A message preached last weekend by Kim Roberts is what I present today. I asked her especially for this and her previous week's messages. They were both outstanding.
Sermon November 20, 2016
Jesus is mocked. He is on the cross, suffering the fate of a criminal.
“Some King you are! Save yourself,” they all taunt.
Jesus could have saved himself, only hours before, through Pontius Pilate;--- but he chose not to.
Pilate would rather have been anyplace but there at the governor’s palace, deciding legal matters. But that was his job. And on this unfortunate morning, the Jewish leaders appeared and thrust Jesus at him. “This man claims to be a king,” they said, implying that Jesus claimed to rival Caesar.
They brought this charge to Pilate because they knew he would have to respond. A charge of sedition is serious.
Pilate asked them, “What has he done?” The men had no real proof, so they became indignant. “If he weren’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have brought him to you.”
So it seems Jesus is guilty by arrest, not necessarily by crime. Jesus is guilty just because he is in custody. Sound familiar? They wanted Jesus crucified, to be treated like a common criminal.
Pilate took Jesus aside and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” This is where Jesus could have saved himself. He could have said no, and that would have been that. But he said, “My kingdom cannot be seen.”
“What have you done?” Pilate now demanded, echoing the Jewish leaders, presuming Jesus had done something wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t have arrested him.
And that is how this innocent man, Jesus, did not save himself. That is how he died at the hands of a Roman governor. One more innocent man killed. Completely innocent, yet adjudged completely guilty.
We’ve probably all heard the words, “innocent until proven guilty.” But that only applies to the law. If you actually commit a crime, you are actually guilty.
The criminal is not innocent until proven guilty any more than the innocent man wrongly convicted, like Jesus, is actually guilty just because he is convicted. Someone convicted of a crime years ago and now freed because of exonerating DNA evidence ----was always innocent.
Jesus, though innocent, chose instead to endure death alongside all of the innocents throughout the ages. The death of these innocents tarnishes society with a deep sense of injustice. Justice has not been served.
Injustice is a darkness, a shroud over us. It exists because the human race somehow dances with darkness, is complicit with evil,--- and from that, we need a savior. We need someone who can take away the sin – the darkness – of the world.
Now, many people throughout the years have thought a King was needed to save them from that darkness.
Monarchy is appealing. It’s nice to have someone in charge, someone making the tough decisions, someone taking care of you, and guiding you when life is especially complex.
You may think to yourself, we Americans don’t want kings. After all, our constitutional democracy rejects monarchy.
But maybe our society still longs for a king. We are drawn to strong leaders. We want someone who will protect us from the pall of darkness, the Sin of the world. We want justice.
Of course, there is no such thing,--- no hero,--- no infallible king – not in this world shrouded by darkness. And yet …….
Today is Christ the King Sunday. The day that reminds us that there is a monarch who is just.
Pope Pius XI introduced Christ the King Sunday in 1925, a time when despotic rulers and systems began to take hold in Europe: Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin. The Pope wanted to advance a message of security through the rule of Christ over the chaos of tyranny.
And this is what Christ’s rule means: no earthly system is infallible. The shroud of darkness covers them all, covers us all. Injustice will continue in this world. And yet, there is a kingdom that transcends this darkness. Jesus himself said it: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
This kingdom of God stands in stark contrast to the systems of this world. The kingdom of God is real. It exists in the here and now. It is the kingdom that exists in the heart of men and women who give themselves over to the King of Kings. It exists in the hearts of men and women who give themselves over to peace.
It is because of the peace of that kingdom that we can promote justice here. It is because of that peace that we stand against bullying, bigotry and hatred. It is because of that peace that we feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
Justice, like a river, flows from that kingdom into this world, through you.
That is what the Kingdom of Christ means. It is otherworldly, and yet it is of this world. It is here and now, light against darkness.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
O Lord, please take away the darkness—the Sin of the world. Through us.
Reverend Patrick Vossen,