Nov 21, 2021- WE United Church sermon on John 18:33–37
Title: Reign of Christ/ Christ the King -Are you a King of Jews?
Today is Christ the King Sunday, it marks the end of Ordinary Time before the season of Advent.
This has very significant meaning for us. We as Christians, begin a new year in the church calendar. We focus on Jesus as our King, which means that we believe in him as our king, the leader of our lives, in the church and the world. He is in charge, not us, as we follow his path, we identify who is truth and love for the world and for ourselves.
Based on John 18:33–37 from our reading this morning, we are again reminded that Jesus had many friends who loved him, followed him and respected him, but Jesus also had enemies. No matter where Jesus travelled in his ministry, there were always some people who were suspicious and jealous of him like any leaders of the world and communities including our church- faith communities.
These people didn’t like what Jesus was teaching about God and the way to live. They didn’t like to see any of the things that Jesus’s ministry performed; his miracles and healing for the sick, compassion for the poor and vulnerable ones and asking them to live just, fair lives.
And they did not like to see all the crowds of people who loved, and trusted and followed Jesus because they were afraid of losing their power, and they were jealous of him. They especially hated that people could hear the truth.
Finally, Jesus’ enemies had their chance. They told the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, that people were thinking that Jesus was a Messiah. People thought of the Messiah as a king. If Jesus was a king, then everyone would obey him instead of Pilate.
If Jesus were king, then Pilate would probably be in trouble. The people thought that if Pilate realized Jesus wanted to be king, he would want Jesus put to death.
Pilate finally agreed to talk to Jesus. Soon Jesus was led to the Roman governor’s palace. Pilate raised his eyes, looked at Jesus and said, “Are you a king? You don’t look like a king.” “Are you asking this for yourself?”
Jesus replied softly to the governor, “or because you have heard other people say it about me?”
Pilate paused for a while, deep in thought. “Look,” he said seriously, “your own people and priests have handed you over to me. They are saying that you are a king. We already have a king in this land. We don’t want a new king. What have you done?”
Jesus replied, “I came to show people how-to live-in God’s way. I want people to know what is true and what is good. Those who want to know what is true, listen to me. They will not always obey you or the other rulers. If that’s what you call a king, then call me a king.”
This Christ the king Sunday was created in 1925 by the catholic church. Ironically 1925 was the same year that the United church of Canada was inaugurated. This Christ the King Sunday was introduced into the protestant church in 1960 when the United Church began to follow the lectionary.
How did this Christ the King Sunday come to be? The church wanted the people to understand the importance of Christ as leader and ruler because there were many dictators and false values in the world at the time.
Let’s take a moment then, to think about how much the world has changed since then? Today, we will take time to reflect on earth and our communities with this fundamental question of faith, "Who is the ruler for our lives, especially in such a huge broken time as ours?
Who rules our lives?
Whom do we follow? Who dominates culture and communities?
This world seems to be becoming more and more self-serving, we care less and less about serving others, I hope that's not true, but…
Greed, pride, selfishness and fear seems to motivate much of the world;
In our corporate systems,
In our media,
In our economic, and governmental systems
In the hearts of many individuals who think only of what is true for themselves, and for those they love and care about.
What do you expect to see happen in this world and community? What will happen if we go on in this self-serving way?
Pilate was going to kill Jesus based on his fear, pride and selfishness. He was afraid that he would lose his kingship, and power.
And Jesus’s message to Pilate was simply:
“I came to show people how-to live-in God’s way. I want people to know what is true and what is good. Those who want to know what is true, listen to me. They will not always obey you or the other rulers. If that’s what you call a king, then call me a king.”
The problem is that Pilate never understood what Jesus was talking about. This is not a new thing for us. We have experienced it in everyday in our lives. People just don’t get it.
Pilate and Jesus were seeking totally different things. They were operating on different values. The meaning of life, community, leadership and kingship meant different things to each of them. Both have totally different identities and worldviews, and understanding of the purpose of living. Pilate only served himself; Jesus serves all with truth.
I sometimes sit back and wonder if my leadership is enough to challenge us, I'm trying to tell a truth, not my own truth but one for our common world?
If it is not enough then, I am thinking to myself, what fear is holding me back? Is it enough to share the truth about what is going on in this world and community? Is that what leadership is about?
The Covid -19 world pandemic seemed to bring out much hatred, violence, division, ignorance, and anger towards the government and also towards individuals. Covid remains and offers a huge challenge in the form of a question, "How do we serve others everywhere, including ourselves, especially when safety matters?
This is a world and community dilemma, not only our church’s dilemma.
Where do we stand on both protecting individual’s rights and safety and at the same time how do we still welcome strangers, how do we live together with compassion?
On this Christ the King Sunday, Christ is in charge of our roles and leadership to make it happen.
I trust that the compassion our world needs is the same as the justice and safety our culture needs in this covid world. Being church, is all about finding the hope, joy, and peace that Jesus gives, not for ourselves but for all.
Jesus told his followers and also, he told Pilate,
"My Kingdom is not of this world."
We are Christ's hands and feet.
We will build his kingdom in this world, this is our task and calling, we are entering Advent, and we anticipate this hope, for the world.