Summary: This is a sermon focusing on who Jesus really is... it points to Christmas and casts a shadow of the Cross over the nativity.
Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or do others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
1) Transition of Christmas
2) Expectations of “The Messiah”
3) This is not my kingdom
4) What are our expectations of the Christ?
5) Looking forward to Christmas (shadow of the cross)
It is already that time of year again and it is hard to believe that it has come so quickly. When I graduated from seminary this last spring my classmates and I joked that even though none of us had jobs… we would be celebrating the start of advent in our new churches in what would seem to be a blink of an eye… and here we are. But before we launch headfirst into the wonderful season of advent… we have this Sunday… right here and right now… to properly prepare for the season.
This Sunday is “Christ the King” Sunday and for very… very good reason. Going into the Christmas season… it is the perfect time for us to remember who Christ really is and what Christ really did so that we can put his birth into proper perspective. It is very right then that our text today comes from John 18. The text comes to us in the midst of Jesus’ trial and soon approaching death. His accusers where people who did not understand who Christ really was and did not understand what Christ was really doing.
It all had to do with expectations. Being so close to Christmas, the example of a child’s expectations for what is underneath the Christmas tree is very appropriate. We all can still probably remember the huge dreams we had and the huge expectations we had for every box that was underneath the tree. Every wrapped box had unlimited potential to be the most amazing toy we have ever laid hands on. And then there was Christmas morning when we opened the presents to find dress clothes. What an amazing let down. Its not that they were bad gifts. Not at all. They were very nice and sometimes very expensive gifts. It is simply our expectations that had gotten in the way of truly enjoying the real gift for what it was.
This is exactly what happened with the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, and the Chief Priests. All throughout scripture, the Messiah was foretold. - Christ was a long expected savior. However… not knowing what was “going to be in the box once it was opened,” the Jews dreamed of a conquering hero who would destroy all of their captors, set them free, and be the strongest military leader they had ever seen. And that is exactly what they began to expect the Messiah to be.
Now… enter Jesus. Think of what his life was like… think about what his time on earth was like: a wanderer, a teacher, a man who insisted on turning the other cheek, a man who uplifted the meek and the mild. His earthly, perhaps more accurately political, power was nill. Now compare this to… our film images of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Imagine expecting Arnold… and getting Jesus. Imagine the terrible let down. It can’t be. It can’t be. And that turned into… IT CAN’T BE. He is NOT our Messiah.
Now… we know differently. We can see the messiah for who he truly was. We can that he WAS a conquering hero, that he WAS a mighty warrior, and that… really when you think about it he WAS the greatest political arbitrator ever to walk the earth. It just so happens that his war was a spiritual war rather than an earthly war with Rome. But the Chief Priests and other leaders of the day could not see it, for all they could see was their let down expectations and a trouble maker standing in front them. Solution… get rid of him… and wait for the true Messiah.
And that is where we enter our text today: Jesus, on trial… being personally questioned in private by Pilate. And Pilate asks a simple question. Verse 33 - “Are you the King of Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or do others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world, (if it were) my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”