Kingship

Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king! To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth: everyone that is of the truth hearest my voice.

— John 18:37

Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king. The question is called forth by what the Lord has just said concerning his kingdom, closing with the statement that it is not of this world. He now answers Pilate that he is a king indeed, but shows him that his kingdom is of a very different kind from what is called kingdom in this world. The rank and rule of this world are uninteresting to him. He might have had them. Calling his disciples to follow him, and his twelve legions of angels to help them, he might soon have driven the Romans into the abyss, piling them on the heap of nations they had tumbled there before. What easier for him than thus to have cleared the way, and over the tributary world reigned the just monarch that was the dream of the Jews, never seen in Israel or elsewhere, but haunting the hopes and longings of the poor and their helpers! He might from Jerusalem have ruled the world, not merely dispensing what men call justice, but compelling atonement. He did not care for government. No such kingdom would serve the ends of his father in heaven, or comfort his own soul. What was perfect empire to the Son of God, while he might teach one human being to love his neighbor, and be good like his father! To be lover-helper to one heart, for its joy, and the glory of his father, was the beginning of true kingship! The Lord would rather wash the feet of his weary brothers than be the one only perfect monarch that ever ruled in the world. It was empire he rejected when he ordered Satan behind him like a dog to his heel. Government, I repeat, was to him flat, stale, unprofitable.

Commentary

The Grand Taxonomy
"To This End I Was Born" (John 18:37)
by Dave Roney

In the field of biology, there is established a taxonomy under the current heading of “Life” (including Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Specie); there is likewise a taxonomy, less extravagant, for non-living things, designated as “Matter” (the major divisions being Pure Substances and Mixtures).  For our purposes here, I offer what may be considered as The Grand Taxonomy, which includes all things whatsoever.  Everything which is, of the material and immaterial reality, pertaining to the physical and metaphysical, carnal and spiritual, both the living and the inanimate, of finite things as well as that which is Infinite, every thought, desire, word, action, emotion, of all which is on Earth and in Heaven including all which is under the earth; all these may be set in orders under their several appropriate headings, but all such headings are subordinated and subsumed under the grandest, highest, overarching Heading which is God.

Qualifying this expanded Taxonomy is St. Paul; “For all things are from Him, and [all things] are through Him, and [all things] are to Him” (Romans 11:36), which speaks of Christ Jesus; but He Himself made it clear that His Father was greater than He (John 14:28), and of this (you may call it “subjecting”) it is written, when He shall finally have broughtall things into subjection to Himself, “then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him (our Father) who put all things in subjection under Him (Jesus), that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

Within the “all things” are hierarchies of types and there are hierarchies within each type; a fish is a higher type than a stone, and among the demons there is a lord Satan over them; so also among believers in God there is Christ as the Head with gifts and offices appointed to men; not all angels are equal, neither men, nor demons, but are set in ranks, given titles and positions, some having greater power or influence than others.  And all the types are subsumed under the ultimate highest Source of all being, all matter, all reality, which is God; “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), and not we alone—but everything which is, is because of Him.  In the initial creative act God made the beasts “after their kind” (their type) and the green things that grow upon the earth, the fishes in the sea, and of man “He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth,” men, then, as all other created things, according to their “kind,” and there is inherent in these kinds, or types, hierarchies.

Now the difference of hierarchy between different things and hierarchy within things of the same type is this: Of the myriad types of differing things, some are made higher than others, but within the types of sentient beings are created by them unnatural internal hierarchies which are not ordained by God.  Between types we find no creature desiring to be other than what it is created as; but among men and also angels we discover those who would rule, would sit at the chief seats be it at table or temple, would lord it over others, would force their will upon their fellows and demonstrate by unbearable methods their bent to power, fame, riches, and self aggrandizement.  And how shall such a militant purpose be best accomplished?  It is by the internal hierachy of kings going out to battle, with their captains and lieutinents and footmen, subserviant and under their command.  And concerning this, within the great taxonomy, have been established kingdoms, two in particular under which all other kingdoms are subordinate; it is the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar.  (I restrict reference to the kingdoms (plural) of this world to the singular form, Caesar, rather than the plural, for in the hierarchy of kingdoms all those of the world lie in the lap of the Wicked One, and he is their king, their Caesar; and it makes no difference that one kingdom is better than another, or that we prefer one more than any other, be it democracy, socialism, communism, tribal rule, parlimentary, etc.; all these are alike under the rule of the god of this age).

God desired no kingship; that He has a Kingdom is a response to what is in Satan and in men; He has established His Kingdom to combat and overcome Caesar's kingdom and the dark lord who rules Caesar, all that which he represents, and all those (the slaves of sin) and all that (darkness and death) which follow in his train.  In the Garden God's desire for the man was to be his loving Father, to bring up His son in the bonds of closest, tenderest, familial relationship and share freely with him all which God possesses.  An earthly Caesar, or worse the demon ruling him, might prefer a lavish peacock's display of his power and glory, might be pleased that Adam would crumble to his feet in awe and fear, might ever remind the man that that he was his betters and remand him to horrific punishment if the man so much as lifted his eyes to make contact, but not so our God.  His thought was not to rule but to become much like the creature whom He had made to be much like Himself.  And from our reading for today we find Jesus to be exactly like Him, for:  

“He now answers Pilate that He is a king indeed, but shows him that His kingdom is of a very different kind from what is called kingdom in this world.  The rank and rule of this world are uninteresting to Him... He might from Jerusalem have ruled the world, not merely dispensing what men call justice, but compelling atonement.  He did not care for government.  No such kingdom would serve the ends of His Father in heaven, or comfort His own soul... The Lord would rather wash the feet of His weary brothers than be the only perfect monarch that ever ruled the world... Government, I repeat, was to Him flat, stale, unprofitable.”

We might on a large sheet of paper lay out all the types and kinds in a Great Taxonomy; we would not get very far before realizing that these are not appropriately placed side-by-side, but that the things so charted must be organized into a vertical hierarchical system, from the lowest thing to be classified to the ultimate highest Classifier of all things, Who is God.  Somewhere in that graph, and in the top tier, would be two kingdoms, which we would title Kingdom of God and kingdom of Caesar.  In Caesar's column would be all the worldly kingdoms that ever existed as well as those sinister, incorporeal, powers of darkness, with a footnote which reads “Ultimately brought into subjection to Christ.”  And under the column of The Kingdom of Christ, of Heaven, of God (for those are synonyms), would also be a footnote; “Ultimately offered up to God the Father, including the King Himself.”  But that has not yet occurred, is yet future; there was a day when the two kingdoms stood face to face in the hour of trial and conflict: It was Jesus, the King, standing before Pilate, serving as Caesar's, i.e. Satan's, emissary:  

“Then, if You have a Kingdom, you are a king!”
“Even you, Pilate, admit it!”
“So, then, You are a king!”
“Indeed, Pilate; I am a king, and it was to be a king that I was born!”

If, in your translation, you see a question mark (?) behind Pilate's words, as though he were asking Christ if or not He is a king, know that it was no question he asked but a pronouncement, perhaps even an exclamation, and that the question mark was added by the translators.  Pilate had expected to meet one more foolish self-proclaimed messiah, but in the battered Man standing before him he saw, finally, and as no other could have done, what a true King is.
 
Pilate, I then suggest, was stunned by this humble King, Who, without malice or violence, gained the preeminence over his ghastly Caesar-king; by His resurrection He stunned not only His friends, and His enemies, but also the principalities and powers of the air and the rulers of darkness in high places; by all that He is, He has stunned we who are His followers, for He is more to us than our minds and tongues are able to express.  And He is not finished finished; for one day we shall be able to see Him as He truly is, we will be stunned to finally know what unadulterated Christlikeness actually is, and to participate in His perfections, to share fully in the nature of our God through Him: But, more, all creation will be stunned when He finally wins the day then removes His crown, surrenders His kingship to the Father, and—freed from all the matters of state to which He has been faithfully attending—sits down with His brothers and sisters, and kisses again the little children, and enters into His rest even as we shall have through Him entered into ours.  And in that day shall be fulfilled the original desire of God's heart toward the “very good” things He created, which is the utter and Divine bliss of uninterrupted fellowship with His sons and daughters, and everything which has life, in a renovated and refurbished universe.