Sermons

Summary: Stations of the Cross, Pt. 5

CHRIST THE KING (JOHN 19:19-22)

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write ’The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."

22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." (John 19:19-22)

According to legend, no king is as beloved, powerful and ideal as King Arthur, the king who obtained the throne when he pulled the sword Excalibur from a stone. He ruled a perfect enchanting kingdom called Camelot – a name prematurely attributed to John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s supposedly-happy marriage. When King Arthur first met his future queen, Guinevere, he successfully convinced her that the ideal conditions at Camelot would make her happy, too, if she stayed with him.

Unfortunately, the perfect kingdom was shattered when the well-meaning King Arthur conceived a plan to gather the bravest and fairest knights from around the world to dispense justice for his people. The best knight from the famed Knights of the Round Table, however, was Lancelot and he fell hopelessly in love with the queen and had an affair with her.

On the day the queen came to her senses to pluck up her courage to leave Lancelot, King Arthur’s roguish son from his wild past laid in wait and ambush with a group of men to arrest the cheating pair. Lancelot escaped but returned to rescue the queen from burning at the stake, to the relief of the reluctant king. Before she left Camelot for good, the former queen wanted to see King Arthur for the last time. When she bade him farewell, King Arthur asked Lancelot to take good care of the queen. Lancelot tearfully explained that the queen did not choose him either; she had decided to live the rest of her days as a nun.

Christ is a king unlike frail and foggy human kings. The kingship of Christ is also the single most serious and controversial accusation the Jewish religious leaders brought before Pilate against Jesus. Curiously, Jesus did nothing dent the allegation, to discourage or deny designation.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, the Pharisees (Luke 19:39, John 12:18-19), the chief priests and the teachers of the law (Matt 21:15) were enraged by the excited disciples, the massive crowd and their reverberating chorus: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38).

Jesus is the King of the Jews, the King of Israel (Matt 27:42, John 1:49, John 12:13), the king who comes in the name of the Lord (Luke 19:38). Rightly, contemptuously or prophetically, Jesus was called King of the Jews eighteen times (Matt 2:2, 27:11, 27:29, 27:37, Mark 15:2, 15:9, 15:12,15:18, 15:26, Luke 23:3, 23:37, 23:38, John 18:33, 18:39, 19:3, 19:19, 19:21, 19:21) - the first time by the magi at his birth, the King of Israel four times (Matt 27:42, Mark 15:32, John 1:49, 12:13) and once, the king who comes in the name of the Lord (Luke 19:38). On top of the designations, Christ is recorded simply as “king” in eight instances (Matt 21:5, Luke 23:2, John 6:15, 18:37, 18:37, 19:12, 19:15, 19:15).

So, what kind of king is Christ? Why was He such an unwilling king on earth, upsetting the notions of his disciples and enemies? When will He reign unquestionably and how will he rule?

Jesus Christ is the Sovereign King

In most ancient culture, kings claimed a divine mandate. They were adored by the masses, accountable to no one and met with royal treatment. Even then, kingship was never permanent. Kings usually last for a generation, an era or a dynasty. Today, monarchy had given way to democracy, socialism and communism. Most kings were toppled, jailed and vilified in domestic revolutions. No monarchy’s downfall was more spectacular and vivid than the guillotine execution of France’s King Louis XVI and his 37-year old wife, Marie Antoinette, in 1793, about three years after the French Revolution erupted in 1789 and a year after the First French Republic was established in September, 1792, less than four months before the king was executed.

Royalty today is mostly perfunctory. They concern themselves with national duties, social activities and diplomatic functions. Though constitutional monarchs meet with foreign kings, prime ministers and ambassadors, they prefer to stay out of the political limelight and the newspaper headlines, content to receive a sizable budget from the state and careful to say little on how government should run.

The most famous royal family today is the English monarchy, ironically led by a queen, not a king! The English Parliament allots $11.2 million a year to the queen for her official expenses as head of state and to support her husband and mother. About 70% of that goes to staff salaries. In addition, the queen generates revenue from land and other valuables passed from generation to generation - which earned about $189 million in 2000, the year in which the royal family spent a paltry $50 million. A royal watcher muttered: “The queen and her heirs enjoy favorable tax status. Unlike the rest of us, they negotiate their own income tax rate.” (Los Angeles Times 6/20/01)

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