Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
The classic religious rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” continues to be performed on stages around the country. During Holy Week, many of us find ourselves putting on the album or humming some of the music. What has always struck me is the portrayal of Pontius Pilate. The actor who created the original album role went on to portray Pilate on Broadway and on film.
Pilate is interested, for his own reasons, in the accusation that Jesus claims to be King of the Jews. There is a peculiar intimacy in the scene, captured well, I think, in the musical. Pilate can relate to the concept of kingship. He’s a politician and understands power and position. He presses his questions, even as he misunderstands Jesus’ true kingship. For a brief instant, Pilate even seems interested in “truth.”
But in the end, he falls back into his own limited notions of earthly power, and does what is expected of him as a functionary in the Roman system of government.
With dramatic irony, however, the scene in John’s Gospel highlights a very different kind of kingship. Jesus stands before the world, testifying to the truth. He has come to reveal the truth about God, and invites us into his reign, which is not of this world. Rather, it is a relationship, one in which we receive the very life of God.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In the first reading (Dn 7:13-14), when the visions during the night continued, what did Daniel see?
What did the Son of man receive when he was presented to the Ancient One?
Will his kingship be destroyed?
Jesus Christ is described in the second reading (Rv 1:5-8), as “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.” What is due to him?
At the end of the book of Revelation Jesus says “I am the Alpha and Omega, . . .the one who is and who was and who is to come.” What does that mean?
According to this week’s Gospel (Jn 18:33b-37), Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews. How does Jesus answer Pilate’s question?
When Pilate asks Jesus “Then you are a king?” Jesus tells Pilate, “You say I am a king.” Then Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world.
Draw a picture depicting what is described in the second reading.
There are a lot of references to kings in this week’s readings. In that spirit, make a crown out of construction paper and decorate it.