John’s gospel describes the scene in which Jesus is brought before Pilate to be questioned. Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus responds, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
Two things emerge in the exchange: Jesus does not reject the title king, but neither does he accept the ordinary political implications of the title. His is another kind of kingship entirely. And his authority derives its power from a source other than this world.
The point is the source of the kingdom’s authority (divine not worldly), not the location of the kingdom’s presence. It is in that sense that Jesus’ kingship “does not belong to this world” and “is not here.” Our response to the reign of God and the kingship of Jesus has everything to do with how we live out our lives. In this we honour Jesus as “faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.”
Dennis Hamm, SJ