“TWO QUESTIONS EVERYONE MUST ANSWER”
Text – JOHN 18:33—38a
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR – CHRIST THE KING.
Today is the last Sunday of the Church Year and as we anticipate Christ’s Second Visible Coming and our preparedness for that Judgment Day, our focus is on our temporal and eternal Lord – CHRIST THE KING. When we face CHRIST THE KING on Judgment Day and prepare to enter into the full glory of The Kingdom He has prepared for us, there are two questions everyone must answer.
The first question is “Is CHRIST THE KING?” Pontius Pilate a low level Roman political appointee stood face to face with God Who came to earth as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to achieve eternal Salvation for all His subjects and asked, “Are you The King of the Judeans?”
We all know this King’s name is Jesus – the name given to Him by His Heavenly Father, through the angel Gabriel who said to
Mary, “You will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”
Ìησους in Greek and Joshua in Hebrew means “God saves” and, in those years when the names people gave their children said something about the hopes and dreams they had for their children, Joshua was a name people of faith often gave to their children Who they prayed would put their total faith in God Who saves.
We are all familiar with the man who replaced Moses as the leader of God’s people and whose father, Nun, named him Joshua. That Joshua knew how miraculously God saved His people from slavery in Egypt and as miraculously saved them from starvation and thirst wandering 40 years in the barren wilderness. Joshua led God’s people into the Promised Land confident that God would save them from the strong evil forces in their path. His name proclaimed his faith in God Who saves His people – freeing them from slavery and giving them a Promised Land. Confident in God Who saves, Old Testament Joshua followed wherever God lead him and God’s people. Joshua lived by the faith he had in God Who saves.
God named His Own Son Jesus – “God saves”. But with this Joshua-Jesus there was a difference. This Jesus is God Himself coming as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to save us – not from temporal slavery in Egypt, but from the slavery sin and death hold us captive to – and to lead us not into a temporal Promised Land, but into the full Glory of CHRIST THE KING’s Eternal Kingdom.
And Jesus has a title. The Christ - χριστος in Greek and Messiasin Hebrew - means The Anointed One. In the Holy Land, kings and prophets - called to service by God - were anointed with oil, blessed, and empowered to serve. CHRIST THE KING was divinely anointed to establish His Eternal Kingdom and to make us citizens in it.
The high priest and other Judean officials - putting their temporal positions and political expediency ahead of their God-given Faith - feared Jesus’ growing popularity and His exposure of their failure to lead their people according to The Word of God. To remove Jesus as that threat to their positions, they accused Him of challenging the authority of Caesar.
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you The King of the Judeans?”
Showing His knowledge of the political force attacking Him, Jesus asked Pilate, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Judean? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed You over to me. what have You done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world.”
Jesus was not saying He does not have authority over this world.
He was saying that The Source of His Authority is not of this world.
He said, “My Kingship is not of this world; if My Kingship were of this world, My servants would fight, that I might not have been handed over to the Judeans.” Temporal rulers assemble temporal servants to fight for them and to overthrow their enemies.
When God was visibly here as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ, the world was ruled by Caesar with the iron hand of the legions of Rome. Jesus replied to the Roman governor Pilate, “My Kingship is not of this world.” The Source of CHRIST THE KING’s Authority was and is divine and His Reign eternal.
Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?”
Jesus came as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to redeem us as members of His Eternal Kingdom so 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’s response brings us to the second question we all must answer. “What is Truth?” Sadly today, Truthis something many in the media, in government, in entertainment, in education and even in the church have problems defining.
Twentieth Century heretics did not invent political correctness.
It was well established even before Pontius Pilate practiced it. To Pilate, truth was what Rome and Pilate said it was and what they said it was was whatever was politically expedient at the moment. Pontius Pilate could truthfully find Jesus innocent of all charges and still sentence Him to be crucified because that was the politically correct thing to do.
Jesus said, “if My Kingship were of this world, My servants would fight.” We are all familiar with militant Muslims who practice Jihad. Sunni ISIS members are caliphatists. A caliphate (
خِلافة) is the official Islamic world government ruled as a dictatorship by a caliph and Sharia Law. The caliph (خَليفة khalīfah or successor) is Muhammad’s successor – not as messenger of God, for they say Mohammad was God’s final messenger – but the caliph is successor as commander of the faithful and conqueror of all who do not believe as the Caliph believes. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaims himself to be the caliph - the absolute ruler of the worldwide Muslim state. All Christians, Jews, and Muslims who stand in the way of his caliphate world conquest are the enemies to be eliminated.
In the midst of the threat from ISIS, there is an even more dangerous enemy. It is the assault – inside and outside of Christ’s Church – on the Faith, Ethics and Morality of CHRIST THE KING’s Kingdom in heaven and on earth. It is the failure to recognize the Lordship of Christ and The Truth of His reign. It is the devaluing of human life and the destroying of the family God Himself created. It is the world’s idolatrous beliefs and its lack of God-given Faith.
There are always enemies of Christ’s reign who know that to attack Christ they must destroy Truth – as today they rise to launch the most pervasive attack on Christian beliefs and morals in the history of the world – some of the attacks come from idolatrous religions and some from hedonistic organizations. We are seeing the tragic human harvests created by both groups.
Those who promote old sins as new virtues and who belittle the Authority of God's Word like to accuse those who are faithful to THE WORD OF GOD of being judgmental and of thinking too highly of themselves. Nothing could be farther from The Truth. Those who are faithful to THE WORD OF GOD are people who recognize we are all sinners who don't have all the answers. Those who are faithful to THE WORD OF GOD know that God does have all the answers and that, in Love and Grace, God is willing to share The Truth with us and through us.
The Truth is that Jesus - God saves - is Emmanuel– God with us – God as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ coming to save us from sin, death, and the devil. The Truthis The Christ is The Ultimate Sovereign establishing His Eternal Kingdom for our temporal and eternal citizenship.
As I began to write this sermon, I wrote phrases like the ultimate truth and the real truth – how redundant! Truth is Truth – it is or it isn’t.
Is Truth the politically correct pronouncements of a ruler who proclaims Jesus totally innocent and condemns Him to a politically correct horrible death? Is Truth the words of some judges, politicians, media figures, preachers, bishops and others who make of truth whatever suits them and their desires in the moment? Is truth political forces, in the name of religion, murdering and raping to make their brand of idolatry the world’s truth? None of that is Truth.
Jesus is The Truth. Jesus says “I AM THE WAY” (God’s Grace alone in Jesus Christ is THEonly WAYto our Salvation). Jesus says “I AM THE TRUTH” (our God-given Faith in God and in God’s Word is based on THE TRUTH). Jesus says “I AM THE LIFE” (THE only real LIFEis revealed and lived in Jesus Christ – all else is mere existence and a very temporal one.) Do we want The Truth? Jesus is The Truth.
“Jesus, Are you the King?” “Jesus, What is Truth?” Pilate didn’t really care about Jesus’ answer to those questions – not while Pilate was busy putting together his own agenda driven, politically correct version of truth. THE TRUTH is an encumbrance to people - inside and outside of Christ’s Church – who make their own pseudo truth a political correctness branding all who dare challenge it prejudice. Ultimately Pilate didn’t care and they don’t care.
Today – this final Sunday of the Church Year – we focus on CHRIST THE KING and The Truth. About that we care. About that we
must. That is The Truth from CHRIST THE KING.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST THE KING AND HIS WORD NOW AND ETERNALLY.
CHRIST THE KING – THE LAST SUNDAY OF THE CHURCH YEAR November 26, 2017
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio