Year B Christ the King John 18
Rally or Rail?
John 18: 33-37
"Who's on first?"
That was the opening line of a classic baseball sketch acted out in 1945 by the vaudeville comedy team of Abbott and Costello. The big joke was that the ball players' last name were "Who" (first base), "What" (second base), "I Don't Know" (third base), "Why" (left field), "Tomorrow" (pitcher) "Today" (catcher), etc. Any conversation about "Who was on first?" was a question that involved both identity and physical position. But for the person "in the know," those who knew "Who" was the name of the first baseman, it was simply the affirmation of a fact. "Who" WAS, in fact, on first base.
Pontius Pilate, the local governor, a kind of "Chief of Police" for the Roman Empire in Jerusalem, was caught in a similar situation. The powerful members of the Sanhedrin (think your locally elected city council representatives) brought Pilate a prisoner, a man they accused of endangering Roman rule, by proclaiming himself to be some sort of ruler and so outside of Roman law. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of proclaiming himself "King." Politically that was treason — a flagrant flaunting of Caesar's rights and rule. To declare himself "King of the Jews" not only disregarded the ruling power of Rome. It provided potential fodder for the local rebellion and even violent, militant reactions of the Jewish population in Jerusalem and beyond.
But in today's text Jesus puts forth a "Who's on first" kind of question to Pilate...