reshaped as fits the day’s desire.
May we, unlike the governor who left the room,
his question echoing unanswered, give
the time and concentration to discern the truth.
Truth’s Author waits for us to ask – and learn.
A poem/prayer based on John 18:33-37, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Proper 29 (34), Reign of Christ Sunday.
The image is What is Truth? Christ before Pilate by Nikolai Ge (1890) – http://www.picture.art-catalog.ru/picture.php?id_picture=7515, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=426635.