Messiah Lutheran Church :: King - Name of Wondrous Love

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Dear Friends in Christ,

            When Queen Elizabeth, who is now 86 years old, has a tummy ache like she did this week, and the media covers it like a blanket.  In spite of her age a lot of English people don’t like the Royal House of Windsor.  There is a political party inEnglandwhose major plank in their political platform is to get rid of the House of Windsor and not fund them anymore.  Some Englishmen call them scroungers.  Reports say that the royal family is given about $59 million a year to keep the monarchy going.  In economically bad times they say that is just too much money.  Yet one wonders how many paying tourists come looking for all the pomp and circumstance the royal family brings toEngland. 

            Someone did some research and compared the cost of the royal family to the cost of our own President.  I was shocked to find out that theUnited Statesspends $1.4 billion to fund all the things that our president has and does.  Compared to our president, Queen Elizabeth is a bargain. 

            According to one source there are still 29 monarchies still in existence in the world.  Many are in the Middle East and northernEurope.  Queen Elizabeth is the queen over 16 nations which includesCanada,Australiaand a number of island nations in theCaribbean.    

            But when we talk about kings and rulers, there is really only one Jesus.  Tonight, as we did last week, we go into the Judgment Hall and see Jesus with Pontius Pilate.  We understand another “Name of Wondrous Love – King.” 1)  We see the king they wanted; 2) We see the king they needed.

            Originally Israel was set up to be a theocracy.  God was supposed to be their king.  While it is true that God used leaders like Moses and Joshua to lead them and judges like Gideon and Samson and Samuel to lead them, they led them through some difficult times, but didn’t really govern them.  God did that with the laws he gave to Israel.  Judges were set up over the people.  The judges applied God’s law accordingly and appropriately.  That was the way it was from the time of Moses until the time of Samuel, the last of the Judges of Israel.  I covered a period of about 350 years.

            Israel, however, felt they were losing status with the neighbors.  They wanted a king.  When Samuel got on in years, he appointed his sons as leaders.  They were not chips of the old block.  Samuel was impeccable in his faithfulness to the LORD, his sons, Abijah and Joel, were not.  That was evident.  “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have,” complained some of the in-group ofIsrael.  A saddened Samuel took their request to God.  The LORD told Samuel that he shouldn’t take it personally.  They are rejecting the LORD, not Samuel. 

            But Samuel went back to the people with this warning.  You will regret having a king.  A king will draft your young men into the army and put them in danger.  Your daughters will become servants of the king.  The king will confiscate the best land you have and make you pay taxes.  He will live like a king and you won’t.  Is that what you want?  “Yes, that’s what we want, replied the people. 

            While all this occurred inIsraelaround a dozen centuries prior to Jesus’ trial in the Judgment Hall,Israel’s desire for a king never ceased.  They thought Messiah would be a king too. Israelwanted Messiah, however, to be in the image they wanted him to be and not in the way God promised Messiah would be. 

            We go into the Judgment Hall and hear the conversation between Pilate and Jesus.  “Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  We can see how this conversation would influence Pilate.  After Pilate wimped out and condemned Jesus to die on the cross, do you remember how Pilate put that sign on the cross that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews?”  Remember how the Jewish leaders were offended.  They demanded that Pilate change the sign, “He claimed to be the King of the Jews.”

            That doesn’t mean the Jewish leaders didn’t want a king, they just didn’t want Jesus to be their king. Jesus and the Jewish leaders had all kinds of confrontations that proved to them that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah King they wanted.  Jesus’ way of looking at things was not the way they looked at things. They were on different pages, even different chapters of different books.

Read Matthew 23.  It is a whole chapter of ‘woes’ that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees and scribes, the spiritual leaders of the Jews:

  • “Woe to you, teachers of  the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of      heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
  • Woe to you, teachers of      the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,   which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and      wickedness.” 

The Jewish leaders wanted a king but their kind of king.  It is almost laughable when the Jewish leaders later would say, “We have no king but Caesar!” the Jewish leaders screamed at Pilate.  Was that ever hypocrisy!  They hated Caesar, but they hated Jesus even more.  They wanted a king was to “would pry the heavy Roman boot off their necks.” They wanted someone who would marshal opposition against Rome and bring back the glory days of David.  Jesus didn’t fit the bill.  He told people to honor Caesar. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what it God’s.”  He spoke about a kingdom that didn’t have borders.  He spoke about a heavenly kingdom.  Best get rid of him so that he doesn’t get in the way.

            While that was the view of the Jewish leadership, the common people missed the point with Jesus too. The saw the miraculous catch of fish, the healing of hundreds of people from every disease imaginable, the provision of a meal for thousands from a lunch intended for one.  They saw Jesus as the Jewish social security program that would never run out.  They missed the point too that Jesus is the Bread of life for sinners who are starving.  They too were wrong, those common folks!   

            What do you want your king to be?  No doubt about the fact that we  need food and drink and shelter.  Our king supplies it.  “The eyes of all wait on you, O Lord, you give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  But are we satisfied with that?  The Bible says, “With food and clothing, let us be content.”  But are we?  How about a new car in the new garage connected a house that will fit our needs more than the one we have now?  How about when life doesn’t have a sunny sky and the path we walk is anything but smooth?  How about when cancer strikes, a child rebels or plans fail?  Nothing seems to be heard from the king.  Does the king really care?  Does he really love?   

            We certainly ought to know better and quit questioning his kingship.  Instead of determining what we think we would like to have, let him be the king to fulfill the needs we have. 

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Kings and queens and earthly royalty are measured on the basis of how far their kingdom extends, the number of soldiers in their army, and the money their subjects contribute to their treasury.  They are often judged by the elegance and history of the royal palace in which they live. Our king, King Jesus is all about something else, something that sadly too many don’t understand.   

            I saw the following written by a Jewish rabbi. I was looking for an article that explained what present Jews were looking for in Messiah.  He wrote this:

“Years ago, a popular evangelical bumper sticker read, “I found it.” The Jewish version would read, “I’m still looking for it.” In contrast to Christians who assert that the Messiah has come, Jews would never be satisfied with any applicant for the job. Messianic claimants have all fallen short in the past and will in the future. Waiting around for messianic redemption is therefore a distraction from life’s immediate challenges.”

            That is a question that people often ask me, what are present day Jews looking for in Messiah?  Bottom line is that there is no one thing; everyone as a different opinion according to this Jewish Rabbi.

            Jesus would say this to him, to us, to all.  Turn away from what you want and turn to what Jesus needs to be for you.  Jesus, our King, wants us more than anything else to be part of his kingdom.  I am your king, he says, but I don’t want your land or your homes.  I don’t want your taxes and your sweat.  I want your heart.  I want to rule over you with my love.  I want you to know the simple truths about salvation.  My kingdom is not about pomp and circumstance; it’s all about forgiveness.

As your king I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.  I came to give my precious blood so you could be mine; not for a few short years, but for eternity.  I came to assure you of a place in my Father’s house where never again will you hunger; never again will you thirst. The sun will not beat down on you nor any scorching heat. For I am the Lamb at the center of the throne and I will be your shepherd; I will lead you to springs of living water. ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”  That’s Jesus – King, another name of wondrous love.

 

Amen

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