John 18:33-37 and Revelation 1:4-8
Welcome on this last Sunday of the church year. As most of you are aware, the church calendar is not the same as the calendar we use in our normal lives. Rather than beginning with January 1, the church calendar begins with Advent which begins next Sunday. Advent is when we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world.
After we celebrate Jesus’ birth, the church calendar follows his life–beginning with Epiphany–his baptism, his temptation and the beginning of his teaching ministry. Then we enter the season of Lent when we begin focusing on his death, then his resurrection at Easter. That is followed by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Then we, the church, seek to live out our lives following the teachings of Christ through the ordinary days of the church year until today, the last Sunday in the church year, when we reach a sort of climax with a celebration of the coming reign of Christ over all the earth. Then, next Sunday, we begin the cycle all over again as we enter once again into Advent. Today, however, we celebrate the reign of Christ over all humankind.
Today is known as Christ the King Sunday. In 1925 Pope Pius XI wanted people to know that this is Christ’s world, not the emerging dictators of the day. Mussolini had been in power for three years. Adolf Hitler had been out of prison only a year, and was finding great poplar support for his fledgling Nazi party. Hitler had been sentenced to five years in prison for leading the Nazis’ unsuccessful ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ in the German state of Bavaria. The Pope had the audacity to declare, despite dictators, that Christ was King, reminding Christians where their ultimate loyalty lay!
There is a story of a little boy who was in a hospital in England in the days of King George V. George V was king of Great Britain from 1910 until his death in 1936. This was when marriage was used as a political tool among the royal houses of Europe. George was a grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the first cousin of both Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. And yet George was far less pretentious than many of history’s monarchs.
The patients in this particular hospital, where the little boy in our story was being treated, were told that the king was going to pay them a visit that day. Everybody put on their best clothes as they were lying in their bed, waiting for the king to come.
This little boy was eager to see the king. All day long there were a number of visitors, because it was visitor’s day. And along about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, a man came in with a number of other men with him. He spoke to some of the boys and girls. He even spoke to this young boy who was waiting so eagerly to see the king. He patted him on the head. He spoke very nicely to the boy and left.
That night, as he was being made ready for bed, the little boy spoke to the nurse. “Nurse,” he complained, “the king didn’t come!”
She said, “Oh, the king did come. Don’t you remember that nice elderly man that came over to you and patted you on the head? And spoke so sweetly to you?” He said, “Yes, I do.” She said, “Well, that was the king.”
The boy protested, “But nurse, he didn’t have on his crown!”
Just as the boy did not recognize King George because he did not wear a gold crown encrusted with jewels; but rather came as a kind and compassionate common man: The world did not recognize Jesus because he did not wear a crown of gold encrusted with jewels, but came as a kind and compassionate common man. A man who would ultimately wear a crown of thorns.
John 18:33-34, 36-37, “Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea, “Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” – “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Jesus, is saying, “—for this reason I was born–, to bring God’s Kingdom here to earth. Think about how Jesus brought His Father’s Kingdom here to earth. He said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus taught us about God’s love and to love God first in our life, with the greatest commandment, in Luke 10. Jesus taught us how to love our neighbor, by his example of the good Samaritan also in Luke 10. He demonstrated God’s love through the miracles and the healings and by dying on the cross for our sins. That’s how Jesus brought God’s Kingdom here to earth.
In Revelation 1:8 we read, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Joe and I have come to understand how powerful God is when we give our lives, and the situations that happen in our lives, to God. We’ve had a very interesting 2018. My mother coming to live with us for 5 months, Joe’s illness and now Joe’s brother Jim’s illness and death. We’ve come to place where we surrender whatever we’re going through to our Loving Father God, trusting that He will work something good out of everything.
We decided on Monday to fly to New Orleans because Jim was very ill. We were supposed to fly from Hancock to Chicago to New Jersey and then New Orleans. When we neared Chicago we received notice that our plane from Chicago to New Jersey would be delayed 2 hours, which meant we would miss the plane from New Jersey to New Orleans.
We went immediately to the United help desk and told them about it. She told us that a United flight to New Orleans had also been delayed 2 hours and she put us on that flight. If we had taken the flight from Chicago to New Jersey and then to New Orleans, we would not have been able to visit Jim in ICU. Because we took the flight directly from Chicago to New Orleans, we were able to visit with him and that was the best he was all the time we were there.
Joe and I have learned that God is in control, we are not. We may think we are, we may want to be, but we are not in control of the situations that happen at others hands, and no matter how well we take care of ourselves, our health may change in a moment.
Jesus says, “-for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37) The truth is that Jesus came into the world to bring God’s Kingdom to the world; that we may believe and live out God’s Kingdom in our life on earth.
I believe that to live out God’s Kingdom in our earthly life, means to surrender our lives, our hearts to God and acknowledge that God is the-Alpha, the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Rev.1:8)
Please believe that God is faithful if you allow him to be. As hymn 140 says, “Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! (UMH #140)
Let us pray. Father God help us to believe you are faithful and to understand that you will not let us down in any and all situations that may occur in our earthly lives. Help us to understand that Jesus is the way, the truth and when we believe, eternal life. Amen
Pastor Rosemary DeHut