Scripture: John 18:33-37
Today is the Sunday of celebrating Christ the King. Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday in the Church calendar, and we start a new church year from next Sunday with Advent. The new year in the church calendar does not start in January but with Advent, which is the season of waiting for Jesus’s coming. From Advent to Christ the King Sunday we hear and learn about Jesus’s birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection in our Sunday worship services.
On this last Sunday of the church calendar what do we hear from the Bible? The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is our King. Some of you may think, “What does that mean? Jesus is our king?” We don’t have a king in this country; and, perhaps, we won’t even have a president. We have had bad experiences with leaders throughout human history, no matter whether they were kings or presidents. Many ancient kings were oppressive and some modern political leaders commonly betray the public trust.
So, why do you think we believe in Jesus as our king? In today’s gospel reading there are two references to figures of authority: one is to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, and the other is to Jesus. Jewish religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate to put Him to death, but Pilate did not understand the accusations against Jesus. Actually, even the Jewish people in general didn’t know what wrong Jesus did. Perhaps Jesus’s teaching, miracles, and authority intimidated them.
Pilate had interest in Jesus because Jesus looked very different from any other political leader. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Interestingly enough Jesus didn’t say “yes,” or “no.” Jesus said to him, “Is that your own idea or did others tell you about me?” Jesus was challenging him to think for himself about who he thought that Jesus was.
Pilate was confused and kept asking Jesus what he did wrong. When Jesus said to him, “My kingdom is not of this world but is from another place,” Pilate said “Oh, you are a king, then!” Jesus said to him again, “You are right in saying I am a king.” Jesus neither directly affirmed nor denied Pilate’s words, but once again he returned the responsibility for decision to Pilate. Pilate thought he could judge Jesus and that he had power to save Him or to put Him in death. But Jesus was not afraid of him. Jesus only spoke the truth about himself and God. In conversation with Jesus, Pilate was given the opportunity to make his own decision about Jesus. Pilate was asked to decide whether he will receive Jesus’ word, or whether he will turn his back on God. Still today Jesus asks all of us to make personal decisions to receive Him or reject Him.
One day Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” He asked it not because he was interested in how popular he was, but because he wanted His disciples to know who he was and to be saved by His word. Jesus’ disciples answered him, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Jesus asked them again, “Who do you say that I am?”
Jesus challenged them to make a decision for their faith. Other people could say he was one of the prophets or teachers, but Jesus asked them who did they believe Jesus was. They spent three years with Jesus and saw many miracles. They traveled with Jesus to many places. Yet all the traveling and miracles did not mean anything until they confessed their own faith in Jesus.
Some people say they grew up in Christian families and attended church but they didn’t know who Jesus was until they developed a personal relationship with Him. They knew some famous Bible stories here and there. They heard preaching about Jesus but that preaching didn’t click in their mind. One day one of our church members expressed this. She grew up in our church and attended Sunday school and youth group when she was young. But she didn’t know who Jesus was. Now she really believes in sharing with people who Jesus is.
Among the twelve disciples, when Jesus told them He would die, it seems, perhaps, only Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are the Son of living God.” As the Son of God Jesus shows us who God is. One day one of Jesus’ friends, Philip, said to Jesus “Lord, show us the Father.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the father… I am in the Father and the Father in me.”
What kind of heavenly father do we see in Jesus? We see one who was willing to eat with sinners. Jesus enjoyed the company of people, regardless of who they were. He attended festive celebrations. That’s why His opponents called Him a drunkard. He associated with social outcasts like tax collectors and reached out to lepers and prostitutes. He came to the lonely and sick. He gave sight to the blind and made the lame walk.
The story of the New Testament forever reminds us that God has come among us in the person of Jesus to share in our lives. God is not out there, or up there, but God is here with us. The life of Jesus is the greatest fact that demonstrates God’s desire for friendship with us. That’s why Paul says, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.” When we come to celebrate the kingship of Christ, it is not political kingship. Jesus reminded us, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus is the king of hearts. He draws us to himself not by power, but by the loving and forgiving heart.
How and where do we meet the heart of Jesus with our hearts? It happens in public worship, private prayers, studying the Bible, and helping others. Worship, prayer, Bible study, and mission are the four legs of Christian life. If we are missing one of them, our Christian life loses balance and cannot grow in health. When Jesus asks us personally, “Who do you say that I am?” I hope all of us can answer, “You are the Son of the Living God.” To encounter the heart of Jesus that leads us to right belief in Him, I encourage you to come to worship services regularly, pray constantly, study the Bible faithfully, and participate in mission activities.
Once we meet Jesus’ heart and accept His love and forgiveness, we need to witness our faith to others. Once we have a personal relationship with God, it is so natural to speak to others of our own faith and relationship with God. There is no greater privilege and joy than enabling someone to find out about Jesus Christ. That is the greatest service that we can do for others. The last words of Jesus before His ascension were “Go and make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””