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Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy

Christ the King (Sunday next before Advent)

Text: John 18. 33-37
"Of Kings and Kingdoms"

Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Sharing Together:

Is it important to you that the nation has a figurehead, a King (or Queen) or President? Can you identify why?

A Window on the Text

This brief exchange between Jesus and Pilate is a classic example of non-communication; they are on different wavelengths with entirely contrary understandings of kingship - which may not be surprising in the complex religious and political situation at that time.

Judah was ruled by the Herods, non-Jews from the hated tribe of Edomites, who were kept in power as puppet-kings by the Roman emperor and the acquiescence of the High Priest and Temple rulers. The title “King” had many connotations.

When Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” he is trying to find out if he is a threat to the Herodian dynasty, and thus to the balance of power between Rome and the religious leaders. Perhaps Pilate is somewhat confused because the next part of the interchange (v35) reveals that it is Jews, chief priests and Pharisees and some of their followers, who have handed Jesus over to Pilate.

The non-communication continues with Jesus confirming that, yes, he is a king, but not of a kingdom that Pilate would recognise as such. The proof, if Pilate wants to listen, is to be found in the non-violent response of Jesus’ followers to his arrest.

At the end, we are given a little glimpse of The Kingdom and it is one where Truth is foundational, a kingdom the like of which has not yet been seen on earth. Again, if Pilate would listen he would hear the implied rebuke. The Roman Empire, the Herodian Kingdom and the Temple institution are built on a morass of corruption, lies and persecution.
Responding as a community
  1. Artists, theologians and hymn writers down the ages have given us images of Christ the King, installed high on a throne with humble subjects worshipping at his feet. These are hard to reconcile with the Jesus of the gospels walking the dusty roads of Palestine touching lepers, blessing children, healing the sick, and nurturing his band of disciples.

Create some modern images of Christ the King in prose, verse or art form.

  1. As Prime Ministers become more presidential in this (United) Kingdom, and as a General Election looms in which hard ‘truth’ is being spoken with severe implications for the poorest and most needy,

How might we, as subjects of Christ the King, speak out his truth in a non- violent way, and renew our kingdom?

Praying Together
  • Pray first for those people who have been, or are, figureheads for you. Give thanks for their lives and example. Pray for yourselves that you may learn from them but not become dependent on them.
  • Pray for the ways which you feel able to speak out Christ’s Truth and ask for the courage and spirit to do so.
  • End with the acclamation

Lift up your head, O gates;
be lifted up, you everlasting doors;
and the King of Glory shall come in

Who is the King of glory?”
“The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord who is mighty in battle.”

Lift up your head, O gates;
be lifted up, you everlasting doors;
and the King of Glory shall come in.

Who is the King of glory?”
“The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of Glory.”

(Psalm 24: 7-10)
More Background
  1. It is customary to think of the disciples as ‘deserters’ who abandoned Jesus at his arrest and left him to his fate on the Cross. However, in John’s account of Jesus being questioned by Pilate we have another interpretation: that the disciples have learned the lesson of non-violent response and are living out the values of the Kingdom of God by not fighting for his freedom.

Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion

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