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Christ The King Sunday B Sermon
18: 33-37
November 21, 2021

Sermon Archives


John 18:33-37

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ 37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’

May the grace, mercy and peace of God be with us in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.

About 25 years ago or so there was a campaign to encourage folks to follow Jesus in their daily lives that simply encouraged us to ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” This was highlighted by bumper stickers, bracelets and even billboards with four letters and a question mark - WWJD? I thought it was a good way to encourage folks to live and respond every day as disciples of Jesus Christ. I think that WWJD eventually became a sort of feel good, over-simplified evangelism effort that began to be challenged shortly after the popularity began to spread. What about when Jesus said or did things that make us uncomfortable, that sets the bar a little higher than we could ever achieve as sinful human beings. “Sell all you have and give to the poor … Forgive seventy times seven times … I came not to be served, but to serve…” And then there is the whole suffering and dying on the cross which amazes and humbles all of us, if we are honest about it.

I don’t want to dismiss this WWJD question out of hand, though, as being totally irrelevant for our discipleship. As he stands before Pontius Pilate in our Gospel reading today, Jesus is questioned by one who has authority according to the values of the world. Pilate was a governor of the Roman Empire, one who was only interested in increasing his wealth, power and prestige. This often involved ruthless actions without any concern for human life. To be sure, the Romans did a lot of good for people in their occupied lands - water and sewage systems, roads, some semblance of law and order - but it came at a great cost. They were very transactional people: stay out of trouble, pay us taxes, worship our emperor as a god, and your life will be very good. But the treats to those who didn’t, who remained true to their Jewish faith and worshiped Yahweh as their one true God, were often enough to lead folks away from life according to an authority that is not from this world.

Now, when Jesus says that his kingdom is not from this world, it doesn’t mean that he is like a visiting dignitary, spending a little time in a foreign land while he really desires to return to heaven where he belongs. He is saying that the values which shape his reign are not the ones that shape Caesar’s, Pilate’s or even Herod’s. They are not the values that shape the politicians of our country, or the rulers of other nations in the world. The values of Jesus’ reign are not values that inspire folks to take up arms and rush in to fight and kill for this kingdom to be established. The values of Jesus’ reign are rooted in the same kind of love that leads him to sacrifice his very life on a cross for the whole, sinful world.

We really need Jesus and those values right now. Without making any comments on the justice or injustice of the verdict that we heard for Kyle Rittenhouse, we all grieve the sin-filled circumstances that led our nation to this point. The values of the world led all of the people in this scenario to their tragic situation: Jacob Blake, who’s actions attracted the attention of the Kenosha police, the police officer who shot him in the back seven times, the outsiders who descended on this town without intentions of peaceful protests and wrecked havoc, Kyle who did decide to travel there armed and ready to fight, those who threatened him and were shot, and injured or killed. We also live in a country with a history which has reflected values that have led us to expand and fight and protect without concern for all of God’s children, even and especially those with whom we are in conflict or are different from us.

Jesus loved without limits. He loved the poor and he loved the rich. He even loved the occupying force from Rome that exercised their authority in brutal ways. We stand here at the end of a church year to consider how our daily lives will reflect the values of the heavenly kingdom in some kind of imperfect and flawed ways. We do so with confidence that God is with us to encourage, protect and forgive us when we fail to do what Jesus would do as one who’s kingdom is not from this world. We do so entering the week of Thanksgiving - when we admit that all that we have is a gift, a trust from our ruler, Jesus. We do so living in grace, that undeserved gift of life and love from our gracious and giving God.
What would Jesus Do? Pray, love, forgive, worship, encourage, give generously, and above all, rely upon the presence of the one true God to reconcile this sinful world. Amen.