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The Victorious King

“My kingdom,” said Jesus to Pontius Pilate, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). And yet the world would put him to death, the world he came into, even as “God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through him it might be saved” (John 3:17).

We might take it as a case of mistaken purposes, as if Pilate and all the other agents of this world could sensibly go about their way and not meddle with Jesus, because Jesus was not going to meddle with them. For when the Jews tried to tempt him into falling afoul either of the zealots among them or the Romans nearby, Jesus deferred the question or he made it the more acute, saying, “Render then unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).

And we may soothe the ruffled secular feathers a little more, by saying that in Christian history it is far more likely that we will render too much unto Caesar than too little. For Caesar is near and glowering, and the swords are drawn, while God seems far away, though he is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. Yet, at the same time, the world and Christ are at enmity, and when the Lord assures his disciples that they will suffer in this world, he assures them further that they must be cheerful anyway, “because I have triumphed over the world” (Greek nenikeka, I have won the victory; John 16:33).

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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.


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