November 22, 2015: Christ the King Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know that You are the King of all creation. We know that You are completely in charge of life, death, and everything that comes in between. So, amid a world filled with evil, we will not fear, because You are our King of lovingkindness. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE KING OF ALL!

TEXT: John 18: 33-37

Dearly Beloved By Christ Our King:

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Shakespeare wrote that line into his play: “Henry IV” way back in 1597. And it rings as true today as it always has. Although I don’t see any kings in attendance today, those famous words still apply to all of us here right now. That’s because they refer to responsibility and the assuming of responsibility. If you’re a manager or an employer, you’re responsible for your workers. If you’re a parent, the same applies towards your children. I’m responsible to God and all of you for what goes on here at Pinewood.

With leadership and responsibility comes worry, frustration, second-guessing, regret, and some sleepless nights. No one, not even kings, can control what happens to their subjects or those whose lives are in their hands. Everyone looks to someone for strength during times of upheaval. And the king, the person in charge, is expected to deliver. It’s a heavy burden to bear. So, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

I

I suppose the ultimate in burden-bearing is Jesus Christ. “Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows” as Isaiah wrote. If you doubt this, think back to the night before His death, Maundy Thursday in the Garden of Gethsemane. Recall Him praying for strength. Recall Him sweating out that blood-soaked sweat as He contemplated what awaited Him the next day. He knew the future. He was and is the Son of God. Yet He was also true man, fully human, and thus felt all our pain and all of our deaths. The disciples slept through part of that night, but not Jesus. He was uneasy. Our lives and our eternal future rested in His hands and He knew it.

Then the whirl-wind of events caught Him up and less than 9 hours later He found Himself before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, being tried for treason. What was the charge?—He claimed to be a king! This was something the Roman overlordship could not countenance. And so Pilate asks Jesus that fateful question: “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Next comes a back-and-forth between these two men, a dialogue that is very instructive. “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, ‘or did others talk to you about me?’ “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. ‘Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” We know that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death. We know that He had never, ever, sinned. He was the perfect, spotless Son of God. We also know that He willingly assumed the heavy mantle of all human sin, all of our sins, to wear and carry to a cross. Yes, our King came to die for us and to save us from the ravages of eternal death. Is this a crime? Hateful sinners who value their pride more than anything else said: “Yes!”

II

Now Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘ You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Out of the mouths of heretics sometimes comes the truth! The only thing in this whole dialogue that Pilate got right was that statement: “You are a king, then!” And what a King Jesus was! He was born with an immaculate conception. He was shielded by Godly angels during His first years. He was brought up in poverty and humbleness. When He became a man, He healed the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the hurting, stood beside the dying, raised some of those dead back to life, cast away demons, and carefully taught everyone throughout His ministry that God humbles the proud but gives grace to the humble. Yes, our King earned allegiance from His subjects. He earned it the hard way. He earned it with His death for them on a cross!

A few days before my birthday, I usually recall an event that happened on Oct. 25th 1415. It is the battle between the English army and the French knights at Agincourt in France. Some of my ancient relatives probably fought on the English side that day. The King of England at that time was Henry V. And unlike the French King who safely stood behind the lines and sent others to fight for him, Henry, or “Hal” as he was affectionately known as, fought in the front lines with his soldiers. He risked everything for them. He never asked more of them than he was willing to give of himself. They loved him for it. And they won even though outnumbered probably 4 or 5 to one.

Our King, Jesus Christ, never asks of us more than He was willing to give for us. He manned the front line of sin and even died on the cross to save us. And then, unlike any earthly ruler, He took back His life and arose from the dead in order to Ascend into glory and prepare a place for us. Moreover, from glory, right now, our King directs His unseen armies to thwart evil and reap in us a harvest of righteousness. This is His eternal truth that sets enslaved masses free!

As Christians we love peace. We especially love peace with God—which Jesus has won for us on that 1st Good Friday. As human beings each of us comes from a long line of warriors, too. All of us have ancestors who fought long and hard just to survive and because of their commitment we’re here today holding within us some of their genes. All of those warrior forebears were under a king. All of them trusted in their leader. Some were wise to do so, others were foolish.—So it always is with earthly kings. But now, now, each of you knows you have a heavenly King Who will never let you down. We have a heavenly King who is Godly truth in human form. He has set us free from all evil by wiping away the hellish hoards from the battlefield of our souls. So, continue to do exactly what Jesus says: “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me, alone.” Amen