CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
November 24-26, 2018
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 18:3-37 (EHV)
“IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING!”
1. Skeptical Questioning.
2. Careful Listening.
John 18:33-37 (EHV) “Pilate went back into the Praetorium and summoned Jesus. He asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.” 37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.
Jesus answered, “I am, as you say, a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
So how do you act in the presence of a king? That’s a tough question to answer because I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that none of us have ever had a personal audience with someone like a governor or president or royalty from another nation. I’ve seen on TV how some people reacted in the presence of the King of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. Kids you should google it. You’ll see how grandma may have acted, screaming, swooning, fainting in the presence of that “king.” I don’t get it. Many Americans continue to be a little infatuated with British royalty, another thing I don’t get. If that’s you how do you think you’d react with a personal audience with the Queen or a princess?
In God’s word today we see how a man named Pontius Pilate reacted in the presence of a king, not just any king, but the King of kings, Jesus Christ himself. As we join Pilate he finds himself in a tough spot, actually tougher than he knew. Our Bible reading is a portion of the passion history of Jesus. Jesus was arrested by the Jewish leaders who were jealous of him. They wanted him dead but had a problem. They didn’t have the authority to legally give him the death penalty. The Jewish nation was a conquered nation under the authority of the Roman empire. Pilate is the governor, there to represent the best interests of the Roman emperor. The Jewish leaders have now brought Jesus to Pilate and asked for the death penalty. They accused Jesus of causing a revolt, something sure to get Pilate’s attention. And that leads us to what Pilate thought was his tough spot. On the one side he has an angry group of Jews accusing a man of treason. On the other side he has a demanding emperor who will only be happy with Pilate if he keeps the peace. Compounding the issue is the fact that Pilate is no political dummy. He knows the charges are fake. On top of that his wife told him she had had a dream warning about the innocent man, Jesus, something sure to grab the attention of a superstitious Roman. What to do? Appease the angry crowd and keep the peace by killing an innocent man or stand up for what he knew to be right? That’s the tough spot Pilate thought he was in. But it wasn’t the real one. The real one is that Pilate was in the presence of the King and he didn’t know it. Let’s see how he acts.
“Pilate went back into the Praetorium and summoned Jesus. He asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.” 37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.” How did Pilate react in the presence of the King? With skeptical questioning. Are you the king of the Jews? Am I a Jew? What have you done? You are a king then? You see Pilate was focused on trying to find a way out of his little problem. He judged by what he saw with his eyes and did not find Jesus to be very kingly.
There is a different response that should have happened. Careful listening to the King, Jesus. “Jesus answered, “I am, as you say, a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus says it plainly. He is a king. Not just any king but the King of kings, Christ the King. Not of a puny kingdom of this world that rises and falls, that must use soldiers to fight to maintain peace and keep control of the kingdom. Jesus kingdom is in this world but not of this world. Jesus’ kingdom exists wherever he lives and rules in the hearts of believers. It is here in Greenfield. It is in Vietnam and Thailand. It is in Malawi and Zambia. It’s a kingdom ruled by love where Christ the King’s sacrifice to pay for sin wins hearts that love Him in return and want to serve Him. It is an everlasting kingdom having its roots in Jesus’ establishment and lasting forever with its greatest fulfillment in what we normally call heaven. Citizens of Jesus’ kingdom listen carefully to what He says. Sadly Pilate did not.
But we are not here to talk about Pilate today, are we? We are here to talk about Jesus and our relationship to Him. Listen please to some generalized characteristics of the various generations living in America these days. If you were born between 1927 and 1945 you are known as the Mature/Silents. Many but not all of the Mature Silents have solid core values that reflect Biblical morality and are certain there are absolute truths. They are willing to sacrifice self for others. If you were born between 1946 and 1964 you are classified as a Baby Boomer. Many, but not all, baby boomers are classified as extremely self centered and get their core values on right and wrong based on personal experience. If you were born between 1965 and 1980 like I was you are thrown in with Generation X. Many, but not all Generation Xers are described also as very “me” centered. All core values of right and wrong are relative and all beliefs must be tolerated. If you were born between 1981 and 2000 you belong to Generation Y/Millennials. Many, but not all, have always been told how special they are so they expect everyone else to treat them that way. Many apparently believe everything on the internet is truth so that and social media give them their rights and wrongs. And finally if you were born after 2001 you are Generation Z/Boomlets. Many but not all of this group spend more time looking at a screen than any other generation. They don’t as a group yet have a defined set of core values. You are Lutherans so you are sitting there asking, “What does this mean?” I’m a Lutheran pastor so I will tell you. It means that almost all of the living generations of people in America as a whole would act like Pontius Pilate in the presence of the King. They skeptically question what Jesus says in the Bible. They feel free to substitute their own truth. And that is no way to treat the King.
But what about you? You noticed as I went through every generation I said, “Many, but not all.” You would be foolish to think you can’t be influenced by the society you live in. You would be foolish to underestimate the power of the King. The Holy Spirit lives in you. You don’t have to be lumped with your generation. Pilate was at a disadvantage. He did not know Jesus was the King. He let appearances deceive Him. You and I are different. We know Jesus is the King. We show we belong to Him by careful listening to His voice. By letting Him establish our truth. When the evolutionist attacks the truth of creation and tries to argue for a statistical impossibility of even one positive mutation happening in both a male and female of a species at the same time so they could reproduce you will not sway because Jesus has told us the Creation account is the truth. When the abortionist argues for the right to murder calling the baby just tissue or too life changing you will not be swayed because Jesus has put his protection on children and wants them all to come to Him and so every life is precious. When the Devil uses society’s pressures to try to get you to be open to the idea of different gods and many ways to salvation you will remember how you carefully listened to the voice of Jesus who plainly said no one can come to the Father except through Him.
The Bible tells us that the day is coming when everyone will acknowledge Jesus as the King of kings. Every knee will bow. But we don’t have to wait for that day. Every day we live in the presence of the King. He is with you always just as He promised. Do you know how to act in the presence of the King? With careful listening to His voice and accepting it for what it is. The truth. Amen.