Lectionaries

Last Pentecost, Year B

 

Main Text

Gospel Anthropological Reading
Gospel Historical/Cultural Questions
Gospel So What?

Epistle Anthropological Reading
Epistle Historical/Cultural Questions
Epistle So What?

A Sermon on Jesus' Trial in the Fourth Gospel by Michael Hardin 

 

Main Text

2 Sm 23:1-7 or * Dn 7:9-10,13-14
Ps 132:1-12,(13-18) * Ps 93

Rv 1:4b-8
Jn 18:33-37


(2 Samuel 23:1-7)
Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God exalted, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favorite of the Strong One of Israel: The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me:One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land. Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. Will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire? But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand; to touch them one uses an iron bar or the shaft of a spear. And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.

(Daniel 7:9-10)
As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

(Daniel 7:13-14)
As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

(Revelation 1:4b-8)
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, andfrom Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

(John 18:33-37)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

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Gospel Anthropological Reading

We live in a world in which truth has been completely deconstructed. This has especially been the case for religion, philosophy and literature. The basic premise behind modernism is that all things being equal, all things are equal. No worldview has a claim on reality. An analogy to the post-modern perspective would be that we are all blind people touching a different part of the elephant.

It is no longer possible to say what might be truthful or what truth might be. Truth has become as abstract as a Jackson Pollack painting. Everyone’s perspective is valid. No one person ‘possesses’ the truth.

And this is all true. All human perspective stems from the generative mimetic scapegoating mechanism. It doesn’t matter from whence or whom it stems, all possibility of rational discourse originates in the victimary symbol. Thus, our human discouse will always be tainted by myth making, that is by lying, by untruth (there is a convergence at this point of Derrida, Ricouer and Girard). Our mythmaking is the proof we participate in the mimetic mechanism. (Today we might call it spin doctoring or as the British might say regarding blame, “we sex up the story.”)

The fact is, at the base and center of philosophy (Derrida), religion (Barth) and literature (Girard) lies a victim, an innocent victim. We have been in complete and utter denial about this. We refuse to believe that we would sacrifice innocents. We continue to insist we only bring justice to those who deserve it. We further separate ourselves from scapegoating by turning over this task to the police or the military and the courts and prison systems. We don’t have anything to do with ‘violence.’ Our hands are clean.

As an example we cite American Christian awareness of issues that surround the Holocaust. Because America fought in World War II against Germany, it is conveniently assumed that whatever the German Christians did and thought had nothing to do with Christianity here in America. But it does, for the anti-semitism that found such virulent expression in Nazi Germany had many of its roots in the United States with Henry Ford (click here for an eye-opening paper on Ford.), and they have found expression around the world for the past 1,900 years (with specific reference to anti-Semitism in Christianity, not to mention the ancient world). You cannot follow Jesus and be anti-Semitic at the same time; Jesus was a Jew. But there are those who insist that their ‘theology’ bears little resemblance to that of the German Christians, when in fact, it does. It is all loaded with Post Constantinian and post Augustinian dualism and participation in the victimage mechanism.

So, the question is, if our human ideologies stem from victimage and are masked by lies, how can we then know the truth? It is quite simple: the truth does not retaliate or defend itself. ‘My kingdom is not of this world, if it were my disciples would fight to prevent my arrest.’ They tried, but Jesus prohibited them from using violence on his behalf. Had he done so, it would have destroyed his entire mission to reveal the truth: that God is love and love is non-retributive, non-retaliatory and non-violent.

In other words, if something or someone claims to be truth and has violent presuppositions or acts in a violent (= coercive) manner, then it is not truth. Truth may be attacked but it cannot be harmed. It is not ‘of this world’, that is, structured by negative mimesis. This is precisely how the gospels can speak of truth and why the Fourth Gospel calls Jesus, ‘the true and living way.’

Pilate may have discerned this seeing that John says his fear escalated with each encounter he had with Jesus. But, his job (and his life) was more important than a ragamuffin Jew from Galilee, so eventually the fear of retaliation from his mimetic boss (Caesar) was greater than his fear of a king who would not defend himself.

And so it is with us. We remain silent in the face of victimization because we chose to protect our source of security, our jobs, our incomes, our lifestyles. Perhaps the real question is, in the face of retaliation and retribution are you on the side of Jesus or not?

Finally we observe that inasmuch as today is Christ the King Sunday, please note that it is ‘Christ the King under arrest and being interrogated Sunday.’ It is Christ the King being held hostage Sunday. It is Christ the royal political prisoner Sunday. It is Christ the King soon to be beaten and crucified Sunday. It is Christ the innocent King/Victim Sunday. It is not Christ the powerful King Sunday. It is not Christ the mighty warrior Sunday. It is not Christ the King as Lawgiver and dispenser of punishment Sunday. It is Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world, the King Sunday.

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Gospel Historical/Cultural Questions

There are no issues we feel need addressing that will contribute to a peace discussion.. Back to top

 

Gospel So What?

The Christian churches can no longer stand idly by while hundreds of millions of people, perhaps billions of people on the planet, are innocently slaughtered for political, economic or social gain. The mimetic principalities and powers stand completely exposed before the King of Kings, who has dethroned them by showing them up for what they are, false gods.

Jesus distinctively reveals that the Creator abba is not like the gods of our making. He falsifies all of our projections by being the truth which exposes our lies. He offers us a way to live in this world that is oriented to the Creator who is life giving. We are offered a choice today to chose the kind of king we will submit to. What a marvel that we have a choice. The question that remains is will you choose the red pill or the blue? Whose side are you on?

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Epistle Anthropological Reading

This section of this particular page is not yet completed, but will be done a few weeks before the Sunday in question. It will be the heart of the discussion, offering an anthropological ("Girardian") reflection on the lectionary texts. It will be complemmented by the other sections, but this will be the primary material. Back to top

 

Epistle Historical/Cultural Questions

This section of this particular page is not yet complete. In it, there will be materials pertinent to the historical/cultural setting of the texts under consideration, to the extent that they contribute to a non-violent understanding of the text. (We won’t re-hash historical/cultural materials that are well known and add nothing to the "peace" discussion.) Back to top

 

Epistle So What?

The "so what" section for each week will go here. Less scholarly, more reflective. In this section, we’ll try to give our answer to the questions, "Okay, that anthropological stuff is nice, but "so what?" How do I use this in a sermon? How do I relate this to my congregation’s world?" Back to top