Online Worship for Christ the King, Sunday November 22, 2020
Sermon for Christ the King – 11/23/08 -- Sunday November 22, 2020
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and King Jesus Christ. Amen.
John 18:33-38 (NKJV)
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus 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.” 37 Pilate 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.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
In the Name of Our King,
Jesus Christ the Savior,
Dear Fellow Citizens of His Kingdom –
Let’s face it, from a human perspective He didn’t look like a man having any real authority. Kings didn’t usually appear swollen and bloodied, but He had been beaten, struck in the face (Matthew 26:56) and spat upon. Kings didn’t usually take kindly to being bound, but He was bound and kept awake through the night.
Pontius Pilate must have wondered what was so urgent that the Jewish Leaders had to bring this man to him early in the morning. The Roman Governor was an experienced judge, familiar with human nature…but when the Jews offered the charges the claimed to have ‘found’ and ‘substantiated’ against this sorely beaten man, they didn’t seem to fit.
The Jewish Leaders didn’t hide their hatred of Rome and its governor, so it must have seemed a bit odd that they would suddenly develop a national pride and turn over one of their own for planning insurrection. They claimed that this Jesus had perverted the Jewish Nation.
They claimed He had forbidden the payment of taxes. They said He claimed He was Christ, a King.
The first two charges…probably didn’t surprise Pilate. There were other men who led attempts to rebel against Roman rule, men like Barabbas. The Jews (just about to a man) would like nothing better than to stop paying taxes – they even hated their own people who did the collecting! One wonders if Pontius Pilate uttered a snort of laughter upon hearing that Jesus claimed to be a King.
This man…was a King? He didn’t look like a King to Pontius Pilate…and we can understand why.
Why is this Jesus our King? Why do we call Him ‘Lord’ and bow to His Word and rule?
On this last Sunday of the church year we consider Christ the King and His Kingdom. May God the Holy Spirit cause us again to rejoice in Him, and to proudly call Him our King. Amen.
After the Roman Governor received the charges brought against Jesus of Nazareth, He took possession of the prisoner and proceeded into the Praetorium. It was his job, after all, to investigate their charges and render a verdict. Pontius Pilate didn’t bother to ask if Jesus was leading his nation astray or suggesting that they didn’t pay their taxes.
The first question Pilate asked Jesus (recorded in all four Gospels) was:
“Are You the King of the Jews?”
It was an incredulous question, ringed with doubt. Although you can’t tell it from the English translation, the pronoun ‘you’ is emphasized. “YOU are the King of the Jews?” Pilate’s eyes didn’t tell him that Jesus was a King.
This was also a pregnant question. How so, you ask? Well, put yourself in the sandals of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. He was charged with keeping the peace and quelling rebellion.
When he heard the title ‘King’ he could only conceive of a political king, a man of human authority, a ruler of men and nations. There was no other kind of ‘King.’ He didn’t dabble in philosophy, he didn’t conceive of a ‘spiritual king’ or ‘kingdom.’
When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews it was because he wanted to know if He was a threat to Rome. In asking, “Are you the King of the Jews” Pontius Pilate wasn’t expressing his knowledge of the Jewish Messiah! He was asking Jesus, “Are you the leader of the Jews to lead them against Rome?” The Romans would be anxious to cut down any man who might lead a rebellion against them!
It mattered how Jesus answered the question!
If Jesus left the impression that He was the earthly ruler of the Jews, a secular King, then their charges would appear true. The Jewish Leaders wanted Jesus to look like a threat to Rome, to give grounds for his execution.
If Jesus said he was not a King…then their charges were invalid. Pilate may have expected Jesus to answer: “I am NOT the King of the Jews…” even if he were a rebel.
Jesus was aware of the implications of Pilate’s question.
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this,
or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
Jesus wasn’t trying to evade the question! He understood the implications of His answer. He turned the question back to Pilate with another: “Is this your own question…as the Roman Governor or is this a question based on what others have told you?”
In asking this question Jesus allowed Pilate to answer what he meant by “a King”. Pilate wasn’t asking a religious question.
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
I’m the Roman Governor…I’m not asking a Jewish question. I want to know if you are a threat. Why did your own people deliver you to me? What did you do? Jesus had done nothing worthy of death, nothing to deserve execution. So He continued by answering Pilate’s first question.
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.
Jesus didn’t evade Pilate’s question, in referring to His Kingdom Jesus was admitting He was a King. After all, the Angel Gabriel foretold it before His birth (Luke 1:32):
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest;
and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
He was one the Wise Men came from afar to see, saying (Matthew 2:2):
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Jesus is a King…but in many ways He is the opposite of earthly kings. When the Jews tried to make him that kind of king (cf. John 6:15) He turned from them.
If Jesus were an earthly King, then such an interview with Pilate would likely not have taken place.
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.”
Jesus has a Kingdom…but it’s not like earthly kingdoms…because it isn’t an earthly kingdom.
• Earthly Kingdoms are established by military force, by power and force of arms. Jesus Kingdom was established -- when He on Calvary defeated our enemies and paid the price to set us free from our spiritual enemies, from sin, death and Satan.
• Earthly kingdoms need earthly defenders. Jesus didn’t need protection. When Simon Peter drew his sword in Gethsemane and tried to protect Him, Jesus said (John 18:11):
“Put your sword into the sheath.
Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
Now that doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t have forces at His command (cf. Matthew 26:53), it’s just that they weren’t of any earthly origin. Jesus Kingdom is not earthly, but heavenly.
The Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven (one in the same) is a spiritual kingdom. He invites human beings to be His citizens by revealing that He has done what was necessary for them to be forgiven.
He establishes His rule in the hearts of human beings by love! Thus His Kingdom comes when human beings in their hearts trust in Him as their Savior and Lord. So Jesus said (Luke 17:20-21):
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Pontius Pilate had his answer.
37 Pilate 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.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
Pontius Pilate wanted to confirm what he heard. Jesus was a King, but not an earthly king. He didn’t claim for Himself authority over armies of men. He came to bear witness, to reveal the truth, not overtake nations by force.
Therefore Pontius Pilate found in Jesus no rebel, and no cause for execution.
Why then did He still hand down the death sentence? If we look at it from a human perspective we might say that Pilate had Jesus executed out of fear for himself, to satisfy the Jews.
While Pontius Pilate found no cause for death in Jesus…God did. It wasn’t that Jesus was sinful, he was sinless and pure. It was this rather, that God determined to saddle Jesus with our sins, to pay for our ‘impossible to pay’ debt. Only the death of God’s only Son could make atonement, so Paul explains simply what was done (2 Corinthians 5:21):
“For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Let’s face it, from a human perspective Jesus didn’t look like a King before Pilate or under a crown of thorns or on Calvary. He came once in humility. He will come again in glory, and when He does He will look the part of that all-powerful heavenly king that He is.
John saw Him as that kind of King in the Revelation (John 19:11-16):
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns…He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses…He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Then Pontius Pilate will see what a real King in Glory looks like. No one will question His authority on that day and we will rejoice to see him because we know Him as our King, our Lord, our defender, our Savior and friend. Amen.