You can't kill the King
Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22
In the madness of
the morning, you may not have heard it.
In the kaleidoscope of craziness, you may not have heard the
refrain. In the midst
of the circus and the carnival, you may not have heard those words
repeated again and again...those simple words underneath it all.
Those words said: “Jesus
Christ is king.”
When you came to
receive your palm cross today, you heard the same refrain over and
over again. “Sons and
daughters of Zion, rejoice, be happy, your king is coming to you,
humble and mounted on an ass.”
What was that first
hymn that you sang this morning, “All glory laud and honor, to you
redeemer king, to whom the lips of children their sweet hosannas
sing; you are the king
of Israel, David’s royal son, now in the lord’s name coming, our
king and blessed one.” (At
our contemporary 11:00 worship, we sang, “Oh, what an awesome God
is he, oh what a great and glorious king...Christ is king, let all
the world rejoice and sing.”)
Or the great hymns
that are sung today: “All
hail the power of Jesus name, let angels prostrate fall.”
or “Crown him
with many crowns, the lamb upon his throne. Crown him the Lord of
Life. Crown him the
Lord of Love.”
In the madness of
the morning, you may not have heard it clearly.
In the kaleidoscope of craziness, you may not have heard the
theme of the day that is: Jesus
Christ is king.
That theme is found
in both the Palm Sunday story for today and in the Passion Sunday
story for today. I
would like to tell you the Palm story and the Passion story that has
to do with Jesus Christ as king.
The two stories are so very different.
Jesus Christ was
king for only one day. Some
of you who are older and were raised on television back in the good
old days, in the 1950s, may remember that TV program called Queen
for a Day, starring Jack Bailey. Back in the old days, I used to watch Queen for a Day on our
black and white television set. The theme was this: a person would come forward and get a wish, any wish that
they wanted. The
audience was all women. For
example, if I were queen, I would wish that my blind cousin would
have a new washing machine and a seeing-eye dog.
Each contestant would give some sentimental wish, and the TV
show had an applause meter. If
your wish received the greatest applause, you would win and you got
to be queen for the day. The queen then stood before everyone and granted the wish:
a new washing machine and a seeing eye dog.
... After the show, a big white limousine would come and pick
up the queen who would live a life of royalty for one day in New
York City. But it was
soon over; she woke up the next morning, and life was back to its
normal routine. But she
was queen for a day and was able to grant the wish.
Such was the mood
of that first Palm Sunday. Christ
was king for a day, and there were tens of thousands of people who
were gathered. They
took off their white outer garments like the one I am wearing, and a
donkey came down the street, but its foots never had to touch dirt.
The donkey walked on those beautiful coats.
The people had palm branches and they waved them shouting,
“hosanna to the son of David.”
There were 2-3 million people in the city of Jerusalem; it
was just like the Sea Faire parade in downtown Seattle.
There were mobs of people, shouting hosanna to the son of
David. It was like a
circus; like a carnival; and Jesus was king.
But by the next
morning, they started to whisper,
“crucify him, crucify him,” and finally began shouting,
“crucify that phony.”
they thought he was going to be their wish king:
“Jesus, I wish you would heal my blindness.
Jesus, I wish you would cure my cancer.
Jesus, I wish you would heal my personality problems.
Jesus, I wish you would solve my financial problems.
I wish. I wish.
I wish.” And
when they found out that Jesus was not a wish king, they started to
whisper, “crucify him, crucify him.”
... Jesus was king for
a day. That’s one
story about Jesus being king. That’s the story from Palm Sunday.
And then there is
the story from Passion Sunday.
When Jesus was being tried before the Roman authorities, they
asked of him: “Are
you a king? We don’t understand what kind of king you are.
Are you the king of the Jews?”
Finally, they threw him out with the Roman soldiers, and
according to the story from the book of Matthew, he was standing in
a courtyard with a full battalion, that is, 600 solders. Jesus was
stripped down naked. Naked and exhausted, he stood before the
soldiers who shouted mockingly:
“We hear that you are king.
Well, if you are a king, you should have on a red cape, a red
royal road,” and so they put a red cap on him and all laughed.
“Ha, ha, ha. What
a funny looking king you are. Hey
men, if he is a king, he should have a spear.
Let’s get one of those palm reeds,” and they got a palm
reed and put it in his hands and said:
“There’s your spear.
Hail Jesus, king of the Jews.
Ha. Ha. Ha. Isn’t
that funny. If he is a
king like Caesar, he should have a crown.
Let’s cut some briar bushes and make him a crown.” They
made a crown of briar bushes and pushed it into his head.
They laughed and said: “Hail
Jesus, king of the Jews. What
a joke.” These same
soldiers took him up to Golgotha, nailed him to the cross, and
taunted: “Jesus, King
of the Jews, call your legions of angels to get you off the
And so we find two
very different stories: the
Palm story where Jesus was the “wish king,” to grant people
their wish for the day, and the Passion story of what a joke.
You see, those
soldiers didn’t understand the nature of his kingdom, and they
didn’t understand what kind of king he was.
They didn’t and still don’t understand when he said:
“My kingdom is not of this world but in this world.”
They didn’t understand when he said his enemies were not
Rome, but his enemies were hatred and prejudice and violence and the
evil that lurks in people’s hearts.
But they didn’t understand it.
They didn’t understand it when he said that he came to set
people free. They
thought that freedom meant to be politically free from the Romans;
they didn’t understand that he came to set people free. They
didn’t get it. They didn’t get it when he said that freedom was
freedom from hatred and the need to beat up and destroy other human
beings. He said, “I
have come to set people free” and they didn’t understand that
kind of kingdom at all. When
he talked about turning swords into plowshares and spears into
pruning hooks, they had no idea what he was talking about.
So the killed him. Executed him.
But I would like to
suggest to you that they did not kill the king or the Spirit of his
kingdom. For that king
and the spirit of his kingdom still lives on today, while those
soldiers that killed him died a long time ago. I would like to suggest to you that this king and the
spirit of his kingdom lives on and are the strongest force in the
world. This kingdom will be forever challenged but never defeated.
Let me illustrate.
Napoleon, if you
read your history books, and his solders came riding through a
beautiful church on their horses.
On the church walls were hand painted frescos of Jesus,
painted into the plaster. The solders came riding into the church on
their horses, with their beer mugs flow and flying high, and they
splashed their beer onto the face of Christ in the frescos. Every one of those soldiers grew older and every one of those
soldiers died, and every one of those soldiers met the king, now
eternal judge...face to face...and that king said:
“I didn’t like beer being tossed into my face. I don’t like it when you desecrate my holiness.”
It was Nikita
Khrushchev in 1962 that sent up Sputnik into the heavens and then a
short time later they sent up the Russian astronauts into space. A
Russian astronaut came back to earth and famously and pompously
stated: “We didn’t see any battalions of angels up in the
sky.” You may
remember Khrushchev’s mocking in the newspaper, questioning,
“Where were God’s battalions?” The Russian ruler
laughed and sneered, “No angels with our astronauts.”
Time passed and Khrushchev died. Khrushchev then met the king
of kings face to face who may have said:
“Nikita, it is now time for you to meet my battalions.”
You see, all kings
die. All presidents
die. All dictators die.
Every one of them has died and few of them are remembered. In
the thousands of years of history, their names are already or will
be gone, disappeared, forgotten, but there will be one king...one
name that will continue. The spirit of his kingdom is alive today as
much as it was 2000 years ago.
The great nations
will rise and fall. Think
of the great nations today. The
United States, Russia, China, Germany, France, England, Japan, and
in two thousand years from now, their names will be like Pamphilia,
Gad, and Silica. For
all the great nations which are so powerful today have their
nanosecond in history, are gone and their names are barely
kingdom and the spirit of God’s kingdom will live and shine when
all the kingdoms of the earth have since passed away.
And in every
generation past and present, there is always that group of skeptics
who come to the conclusion that God does not exist.
There are always the so-called great intellectuals of every
generation (Shaw, Camus,
Sartre, Huxley, Voltaire, Menken) who say that there is no God.
Every high school sophomore and every college sophomore comes to the
enlightened conclusion with their pea brain that there is no
personal God. Time goes
by, and all those sophomores grow older and still older and older
still; and as those skeptics and atheists are getting ready to die;
and they say to themselves: “God, I hope you exist. I may not have believed and walked
with you during my time on earth, but I secretly hoped that you,
God, live and exist. I hope that there is future life with you.”
Such is prayer of a dying sophomore in their old, old age.
They die and meet the king face to face, and the king says:
were wrong in your conclusions about me. Your hopes at the end were
What I am
suggesting to you is that they execute Jesus in every generation,
but no one has been able to kill the king.
No one has been able to kill the spirit of his kingdom.
Kings have come and gone, and kingdoms have come and gone;
and intellectuals have come and gone. All of them have at one time
challenged this king with their weapons or intellect, and then, they
have all died. But the king? The king and the spirit of his kingdom
live on into God’s eternal future. You see, the king is the Spirit
of the Living God and there is no earthly king, no nation, no
skeptic who in any way compares to the everlasting king, the
Ruling Spirit of the Living God.
And therefore on
this day, in the midst of the madness of the morning, did you hear
it? In the midst of the carnival and the circus, did you hear it?
Did you hear that word again and again;
“Jesus Christ is King.
Crown him with many crowns.”