God loves you. May your hearts believe it. And may the full forgiveness of sins which comes from Christ, fill you with peace. Amen.
You’ve probably seen this bumper sticker before.
(Pastor holds up a “HE'S NOT MY PRESIDENT” bumper sticker.)
I think these came out when George W. Bush was first elected president. It was a way some people expressed their doubts about the election process. It was also a way of saying, “Don’t associate me with him. I didn’t vote for him and I don’t believe in his agenda.” For some it even meant, “I don’t accept his authority as president.”
My first reaction to these bumper stickers was, “Well, you may not like him, but in reality, he is the president of the United States.” We all have to obey the powers that be, or face the consequences of our choice not to.
You see, there are two kinds of leaders. Those you listen to because you have to, and those you listen to because you want to.
As the Creator of all things Jesus has authority over all people. But that doesn’t mean all people are part of His Kingdom.
Today is “Christ the King” Sunday. The last Sunday in the traditional church year. Today we’re going to examine what it means to call Jesus OUR King.
Turn to John 18, verse 33.
“33Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:33-37 NKJV).
You might have noticed that there are a lot of authority figures in this little text. There are at least five authority figures mentioned or alluded to here. There’s PONTIUS PILATE, the governor of Palestine. There’s the ROMAN EMPIRE that made Pilate the governor there. There’s the CHIEF PRIESTS that handed Jesus over. There’s the NATION OF ISRAEL, part of which was gathering just outside as this conversation was taking place between Pilate and Jesus.
And then there’s Jesus. He says, “I am a king”. And yet he makes it clear that His authority is different than the authority of these others. He is not an earthly king.
If you look at Jesus’ life this fact is obvious. It’s clear that Jesus never wanted a physical kingdom. Once, the crowds that tried to make Him their king, but Jesus refused.
Turn to John 6, verse 14. This is just after Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people using only five loaves of bread and two fish. It was a miracle.
“14After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:14-15 NIV).
Jesus wanted no part in an earthly kingdom.
This is relevant today. Because Jesus is not an earthly king, His kingdom has not faded to nothing like the kingdoms of men do.
Think again of those other authorities in our text. The chief priests no longer exist. Pilate is dead. The Roman Empire long gone. But the Kingdom of Christ prevails even today because it is NOT an earthly kingdom. Jesus rules today in the hearts of all who trust in Him.
A great military general was once asked if he would trade places with someone else if he could. If he could, would he trade the fame and glory of being a general for some other job. He said yes, that if he could, he would rather be an author whose book had been read by millions, than be a general whose strategy had conquered millions. This general said that a book can move hearts and minds, military strategy can only move bodies.
This is what makes Jesus’ kingdom so powerful. It’s not about conquering peoples and lands. It all about sharing a message of truth. Jesus told Pilate,
“…For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth…” (John 18:37).
Jesus spoke this message of truth to the high-born and to the lowest classes of the common people. He preached to the rich and to the poor, to the Jews and to non-Jews. His message was for all people because it was about sin and salvation.
The core of Jesus’ message was this: We are all sinners. Our sin separates us from God, and unless our sin is removed, upon our death we will be separated from God forever.
But God loves sinners and has provided a way for their sin to be removed. The eternal Son of God was born into the human race so that He could suffer for all our sins on the cross of Calvary. And through faith in this truth, the forgiveness of sins is received and we are restored to God’s side.
Many leaders use their authority to serve themselves. But Jesus served the people. By His perfect life and innocent death He earned salvation for sinners. And through His message He gives salvation to all who believe.
In Mark 10, verse 45, Jesus said it like this:
“the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NIV).
Jesus offered this truth to Pilate. Jesus told him,
“…Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice…” (John 18:37 NIV).
All of Pilate’s questions were designed to see if Jesus was a threat to Roman authority or not. When they were through, Pilate was sure that Jesus was not.
But what Pilate didn’t realize was that Jesus was marching forward in conquest even as the spoke. He was on the way to the cross at that very moment. On the way to suffer to the sins of the world.
And along the way , Jesus was reaching out to Pontius, the man. Inviting him to know the truth of God’s salvation.
“…Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice…” (John 18:37 NIV).
This was an invitation! But Pilate wasn’t interested. We all know Pilate’s response. He said, “What is truth?” and went back to talk to the mob outside.
But many others have heard Jesus’ invitation and have come to know and believe the truth He offers. That God loves us. That He forgives us through Jesus. Through faith in this truth, we have become subjects in the Kingdom of Truth.
Turn to Luke 17, verse 20. Jesus was asked when the kingdom of God would arrive. He said…
“…The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21 NIV).
Jesus’ Kingdom is a Kingdom of Faith.
Now this is a lofty idea. Some would mock this idea altogether. What good is a “Kingdom of Faith”? What good is faith at all?
Faith by itself has no value. Faith is simply trust, and trust is only as good as the thing that is trusted.
And THAT is why faith in JESUS is so valuable. After Jesus was done talking with Pilate, He was beaten, scourged and crucified. Then He died and was laid in a tomb. But that wasn’t the end. Death was the end for every other ruler who had ever walked the face of the earth, but NOT for Jesus.
On Easter Morning He rose from the dead. He appeared to hundreds of people during the next 40 days to prove it. To show that He had conquered sin and death and the Devil.
Our FAITH is in a King who was born two thousand years ago, but who still lives on today.
Our FAITH is in a King who is actively working in our lives right now, and whose reign will not remain invisible and inside forever.
Our FAITH is in a King who promises His subjects an eternal, joyful existence lived with God in Heaven.
This is the truth we have come to know and believe. Christ is OUR King.
So let’s not live like we’re ordinary citizens of a temporary nation. We are the redeemed children of God. Let’s not live like our King is far away, when He is only a prayer away and in reality He never leaves us.
Let’s live the life He marked out for us. A life of repentance and freedom from sin. A life of being ambassadors for the King, pointing out the way of salvation as we walk that way ourselves. Let’s display this message to the world.
(Pastor Holds up another bumper sticker. This one says, “HE IS MY KING”)
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.