Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king! To this end I was born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth: every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. — John 18:37
Yet the Lord says he came into the world to be king!
What then is the kingdom over which the Lord cares to reign? I answer: A kingdom of kings, and no other. A kingdom where every man is a king, there and there only does the Lord care to reign, in the name of his Father.
As no king in Europe would care to reign over a cannibal, a savage, or an animal race, so the Lord cares for no kingdom over anything this world calls a nation. A king must rule over his own kind. Jesus is a king in virtue of no conquest, inheritance, or election, but in right of essential being. And he cares for no subjects but such as are his subjects in the same right. His subjects must be of his own kind, in their very nature and essence kings.
To understand his answer to Pilate, we must see what his kingship consists of – we must see what it is that makes him a king, what manifestation of his essential being gives him a claim to be king.
It is this: The Lord’s is a kingdom in which no man seeks to be above another. Ambition is of the dirt of this world’s kingdoms. He says, “I am a king, for I was born for the purpose, I came into the world with the object of bearing witness to the truth. Everyone that is of my kind, that is of the truth, hears my voice. He is a king like me, and is one of my subjects.”
Thereupon — as would most Christians nowadays, instead of setting about being true — Pilate requests a definition of truth, a presentation to his intellect in set terms of what the word truth means.
Yet instantly, whether knowing his inquiry was useless, or intending to resume it after he had se the Lord free, he goes out to the people to tell them he finds no fault in him. Whatever interpretation we put on his action here, he must be far less to blame than those ‘Christians’ who, instead of setting themselves to be pure ‘even as he is pure,’ to be their brother and sister’s keeper, and to serve God by being honorable in shop and bank and office and market, proceed to ‘serve’ him by going to church, by condemning the opinions of their neighbors, and by teaching others what they do not themselves heed.
Neither Pilate nor they ask the one true question, ‘How am I to be a true man? How am I to become a man worth being a man?’
The Lord is a king because his life — the life of his thoughts, of his imagination, of his will, of every smallest action — is true. He is true first to God the Father in that he is altogether His. Then he is true to himself in that he forgets himself altogether. Finally, he is true to his fellows in that he will endure anything they do to him, and not cease declaring himself the son and messenger and likeness of God. They will kill him, but it matters not — the truth is as He says!
George MacDonald, "Kingship," Unspoken Sermons: Series Three.