Rev. Rosemary Webb
25th November 2018
Christ Is King

Today is the last Sunday in the church’s year, next Sunday is Advent when we prepare ourselves to welcome the infant Jesus, but today we look back on all we have learned during the last year and proclaim the fact that we truly know That Jesus Christ is King. A face which the Jewish people had not been able to accept, and indeed still have not. And that, of course, is just what Jesus couldn’t overlook – God’s chosen race was not living the Scriptures as God intended.

The passage we have just heard from John’s Gospel is a conversation between and Jesus and Pilate, which took place in Pilates Headquarters. And Pilate had the same problem as the Jews in understanding just who Jesus was. The Roman Empire was an empire based on power and Pilate could understand that, but when Jesus said his Kingdom was based on Truth he couldn’t understand.

Pilate was bound by office to protect the interests of the Roman Empire – but the Jews didn’t want Christ crucified because they thought he might be an enemy to Caesar, they wanted him crucified because he criticised them. He hadn’t done what the Jews wanted he hadn’t set up a kingdom in Israel to overthrow the Roman Empire – he had even dared to say give to Caesar what is Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God.

The dialogue ended with Pilate asking ‘So you are a king’ and Jesus replying ‘You say that I am a king’, and the conversation drawing to a close with Pilate asking ‘What is truth’?

Jesus was teaching that he had come to earth to teach the truth and help us see the light and follow the true path. He is the King, he is God, it is he who will judge all humanity, it is Christ who knows how the world should be governed, it is Christ who is our protector and guide, but we have to listen to him.

But he does not control us against our will, he may call us to obey him but the choice is ours. He doesn’t tempt us with false promises, he asks us to follow his example.

Jesus must have known that his dialogue with Pilate was all important, that his very life depended on it, but look at his calmness, no screaming, waving his arms in the air, no insulting Pilate’s supporters in language most disgusting. To me it seems so sad that leaders who call themselves Christian totally ignore Jesus’ message, which is always the Truth. Learn nothing from the way he reacted in different situations. And there are powerful people in all walks of life who behave aggressively. Non-Christians must wonder what we mean when we say such and such a world leader is a Christian, when every time they are on the News they seem to shout loudly, be downright rude to people, and then laugh because they think it is funny, and then still insist they are True Christians. I may be wrong, but I cannot see how anyone who persecutes someone because of who they are, where they were born can be a true follower of Christ.

We preach often on how the Jewish leaders knew the scriptures, knew God would send the Messiah to save them and yet could not recognise Jesus when they met him face to face. The Jews thought God would send an all-powerful king who would come to save them, protect them from their enemies protect Israel for them. They got it wrong because they could only see power in an earthly sense, no one could be more powerful than Jesus, but he wouldn’t come with a large army to kill their oppressors.

Jesus came to save them, us, from ourselves, to guide us, teach us the right path to follow so that when our earthly life is over there is the promise of salvation. Jesus does fight our battles for us, but not with bombs and bullets, Jesus calls us to listen to him, follow in his footsteps and remember at all times that we must love God with all our hearts and our neighbours as ourselves. We must never forget that if God is all powerful, the Almighty God he must have created the world and created all of us, and more than that love us.

The world has to learn that we are one – that Jesus Christ came not to conquer with guns but through love. He was born to suffer not to resist. As Christians we must pray for all who are persecuted, and we must make our views on justice known. We must pray that the world will learn to conquer aggression and bigotry through love and understanding.

I am so pleased, although I say it with sadness, that at long last Amnesty has stripped Aung San Sui Kyi of her humanitarian reward. She may have bravely stood up for human rights when her own people were being persecuted but she turned a blind eye when her people began murdering and torturing the Rohingya people. Love, justice, human rights must be for all people not just for our own country, our own race. Sadly, she has become as guilty as the people who persecuted the people of Myanmar.

One of the joys of our role here is that we join the children at St Matthew’s school in their weekly collective worship, and last week their subject was heroes. The children remembered how Jesus was born into an ordinary family not one which was powerful or wealthy, talked about the attributes their heroes should have and them said who their hero was. The great thing was that one or two chose a sports hero but the overwhelming majority chose a family member because they loved them and helped them. Surely that is what makes society work, enables people to live and work together rather than think that to be a hero you have to be powerful, rich, world famous.

The Choice is ours, we have to choose which kingdom we will serve, but for all who choose God’s kingdom there is the promise of salvation.

Our service today is a joyful celebration, because we know that Jesus is not like an earthly leader, for however good they maybe they cannot know all their citizens. Jesus is close to us, he walks by our sides, reaches out to us when we need help, and most of all gave his life for our salvation. When we allow him to rule our hearts then it is easier to walk in his footsteps.

As we give thanks for those who were confirmed into God’s family last week, let us all concentrate on what it means to serve The King, the one true king. To give thanks for the knowledge that he will journey with us through our earthly life, pray that we will all teach that just as he was victorious over death, he will be victorious on earth when he returns to make his kingdom here on earth also. Which is the true promise of salvation.

Lord as we come to your table to receive your broken body and blood let us truly give thanks for your sacrifice and love for us.

John 18: 33-37