The Holy Gospel: November 25, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  John 18-33-37

Meditation:  “You Say So”

Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus largely revolves around his interest in him.  What seems like a generic question, “Are you the King of the Jews?” comes out of the clear implication that if Jesus is the King of the Jews, Pilate must radically rethink almost all of his personal and political life.

Similarly, we cannot cross paths Jesus very long before he begins to have an effect upon our life and our work.  The questions we ask about him almost always have an ulterior motive—the motive that recognizes Jesus’ answer is likely to upset our apple cart—the motive which understands that to deal with Jesus is really to be changed.

Jesus response to Pilate, “You say so,” is not his way of deflecting the question or denying that he is the King of the Jews.  Rather, it is Jesus’ way of saying, “If you conclude that I am a king, you’re going to have to rethink your whole life, aren’t you!”  I’m guessing that Jesus response included a twinkle in his eye.

When our inquiries move us near to insight, Jesus’ eyes still look at us with compassion. We only have two choices.  First, we can hold to our old opinions and keep living as we always have.  Or, secondly, we must allow the new conviction to work on us like leaven in a loaf of bread.  We can never go back and act as if we had never asked.

Some people try to create a third alternative—they try to believe without any changes being required—but today’s lesson shows us that Pilate knew better.  And when we’re honest, we know better too.

We cannot encounter Christ, ask our deepest questions of him, and then go on our merry way.  When we bring our “are you” questions to the table, and when those questions take us to the point of conviction, our only option is to live differently.

Whenever Jesus returns our questions by responding, “you say so,” we have come to our decisive moment—just as Pilate came to his.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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