Neither Pilate nor the superficial Christian asks the one true question, “How am I to be a true man? How am I to become a man worth being a man?” The Lord is a king because his life, the life of his thoughts, of his imagination, of his will, of every smallest action, is true—true first to God in that he is altogether his, true to himself in that he forgets himself altogether, and true to his fellows in that he will endure anything they do to him, nor cease declaring himself the son and messenger and likeness of God. They will kill him, but it matters not: the truth is as he says!
Jesus is a king because his business is to bear witness to the truth. What truth? All truth; all verity of relation throughout the universe—first of all, that his father is good, perfectly good; and that the crown and joy of life is to desire and do the will of the eternal source of will, and of all life. He deals thus the death-blow to the power of hell. For the one principle of hell is, “I am my own, my own king and my own subject. My own glory is my chief care; my ambition, to gather the regards of men to the one center, myself. The more self-sufficing I feel or imagine myself, the greater I am. I will be free with the freedom that consists in doing whatever I am inclined to do, from whatever quarter may come the inclination.” To all these principles of hell, or of this world—they are the same thing—the Lord, the king, gives the direct lie.