Summary: This sermon was prepared for Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in November of 2007. The thesis is that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are to follow in His steps in being servant leaders.
Kings, Queens, Presidents, Governors, priests, and pastors are called to be good role models before their people. Unfortunately that was never the case with any of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and with many of the kings of Judah as well. Our passage of Scripture this morning follows the surrender of Jerusalem under King Jehoiachin to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 597 B. C.
In II Kings 24 we learn all we need to know about King Jehoiachin. He was only eighteen when he became King of Judah and reigned only for three months. The Bible tells us that he was one of the evil kings of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, Jehoiachin not personally surrendered to him but also gave his mother, his servants, his officers, and his palace officials to the King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar carried away with him 10,000 captives which included all the artisans and smiths. Only the poorest citizens of Jerusalem were left behind. Therefore, God pronounced a curse on Jehoiachin in Jeremiah 22:30 just prior to the beginning of our passage of Scripture for this morning:
Thus says the LORD:
Record this man as childless,
a man who shall not succeed in his days;
for none of his offspring shall succeed
in sitting on the throne of David,
and ruling again in Judah.
Kings of Israel and Judah are often called shepherds. Jehoiachin and many of his
peers were poor shepherds who “scattered God’s flock of both Israel and Judah,
drove them away, and did not attend to them.” They did not set a godly example
before their people; they led their nations into sin, and thus both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were led into captivity.
Contrast the poor example of King Jehoiachin with that of the British Royal Family during World War II. King George Vi and his wife Queen Elizabeth remained in Buckingham Palace throughout the War rather than fleeing to the countryside for safety. During the German Blitzkrieg of London from September 1940 through May of 1941 Buckingham Palace received nine direct hits from German bombs. During that time 1/3 of London was destroyed by enemy bombs, but King George and Queen Elizabeth kept visiting the many areas of the city hardest hit proving to the citizens of London that their leaders loved them. The King also made visits to his troops in North Africa and France during the heat of the War [SOURCE: “The British Royal Family During the War” as posted on http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk?Homework/war/royalfamily.htm].
George and Elizabeth’s daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II, voluntarily enlisted in the Army and became a military truck driver before the end of the War. To date she is the only female member of the Royal Family ever to serve on active duty. There is even a famous picture of Princess Elizabeth changing a tire on her military truck [SOURCE: “Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom: Military Career” as posted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_II_of_the_United_Kingdom].
Today, as we come to the close of another Liturgical Year in the Church, we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. As next Sunday is the beginning of Advent, we remember that the Wisemen affirmed that Jesus was “born King of the Jews.” Paul calls our Lord “The King Eternal; in John 1:49, Nathaniel worships Jesus saying, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel.” The Book of Revelation names Him “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” “King of the Ages,” and “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
King George and Queen Elizabeth and then Princess Elizabeth set the example of being great leaders of and role models for their people by being servants. The Rev. Dr. John C. Maxwell is an honored pastor in the Wesleyan Church Dr. Maxwell and founder of two world renowned companies EQUIP and INJOY. Every year Dr. Maxwell is in demand not only to train leaders in evangelical Churches across denominational lines but also in Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and other such diverse groups as the United States Military Academy at West Point and the National Football League. He trains not only Christian leaders but business executives worldwide and “was named the World’s Told Leadership Guru by Leadership gurus.net.” [SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Maxwell].
Dr Maxwell, if not the original one to coin the phrase, certainly is a leading advocate and teacher in the principles of servant-leadership. Now we might consider that term an oxymoron; after all, when we think of leaders, normally such worlds come to our minds as prestige and power. The word servant conjures up such images in our minds as inferiority and slavery.
The neat thing about the appeal of Dr. Maxwell is the fact that he has discovered all of his leadership principles in the Bible and in the prime example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who became “The Servant-King.” Jesus is our greatest example in leadership, because just as He reminded His apostles, He still reminds us in Luke 22:25-27, ““The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”