Yesterday, I had my noon Bible Study group read and reflect on the gospel for Sunday, the last Sunday in the Church year. We read about Jesus standing before Pilate, Pilate asking Jesus questions, and Jesus answering with questions of his own. "Are you the King of the Jews?" "I'm not a Jew, am I? What have you done?" "So you are a king?" These are Pilate's questions.
Then there is Jesus' question, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" In other words, "why do you want to know?" Motivation is important, for Jesus.
Our group was strangely quiet yesterday. Usually we're bubbling over with questions, with ideas about the scripture. But yesterday, I don't know: maybe people were having a difficult time figuring out how this story of Jesus and Pilate applied to their lives. Maybe it was me. Maybe I wasn't asking the right questions, not yesterday.
At one point, one man asked, "Why do we have this story about the crucifixion now, at the end of the church year?"
Good question: what do you think?
At one point I got up and went to the white board and wrote down two columns: one was "our kingdoms," and the other was "Jesus' kingdom." And I asked what words might go on the side of "our kingdoms" and what words might go on the other side of "Jesus' kingdom." And a few words came up, like "grace", and "truth" (someone who was reading the gospel) and "loving your neighbor as yourself" -- and on the other side, "judgment," and "lies," and "looking out for number one." And we talked about the necessity of living in the world (our kingdoms), but living as ones who belong to Jesus, with the values of grace, truth, loving our neighbors as ourselves. And how sometimes this will get us in trouble, just like it got Jesus in trouble.
Today I was thinking about it, and wishing that I had brought up, on the "our kingdom" side, "racism." It was on our minds since the Children's Sabbath sermon, and still, I didn't think of it, not overtly.
And I wonder if that's just a by-product of the racism deep within me. I don't have to think about race, at least not most of the time. So I don't.
Today, reflecting, I think about that odd phrase, "belonging to the truth."
"Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Think about it. We usually use the language this way: "We have the truth," which is another way of saying, "The truth belongs to us." But Jesus is saying, "The truth has us," or "We belong to the truth."
How would we live differently if we believed that "We belong to the truth"?
All of a sudden Pilate's question might gain urgency, "What is truth?"
Good Question: what do you think?