Monday, November 26, 2012

Sermon -- End Times 4, Christ the King (November 25, 2012)

JOHN 18:33-37
In the name + of Jesus.

     When Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33)  Pilate had a vested interest in this question.  If Jesus were a king, he could have been conspiring to lead a revolution, trying to overthrow the Romans and causing a good amount of bloodshed in Jerusalem.  Jesus assured Pilate that he did not have to fear about his governorship.  “My kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36), Jesus confessed. 

     But others had said Jesus was a king.  Pilate’s interrogation revealed that.  Pilate said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”  Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew?  Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me.” (John 18:33-35)  The Jews had charged that Jesus claimed to be a king.  That’s because Jesus had confessed that he is the Messiah.  The Messiah would be the King of the Jews.  He would even reign over the world.  Now, many Jews did not believe in him, but that is what it meant when Jesus confessed he is the Christ, the Son of God.

     A short time later when Jesus hung from the cross, people taunted Jesus again with his confession.  The chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “…He is the King of Israel….” (Matthew 27:41-42)  Their mockery only makes sense if they repeated the claims of Jesus himself.  And in fact, Jesus had testified before Pontius Pilate that he is a king and reigns over a kingdom.  But Jesus does not reign with armies or artillery.  His kingdom is not marked by borders.  In fact, his kingdom is not even visible.  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.  But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36) 

     It is a strange kingdom, indeed, which cannot be seen or visited or marked on a map.  While his kingdom is invisible, Jesus does tell you where you will find it.  Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.  For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)  Jesus Christ is our divine king, and our divine king reveals divine truth.  Jesus reigns through his holy word.  His servants do not fight; they preach.  Everyone who believes Jesus’ words dwells within his kingdom, as Jesus said, Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)  Our divine king reveals divine truth, and his people listen to it.

     There is another kingdom.  Satan is the prince of this world, and he rules over all people by his lies and deception.  He convinces people that they are good enough, that they should do whatever it takes to make themselves happy, that they are answerable to no one, and that they can determine for themselves what is good and evil.  You know his lies, because he tempts you with them, too.  And his lies are seductive because they appeal to your sinful nature.  You also want to do whatever you please, and you also want to believe that you do not have to answer to anyone for it, not even God.  You pit your selfishness against the selfishness of others, which leads to jealousy, bitterness, gossip, dissensions, and even hatred.  You even believe the lie that all of this is someone else’s fault.  Do not be deceived.  The devil wants to claim you for his kingdom.  Though he may promise pleasure for a while, the cost is eternal.  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and the torment and shame and guilt of hell is unending and immeasurable.

     But our divine King reveals divine truth to set you free and to keep you free from Satan’s kingdom.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)  Jesus overcame the devil and established his kingdom by fulfilling all of God’s truth.  The devil’s claim on all mankind came when he got man to believe his lies and defy God’s words.  Therefore, Jesus came to rectify this.  Man once again came to fulfill God’s demands and be holy.  Jesus obeyed the truth and fulfilled all of God’s commands.  Jesus delivered you out of the devil’s kingdom and brought you into the kingdom of righteousness when covered you in his righteousness at your baptism.  The blood of Jesus purifies you of all sin.  Our divine King reveals divine truth – you have been snatched from the devil and are now claimed by Jesus.

     God also declares that nothing sinful can enter his holy presence.  Rather than tell you that your sins are not that big of a deal, Jesus upholds God’s truth.  Your sins have separated you from your God.  You had been cut off from mercy, blessing, peace, and heaven.  Jesus does not sugar coat the severity of sin and the consequences of sin.  God’s truth stands: The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)  Therefore, Jesus suffered and died for you.  In this way, Jesus fulfills God’s truth.  All your guilt has been taken away.   All your punishment has been consumed.  The wrath of God is done.  Jesus Christ rose from the dead to guarantee it and to proclaim it.  Our divine King reveals this divine truth: Your sins are removed from you.  Death is overcome for you.  God is pleased with you.  Heaven is yours. 

     Do not be deceived by the devil and his lies.  Right now, it appears that the devil rules.  Sin is rampant.  Wickedness abounds.  Death awaits all people.  And it seems like Jesus is just letting everyone do what they want without any real consequences.  That’s how it seems, but it is not the truth.  The King will appear, and the Judgment will come.  Answers must be given.  But you have a Savior who gives you your answer.  Rejoice in his saving truth.  He delivers you from death to life and from hell to heaven.

     There is a vast difference between those who are in the kingdom of God and those who are not.  Remember: Jesus lives and reigns among us by his holy word, not by miraculous acts or displays of glory.  His word has been planted in you.  Therefore, you receive his blessings.  Those who are outside the kingdom may seem to prosper.  Do not envy them.  They are marked for death and damnation.  They live in shame.  They are consumed by guilt.  They are plagued with doubts about the future and certainly about eternity.  Death scares them to death.  Why?  Because Satan lies to them.  They may or may not recognize that they have no truth to cling to.  But knowing that they have no answers is no comfort.  That just breeds more angst.

     Jesus said, Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)  Our divine king reveals divine truth.  He gives you all the answers you long for, and his word soothes your hearts.  You have been brought into the kingdom of God, and you have received all its benefits.  You have forgiveness for all your sins, blessing in place of your shame, consolation in your sorrows, peace which calms you in your stress, life in the midst of death, and eternal joys which will never cease. 

     The King who saved you from your sins is also the King who delivers you from death.  The King who endured your hell is the King who decrees that you have a place waiting for you in heaven.  He is the King who supplies all your needs and who conquers your enemies.  As you strive to be loyal subjects of your king and wonder if you have been good enough for him, Jesus speaks tenderly to you.  He reminds you of his royal decree: You are forgiven.  You are saints.  You are heirs of an eternal kingdom.  This is the divine truth he has revealed to you. 

     Jesus Christ is your divine King.  He lives and reigns for you.  And soon, you shall live and reign with him – for the victory over sin, death, and hell are yours.  The joys of the kingdom are yours.  You have God’s word on it.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. 

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