Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

11/25/12 Sermon

 

John 18:33-37

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 
Today we are celebrating Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday in the life of the universal Church.
It’s celebrated on the last week of the church year---Next Sunday we will begin a new church year with the beginning of Advent.
 
Christ the King Sunday is actually a latecomer to the seasons celebrated in the church year. It actually began in the 1900’s when the world's great empires—United States, England, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan--were all at war or about to go to war somewhere.
 
And so the Pope Pius the 11th, decided to write a letter to all the leaders of the nations to remind them that Christ is the king over all and that his kingdom is a peaceable kingdom, not one obtained by violence."

And so in 1925, the feast of Christ the King was established so as to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven not to earthly supremacy and the violent and oppressive ways of power in this world.

And of course these two kingdoms are at odds with one another. And that’s what we see in our scripture here today.
 
Pilate represents the worldly ways of kingdoms and Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom not of this world.
 
Now many of us might not think we are a part of any kind of worldly kingdom. We live in the good ole USA…….
 
But when we are talking about worldly kingdoms we’re talking about ways of power and authority and how this affects and influences us in our lives.

So what I thought I would do today is speak to these two different kinds or ways of kingdoms and how they influence and affect us.

Now when we look at the worldly kingdom represented by Pilate it’s important to get a little background information to understand what the worldly kingdom ways are about.
 

Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea and probably not real happy about this appointment.

Israel was a difficult place to be in charge of because of the volatile religious Jewish leaders who were very difficult to get along with.

Still Pilate knew that if he did a good job in this difficult place he would be assured of a good promotion within the Roman Empire.
 
But from the very beginning Pilate didn’t do a good job.

The first thing he did when he came into power was to try and strong-arm the fanatical Jewish leaders to show them who the boss was.

So he ordered his Roman soldiers to carry images of Caesar into the Jewish Temple….not a good idea. Remember commandment number 4 of the 10 commandments said no graven images.
 

So the high priest, good ole Caiaphas ordered 2000 praying Jews to surround the palace of Pilate with a protest march.

Well Pilate, threatens to kill them all if they don’t stop. But the Jews dared him and said go ahead “Make my Day, see what happens next Pilate. You’ll have a major riot on your hands then. How’s that gonna look on your resume?”

So Pilate backs down in humiliation and orders the images of Caesar taken down.---he’s toast after that.
 
Later Pilate tries to do a good thing to earn good will but it also backfires on him. He builds a water aqueduct for fresh water but he uses money in the Temple treasury which again stirs up. Again another riot takes place, soldiers are killed and Pilate gets rebuked by his superiors in Rome.
 
So Caiaphas the high Jewish priest showed Pilate who was really in charge.
 
Now fast-forward, we come to the scripture today when Caiaphas brings Jesus to Pilate.
 
And he’s got Pilate over the barrel. Pilate is an insecure, anxious and cautious fellow who couldn’t afford another mistake.
 
So he’s forced to please others; caught between his Roman superiors and these Jewish leaders.
 

Pilate was in no position to do the right thing when it came to Jesus.

 
Trying to figure out what Truth is in the web of worldly kingdom ways was impossible.
 
And we see it in his response to Jesus when Jesus is talking about Truth.-----Pilate says “Truth? What is Truth?”
 
So what we see in the world’s kingdom way is that even though Pilate is the “Governor in control” he has no control. He’s beaten down and enslaved to the powers of this world.
 
Now as far as how this affects us, what we can take from this is that even though we don’t consider ourselves kings or rulers, we do fall prey to the kingdom ways of this world.

You see, like Pilate we too can find ourselves pressured, anxious, insecure, and cautious.

Like Pilate we can be trying to please others, trying to keep the peace, trying to work our way up the ladder, trying to find common ground to please and compromise.
 
And when we get caught in this, what can happen is that we lose our principles; we compromise Truth and unfortunately do the wrong things:

A father or mother puts their job ahead of their children and their faith.

A boss or teacher or pastor or coach forces their way on others, saying it’s my way or the highway.
 
A leader of others gets anxious trying to please and their anxiety affects everyone around them.
 

A youth succumbs to peer pressure and falls into having sex before marriage or using alcohol or drugs to be cool.

A parent pressures their child to perform and be something they’re not.
 
Or a parent chooses to not discipline their child because of cultural pressures and as a result their child suffers the consequences.
 

And then there is the desire to always get the last word. Have you ever been in an argument with someone and couldn't let the matter drop? You just had to continue making your point. Why? Because you had to have the last word.

To have the last word is to be the final authority. To have the last word is to have the most power.
 
The list of ways that the kingdom ways of power can literally go on and on and on.
 
But at the core is a desire to please, a pressure to perform, a temptation to be successful, popular, spectacular and powerful; all of this a sign of enslavement to the kingdom ways of the world.
 
And this isn’t only at the individual or personal level.
 

The worldly kingdom way can manifest itself in a larger more cosmic way.

For example, greed in corporations.
 
CEO’s lay off workers to cut costs to raise the share price of their stock. You see, that’s how their success and self-worth is measured and as a result people’s lives are negatively affected.  
 
Another way we see the worldly kingdom on a larger scale is when nations rattle their sabers and threaten other countries to get what they want. After all, power in this world is defined by strength and dominance and who carries the biggest military might.
 
And then there is the larger worldly kingdom way that manifests itself in government administrations who compromise Truth in order to get elected.

They pander to groups who want to redefine marriage or those who don’t protect the innocent unborn.

At the heart of all this is an overwhelming cosmic power that is real. A power of the kingdom of darkness that woos us and tells us that we must obtain power and control, be successful and spectacular.
 
And in doing so we lose our soul and we compromise Truth.

But Jesus spoke of a different kingdom when he was with Pilate; a kingdom not of this world. A kingdom that Pilate was unfamiliar with as many still are today.

In Jesus’ kingdom, Truth is at the throne. Jesus said that his purpose coming into the world was to testify to Truth.
 
But what is this Truth?
 

Well it begins with an understanding that we don’t have to seek power to achieve or prove or get ahead.

When Jesus began his ministry it began in the Jordon River. When he was baptized and raised from the water and he heard the voice from his Father in heaven who said, “You are my beloved son and with you I am well pleased”.

He had assurance and peace. He needed to not prove himself because God was already pleased.
 
After that he went into the desert, where he was tempted by Satan to be the King of this world. He tempted him to obtain power, to be spectacular, to be successful.
 
But Jesus trusted and believed that God was well pleased with him already and he therefore needed nothing else.
 
It was this assurance that freed him to therefore live in the kingdom way of Truth.
 
But how exactly is this lived out?
 

Well as we daily rest in the assurance that we are God’s beloved, we then follow the opposite ways of the worldly kingdom.

These ways are summed up in Jesus’ teachings on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.
 

Jesus spoke of being meek and merciful, peaceful and pure in heart.

 

He said blessed are those who will be persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The world has seen those who have sought to live by this way of Truth:
 
Martin Luther King Jr. led by way of peace, not violence or power to achieve equality-----
 

Gandhi who followed a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution to gain independence for India instead of a way of military might.

I’m also reminded of the American Revolution when the King of England, George III was sure that George Washington would declare himself the “Emperor of the New World” upon America’s freedom.
 
Instead Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon.

Washington was not in it for power but rather for freedom and peace and goodness and rightness---ways of the kingdom of God, ways of Truth.
 
So how do you and I live this kingdom way of Truth in our lives?
 

Well how about choosing to love and be present with our families instead of being pressured by work, how about serving others instead of ourselves, how about choosing ways of peace instead of anxiousness, how about refusing to compromise to cultural pressures, how about not seeking to get the last word in an argument, how about lifting up the many who are in need?....................

On Christ the King Sunday, the question before all of us is who is sitting on the throne of our life?
 
To answer the question, we have to look at how we are living.
 
Are we like Pilate, enslaved to kingdom of this world; a kingdom of darkness that led him to crucify the king of kings?
 
Or is Christ on our throne. Are we living in the assurance that we are beloved by God, freed to live in the ways of Truth.
 
Who sits on your throne?
 

I pray that the assurance of God’s love for you and the kingdom you seek to bring about, show who the true king is in your life……

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen