The Empire strikes out

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         Plate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
         Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world.”
         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.”

                  —from John 18.32-37

Pilate thinks and operates in a world of power—the ability to coerce, to get what you want through force or fear. But Jesus knows that’s an imaginary world; he lives in the real world, the world of God’s love. He bears witness to that love. He embodies it unmistakably. He is its proof. His being has authority, and his love reigns over the world. But in this play-acting world of appearances, what kind of power is that? Is Jesus a king or not?

Of course he is. He has a greater power than Pilate, and Pilate unconsciously knows it, or he would not be so threatened. Well, he will show Jesus power. The Empire will strike Jesus down with the one power that Empire has: the power to destroy, the power of fear.

And the Empire will lose. Rome will impose death, for that is all Rome can do. But God will give life, for that is what God does. And life will win out over death. Caesar will exercise power and Jesus will exercise love, and in the end Jesus will change the world and Caesar will get a salad named after him.

Empire always loses. Exploiting people as pawns in one’s power drama, rather than meeting them in love as they are, always fails. Domination is illusory. Love overpowers power. It is stronger than fear or death. In Empire’s imaginary world power, security and status, wearing costumes, pretend to have authority and to give life, and pretend that love is powerless. But don’t be fooled by the weapons and costumes. In the real world, this world, love is the only power. Resurrection, not death, is always the last word. Love, not force, reigns supreme. This what it means to say that Christ is “Lord.” God’s love enfleshed reigns supreme throughout the universe. This is worth trusting with your life.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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