Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37
Nearly every Christmas movie and special reaches its climax with a declaration “that’s what Christmas is all about.” Multiple times in the gospel of John Jesus clearly says what Christmas was all about. First, Jesus explained He had come to do the Father’s will, resulting in salvation, preservation and glorification for us. Jesus explained He came for judgment. Jesus declared He came to bring us life, and even better, life more abundantly. He even said He came as Light. But toward the end of John’s Gospel in a conversation with Pilate, Jesus makes one more statement about why He came. He came to be King.
The paradox of the King’s earthly power versus eternal power
In John 18:31, we learn the whole reason the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate was that the governor had the power of life and death in Palestine. Just in this narrative, he ordered Jesus to be scourged. He ordered Barabbas released. He ordered the crucifixion, the relinquishing of the body to Joseph of Arimathea the posting of the guards at the tomb. Every one of those orders was obeyed. Pilate was quite used to exerting his power and being obeyed.
Pilate was therefore quite taken aback by the prisoner before him.
So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”
Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” John 19:10-11
Jesus knew Pilate was playing a part in the plan laid down by God. Pilate’s only power came at God’s pleasure. Jesus was going to give His life to redeem mankind and Pilate would give the order. In the garden, mere hours before, Jesus asserted that He had legions of angels (Matt 26:53) available to deliver Him from the Jews and from Rome. If He chose. Pilate could not conceive of that kind of power.
The paradox of the King’s judgment
Pilate thought he sat in judgment of Jesus. In reality, Jesus will judge him. God in the flesh, the King of all creation, the Ultimate Truth stood before him and he refused to recognize Him. Earlier in John’s gospel, Jesus explained:
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, … “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:22, 24
Pilate temporarily passed judgment on Jesus. Jesus will eternally judge Pilate and all others who reject Him.
The paradox of the King’s testimony
Pilate cross-examined Jesus, looking for evidence of His crimes. Jesus provided testimony as to His identity. The King said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” John 18:36
The King came to bear witness of this truth – that He was building a kingdom, not of this world. The great gift to us is that we can be part of this kingdom. If we hear His word (Hear is not just listen but understand and agree with. “I hear what you’re saying!”) and BELIEVE the Father who sent Jesus (Not believe the Father exists, but believe the things God says about Christ) we have eternal life, a gift beyond our comprehension.
That eternal life includes ruling with Jesus when He receives His eternal kingdom.
THAT’S what Christmas is all about. Christ came to pay the awful price required to bring us back into His kingdom. Merry Christmas!