Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday, the importance of living for the King, rather than living like a king
What do you think of Elizabeth?
What do you think of Elizabeth? Not, our youth worker – whose away at her friends wedding, nor our band leader, but Elizabeth II, our queen. It's her diamond jubilee year. Very few kings or queens make it this far – that's one of the advantages of living in a constitutional monarchy, the king does not have to lead the troops from the front.
Most people have only known the one monarch so it may be a little difficult to make an evaluation, but anyway do you think she is a good queen? What could she have done better?
Make Jesus King
In the passage for today we see the crowds have another attempt to install Jesus as their King. So I thought it would be a good idea to look at some kings and queens to see what they were like and whether we think they would make an ideal monarch.
Good king / bad king.
I'll start with a list of 4 monarchs that I think are good and then look at four who are not so good.
Edward I – his reforms of criminal law are still (just) the basis for most of our criminal law today.
Elizabeth I – had a conciliatory approach to the feuding Catholics and Protestants in the land, and established the Church of England. Her reign is still seen as something of a golden age.
Henry VIII – Henry's energy in the early part of his reign was responsible for setting the framework for Elizabeth's golden age.
Richard I – The lion heart. He was a brilliant military leader, commanding his own force at the age of 16.
Now for some bad kings:
John – probably tops everyone's list of bad kings, having tried to usurp his brother. He was also known to be petty and spiteful.
Charles I – had a very strong belief in the divine right of Kings lead to a fatal split with parliament and resulted in the English civil war, which he then lost!
George III - his focus on war with France and his attempt to raise taxes from the colonists lead to the loss of the American colonies.
Henry VIII - had a Flagrant disregard for the law which led him to behead his wives. His concern was to produce a male heir, at the expense of everything else.
So there we have seven monarchs from our history. All of them had some good qualities, but what would an ideal King be like?
Here are a few Ideas:
Wise, like Solomon
Strong, like Richard I, or Churchill
Fair, like Eadwig (955 - 959)
Proactive, like Henry VIII
Dutiful, like Elizabeth II
Charismatic, like Edward I
Merciful, like Richard I
Subject to his own Laws
Living Under a King
For us, of course, it doesn't matter very much. How will England change when Charles III takes the throne? It probably won't affect your daily life.
In Jesus time the ruler had a significant influence on daily life. They decided if there would be war or peace. Many wars have been fought solely to satisfy a kings pride, which were nothing to do with the security of the nation. If there was to be war, there would have to be money raised, so new taxes would be imposed. If the King came to visit, he would have to be given the best room in town. (Yes! Given! Even Elizabeth II does not carry money!). If the King asked for anything, however bizarre it would be done for him.
Jews wish for a king
The Jewish nation wanted their own king, they had been conquered many times – that is not an experience that we can easily understand. They were currently part of the Roman Empire. The taxes that were raised were used to support Roman military efforts, and even worse than that the customs and practices of their religion were restricted. The people were looking for someone who could lead them to freedom, to self determination.
They looked back to the reign of king David, when they had defeated their enemies and all was well with the Kingdom (hindsight is a wonderful thing).
Jesus for King – the crowd
There were huge crowds in and around Jerusalem, they have come for the Passover festival – perhaps the biggest festival of the year. When the Olympics start later this year we will get a sense of the impact that a huge number of visitors can make on an area. There are people everywhere. They have come to remember the time that Moses led the people out of slavery and into the promised land. They are looking for a repeat performance from someone – from anyone. They are hoping for a miracle cure, a cure that would see the nation restored to its former glory – to independence and self determination. This time they are not going to run away, they want the Romans kicked out.