Introduction: Truth, the concept would seem simple at first, but trying to get at the heart of what it means for something to be absolutely true, philosophers, theologians, historians, and even scientists have struggled with this concept for centuries. In the presidential debates we hear this search for truth, being debated as each candidate wants to certify that he or she has the truth and if only we would listen and believe in their particular flavor of the truth, we as a nation would be better off. We as Christians understand that the truth may vary from person to person, but that there is one who encompasses the truth. Our task is to discern where he is speaking to us and then try to do His will.
I) We have moved from the beginning of Holy Week to Good Friday as we now come face to face with Jesus and Pontius Pilate trading ideas over who Jesus is. Is Jesus a hieratic who is being condemned by the religious authorities out of anger and perhaps even jealousy? Is he a revolutionary who is trying to bring about discord and even revolt against Roman rule? Certainly Jesus has been accused of being a king. But a king of what and whom? The answer to this question will result in life and death.
II) Instead of answering Pilate’s questions directly Jesus tells him that his kingdom is not of this world and this is exemplified by the fact that his subjects do not come and fight for him. His kingdom therefore belongs to another realm or world. Pilate is left to guess if this ‘Jesus’ is sane, or perhaps he has lost touch with reality, though he certainly seems sane. As Pilate wonders out loud just what truth is, he may well have been thinking about truth as a challenging subject. As a Roman governor he had undoubtedly listened to many heated discourses as one person sought to impose their view of the truth on another.
III) We some two thousand years later are left to ask where is Jesus’ kingdom and how will it come into being and perhaps more important still when. These questions are being asked with even more fervor today as we are confronted by those who seemingly are ready to bring into being God’s kingdom. Although ISIS has tried to look and even at times act like a religion, I find nothing compelling about their religiosity to suggest that they are in fact a religion. They seem far more closely aligned to Nazi Germany than they do to any true religion. We must remember that Nazism had its own religious cult and certainly used religion to incorporate and encourage believers. What the Nazi’s and ISIL share is an ideology that terror and might make right. The Son of God compelled no one to believe in him. Instead he invited belief through his actions. I believe we too are called to witness to his kingdom by how we act towards those around us. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of Peace inaugurated by the one who instead of condemns forgives. As we listen for God’s voice to help guide us may we listen for ways to care for others and be with them in their suffering instead of imposing even more suffering upon them.