The last Sunday in the church calendar is known as Christ the King Sunday. The lectionary readings for the Sunday, therefore, point to Christ as King. In the Gospel Reading from John 18:33-37 Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king of the Jews, to which Jesus responded, “My kingdom is not from this world”. Pilate got it right when he asked, “So you are a king?”
Christ’s kingship was discomforting to Pilate and the secular Roman authority he represented. It was discomforting to the Sanhedrin – the religious authority which handed him over to the Romans.
The kingship of Christ challenges the status quo of today’s society as it did then, and that is why it is discomforting. Even his followers then expected him to overthrow the foreign dominion over them and re-establish the Davidic dynasty. Indeed, that was the hope in Psalm 132:10-12; “For your servant David’s sake, do not turn away the face of your Anointed. The Lord has sworn an oath to David; in truth he will not break it: ‘A son, the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne”.
“My kingdom is not from this world” does not mean that his is a celestial realm not connected to the world we live in today. That is why he taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, on earth as in heaven”. We pray for that kingdom now, on the earth we live in now. Christ is, therefore, the manifestation of God’s heavenly kingdom, here on earth now. As we will see later, there is also a future dimension to that.
So, we live in this world, but in the realm of Christ’s kingship. It is both a challenge and a comfort. A challenge because we are no longer to conform to the norms of this world but are to be transformed into functioning members of Christ’s kingdom.
During this holiday season we become conscious of its propensity for self-gratification and focus instead, outside of ourselves. In Christ’s kingdom we seek peace and understanding to solve our differences instead of a war machinery. In Christ’s kingdom we seek the common good and the well-being of every member of society. It is we, not I against them.
In Christ’s kingdom there is forgiveness and reconciliation instead of acrimony and keeping score
These challenges and attributes are not exclusively Christian. Indeed many faith and spiritual traditions can claim and aspire for them. It is the comfort or hope of Christ’s Kingship that is uniquely Christian and that we will discuss in the next section, Part II.