Summary: Beginning of sermon series on Jesus our King. Looks at 2 instances in Jesus’ life when His being King mattered - His feeding the 5000 and His coronation on Palm Sunday - and how that matters to us.
John 6:15;12:13 – An Audience with the King
In March 2003, a coalition of forces from the US and Britain took possession of Baghdad and put Saddam Hussein out of business. Granted, Iraq is still in hard shape, but that doesn’t minimize what Saddam Hussein was: an absolute ruler, a tyrant, a despot. Actually, the word “despot” is Greek, meaning “sovereign” or “in control”. Today this word has negative connotations, but originally it did not. Because we enjoy a great deal of freedom in North America, we dislike the idea of anyone trying to exercise absolute authority over another.
Maybe that’s why it’s hard for people to accept the sovereignty of God. In Jude 4, there is a reference to people who “deny Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord.” That is, people do not want to accept the fact that Christ is King. A story has been told of a lion who was very proud and decided to take a walk one day to demonstrate his mastery over all the other creatures. He strutted his way through the forest until he came across a bear, “Who is the king of the jungle, bear?” “Why, of course, you are, mighty lion.”
He went on until he found the tiger, “Who is the king of the jungle, tiger?” “Why, you are great lion.”
Next the lion found the elephant, “Who is the king of the jungle, fat elephant?” The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk and spun him around a few times and slammed him to the ground.
He then stepped on him a few times and picked him up and dunked him in the water and then threw him up against a tree.
The lion staggered to his feet and said, “Look, just because you don’t know the answer is no reason to get so upset!” The lion couldn’t handle the jungle truth of who was the real king. The truth, not just according to how I see it, but the actual truth, is: Christ is King. And over the next few weeks, we will look at this truth. We will look at different angles and aspects of His reign, His rule, His sovereignty.
From the start of His life to the finish, some people sought Him as King, and some wanted Him dead because of it. At His birth, wise men came looking for the King of the Jews. But out of jealousy, King Herod wanted Him dead. And then, 33 years later, some were looking for Jesus to be King, but some wanted Him dead because of His having more followers than they. Jesus being the King marked the start of His life and the end of it. Each time innocent people were slaughtered without mercy. It was a notable aspect of His whole life.
Today I want to look at just 2 simple instances in Jesus’ adult life, both from the book of John, when His being king was significant. The first is in John 6.
Jesus had been teaching a crowd of 5000 men, perhaps 12000, including women and children. They became hungry, and the only food to be found was one boy’s small lunch: 5 small barley loaves, and 2 small fish. Jesus multiplied the food, so that everybody had enough to eat, and there were 12 baskets of leftovers. People obviously regarded this as what it was: a miracle. We pick up the story in John 6:14-15.
Now, the problem was not that He was king. The problem was that He was not yet ready to cause a big stink over it. He did not want everybody to know it yet. That sort of information would take time to process, and the time was not yet ready to begin. He was not ready to face the imminent conflict with the Pharisees, nor give up His life because He was a so-called political subversive. He would eventually be crowned King, but not in someone else’s timing, not on someone else’s terms. It had to be done on God’s terms.
Philip Yancey, in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, comments on this truth, that Christ can only be King on His own terms. He alludes to the 3 temptations Jesus faced before he began His ministry: 1) to turn stones into bread and feed Himself, 2) after taking Him to the temple in Jerusalem, to jump off with the hope that angels would catch Him, and 3) after showing Him the whole world, to worship him, Satan. Now, Philip Yancey suggests that each temptation parallels the expectation of 1st century culture for the coming Messiah: 1) a People’s Messiah could feed the multitudes, 2) a King who is rooted in the Law, would find his home at the place of sacrifice, and 3) a man who would be King not just of Israel but of the whole world. Ironically, Jesus did play each of these roles. Not as a result of temptation, but as a result of being obedient to God. It had to be in His terms, not Satan’s or anyone else’s.