Summary: To celebrate the Kingship of Christ
When I was a lad I wasn’t always the saint that I am now. In fact there’s one thing I did when I was 12 which I’m still heartedly ashamed of.
I lived in Bootle, a rather run-down suburb of Liverpool in the U.K., and a group of seven or eight of us used to play together in the streets after school. One day we were feeling bored, when John came up with a bright idea. Let’s play "Simon says", and "I’ll be leader", he said. Now, I expect you’ve all played "Simon says" - it’s a fairly innocuous game - unless someone like John is your leader and has a wicked glint in his eye!
In those days we had we had what we called jiggers - they were the back passages which separated two sets of terrace houses. "Run down the jigger and bang on people’s back doors" said John - but we didn’t, because John hadn’t said "Simon says" But when he said. "Simon says climb up the walls of the jigger and run along them", we did. and ran along those walls so quickly we nearly fell off! On and on went John went with his challenges getting scarier and scarier, until finally he said this: - "Simon says, go into the greengrocer’s and steal an apple". We gulped - John looked at us and said "You’re chicken" and to prove we weren’t, one by one we went into the shop and those apples began to disappear into empty pockets..... till it was my turn. And guess what happened!. I was caught red handed, apple in hand, by a shopkeeper who knew exactly who I was, and SO the whole story poured out.. "When your father gets off the bus from work, I’m going to tell him just what you did , and leave it to him to punish you" he said.
I went home feeling horrified. I said "Hello, Mum" and went up to my bedroom without another word getting increasingly scared of what would happen when Dad got home".. Two hours later I heard the front door opened and in came Dad. "Where’s Eric" I heard him ask my Mum - " he’s upstairs in his bedroom and he’s very quiet.He came in at 4 o’clcok and went straight upstairs. I can’t understand it", she said. . "I can" Dad said , and up the stairs he came. As he opened the door I looked at him, and he looked at me.............. he looked at me and saw how wretched I was. After thinking about it for a minute he said, "Alright I know what happened. I know exactly what happened - but you know that what you did was wrong, and you’ve suffered enough. That’ll teach you to follow the right leader in future"...... I’ve remembered what he said from that day to this. Isn’t it amazing how things like this stick with you. "That’ll teach you to follow the right leader".
There must have been many times in Jesus’ Ministry when His Disciples asked themselves "Are we following the right leader?" At first it was very easy to follow Him - those were the days when everyone flocked to hear Him, when miracle followed miracle, and so many began to follow Him that the numbers were often overwhelming. Their hearts must have swelled with pride and joy as they saw their leader’s success.
But that success, if that’s what you want to call it, didn’t last for long. You see, Jesus knew that, among these followers were many who were only there for what they could get out of it, NOT for what they could give. He knew that there were plenty who revelled in the power and the glory, just as a crowd oohs and ahs at a fireworks display, but turns away and forgets when the stars go out.
He also knew that He hadn’t come to offer a quick glamorous fizz, here today and gone tomorrow, but to offer them the power of the Spirit to take over their lives and change them - to prepare them for eternity. So, one day, He stood in front of them all and said something which had them arguing fiercely, "The bread that I give to you is my FLESH. unless you eat the FLESH of the Son of Man and DRINK HIS BLOOD, you shall not have life within you."
He was offering full and complete humanity - the power to become LIKE HIM. When we eat His flesh we fill ourselves with Him - fill ourselves with His love, with His power, with His way of sacrifice. We become new creatures, truly human for the first time...................... But many of His Disciples couldn’t take it - "This Word is HARD" - they said, "Who is able to receive it".