"Art Thou a king then?" (Pontius Pilate, upon his interrogation of the Lord Jesus Christ, before consigning Him to the cross - John18:37).
Pilate had no frame of reference for a king who failed to act like a king (according to Pilate's definition). The man who stood before him, whose fate seemed to be in the Roman procurator's hands, sought no pomp, no circumstance, no trappings of royalty, and no exercise of earthly power. He rather seemed content to exercise complete control over His own person and response to inquisition, a determination in which He was stunningly successful. This befuddled Pilate, and the Biblical account of his encounter with the Lord Jesus indicates great consternation and even fear in the man who, by all appearances, held the fate of the Accused in his already bloody hands. Pilate, however, seemed to know that the strange king he condemned was actually a disturbingly fateful figure who troubled the Roman leader to the very core of his soul. "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it" (Matthew27:24).
The Lord Jesus is the "fateful figure" in all our lives. Who we deem Him to be determines our eternal destiny, as well as our experience in this hour, and this moment. Is He the Christ of God, despite the fact that He still works without royal fanfare in our lives, and in the world? How we answer this question impacts the very core of our souls no less than it determined Pilate's fate so long ago. Indeed, some historical records indicate that Pontius Pilate ended his own life by suicide not too many years after his role in the death of the Lord Jesus. In the same manner, we live or die based upon our perspective of Christ, even as the Apostle Paul declared, "To live is Christ" (Philippians1:21). We begin a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus. We continue that relationship through the Lord Jesus. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6). Ever and always, Christ is the issue, the fateful figureof this and of every moment.
The challenge of such truth involves the fact that our King still often works and acts in our lives in a manner that often does not seem royal. Christians believe that God created and sustains the entire universe by His word (Psalm 33:6; Hebrews 1:3). Thus, we also believe that a simple word from our King's mouth can change our circumstance, situation, or condition. Often, however, He seems not to speak such a word. He does not command our problem to be solved, our challenge to be immediately overcome, our weakness to be strengthened, or our illness to abate. He rather seems to remain quiet and still, no matter how often and diligently we pray and trust. As with Pilate, he doesn't act kingly, at least according to our definition. "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2).
How we respond when Christ's royalty seems veiled largely determines the quality of our lives and relationship with God. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). Long ago, an earthly ruler could not understand how a true king could act as did the King of kings. We will wonder the same at times, and we do well to remember that our Potentate is the fateful figure of all things, regardless of how He chooses to exercise His Divine royalty.
"What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?"(Matthew 22:42)