In moments in his ministry, Jesus answers a question with another question. If we weren’t talking about God incarnate, we could dismiss this as conversation filler or procrastinating banter. Or we could consider that there is holy strategy behind Jesus’ interactions that steer away from direct answers and toward prompts that cause people to consider and self-reflect.
My four-year-old, who truly hates naps and therefore frequently fights his morning drop-offs at our children’s center, often demands, “Why do I have to go to school?”
I could answer, “Because I said so,” and sometimes I do. But this response is a conversation stopper. It enforces the notion that his world is dictated by outside forces, which might cause him to resist even more. So sometimes I reply, “Why do you have to go to school? You tell me.” This is a conversation starter, a cue for reflection, and an invitation for growth. That’s the idea, at least.
And while my child’s school drop-offs and Jesus’ interaction with Pilate have very little in common, I am reminded of the sacred power of responding with a question rather than a decided answer. In this story, Jesus has all the power. We know that as readers and followers reflecting back into history. But Jesus chooses not to interact with this leader of the law in a way that halts the conversation and causes Pilate to write Jesus off. Instead, he invites Pilate, even in this dire moment, to go inward. “Is that your idea, or are you just regurgitating what you’ve heard?” (AP).
From Jesus we can learn that it is more important to invite others (even our enemies) into moments of reflection and growth than it is to demand an understanding, maybe especially at times when we feel we have all the answers.
Jesus, the next time we are faced with a question meant to challenge our faith and ethics or defame our character and intentions, guide us into responses that further the conversation and betterment of all. Amen.
Second Samuel records the final words of David. David takes comfort in the covenant that God has made with his family, which must be continued by kings who will honor God and rule justly. The psalmist sings of this same covenant with David’s family and the same necessity to follow God’s decrees in order to rule well. Revelation opens with a vision of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, the King to rule over all kings for all time. Many expected Jesus to set up a political kingdom. Yet in John, Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not an earthly one. This week let us thank God that the kingdom is based not on the exercise of power but on Jesus’ example of serving others.
Read 2 Samuel 23:1-7. What characteristics would you include in a description of a just leader? Where do you see those characteristics in world leaders today?
Read Psalm 132:1-18. What is your vision of Paradise? Who will be seated at the table with you?
Read Revelation 1:4b-8. How do you bear witness to the “Alpha and the Omega”?
Read John 18:33-37. What is your understanding of what it means to live in God’s kingdom?
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