“Who are you looking for?” Jesus asked this question of the soldiers and guards that had been sent by the chief priests and Pharisees. The torches the men were carrying lit up the starless night in the garden where Jesus had been praying with his disciples. The flickering flames flashed on the sharp swords some of the soldiers were holding out toward Jesus.
“Jesus the Nazorean,” said one of the soldiers. Jesus could see the face of Judas highlighted by one of the torches. He was standing with the soldiers. He had led them to Jesus.
“I am,” said Jesus, as he pointed to his disciples. “If you are looking for me, let these men go.” The soldiers and guards grabbed Jesus and tied him up securely. Then they brought him to the Annas, the high priest, who asked Jesus tough questions about his teachings and the people who traveled with him.
“I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,” Jesus answered. “In secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said to them.”
One of the temple guards slapped Jesus. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus rubbed his cheek. “If I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Annas ordered the guards to take Jesus to Caiaphas, another high priest. Because Caiaphas and the other Jewish leaders did not want to enter the judgement hall on Passover, they sent Jesus to Pilate, the Roman.
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
“Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
“Your own nation and chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”
“My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it did, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not here.”
“Then you are a king?” Pilate asked again.
“You say I am a king. I came into the world to testify to the truth.”
“What is the truth?” Jesus did not answer Pilate, so Pilate went back to the room where the Jews were waiting. “I find no guilt in this man. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
READ MORE ABOUT IT:
1. Who were the soldiers and guards looking for in the garden?
2. What was the first question Pilate asked Jesus?
Before Israel had a king, judges, who could be military leaders in a time of crisis or decision-makers when there were disputes, maintained order. Samuel, the last judge, anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. The books of Samuel and Kings were compiled from the written records and documents of the ancient courts and temples. They were written by a team of scholars who wanted to preserve the history of Israel. A theme that is found in many of the stories about the kings is that God holds leaders accountable for their actions. Those who did not please God were often punished or removed from authority. The ideal king is Jesus, who was called “King of the Jews” and “King of Kings.” On the last Sunday of the church year (Nov. 23 this year), we honor Christ as our king.
Margaret of Scotland, who lived in the 11th century, was a beautiful woman who was smart and kind. She married Malcolm, who had a bad temper and bad manners. With her love and example, Margaret helped him change, and he became one of the best-loved kings of Scotland. She worked very hard to promote civilization, education, religion and the arts. She searched for teachers and priests, and she told the women of the court to sew and embroider church vestments and furniture. With her husband, she established several churches. Margaret ate and slept very little, prayed often during the day and into the night, and frequently helped poor people. She died of an illness four days after her husband was killed in battle in 1093. We honor her on Nov. 16.