Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Computer failure at Toronto Stock Exchange today. See link:
I'm sure these are totally unrelated, but it is a disturbing coincidence, no?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Don't want our children exposed to irrelevance like this, do we? Sooner or later, they might think that this Jesus person was more than a myth.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
They all seem to be blind to a sad reality: Our culture is now firmly liberal and post-Christian and will probably remain so for our lifetime. Why do I say this? It's simple: All one has to do is look at our education system. For more than three decades we have sat by and watched as hard leftists created the curriculum that has taught our children. We have sat by as teachers have usurped the role of parents in the education of their children on matters such as sexual behavior and family structure. We have sat by as our universities have dismantled any semblance of traditional liberal arts education. Most importantly, three decades worth of students have been exposed to all of this and many have been indoctrinated. These people are young and they now vote.
From a religious point of view, these people are all post-modernists and, if they claim to be Christian, most of them believe in a faith that would be unrecognizable to previous generations. Most of these young Christians, in fact, view faith and its ethics as a smorgasbord where you can pick those parts of faith that you like and disregard the rest. Most importantly, most of these folks deep down have rejected the fundamental tenet of Christian faith that faith in Christ is absolutely essential to salvation. According to them, even pagans who have knowingly rejected the Gospel of Christ can go to heaven.
Many would like to say that this will be Obama's fault. Deep down, though, we know that's not true. Barack Obama simply reflects the beliefs that mark this post-Christian generation.
Also, don't blame Barack Obama for the spiritual and cultural mess that we're in. When the universities and schools were being overrun with leftist ideology, Barack Obama wasn't in charge. When the conservative movement was being dismantled by profligate spending and compromise with people who sought to undermine it, Barack Obama wasn't in charge. When the country sat by and allowed almost 50,000,000 babies to be sacrificed at the altar of free choice, Barack Obama wasn't in charge.
No, we are the ones who were at fault because we saw all of this happening and did nothing about it but bitch.
So, conservatives, when the left proposes a massive expansion of government, don't be surprised and don't think there is anything that you can do about it. You can't. That ship sailed long ago.
When your health care is mandated by the government and rationed, don't be surprised and don't think there is anything you can do about it. You can't.
When you sit appalled at all the children that are killed in the abortion mills that will turn children into medical waste with the same efficiency that Hitler showed in turning Jews into smoke, don't be surprised and don't think there is anything that you can do about it. You can't. That ship sailed long ago.
And, Christians, when your lives become more constricted and you are even less able to express your faith in public and you no longer are able to work in certain professions because of your faith, don't be surprised and don't think there is anything that you can do about it. You can't. That ship sailed long ago.
Barack Obama did not create the mess that we are in now, but he will bring the mess that we are in now to its logical post-modern, pro-death, anti-Christian conclusion.
All that we can do as Christians is to recall that God is in charge and that, somehow and in some way, the destruction of our nation as it has existed is part of His inscrutable design.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
John Derbyshire wrote a great piece on nationalreview.com that carries this theme forward and ties it to the birthday of John Milton. Here's the link:
Thunder on the Mountain
Thunder on the mountain, and there's fires on the moon
A ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon
Today's the day, gonna grab my trombone and blow
Well, there's hot stuff here and it's everywhere I go
I was thinkin' 'bout Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying
When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line
I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee
Feel like my soul is beginning to expand
Look into my heart and you will sort of understand
You brought me here, now you're trying to run me away
The writing on the wall, come read it, come see what it say
Thunder on the mountain, rollin' like a drum
Gonna sleep over there, that's where the music coming from
I don't need any guide, I already know the way
Remember this, I'm your servant both night and day
The pistols are poppin' and the power is down
I'd like to try somethin' but I'm so far from town
The sun keeps shinin' and the North Wind keeps picking up speed
Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need
I've been sittin' down studyin' the art of love
I think it will fit me like a glove
I want some real good woman to do just what I say
Everybody got to wonder what's the matter with this cruel world today
Thunder on the mountain rolling to the ground
Gonna get up in the morning walk the hard road down
Some sweet day I'll stand beside my king
I wouldn't betray your love or any other thing
Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I'll recruit my army from the orphanages
I been to St. Herman's church, said my religious vows
I've sucked the milk out of a thousand cows
I got the porkchops, she got the pie
She ain't no angel and neither am I
Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes
I'll say this, I don't give a damn about your dreams
Thunder on the mountain heavy as can be
Mean old twister bearing down on me
All the ladies in Washington scrambling to get out of town
Looks like something bad gonna happen, better roll your airplane down
Everybody going and I want to go too
Don't wanna take a chance with somebody new
I did all I could, I did it right there and then
I've already confessed - no need to confess again
Gonna make a lot of money, gonna go up north
I'll plant and I'll harvest what the earth brings forth
The hammer's on the table, the pitchfork's on the shelf
For the love of God, you ought to take pity on yourself
Music and words by Bob Dylan
Copyright 2006 Special Rider Music
That's perfectly clear now, isn't it?
(From the One Big Happy Family Department)
From The Financial Times
(From the Let's All Grab a Piece of Pie Department)
From The Wall Street Journal
(Now from the Global Warming Department)
From The Ventura County Star
(From the It Worked for the Soviets Department)
From The International Herald-Tribune
(From the Why Can't We All Just Get Along Department)
You might be saying, "Why, on a blog dedication to religion, psychology and popular culture, are you posting such an odd collection of articles without comment?"
The answer: Because these are the times in which we live. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Mormons voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8, which is not surprising. The reaction of certain gay activists toward Mormons in general is described aptly in Sowell's article:
"In Oakland, California, a mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in such numbers that officials shut down a nearby freeway exit for more than three hours.
"In their midst was a San Francisco Supervisor who said 'The Mormon church has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their beliefs.' He added, 'This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they’ve forgotten some lessons.'"
This should chill any American to the bone. Supervisors in San Francisco are similar to Commissioners in most counties, but with a lot more authority. That someone in a powerful position of government, albeit local government, could state that a church that is exercising a constitution right is "tolerated" indicates just how far our society, or elements of it, have drifted from core principles. Sadly, there are many others out there who agree with this thinking.
So, what's a Christian to do? The answer is simple: Pray, preach the Gospel as always, and do not allow bullies to keep us from bringing souls to Christ.
Here's the link to Sowell's article:
Monday, November 17, 2008
Also, note the use of leavened bread in this liturgy. Only unleavened bread is valid matter for the Holy Eucharist in the Western Church. So here we have a Cardinal of the Church not only allowing a liturgical shipwreck, but also attempting to celebrate a Mass with invalid matter.
Here's the link to this liturgical travesty:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Even George Orwell would have problems with these guys.
Here's the link to the article and the 19 phrases you can't say without sounding elitist:
Sunday, November 9, 2008
For instance, look at the following story about British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Mr. Brown believes that now is the time to push for a "new world order," a global government.
Is that the sound of the hoof beats of the four horsemen that I hear in the distance?
Here's the link:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Chrichton died today in Los Angeles after battling cancer. He was 66 years old. RIP.
Here's the link to his obituary:
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The Lesson is written in the 7th Chapter of The Revelation of John the Divine, beginning at the 2nd Verse.
And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
The Holy Gospel is written in the 5th Chapter of The Gospel according to Saint Matthew, beginning at the 1st Verse.
Jesus, seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Today is the feast of All Saints. Today, we celebrate the saints of God who dwell in the glory of God the Father.
We celebrate the lives of the Saints all the time in our church. If you look at our calendar, our calendar is just chock full of days when we call to mind those great people who have lived in times past.
In March, we celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, probably the greatest thinker the Church has ever known and a man whose grasp of theology and philosophy still stands as the hallmark of much Christian theology.
In June we celebrate the feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Saint Peter, of course, is the rock of the Church. He is the rock on whom the Church is built. Saint Paul was the first theologian of the faith. He was the first Apostle who, because of his training, his ability to articulate the faith, and his selection to be an apostle by the Lord, gave a theology that defined Christianity at its very beginning.
In October, we celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis of Assisi, as we all know, used to preach to the birds and he liked animals. Along the way, he founded a major religious order that had a lot to do with the renewal of the Church in the early part of the 13th Century. We’ll talk about him more in a few minutes.
We celebrate those great Saints on the days of their death. When we celebrate a Saint’s day, we celebrate it on the day of their death, because that is the day they entered into heavenly glory.
But on this day, we do something different. Today we remember all those men and women who have lived in the service of God and now dwell in His presence. In other words, we celebrate the entire choir of Saints whose task now is the praise and glory of almighty God.
To fully understand that, we have to understand something about what we mean by the term “Saint.” “Saint” has a lot of different usages. On the one hand, we use the term “saint” colloquially, ranging from complimenting people for their good deeds by saying, “What a saint.” Another example of this colloquial use of the term is the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League. We have songs that we sing about Saints. Colloquialism aside, in Christianity we use the term in, essentially, two ways.
There are two types of saints. There are Saints with a big “S” and there are Saints with a little “s.” By definition, all Saints are people who have died and are in heaven with Christ. That’s what a Saint is.
The first type of Saint is the capital “S” Saint. These are the big Saints, the ones that are proclaimed by the Church definitively to be in heaven. These are folks like Saint Peter, the Saint Paul, Saint James, Saint Thomas, and Saint Benedict. These are the kind of folks whose live shine across the centuries as beacons of the faith.
But then there are other kinds of Saints, the kind who are small “s” Saints. These number in the ten thousand times ten thousand. These stand before the throne of God and none of us have ever heard of them or will hear of them, and the world never even noticed that they were there. They were the men and women who quietly went about their daily life, going to work, raising their families, trying to live as Christ would have them live. And when they died, they were buried with hardly any notice by any one outsideof their family or their little circle of friends. But God noticed, and now they dwell with him for ever.
And then there are thousands and thousands, ten thousands of ten thousands who we never have heard of, who, because of their faith, were called upon to shed their blood for Christ. After their deaths, their bodies were cast away into pits, thrown out for wild animals to eat, or just left out on the ground to rot. No one has ever heard of them, no one ever will hear of them, and no one on earth will notice that they were there. But God noticed and they dwell with him now for ever.
And so, on this day, we remember all the Saints, great and small, known and unknown, who by their witness have provided us with a guide toward holiness, with a guide toward sanctity.
Earlier I mentioned Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis of Assisi is an interesting story and provides an interesting example to us of sanctity.
But before we can tell his story, we have to think about a problem that we have with the story of the great saints. That is our tendency to view the lives of the great saints from halo backwards. In other words, we see their pictures with the haloes around their head, standing in great holiness, much like St. Stephen in the portrait to my left here. We looking at their lives backward through the halo to their birth. But I think when we look at the story of a great saint it’s belpful to look at how they went from their birth to become great Saints.
So, looking from birth to halo, let’s look at the life of Saint Francis.
Saint Francis was born in the city of Assisi. He was the son of a nobleman, he was a member of an extremely powerful family. He was raised to be a warrior, a knight, and there was nothing, believe me, nothing that Francis liked better then to go out to war, to battle, and to fight. We know that he was brilliant with a sword. We know also that he was brilliant with the ladies and brilliant with a bottle. He was, in short, what you would expect from a knight. By the way, he’d been baptized, received his first communion and all of the normal events that you would expect from a Catholic Christian in his day. But he did these things because they were socially acceptable, not out of any religious conviction.
And then one day he went out to fight. In that battle, an opponent’s sword cut him severely in the chest, barely missing his heart, and damaging his lung. As he was carried back to Assisi, it was presumed that he would die because, if the wound itself didn’t kill him, the infection probably would. Day in and day out, week in and week out, Francis lay in a delirium, in that state of consciousness that lingers somewhere between life and death.
Miraculously, Francis recovered. One day, he was wandering through the little town and he came upon an old church. It was a church that had fallen down in absolute rubble. It was the Church of San Damiano. The only thing that was left standing in the little church was an iconic crucifix, a Greek-styled crucifix that hung above the old altar of the church. As Francis walked into the dilapidated building, he heard a voice calling him. “Francis,” it said, “rebuild my church.”
Francis was stunned. But he did as the voice commanded and single-handedly took brick after brick, stone after stone, and he rebuilt the little church of San Damiano.
Then he realized that that voice was calling him to more than just rebuilding the little church. It was calling him to rebuild the entire Church of God, which had stagnated into a rigid system of clerical power and privilege. So Francis shed all of the trappings of his wealth, put on a ratty old brown robe, tied a belt around his waist, and took off his shoes. And he walked shoeless through town after town proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in poverty.
I would love to say that the people who saw him said, “Francis, that’s wonderful. You’re just fantastic. Isn’t it great that you’re doing all of this.”
But that’s not what they said. They said, “You’re crazy. Who do you think you are going against the tide? What is it that you think you are doing?”
And they would say things behind his back like, “Poor Francis. You know, he’s never been the same since he came back from the war. He’s just gone crazy.”
During all that time, Francis would preach to the birds, but not because he had any deep abiding love of them. When he was asked about this odd practice, Francis’ temper would flare and he would respond, “I would rather preach the Gospel to the ravens who pick the eyeballs out of the dead than preach to people who will not hear it.”
I don’t think I’d try that kind of preaching style, but Francis did.
Later he started a religious order that in its time and too this day has transformed Christianity.
So what does the life of Francis teach us about how to become a Saint? The first thing is this: we become saints by doing the things that God puts in front of us to do. Not necessarily what we want to do, but what God puts in front of us to do.
Then, the Gospel tells us something else about how to become a Saint. If you want to become blessed, this is how you do it. The Gospel says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are they that mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure of heart; blessed are the peacemakers; blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against falsely for my sake.” That’s the nine-step biblical plan for how to be a saint.
Do what is put before you and then know that you are blessed when you are poor in spirit. Know that you are blessed when you are all alone because the world goes in one direction and you go another. That’s how you become a saint.
And the reward of sanctity is glorious. The Book of Revelation tells us clearly, “Therefore are they before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple. They shall hunger no more. Neither thirst anymore. Neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of water and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
That’s how we become saints and what the saints have for a reward. Sanctity is an incredible thing and it is that reward for which we hope. It is that reward for which we long, to stand in that choir of saints. And we have a God that makes that possible for us.
Saint Paul tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who has made us worthy to share in the lot of the saints in light.” That same light which Saint John says, comes from no lamp, nor does it come from the sun. The light which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, the light which shines in all of our hearts.
God has made us worthy to share in the lot of the saints in light. God has made us worthy to be blessed in proportion of our sufferings for him.
Our feast of All Saints today gives us a model that tells us that what these great people have achieved and what these people of anonymity have achieved, we can achieve, too. This holiness is something that can be in our lives and in which we may dwell for ever. That God, who has created the heaven and earth, has made a special place for us, and has made us worthy to share in the lot of the saints in light. That God has given us the path that, if we follow it in faith, will make us one with him for ever.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
What follows is an example. A few weeks ago I planned to write a post about the stuff being posted on the web saying that Barack Obama is the foretold Antichrist. I don't believe he is, by the way, and I'm not sure that any Christian alive today will ever know who he is. But that is a story for another post. I do think that Obama is a very good warm up act for the Man of Sin.
Roman Catholic writer Michael O'Brien who addresses this question quite well. He is the author of some very powerful apocalyptic fiction and is most known for the book Father Elijah. O'Brien especially focuses his attention on Roman Catholics who are supporting Obama although his words could be directed at most Christians of any stripe.
Here's the link to O'Brien's post:
Monday, November 3, 2008
About an hour later, I received a response from someone who had obviously hit Reply All. (I hate the Reply All button.) This person had been included on the blast list and they felt an uncontrollable urge to share their thoughts with all of us on the list. The response went like this (with my friends' names removed): "Please don’t include me in any more of these emails. I love you dearly, but I don’t want anyone to think that my inclusion means that I support your politics. I do not."
Since I have never heard of this person before, I was a bit curious about why I should even give a darn about whether she agreed with my friends' politics. I concluded that I didn't and I responded to her asking her to be careful about pressing Reply All and sending her e-mail to people like me who couldn't care less about her agreement or disagreement.
She also enclosed a link to a website that tries to justify Barack Obama's positions with Roman Catholic theology. Their efforts would be much more humorous if these people weren't serious. I will not forward the web address because I don't want to give them even the minuscule publicity that my mention might cause.
Later I started thinking this situation and was struck by the incredible arrogance and irony of this woman's position. This woman is a Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at a large Roman Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, as a Catholic pastoral minister she is supporting the most Pro-Abortion candidate in the history of the Democrat Party. She is supporting a Democrat who even believes that children who survive abortions should not receive medical care.
Now the argument that this women and those who agree with her would put forward goes something like this: Abortion is one of many issues facing the electorate this fall. We really should view the totality of the candidate's positions and vote accordingly rather than base our vote on a single issue. Besides, they say, Barack Obama will make abortion more rare, whatever that means. The fact that Barack Obama has pledged to support the most sweeping legislation lifting all restrictions on any form of abortion, the Freedom of Choice Act, seems to escape her and her friends' notice.
If the single issue were something along the lines of immigration or taxation, then I might be likely to agree that we should be look at the whole picture. But this single issue is far more critical and basic. The issue of abortion strikes directly at the fundamental right that each person enjoys: the right to life.
Since 1973, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that our country has been responsible for the deaths of 44,600,000 babies (through 2006) through the grotesque procedures of abortion. Now think about this for a second: Our country has been complicit by its policies in approximately 3.5 times more deaths than Hitler!
For any thinking Christian not to realize that the issue of abortion is a fundamentally important issue that trumps all others is amazing to me. That a Pastoral Associate for Youth Ministry in a Roman Catholic parish could blindly support the most radical pro-abort in American politics is scandalous. That she would proudly declare her support of this radical pro-abort smacks of incredible hubris.
Further, that a person in a position of leadership in Youth Ministry (where she is, presumably, forming young people) in a Roman Catholic parish could support such a candidate reflects one more reason why serious Christians, such as those of us who are traditionalist Anglicans, find the American Catholic church to be riddled with hypocrisy and unable to be taken seriously. While there are some very strong Catholic Christians, and I know a number of them, there are many milquetoasts out there who are quite willing to sacrifice their faith and lives of the innocent for political expediency.
God bless the bishops, clergy and laity who stand up for life. We must pray for those who work in the churches who show their implicit agreement to compromise life by their willingness to put a political agenda before the the lives of the most innocent among us.
To those who support this pro-abort Democrat, please remember that a person who is willing to deny the right to life can deny any right.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
As I mentioned to you earlier, today is the feast of Christ the King.
This day is one of the newest feasts on the Christian calendar, having come to us in the latter part of the second decade of the 20th century. It came about because of a strange and deadly event.
The strange thing happened in October of 1917. The Russian government which had been a long-standing monarchy fell to what became Soviet communism. The Soviets had a very perverse and deadly philosophy that said that there was no God. That God existed, as Karl Marx had said, as an “opiate for the people.” And that the promise of heaven was something that had been invented simply to keep people happy and docile as they worked their way through the world for the benefit of the elite. It was, shall we say, the ultimate class-warfare argument.
Shortly after that, in 1925, Pope Pius XI created the feast of Christ the King and placed the feast on the very last Sunday in October. He placed it there for a simple reason: He wanted to make a final and definitive statement that, all appearances to the contrary, that Christ was the Lord of all things, both in heaven and on earth and under the earth. That all things ultimately stand under the authority of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the divine Godhead.
So on Christ the King we bring the season of Trinity almost to a dead stop. We put away our green vestments, bring out the royal gold, and celebrate this day to remind ourselves, especially to remind ourselves as Christians, Who is really in charge.
You know, things are not always what they seem. David Copperfield can make an elephant seem to disappear. He can make a building seem to disappear. However, elephants and buildings do not disappear because of a parlor trick.
When my wife and I were on a cruise, there was a magician who could take a deck of cards and he could make these cards do things that were statistically impossible. It was such an incredible trick, that I even wanted to sit as close to him as I could to see how it was done. The reason why? Things are not always what they seem.
Magicians create illusions. They blur the distinction between reality and illusion. They make you think that what is real is actually the opposite.
Now in the case of our Gospel reading today, we have the reverse. In this case the illusion is the starting point. Jesus stands before Pilate and appears to be weak and helpless and Pilate appears to hold all the cards. But that, my brothers and sisters, that is the illusion
Now any reasonable person in this situation seeing Jesus before Pilate, would have to say that Jesus was not the one with the power. After all, he had been taken captive by the Jews and Herod’s soldiers. He had been beaten and was probably a bloody pulp.And he was brought before Pontius Pilate, who was the Roman governor of the whole province.
Think about that for a minute.
It’s hard for us to realize just how powerful the Romans were. They controlled everything and their governors had the power to give life or demand death, whatever they wanted. A Roman governor could just do this on a whim: “Put that guy to death. Let’s go have lunch.”
It was that simple for them.
What is it that Pilate, standing there before this beaten man, says to Jesus? He says, “So, then, are you a king?”
“Are you a king?”
You can almost hear the sarcasm dripping from his voice. “Are you, this bloody man in front of me, this little carpenter from Nazareth, are you saying to me that you are a king of the Jews?”
Any reasonable person in Jesus’ position would have said, “No, my Lord, I’m no king. This is all a mistake. Please let me go. Please don’t kill me. Torture me, if you want, but just let me live.”
But Jesus, standing before Pilate, says something very different. What he says essentially is this: “No. I’m not a king of the Jews. But I am a King. My kingdom is not of this earth. And if my kingdom were of this earth then my people and my soldiers would be here fighting for me. My kingdom is of far more than this earth.”
Saint Paul tells us about Jesus and his kingdom in our Epistle. He says that Jesus, this same Jesus who stands bloodied before Pilate, “…is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Later on, in his epistle to the Philippians, Saint Paul describes the kingship of Christ in terms that make clear Jesus’ confrontation with Pontius Pilate. Saint Paul says, “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus Christ did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What a powerful statement.
What an incredible thing that the Word of God, that the Logos of God, who by his very speaking brought the heavens and the earth into existence. Who by his very speaking brought man and woman out of the dust. By his very thought knew each and every one of us by name before we were even in the womb. That this very Word becomes one of us, taking the form of slave. That this very Word of God is willing to humble himself to stand bloodied before a Roman governor, before a Roman governor who owes the fact of his very existence to this same humble and beaten man.
Why does Jesus, our Lord and King, the One through whom all things were created, why does He humble himself to accept even death, death on a cross?
He does it to set us free from our sins.
His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. His kingdom is not restricted by geography, it is not restricted by time, it is not restricted by rulers, it is over all things from everlasting to everlasting.
Maybe this is a good time in our national history to think about the kingship of Jesus Christ. As we go into an election to decide our nation’s next leader, maybe this is a good time to gain some true perspective and ask ourselves: Who is really in charge? Who do I, as a Christian, really serve and honor as my Lord?
Maybe it’s time to understand that the real challenge which confronts every person and every nation is: When will we bow the knee to Jesus and acknowledge him as our sovereign Lord? Will we do it now, while we live and have the ability to give our will to him in all freedom? Or will we do it later, when we are forced to our knees to acknowledge him as our Judge?
To whom do we owe our allegiance? Do we owe our allegiance to something that is bound by this time and this place? Or do we owe our hearts to that One, who is God and who comes from God, who is Jesus Christ our King, and who exists to set us free from sin now and for all time.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.