The Advent/Christmas season is a happy, joyous time, when we seem to forget the things that typically hold us down and we look passed all the negativity to see the good in others and even ourselves. ??We???re more generous and more cheerful. ??We decorate and prepare for celebration. ??We surround ourselves with lights, so that as day gives way to night, we are illumined with tiny, twinkling reminders of lights that shine in the darkness.
As we celebrate Advent, remember that the word means ???arrival??? or ???emergence.??? ??And so on the advent of our coming-king, we begin with this scripture of Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate. ??Jesus has been brought up on charges and the Jewish leaders want to try and sentence him under Roman authority and execution. ??They want to be rid of Jesus because he does not embody the desires of the religious leadership; he does not represent the picture the people have in their minds of what the Messiah is supposed look like. ??And so they cast him before Pilate, Rome???s local governor and judge. ??Here???s what happens:
JOHN 18.33???38Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ???Are you the King of the Jews??????Jesus answered, ???Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me??????Pilate replied, ???I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done??????Jesus answered, ???My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.?????Pilate asked him, ???So you are a king???? Jesus answered, ???You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.???Pilate asked him, ???What is truth??????
The ultimate question just may be, ???Is Jesus a threat???? ??Well, no…and yes. ?????No??? in the sense that he does not pose a danger to the Roman government; he is not some sort of revolutionary like Barabbas or the zealots living among the people. ??He hasn???t caused any trouble other than making the Jewish religious authorities mad, which is how he ended up before Pilate in the first place. ??After examining him, Pilate does not seem to be concerned with Jesus or his teachings. ??To Pilate, Jesus was a philosopher that the Jewish leaders didn???t know what to do with. ??In a short exchange, Jesus tells Pilate that he has come to testify to the truth. ??But Pilate isn???t interested in truth, he just wants to keep things calm between Romans and Jews.??
But Jesus was a threat, a danger, not to the politics of Rome or the beliefs of Judaism. ??Jesus was a threat to humanity???s sin and the kingdom of darkness. ??Buried beneath the surface and working its way out little-by-little from the core of every person is the disease known as sin???the great obstacle between God and his children. ??Jesus had come on a mission to take away the leprosy of the heart, the pollution of the soul, and the death of relationship between God and humanity. ??Jesus and his ministry threatened all that is selfish and vain, standing in direct opposition of Hell???s attempts to keep God out of sight and bind every soul to its own vices. ??Pilate says he???s not interested in truth, but had he taken the time to hear it, to believe it, to accept it, I feel he would have found it a whole lot more interesting.
At some point along the path of life, each of us was found unaware to the truth that Jesus had come on a rescue mission. ??All of us are looking to be saved from this world; from the things that haunt us, bind us, plague us, or depress us. ??The good news is that Jesus is the knight in shining armor, the slayer of dragons, the rightful king of a land-gone-wrong. ??Jesus has come and he???s brought with him a kingdom like no other. ??It???s not a kingdom of politics or control, but rather a kingdom of light and hope.??
The Creator of creation has come to claim what is his. ??All things find their purpose, their meaning, their true-intention in a life and relationship with Jesus Christ the king. ??Though no one came to his rescue that day, it was his crucifixion, his death that lured the monster of sin into the trap of Jesus??? resurrection. ??The King has come and he has slain the great beast of sin and death. ??All of THAT is standing before Pontius Pilate, wrapped up in the guise of a simple Jew who has made a religious party unhappy. ??Pilate cannot see the glory, the power, the God of all creation standing before him because he chooses to see with human eyes, with un-illuminated vision, with a darkened sight brought on by sin.
But what do we see, people of God? ??What do we know of truth? ??We know that Jesus has come, that the kingdom of Light has broken into this world, and that the Way, the Truth, and the Life is here to make all things new and to offer unto us the gracious gift of relationship with a God who loves like no one else. ??No one on this earth knows of truth and life until they have received the Holy Spirit, the presence of God within their heart. ??Until God has cast out sin from the throne of our hearts, we are dead. ??But when sin is overcome, we know God is here. ??When the sting of death is taken away, we know God is here. ??When our past has been forgiven and we have peace throughout our days, we know God is here. ??And so we as Christians, we know what is truth. ??It is Jesus Christ, the great threat to sin and death.
Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church
Devotional Blog ??? revwrm.posterous.com/