After 2000 years is Pilate winning? He scoffed when Jesus claimed that he was born to “testify to the truth.” Truth? What’s that? We live in the age of “the big lie” and no one blinks. Politicians speak of “alternative facts” with a straight face. And when was the last time anyone admitted they weren’t being honest? They didn’t lie, they “misspoke.” Our society seems to reflect Pilate’s view that having authority is about power to bend things to your way. Followers of Jesus affirm our commitment to living the authority found in the truth. Do you promise to live the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? On this Sunday when we recognize Christ as our king we are on trial. Are we going to recognize claim that truth has upon us since Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life?”
The big lie or the falsehoods or the deceptions are not the greatest danger to the authority of Christ as King. No, it is opinion, not fiction, that is the greatest enemy of truth. When the choice is between the true and the false, the right and the wrong, the choice is often obvious. The real problem comes when one accepts no yardstick for the truth outside of one’s personal point of view. Now some things truly are a matter of opinion. In my opinion the baseball team on the south side of town is more deserving of support than the team on the north side. In my opinion Casablanca is the best movie ever made. In my opinion Portillo’s has the best hot dogs in Chicago. These are things about which one person’s idea is as good as another’s. The problem comes when opinion is used when what is needed is a long look at the real. I don’t care what the data says or the conclusion of the scientists – in my opinion the pandemic is a hoax and the vaccine is limiting my freedom. So what if there are rising sea levels and extreme weather and increased forest fires and more frequent hurricanes – in my opinion global warming is a plot to get us out of our cars. Slavery and Jim Crow are ancient history and have no impact today – in my opinion to look at the history of a nation honestly is designed to make white people feel bad. These examples demonstrate that truth is costly, does not come cheap. The truth is that personal freedom is not unlimited but one must also consider the common good of society. The truth of ecological reality demand hard choices about wasteful energy. The truth of the infinite value of every individual requires that harms done in the past must be addressed in order to move into the future. When Jesus claimed the authority of truth he was challenging us to look reality square in the eye and make our decisions not out of our personal preferences, our opinions, but based on the way God made the world.
The contemporary attitude captured in the word “whatever” conveys the exact opposite message Jesus stood for in his trial before Pilate. For Jesus what one thinks, what one says, what one does matters. It’s “now or never” not “whatever” for him. A choice has to be made for or against the truth. For the truth is that I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper and whatsoever I do to the least of them, I am doing to Jesus. The truth is that strength is best demonstrated not my imposing my will upon another but by turning the other cheek and forgiving seventy times seven times. The truth is that the greatest among us is the one who serves the needs of all and lays down her life for those she loves. When Jesus associated his kingship with the truth he was telling us that for those who love God all things work together for good. He was telling us that no height or depth, nothing in the past or in the future, nor any other creature can keep us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus. He was telling us to ask and we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened. By committing ourselves to the truth of God we participate in “an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away.”
With apologies to the younger generation I want to proclaim Christ as my King. I’m not sure who the Four Tops meant when they said, “Reach out, I’ll be there” but I know that Christ the King says that to you and to me. And it’s Christ the King who says to us, “We all need somebody to lean on. Lean on me.” And when Whitney Houston sang, “I will always love you” it could have been Jesus saying that to us. It doesn’t matter if you go up the ladder to the roof or are under the boardwalk down by the sea, Christ is still the King. Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep the love of Jesus from us. Whether you’re sitting on the dock of the bay or on the midnight train to Georgia, Christ is King. Whether you’re doing the bunny hop, the funky chicken, the locomotion, the twist, the mashed potato or the electric slide, Christ is King. In the still of the night, Christ is King. If you’re Poppa was a rolling stone, Christ is King. We are family because Christ is our King. If you’re rapping, Christ is King. If you’re rhythm and blues-ing Christ is King. If you’re rock and rolling, Christ is King. If you’re cool jazzing Christ is King. If you’re doo-wopping, Christ is King. If you’re be-bopping, Christ is King. If you’re hip-hopping, Christ is King. Since Christ is the King I feel good. I got sunshine on a cloudy day, when it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May because Christ is my king. Celebrate good times, come on, for Christ is King. Jesus is the first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the one who is and who was and who is to come. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever is King.