Jesus is a King
When Jesus came the first time there was no fuss – nothing compared to the fuss there is when there’s a new addition to the Royal family. A few people saw Jesus as the one from God who would rule as a monarch in this world. But Jesus didn’t act like an earthly king. He had followers like Peter who were ready to pull out a sword and start fighting to defend their king. But Jesus wouldn’t be a part of it.
Jesus is a King, but certainly a different king to the one the people expected from God. They hoped for an earthly king, along with soldiers and battles and killing, expanding the borders of their territory to what they had been under King David. The best part would be driving out the foreign Romans who occupied and ruled their country. They would drive out all foreigners.
But Jesus’ kingdom is for all foreigners. All the foreigners who want to get rid of evil powers threatening them and those who wanted to get rid of the evil within them, like sin and selfishness and the hurting of others. Jesus takes such people into his kingdom. No one who wants Jesus to rule their hearts and minds is shut out or driven away. The Church of Jesus is pictured as a ship, sailing the oceans of the world, pulling the drowning ones out of the water, and taking them to safety.
Jesus’ kingdom isn’t like any earthly one. There was no fuss when he was born. And in the end, the people couldn’t stand to have him near them. The people turned on him! The people got rid of him. They teamed up with the hated Roman rulers to put an end to him. They killed him by having him crucified, the Roman method of capital punishment. The Romans had it down to a cruel art. Jesus was led to the place of sacrifice, like a lamb that was led to be slaughtered, as Isaiah had prophesied.
There are a number of differences between Jesus’ Kingdom and earthly ones. Note that both are part of God’s rule. Both belong to God and both are under the rule of God.
The earthly kingdoms are sometimes built on force, with armies and killing. The worst rulers are well known worldwide, like Stalin, Hitler. They have all come and gone in the past 100 years.
In direct contrast, the kingship of Jesus never ends. Even when this earth is gone, and all the wars and killing of human beings has ended, the Kingdom of Jesus continues. When the last weapons of mass destruction have exploded and the earth has disappeared, the Kingdom of Jesus will continue. All the rocks and seas and mountains that seem to have been here forever will be invisible, and the Kingdom of Jesus one can’t see now will be there for everyone to see!
The Kingdom of Jesus is one where God wins the hearts and minds of people with his love. God’s love means God is the one who is killed. God is offered up as the sacrifice to destroy evil. Someone once floated the idea that he would like to arrange for captured soldiers to be treated like kings, and fed the best. As word spreads of the way captured soldiers we feted and glorified, the soldiers would soon do their best to be captured, and all wars would soon end! Jesus treats those who surrender to him better than anyone ever deserved or hoped to be treated. It is the way God wins people over, not by force, but with his love. On the cross Jesus even prays for his enemies.
The kingdom of Jesus is a spiritual kingdom, and involves life in a different dimension to a mere earthly life. The Book of Revelation outlines worse things that can happen in even the cruelest of earthly kingdoms. Earthly rulers can destroy bodies, and vegetation and the landscape. But there are evil powers and forces at work in the world that can destroy people and spiritual life. Against these powers Jesus is number one, untouchable. This is the area where Jesus is King.
What God is more concerned about is that you and I are never destroyed spiritually. We live in human bodies but we are spirit people. To be destroyed spiritually is the worst that can happen to one. The temptation is to choose the earthly kingdom alone, as though that is permanent and all that counts.
One can be emptied of the Spirit and lose the new life from Jesus. We weren’t born with the Spirit in us. So the Holy Spirit sees to it that we are born again, in the waters of baptism. This time the Spirit implants Jesus in us and we begin a new life in God’s love. We are spirit filled people, led by Jesus.
We have a choice. We can turn our back on God and his love and live only for this world, as though this is all there is. And we will become poor and lose everything when death calls. Or we can choose to live in the spiritual kingdom under Jesus and live forever. Amen.
This message is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]. A Pass it On Project you can read more at: Lutheran Church of Australia Worship Page