Summary: If you yield to Christ your meager realm – if you fly the white flag of surrender over the dominion of your heart – your life will become yours in a way you never dreamed.

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First Presbyterian Church

Wichita Falls, Texas

June 19, 2011


Isaac Butterworth

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When I was a kid, we used to play a game called ‘King of the Hill.’ Everyone would get together and choose some place to be the ‘hill.’ Sometimes, we were lucky enough to have a dirt mound to play on, but not very often. It might be a bed or a sofa, unless, of course, our parents got ‘wise’ to what we were doing. It could be porch or some other elevated surface. Anyway, the higher the ‘hill,’ the better.

And once we had the place, whatever it happened to be, someone would position himself on it, and he would be ‘king of the hill.’ The rest of us, of course, would do our best to push him or pull on him until we could get him off the ‘hill.’ Then one of us would take his place…only to have the others try to take our place. As you can imagine, no one remained ‘king’ for long. There was always someone else willing to use force to gain command of the ‘hill.’

When you think about it, there’s something parabolic in this child’s game. Power is a prized possession, and its appeal asserts itself at every level of life. When we hear names like Mit Romney and Tim Pawlenty on the evening news, or Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin, we’re witnessing the bid for power at the highest levels of American life.

But jockeying for position is not limited to the race for public office. The workplace, too, has its own version of ‘politics.’ In fact, no place seems exempt from the effort to gain personal advantage by seizing control or seeking influence. Even the home can become an arena in which people try to gain power over each other. Children vie for their parents’ approval, siblings argue over the distribution of the estate, and husbands and wives often sabotage each other to see who will be ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of their particular ‘hill.’

And that’s not all. The human heart, too, is a field of conquest. Who or what will control our affections? Who or what will determine our desires? Who or what will claim our allegiance?

There are many suitors to the heart, it seems, but when we look more closely, there might really be only two. One is the true husband of our heart, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. He is our rightful King. But we are set against acknowledging him. Like children at play, simulating violent overthrow, we imagine ourselves to be ‘king of the hill.’

And that is the other ‘suitor’ of the heart: the self. Jesus announces, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,’ and we declare, ‘Not this little part of earth! No way! I’m in control here!’

The passage we read from Matthew today is often referred to as the Great Commission, and many of us can probably recite it from memory: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations….’ That’s verse 19, but did you notice? When we read it, we didn’t start with verse 19; we started with verse 16, which gives us the setting for Jesus’ ‘great commission.’ We find Jesus’ disciples together on a mountain in Galilee – I might call it a hill, if you will permit me to do that. And they see Jesus, the risen Lord. And he is on top of the hill.

And that’s where he should be, right? After all, ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ has been given to him, and he is ‘king of the hill.’ He is the rightful King of every hill, of every nation, of every heart. Is this not true?

And some of the disciples acknowledge this. ‘They worshiped him,’ Matthew says. The most common word for ‘worship’ in the New Testament – and the one used here – means to kiss the hand of a superior. ‘From this hand,’ the gesture says, ‘I receive my life and all that is good, and, because of this, I am your willing servant.’ That’s what most of the disciples do. They worship Jesus.

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