Why Our King Matters
(Christ the King Sunday)
November 25, 2018*
By Pastor John Partridge
2 Samuel 23:1-7 John 18:33-37 Revelation 1:4-8
There is a common question that all of us use, but it annoys us when our children ask it of us. So annoying is this question,that although we often think it in our heads, we will not speak it out loud to anyone but our closest friends. We would almost never say it to our employers, or supervisors, or to anyone in a position of authority unless we were deliberately being combative or defiant. Nonetheless, the question is valid. In fact, it is good practice to ask it of ourselves, and a good corporate board, church committee, or political body should ask this of itself on a regular basis.
What question is so important?
The question is… “So, what?”
As a church, or as a corporation, a school, or a government, or even as a public speaker, whenever we make a decision, or write a speech, we need to answer the question, “So what?” Is any of this important? Is any of this relevant? What do we expect to happen afterward because we’ve made this decision? What do we expect, or even hope, that people will do because of what we are deciding to do? The answer to the “so what” question will almost always guide us to making better decisions and to refining the details of the decisions that we make. Our church just organized the preparation and delivery of over 1,000 Thanksgiving dinners. But, so what? Why did we do it? What did we expect to happen because we did it? If we hoped that the recipients of those dinners would behave in some way, or take some particular action because we prepared those meals, did we make that clear? Did we explain why we did it? Did we clearly express an offer of some kind? If we hoped that they might come to church, did we invite them? (Yes, we did).
Answering the “so what” question helps us avoid doing work for the sake of doing work and just appearing to be busy. Answering that question both before, and after, a planned event or decision, helps to remind us to “connect the dots” and to develop consistent strategies to accomplish our goals.
And all of that brings us to today, as we celebrate “Christ the King” Sunday. But so,what? Why do we set this day aside in the church calendar? What difference does it make that Jesus is the King? It makes a lot of difference. And, as we read through our scriptures, we discover why. We begin in 2 Samuel 23:1-7 where we hear the last words of King David.
23:1 These are the last words of David:
“The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
the hero of Israel’s songs:
2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.’
5 “If my house were not right with God,
surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire.
6 But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
which are not gathered with the hand.
7 Whoever touches thorns
uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
they are burned up where they lie.”
Because he was the king, and because God had carefully and specifically chosen him from among his people, it was with David that God had made an enduring, eternal, and everlasting promise. God’s promise to David was that a member of his family, one of David’s direct descendants,would, forever, rule over Israel. Righteousness was to be set upon the throne of God, and evil was to be cast aside and burned in the fire. For that reason, we know that whomever will be the king, must be from the lineage of David, and from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we know that Jesus was indeed a descendant from that line. And in John 18:33-37, Jesus himself answers the question of kingship as he is questioned by Pilate.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 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.”
37 “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.”
It seems obvious, but if you want to know if Jesus really is a king, maybe the best thing to do is simply to ask him. Pilate does exactly that and Jesus says that yes, he is a king, but that his kingdom is not an earthly one. Jesus says that the very reason that he was born, the reason that he came into our world, was to testify about,to tell the world, the truth. And more than that, Jesus says, everyone who is on the side of truth, let me repeat that, everyone who is on the side of truth, will listen to him.
After all of that this is what we have: 1) God promised David that one of his descendants would sit on the throne and rule over Israel forever. 2) Jesus has the lineage, the pedigree, the family tree, or the genealogy to be that person and to carry that title. 3) When asked by Pilate, Jesus claims that kingship, and declares that his mission, the entire reason for his presence on earth, is to tell the truth.
But after all of that, we are still left with the question: So, What?
What difference does it make that Jesus is the King?
And in Revelation 1:4-8, John answers that exact question in several different ways.
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
John tells us that Jesus is the faithful witness, the one who was sent to testify tothe truth. He says that Jesus is the first person to rise from the dead, and that Jesus is the ruler of all the kings of the earth. That’s a big deal. Throughout time there have been mayors, burgermeisters, governors, presidents, princes, barons, counts, dukes, khans, prime ministers, caesars, emperors, and kings. But Jesus rises above all of them, and rules overall of them because not only is Jesus a king, Jesus is the king, the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.
It is because Jesus is the king that he was able to free us from sin and death,and as king Jesus has transformed us into a kingdom, a people, together, who follow, and who do the will of God. But not only has he brought us into his family and into his kingdom, Jesus has made each and every one of us to be priests who serve God. Everyone who loves the truth, everyone who is on the side of truth, must listen to him. And, because Jesus is the King of Truth, and because Jesus was sent to testify to the truth, then we know that as his priests, we also must also testify to the truth.
It is the “So What” that tells us who we are and gives us purpose and meaning.
In this season of Thanksgiving, we are thankful for who Jesus in. Because Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, because he was sent by God to testify to the truth, and because he has raised us up and appointed us as a kingdom and as priests, we know what we must do. We are not called to be merely worshipers of God. We are called to be a kingdom of priests for a risen Jesus. We are called to be go out into the world, into its highways and byways and dark alleyways, to and testify to the truth and tell the world about Jesus.
Because of the “So what” we discover that we are not spectators, but instead we are witnesses who have been called to testify to the truth.
Jesus is the King. Jesus is our king. And our king has appointed us as priests, so that we will testify to the truth and save the world.
Let’s get out there and get busy saving the world.
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