I gave the Thought for the Week on RTHK Radio 3 this week. This is the transcript with a link to the audio in the RTHK Programme Archive.
Thought for the Week: November 25, 2018
questioned by Pilate as to whether he was a King, replied, ‘My kingdom is not
of this world.’ Pilate, in an attempt to
get Jesus to be more forthcoming, continued his questioning by asking, ‘So you
are a King then.’ ‘You say that I am,' replied Jesus.
perhaps understand Pilate’s exasperation and frustration and even share
it. After all, scholars are all agreed
that central to Jesus’ message and ministry was his proclamation of the kingdom
of God. It is hardly surprising,
therefore, that he was brought before Pilate accused of claiming to be the King
of the Jews – a charge, if proven, that meant the death sentence. Pilate realized, however, that whatever Jesus
may or may not have been, he was not a threat to the authority of Rome. Jesus’ accusers persisted, however. The rest, as they say, is history.
is not of this world,' he had told Pilate, and yet he had taught his disciples
to pray, ‘Your kingdom come - on earth as it is in heaven.’ At first sight, at least, there seems to be
something of a problem here. How can we
pray for something to come ‘on earth’ that we are also told is ‘not of this
Christians think that the prayer for God’s kingdom to come on earth is to be
answered by Christians themselves. We
are to establish God’s kingdom by working for peace and justice. The idea, however, that God’s kingdom on
earth is to be established by human effort, apart from being mistaken in its
optimism – as previous attempts in history have shown all too clearly –
although being well-intentioned, are a form of blasphemy.
only one person who can establish God’s kingdom on earth and that is God
himself. Christians don’t – or shouldn’t
– work to make it happen in the present; they are to pray for it to come in the
future. Again, as Jesus said, the kingdom
is not of this world; it must come from another world. Of this other worldly kingdom, Christians are
even now citizens, and, like the kingdom itself, they themselves are not to be
of this world either. The accusation, of
course, is that this makes them too heavenly minded to be of any earthly
use. Would that that were true! The problem with Christians is that they are
not heavenly enough.
I am talking about this is that today in the Church’s calendar is the last
Sunday of the Church’s year. It is the
Sunday when the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King. Next Sunday is the start of Advent when we
will begin to prepare for Christmas and the birthday of the ‘One born to be
King’. Traditionally, however, Advent is
first and foremost not about events in the past, but of that time in the future
when God’s other worldly kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.
his exasperation said to Jesus, ‘Do you not know that I
have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered
him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given
you from above.’ Many earthly rulers have
thought that their power was absolute and all-encompassing. Christians know that it is not. They wait for God’s kingdom to come, but they
also know that even now rulers on earth only rule with God’s permission. It is a permission that is temporary and
comes with an expiry date. We may not
now see all things subject to him, but we will.
Until then, we pray as Jesus taught us, ‘Your kingdom come.’
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’
Thought for the Week