November 24 & 25, 2018 – Christ the King
Revelation 1: 4b-8
Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his own blood and made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever. Amen. Look, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. And all the nations of the earth will mourn because of him. Yes. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
“You’re old, tired, worn out. We want someone new, flashy, and special. We want a king.” That’s what the Israelites said to the prophet Samuel. The Lord said, “If a king is what they want, then a king they will get.” A respected Benjamite had a son named Saul. He was tall, a head taller than everybody else. That made him a regal, royal looking guy, just what the people wanted. He looked kingly, but he was not in God’s eyes. On the inside, Saul was a spiritual coward. He was a religious loser. All he cared about was power and his reputation.
History lesson learned, right? Don’t go chasing all the flash and power of this world. Don’t choose a spiritual loser to be your king. “Oh, we’d never be as dumb as those Israelites. We know better than to choose the wrong kind of king.” Oh, really? Look at what dictates the choices you make. There’s the influence of family that says, “Family is the end all and be all of life.” Then there’s the call of materialism that says, “The world has so many beautiful, wonderful things. Dive in.” Even sports can lay down the rules for our lives, “Practices and games are the most important thing in life.” When those influences are crowned king in our lives, we might as well build an altar in our homes to a football and pray to our family. It’s idolatry. Today look to Jesus. Crown Him the King: The King Who Was; The King Who Is; The King Who Is Coming.
Jesus goes right to work crowning himself King in our hearts. He tells us, “Here’s why I am to be the King in your heart… because of who I was.” Jesus says, “Grace and peace to you… from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Look at who Jesus was. He was the faithful witness. We think of a witness being someone who takes the stand in a courtroom to tell the truth. The first people to read these words read, “faithful witness,” and thought, “Yes that’s right, Jesus was the first Christian martyr.” He witnessed to the truth. “I am a King,” he said. And he died for it. Jesus also was the firstborn from the dead. That’s obvious right? What maybe is not so obvious is what Jesus meant by that. Jesus is saying, “I’m the firstborn, but I’m not the lastborn from the dead. I’m going to bring my subjects back from the dead too.” Jesus was also the ruler of the kings of the earth. Take Pilate for example. Pilate thought, “It is my power and my authority that kill Jesus.” Little did he know that he was just a pawn in the Great King’s plan. Jesus had all power and authority. That’s who Jesus was. He was the faithful witness (the martyr), the firstborn from the dead (but certainly not the lastborn), and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
“I get it pastor. We should crown Jesus King in our hearts because of who he was. I’ll get around to it next week.” At times, it’s difficult for us to crown Jesus King. It’s easier to let him take a back seat to other priorities. Why is that the case? The answer is simple. We have a sinful nature. He’s a wily old beast that knows the perfect way to dethrone the King in our hearts. He says things like, “Family is the most important part of Christmas. Time to downsize your giving to the Lord. Big shopping season coming up. Don’t want to miss out on the deals do you?” He says, “Hit the snooze on Sunday. I’m too tired for God’s Word today.” He orders, “Forget about God’s commands. Go ahead, gossip. After all, it’s true what they’re saying.” How often hasn’t our sinful natures won the battle? Here’s the scary part. The more battles it wins, the closer the sinful nature comes to crowning itself king in our hearts. And if that happens, then there’s nothing for us but flames of hell.
Yet just as we heard, grace and peace belong to us from our King who was, and also from our King who is. Our text says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his own blood.” There is the King we need. Yes, we listened to our sinful natures and sinned. And for that we deserve hell. Yet the real King of our hearts does not throw his hands in the air and say, “I give up. That sinful nature is just too fierce and tough for me.” Instead, the King loves us. Think about it. That’s a present tense verb. It’s not past tense like God loved us a lot, but he doesn’t anymore. He loves us with an unqualified, no strings attached kind of love. He loves us. Look at what else the King does. He has freed us from our sins by his blood. Jesus did that at the cross. That’s true enough. But again, that’s not something Jesus did in the past, but now figures, “Enough is enough. I’m tired of freeing them from their sins.” Jesus has freed us from our sins. That’s something he did in the past and its results continue on forever. You can’t lose Jesus’ forgiveness. You can’t sin too much for the King. His blood has freed us from our sins.
Listen to what else we get from the King who is. He “made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.” The King says, “You’re my royal princes and princesses in this world. You’re my royalty meant to serve.” God has elevated us above the world as his children. It’s true what he says about us in the Bible. We’re too good for the world. And yet we are still here. Why? We’re his priests in the world. We get to serve the Lord in all we do. We have a purpose—to spread God’s Word and share his love. How blessed we are by the King who is.
Then we are told, “Look, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him.” Crown him the King who is to come. The King who is to come will come in a spectacular show. He is coming among the clouds. He’ll also do something else scientifically impossible. Generally if people in China see something in the sky, we won’t see it at the same time. Look at how the King who is coming shows up. “Every eye will see him.” Some say, “That’s ridiculous. Jesus can only be in one place at a time.” They’re wrong. They don’t know the power of God. He is going to make the clouds his chariots and he will come. Everybody will see him.
Even “those who pierced him” will see him. Don’t just think here of Pontius Pilate, the Jews, or the Roman soldiers. Anyone who is not a Christian is someone who pierced him. They strike, beat, and hurt the king with their unbelief. And they will pay for their unbelief: “All the nations of the earth will mourn because of him.” The word, “mourn,” means to beat your chest. That’s how sad these people will be. They will beat their chests with sadness because it’s too late. They don’t get a second chance. They don’t have time to repent for sins and cling to Jesus in faith. They’ll be sent straight to hell.
Let’s take that warning to heart. Let’s not say, “I’m strong enough to make sure Jesus will always be my King.” We need to understand that we’re constantly being assaulted. There are all kinds of things that want to be the king. For each of us it’s different. Maybe for you it’s a sport. For others maybe it’s a girlfriend, husband, daughter or son. Maybe it’s your career, money, shopping sprees, or some sexual sin. It can even be a grudge, depression, or alcohol that takes over. Take God’s warning to heart. If Jesus isn’t the King of your heart when he comes back, you’ll be thrown in hell.
So let’s take the chance that God has given us right here right now. Repent. Repent for all the times something besides Jesus and Jesus’ words ruled your hearts. Repent for letting other influences become more important than the Almighty King. Repent before it’s too late. Then do the most important thing. Wash yourself in the Savior’s blood. Hold onto his perfect life and remember that his perfection is credited to your account. Hold to Jesus’ death with all your might and tell yourself, “I will not die because my Savior died in my place.” Rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection, which has snatched you from the jaws of hell. That is exactly how we crown Jesus King.
The King will come. It’s going to happen. Crown him your King. For he says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” The Alpha was the beginning of the Greek alphabet and the Omega was the end. If Jesus was speaking to English speaking people he would have said, “I am the A and the Z (and by the way, I’m everything in between too). I’m your beginning and your end (and your middle too). I’m your everything. I am here to protect you in life. I am the one to bless you and answer your prayers. I am the one who forgives you all your sins. And I will give you eternal life in heaven.” Yes, crown as your King, “the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.” Amen.