Sermon: “Behold the Man!” (John 19:1–16a)
When Pilate asked Jesus whether he was a king, Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36). This idea is not new to the Gospel of John, for throughout John’s depiction of Jesus’ life and ministry, we have seen again and again that Jesus does not follow the typical paths of someone pursuing power. Yes, Jesus is a king, but his kingship looks nothing like the the reign of worldly kings. Again and again we have seen Jesus resist the crowds, rebuke the powerful, and embrace suffering and shame. What kind of a king is this?
Counterintuitively, John uses this moment in Jesus’ life—as Jesus is beaten, mocked, and condemned on his way to the cross—to depict the nature and source of Jesus’ kingship. Jesus is not the most attractive man, nor the most connected power broker, nor the most well loved by those in the world. In fact, John demonstrates painstakingly how Jesus is at the bottom of all measures of worldly power as he goes to the cross. From a worldly perspective, Jesus loses everything as he is sentenced to die at the cross. It is only when we lift our eyes above the power structures of this world that we recognize the true source of Jesus’ kingship: Jesus’ royal power is not of this world.