The Kingdoms of Jesus and Pilate

November 21, 2018

The Pastor's Page

The Gospel for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year B, is a conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate, the Procurator or Governor of Judea (Jn 18:33-37). The juxtaposition of the two of them, both rulers, presents a striking contrast between two drastically different styles and approaches to kingship.

Christ the KingPilate was well-born in Italy. Jesus was humbly-born in a stable in Bethlehem.

Pilate began his career as a soldier. Jesus began his career as a carpenter.

Pilate lusted for power and climbed to his high position by stepping on other people to get ahead. Jesus had a position of power in heaven, relinquished it for a time, lowered himself, came in human likeness, and took the form of a slave (see Phil 2:6-7).

Pilate was named procurator by the Emperor Tiberius in Rome. Jesus was named King by his Father, God in heaven (see Acts 2:33; Phil 2:9-10).

Pilate was a militant civil leader. Jesus was a peace-loving spiritual leader.

Pilate maintained his power with intimidation, threat, and force. Jesus gained influence with mighty deeds, sound teaching, personal relationships, and gentle invitation.

Pilate wanted to stay in power. Jesus empowered others.

Pilate wanted the best for himself. Jesus wanted the best for all people.

Pilate commissioned ruthless Roman soldiers to carry out his orders. Jesus commissioned his apostles and ordinary people to carry the gospel.

Pilate had authority over a geographic territory that encompassed Judea, Samaria, and the Negev Desert. Jesus has authority over the entire earth, the universe, and heaven.

Pilate was governor from 26 to 36 AD. Jesus is king for all eternity.

Pilate was arrogant. Jesus was humble.

Pilate did as he pleased. Jesus obeyed his Father in heaven (Jn 6:38; 14:31).

Pilate lived in elegance in his palaces in Caesarea and Jerusalem. Jesus lived simply.

Pilate was cruel. Jesus was compassionate.

Pilate was dishonest and corrupt. Jesus is truth (Jn 14:6) and testified to the truth (Jn 18:37).

Pilate inflicted untold suffering on others. Jesus endured untold suffering on behalf of others.

Pilate surrounded himself with soldiers. Jesus surrounded himself with his disciples and common folk.

Pilate tried to win the favor of the crowds when he handed Jesus over to be scourged and crucified. Jesus desired to win the favor of his Father alone.

Pilate sat in judgment over Jesus, and he abused his authority; Jesus will come in glory to judge the world (Mt 25:31-32), the Father has given all authority to the Son (Jn 5:22,27), and his judgment is just (Jn 5:30).

Pilate’s kingdom belonged to this world. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36).

Pilate’s throne was on earth. Jesus’ throne is in heaven (see Jn 16:28; Heb 1:3b).


About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

View all posts by Father Michael Van Sloun