Today we are celebrating Christ the King Sunday. Christ the King Sunday is the last day of the Christian year and as such we are taking time today to recognize all of the seasons of the Christian calendar so that we might be renewed and strengthened in the fact that Christ is our King! This morning we are going to take a look at what it means to call Christ our King and how that belief can direct our lives and our actions.
My boy Wesley is a thinker! I am amazed at how well he processes things and how eager he is to problem solve. Take this past week for instance. He has a birthday coming up and my mom wants to make him a birthday cake of his choosing. So we got together on Skype the other night so she could show him the pictures in the book and let him pick out which cake he wanted. How many of you know what Skype is? Basically, Skype is a free computer program that allows you use the internet to hook up two computer cameras so you can see and hear each other. It is a form of video teleconferencing. Wesley loves it because he can see and hear Grandmommy. Anyway, we were on Skype and every time Grandmommy would hold up the book, she would hold it too close and the image on our end would go black, rather than allowing us to see the image she was trying to show us. The first time it happened he simply called out as best as his one year old mouth would let him, “Grandmommy, where you go?” The next time it happened, he looked at me shrugged his little shoulders and said “where go?” I was beginning to laugh at how serious he was that she just disappeared. We could still hear her, we just could not see her. The third time it happened his brain kicked in, either out of curiosity, confusion, or frustration and he looked at me and very matter of factly said, “I do”. He jumped off my lap and looked at the back of the desk where all the cables are and pretended to follow one of them till he got to where he knows the camera is plugged in. He then looked at me and started calling out, “Daddy, Daddy, here!”, as if he had found the problem and was showing me where to fix it. Wesley was thinking about how he was going to solve this problem. And during his thinking he was going back and forth between Grandmommy, Daddy, and his own thoughts. He was confused about what was happening and wanted a resolution. Our Scripture lesson this morning gives us another confused person, Pontius Pilate.
At this point in Scripture Christ has already been arrested and stood trial before Caiaphas, because the religious leaders feared Christ and the influence he was having over their people. The trial before Caiaphas actually began the night before and went into the early hours of the morning. And when that was over, is when Pilate was summoned...in the early hours of the morning. You know when most people are sleeping.
Before going any further it is important for us to understand something about Pilate. He did not really like the Jewish people. He did not really like the city of Jerusalem. But as governor it was Pilate's responsibility to be in a city he did not like, making sure people he could not stand, were behaving themselves.
So Pilate is awakened in the middle of the night, in this city he does not like, by people he is not fond of, to try a man that he probably has no opinion of one way or another. So needless to say Pilate is probably not a happy governor at this point. Pilate probably wants to tell them to hit the road, but he understands that he is there to keep the peace and to send these people away will cause protests and unwanted attention and make his job much more difficult. So he agrees to meet with them. Then when he says to let them in, his advisers tell him that he will have to go outside to hear them because coming into his palace would defile them and render them unclean. I cannot imagine what must be going through Pilates head at this point. First he is unhappy about even being in this city. Then he is awakened in the middle of the night for a trial and told that the people that woke him, whom he in not very fond of, won't come into his house because it will make them unclean. They are not exactly getting off on the right foot with the person they want something from.
Pilate goes outside to hear their case and pretty quickly tries to dismiss it by telling them to try Jesus themselves by their own laws. They counter with the idea that they want Jesus crucified and only the Romans can do that. Pilate then calls for Jesus to be brought in so he can interrogate him privately. He asks Jesus are you the King of the Jews. Instead of giving him a direct response Jesus, after being up all night and beaten responds with a question of his own, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” I can imagine the confusion is beginning to roll in for Pilate at this point. He might be wondering why this man is not answering quickly and trying to save his own life. Surely He knows that Pilate has the power and authority to kill Him or save Him. But Jesus is not interested in appeasing Pilate. Fulfilling the prophecy is his objective.
Pilate continues his interrogation with Jesus by saying that he has no idea who he is and inquires about what he has done. Jesus finally gives an answer to the first question Pilate asked him, “Are you King of the Jews?”. Jesus responds, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Pilate then says, “You are a King then?” to which Jesus replies, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me”. (NIV John 18:36-37).
If Pilate was not confused before, he definitely is now. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Pilate even tries to pawn Jesus and his situation off on King Herod. Since the instant Pilate was brought into this situation it has been a sea of confusion for him. He has had to deal with accusations from the religious Jewish leaders, a vote of innocence from Herod, his wife telling him that she has had a nightmare about Christ and that Pilate is to release him, not to mention that fact that based upon his own examination he wants to let him go. Pilate is utterly confused as to why these religious leaders want this man dead. But through their constant pressure, his responsibilities as governor to keep the peace, and the confusion of the entire situation, he concedes and sentences Jesus to death by crucifixion.
Are We Confused
So this leads me to ask this question this morning, “Are we confused?”. Are we unsure of who Christ is? Are we allowing the hectic nature of this time of year, work responsibilities, or family responsibilities to replace Christ as the most important thing in our lives? To confuse us as to Christ's proper place in our lives?
Well there are a few things that we can do to help us not be confused. One is fellowship. Fellowship. Get connected with a group of people that you can count on and trust. I mean really connected. Find 5-8 people that you can form a group with and get together 3-4 times a month and talk about what you are going through. Find people that are close to you in age and situation and form a small group. Spend time doing devotions with one another. Spend time listening to one another. Spend time lovingly holding one another accountable. Spend time crying with one another. Spend time praying for one another. Get connected, be supported by other believers and do not be confused about where Christ is in your life.
Another is to read. Read your Bible, study the Word. Find a bible study guide online, from a book store, preferably get involved with an actual Bible Study group, but dive into the Word. As a church we have created a goal for each of the five practices that we as a church want to accomplish this year. And for Intentional Discipling our church wide goal is to get each person in this family involved in at least one Bible study this year. At some point in the year we want everyone to have been involved in at least one group Bible study. Also as a part of your study, read one Christ based book a year. Whether it be devotional, historical, exegetical, read one book a year that gives you a better understanding of who Christ is, what he did for our sake, and the extent of his love for all of us.
Next, pray specifically for Christ to be the center of your life. I know we all try and pray daily, sometimes several times a day. But I want you to consider praying specifically for you not to be confused about who Christ is in your life. God has promised to hear our prayers and I know that if you earnestly pray for this God will lift any cloud of confusion you might encounter in your life. Pray specifically and confidently for Christ to be your King and ruler.
We should not be confused. Christ does not want us to be confused. The Holy Spirit wants to lift our confusion. Pilate was confused, he did not believe. This life can make us confused. Satan tries to create situations to help confuse us. But stay strong, understand that Jesus died for you and knew your name when he breathed his last breath. This entire service is not only to familiarize us with the different seasons of the Christian calendar, but to allow us to see the love that our Triune God has for us. The willingness to meet us as we are, live as we live, and die as we die, so that we may have eternal life in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Folks, you are loved all year long. Please, do not be confused about who Christ is in your life. Christ is not confused about who you are in His!