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Christ the King

Sermon - 11/26/06
Rev. James Osborne
First Christian Church, Eugene, Oregon

John 19:19-22

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” 22Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’

KINGS. ON THIS CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY, WHAT DO WE THINK OF WHEN WE HEAR THE WORD KING?

SOME OF US MAY THINK OF KING ASSOCIATED WITH FOOD, LIKE BURGER KING, KING CRAB, or KING SALMON:

     

SOME OF US MAY THINK OF KING ASSOCIATED WITH THE LION KING, KING SNAKE, or KING VULTURE:

     

 

OR SOME OF US MAY THINK OF KING IN TERMS OF PEOPLE -- KING TUT, or  KING KAMEHAMEHA:

         

 

 

MY FAVORITE SECULAR KING IS KING ARTHUR, WHO OBTAINED THE THRONE WHEN HE PULLED THE SWORD, EXCALIBUR FROM A STONE AND RULED A PERFECTLY ENCHANTING KINGDOM WITH GUINIVERE CALLED CAMELOT.




 

UNFORTUNATELY, THE PERFECT KINGDOM WAS SHATTERED WHEN WELL MEANING KING ARTHUR PLANNED TO GATHER THE BRAVEST AND FAIREST KNIGHTS TO MEET AROUND THE "ROUND TABLE," AND TO DISPENSE JUSTICE THROUGHOUT CAMELOT, ONLY TO BE TOPPLED BY HIS FAVORITE KNIGHT LANCELOT HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH QUEEN GUINEVERE.

JESUS IS A KING UNLIKE HUMAN KINGS. IT ALSO THE SINGLE MOST SERIOUS ACCUSATION THE JEWISH LEADERS BROUGHT AGAINST JESUS BEFORE PILATE, A TITLE THAT JESUS DID NOTHING TO DISCOURAGE.

WHEN JESUS ENTERED JERUSALEM RIDING A DONKEY, THE PHARISEES (LK 19:39, JN 12:18-19), THE CHIEF PRIEST AND TEACHERS OF THE LAW (MATT. 21:15) WERE ENRAGED BY THE EMOTIONAL DISCIPLES, THE MASSIVE CROWD, AND THE SONG THE TWO GROUPS WERE SINGING: "HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID!  BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST! (MATT. 8-9).

JESUS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS, THE KING OF ISRAEL (MATT. 27:42, JN. 1:49, JN. 12:12,13), THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD (LUKE 19:38). RIGHTLY, CONTEMPTUOUSLY, OR PROPHETICALLY, JESUS WAS CALLED THE KING OF THE JEWS THIRTEEN TIMES, THE KING OF ISRAEL THREE TIMES AND ONCE THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.

SO, WHAT KIND OF KING IS JESUS? WHY WAS HE SUCH AN UNWILLING KING ON EARTH, BEFORE HIS DISCIPLES AND ENEMIES? WHEN WILL HE REIGN AND UNQUESTIONABLY AND HOW WILL HE RULE?

I. JESUS AS SERVANT KING

JESUS WAS AN UNUSUAL KING. HE WAS HE SERVANT KING WHO MISSION ON EARTH WAS THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, THE SALVATION OF HUMANKIND AND RECONCILIATION WITH GOD.  BOTH MATTHEW AND MARK RECORDED JESUS' IDENTICAL MESSAGE:

"THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE, AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY (MK 10:44-45, MATT. 20:28).

IN MOST ANCIENT CULTURE, KINGS ASSERTED FOR THEMSELVES A DIVINE MANDATE. THEY WERE ADORNED BY COMMONERS, ACCOUNTABLE TO NO ONE, AND AFFORDED ROYAL TREATMENT. EVEN THEN, KINGSHIP WAS NEVER PERMANENT. KINGS USUALLY REIGN FOR A GENERATION, A DECADE, OR DYNASTY.

BIBLICAL KINGSHIP, ON THE OTHER HAND WAS MORTAL. THE POWER WAS USUALLY CONFERRED ON BY PROPHETS, OR INHERITED FROM PARENTS OR SNARED BY GENERALS.

TODAY, MONARCHY HAS GIVEN WAY TO COMMUNISM, SOCIALISM, AND DEMOCRACY. MOST KINGS WERE TOPPLED, JAILED, AND VILIFIED IN DOMESTIC REVOLUTIONS.

WHILE FEW KINGS STILL HOLD ABSOLUTE POWER, ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA THERE ARE NINE (9) SUCH MONARCHIES IN OUR PRESENT WORLD:

BHUTAN, BRUNEI, OMAN, QATAR, SWAZILAND, SAUDI ARABIA, TONGA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, and VATICAN CITY.

ROYALTY TODAY IS MOSTLY PERFUNCTORY. THE ROYALS CONCERN THEMSELVES WITH NATIONAL DUTIES, SOCIAL ACTIVITIES AND DIPLOMATIC RECEPTIONS. THOUGH THEY MEET WITH FOREIGN KINGS, PRIME MINISTER AND AMBASSADORS, THEY OFTEN STAY OUT OF THE POLITICAL LIMELIGHT, CONTENT TO RECEIVE A SIZEABLE BUDGET FROM THE STATE, CAREFUL TO SAY LITTLE ON THE AFFAIRS OF THE STATE.

THE MOST FAMOUS ROYAL FAMILY TODAY IS THE ENGLISH MONARCHY, LED BY THE QUEEN. HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, THOSE HERE TODAY MAY HAVE WATCHED THE ROYAL WEDDING OF PRINCESS DIANA TO PRINCE CHARLES IN 1981.

WITHIN FIVE YEARS THE TABLOIDS WERE REPORTING TROUBLE: THE ROYAL DIVORCES OF CHARLES AND ANDREW. LADY DIANA'S DEATH TOOK ITS TOLL ON THE CROWN AND A LOT OF SHINE OFF OF IT.

PILATE'S DECLARATION DID NOT MAKE JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. THE WISE MEN WHO SOUGHT THE KING OF THE JEWS AT HIS BIRTH HAD ALREADY PROCLAIMED HIM KING OF THE JEWS. JESUS IS THE KING OF JEWS NOT THE KING OF ISRAEL OR JUDAH, HE WAS BORN THE KING OF THE JEWS, NOT THE SERVANT TO THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS, HE WAS NOT BORN INTO ROYALTY, BUT FOR ROYALTY AND OF ROYALTY.

JESUS ALLOWED THE SIGN OF THE CROSS IN THE END AT HIS DEATH FOR A REASON: THE PEOPLE COULD NOT MAKE HIM THEIR KIND OF KING ANYMORE.

THE KING OF THE JEWS WAS A SERVANT KING. HE DID NOT LIVE IN A PALACE IN JERUSALEM. HE HAD CHOSEN A HUMBLE HOME IN NAZARETH, A SMALL VILLAGE AT THAT TIME.

THERE ARE ARCHEOLOGISTS, STEPHEN PFANN AND ROSS JOSEPH VOSS WHO BASED ON THEIR EXCAVATIONS REVEAL THAT THE NAZARETH OF JESUS' DAY WAS 110 YARDS BY 400 YARDS AND CONTAINED SOME 80 TO 100 HOMES. (Resurrecting Nazareth? Biblical Archaeology Review
May/June 1999).

 

II. CHRIST BROUGHT A HEAVENLY KINGDOM

KING SOLOMON ONCE TOLD A SKILLED CRAFTSMAN: "I DESIRE A RING WITH AN INSCRIPTION ON THE INSIDE TO BE MADE FOR ME". THE CRAFTSMAN REPLIED, "OF COURSE. IT SHALL BE DONE."  BUT TELL ME, WHAT IS THE INSCRIPTION YOU DESIRE? THE WISE KING SAID, "AH! THAT IS FOR YOU TO DECIDE. I WANT YOU TO INSCRIBE WORDS THAT WILL MAKE ME HAPPY WHEN I AM SAD, THE SAME WORDS MUST ALSO MAKE SAD WHEN I AM HAPPY".

THE KING TURNED AND WALKED AWAY, LEAVING THE PERPLEXED CRAFTSMAN TO PONDER OVER THE STRANGE ASSIGNMENT. THREE DAYS LATER, THE CRAFTSMAN APPEARED BEFORE THE KING, AND HANDED OVER TO HIM A SIMPLE, SILVER BAND.  "THIS IS THE RING YOU ORDERED, HE SAID.

THE KING ASKED THE CRAFTSMAN, "DOES IT HAVE THE WORDS THAT WILL MAKE ME HAPPY WHEN I AM SAD? WILL THE SAME WORDS MAKE ME SAD WHEN I AM HAPPY??"

THE CRAFTSMAN HANDED THE KING HIS RING, AND SAID, "SEE FOR YOURSELF." KING SOLOMON INSPECTED THE RING, NODDED APPROVINGLY AT THE FOUR WORDS INSCRIBED ON IT: "THIS TOO SHALL PASS." (Stella Wolf, Senior Times).

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS A HEAVENLY KINGDOM.  GOD RAISES THE BAR, CARRIES A BIG STICK AND INVENTS THE RULES OF THE KINGDOM. ACCESS IS DENIED TO THE GODLESS RICH MAN (MATT. 12:31), THE RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITE (MATT. 23). A NEW LIFE (JN 3:3), A DRASTIC CHANGE (MK. 10:14), OR A FRUITFUL LIFE (MATT. 21:43), IS REQUIRED.

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, JESUS CHIDED HIS DISCIPLES FOR THEIR RESISTANCE, VIOLENCE AND OUTRAGE. "PUT YOUR SWORD BACK IN ITS PLACE." JESUS SAID TO THEM, "FOR ALL WHO DRAW THE SWORD WILL DIE BY THE SWORD. DO YOU THINK I CANNOT CALL ON MY FATHER AND HE WILL AT ONCE PUT AT MY DISPOSAL MORE THAN TWELVE LEGIONS OF ANGELS? (MATT. 26:52-53)

AND AGAIN BEFORE PILATE, JESUS SAID, "MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. IF IT WERE SO, MY SERVANTS WOULD FIGHT TO PREVENT MY ARREST BY THE JEWS. BUT NOW MY KINGDOM IS IN ANOTHER PLACE." (JN 18:36)

OUR EARTHLY HOLDINGS ARE NOW ACTUALLY FOOL'S GOOD IN THE TRUE SENSE OF THE WORD-PENNY STOCKS, JUNK BONDS, AND FUNNY MONEY.
THEY FLUCTUATE, TUMBLE AND CRASH. THE KINGDOM, HOWEVER, IS A LONG TERM INVESTMENT, A FIXED RETURN, AND A FATHER'S GIFT.

III. CHRIST WILL BE BACK AS GLORIOUS KING

ANDREW DAUGHTERS ASKED IN HIS WONDERFUL PROSE, WHAT KIND OF KINDGOM HAS JESUS?

NO CASTLE OR PALACE HAS HE. NO CONGRESS OR PARLIAMENT SITTING, DECIDING WHAT LAWS THERE WILL BE. PERHAPS HE HAS NEED OF TWO LAWS: LOVE GOD AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS WELL. TO OBEY HIM IS ALL THAT IS NEEDED, AS ALL THE SAINTLY CAN TELL.

HE IS NEITHER ARMY OR NAVY, NO AIR FORCE TO GUARD THE FRONTIERS TO KEEP OUT THE STRANGERS UNWANTED AND MAINTAIN THE ENEMIES FEARS. IMMIGRATION HE SEEMS TO ENCOURAGE, OF SOME QUITE DISPUTABLE, LIKE FISHERMEN, PUBLICANS, SINNERS. TO SUCH HE IS HOSPITABLE.

IT SEEMS THERE'S NO REVENUE SERVICE OR TAXES WE MUST CALCULATE. HE SURELY CANNOT RUN A KINGDOM ON WHAT WE PUT INTO THE PLATE!
NO 1040 FORM COMES IN APRIL TO FILL OUT BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH, WITH PENALTIES CHARGED FOR NON PAYMENT, BEGINNING ON THE SIXTEENTH. NO CURRENCY'S HERE WITH HIS PICTURE, NO COINAGE OF KINGSHIP, NO ROBES MADE OF VELVET AND FUR, NO CROWN MADE OF GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, TO BEFIT OUR SUPREME ARBITER. JESUS SAID THAT HIS KINGDOM WAS REALLY NOT WHAT PILATE HAD THOUGHT IT HAD BEEN. IT IS NOT THE THING WE HAVE KNOWN.  IT WAS NOT OF THIS WORLD.

AND ITS GLORY WAS NOT OF THE KIND TO BE SEEN. FOR THOSE OF US HERE IN HIS KINGDOM, THERE IS ONE OTHER THING WE HAVE KNOW: OF KINGDOMS AROUND IN HIS LIFETIME, IT'S THE ONLY ONE LEFT WITH A THRONE. (Andrew Daughters, The Kingdom of Jesus, CSS Publishing)

JESUS WILL ONE DAY RETURN, AND REVEAL HIMSELF TO THE NATIONS, AND REIGN IN ALL HIS GLORY. EVERYONE WILL RECOGNIZE THAT HE IS THE KING ETERNAL, (1 Tim. 1:17), KING OF AGES (Rev. 15:3), GREAT KING (Psalm 48:2), KING FOREVER (Psalm 29:10) and ever (Psalm 10:16). Great King over all the earth (Psa. 44:7, Zech. 14:9), all gods (Psa 95:3), and all nations
(Jer. 10:17)

AS WE CELEBRATE CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY, LET US HEAR PROSE FROM AN UNLIKELY PERSON WHO I WILL REVEAL IN A MOMENT.

MEANING NO DISRESPECT TO THE RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS OF OTHERS, I STILL CAN'T HELP WONDERING HOW WE CAN EXPLAIN AWAY WHAT IS TO ME THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL AND WHICH IS RECORDED IN HISTORY.

NO ONE DENIES THERE WAS A SUCH A MAN, THAT HE LIVED AND THAT HE WAS PUT TO DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION. WHERE… IS THE MIRACLE I SPOKE OF?

WELL, CONSIDER THIS AND LET YOUR IMAGINATION TRANSLATE THE STORY INTO OUR TIME-POSSIBLY IN YOUR HOME TOWN.

A YOUNG MAN WHOSE FATHER WAS A CARPENTER GROWS UP WORKING IN HIS FATHER'S SHOP.  ONE DAY HE PUTS DOWN HIS TOOLS AND WALKS OUT OF HIS FATHER'S SHOP.

HE STARTS PREACHING ON STREET CORNERS AND IN THE NEARBY COUNTRYSIDE, WALKING FROM PLACE TO PLACE, PREACHING ALL THE WHILE, EVEN THOUGH HE IS NOT AN ORDAINED MINISTER.
HE DOES THIS FOR THREE YEARS.

THEN HE IS ARRESTED, TRIED AND CONVICTED. THERE IS NO COURT OF APPEAL, SO HE IS EXECUTED AT AGE 33 ALONG WITH TWO COMMON THIEVES. THOSE IN CHARGE OF THE EXECUTION ROLL DICE TO SEE WHO GETS HIS CLOTHING-THE ONLY POSSESSIONS HE HAS.

HIS FAMILY CANNOT AFFORD A BURIAL PLACE FOR HIM SO HE IS INTERRED IN A BORROWED TOMB.

END OF STORY? NO, THIS UNEDUCATED, PROPERTY-LESS YOUNG MAN WHO LEFT NO WRITTEN WORD HAS, FOR 2,000 YEARS, HAD A
GREATER EFFECT ON THE WORLD THAN ALL THE RULERS, KINGS, EMPERORS; ALL THE CONQUERORS, GENERALS AND ADMIRALS, ALL THE SCHOLARS, SCIENTISTS, AND PHILOSOPHERS WHO HAVE EVER LIVED-ALL OF THEM PUT TOGETHER.

HOW DO WE EXPLAIN THAT? UNLESS HE REALLY WAS WHO HE SAID HE WAS.
                   -- RONALD REAGAN

ON THIS CHRIST, THE KING SUNDAY LET US REMEMBER THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS AS A SERVANT KING. THAT JESUS BROUGHT US A HEAVENLY KINGDOM ONE THAT IS ETERNAL AND THAT WE HAVE A PROMISE THAT HE WILL COME AGAIN.

LET US GIVE THANKS TO GOD ON THIS CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY!

 


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