Jesus My King - Audio Service 28.11.21
with Revd. David Burrow
Or watch on youtube here.
The book referenced in the recording including the story taken from it is credited to Peter Shilling in 'In a Believer's Ear' published by the Dome Mission, Brighton England and all copyright is with the author.
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Hello and welcome to this audio service by the Rossendale Methodist Circuit. This service is slightly different this week as our Reverend couldn't make it to Longholme so he's recorded it at home so there shouldn't be much background or issues like that this week. This week's service is entitled, 'Jesus my King' and you'll hear Revd. David Burrow begin the service now.
Hello and welcome to worship the Sunday just gone was the last Sunday of the Christian year and it's when we celebrate Christ the King which fits perfectly with our ongoing theme of the titles of Jesus, in that hymn that we've been looking at with the help of Peter Shilling, 'How sweet the name of Jesus sounds' we've looked at Jesus as Shepherd, brother, friend, prophet, priest and now king.
So let's worship God as we listen to the words of Psalm 93, 'The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty, the Lord is robed, he's girded with strength, it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old, you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, oh Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice, the floods lift up their roaring, more majestic than the thunders of mighty waters. More majestic that the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord. Your decrees are very sure, holiness befits your house, oh Lord, for evermore.'
The Lord is king, how wonderful to affirm God as king in the old testament but of course in the new testament we read a lot about Jesus as king to and as the church we sing hymns such as 'Crown him with many crowns, the lamb upon the throne' as we remember Jesus the lamb who was crucified for us and yet after his death and resurrection and ascension and his return to heaven he is crowned as king of kings and lord of lords.
Let us pray, we draw near oh God of burning flame, we draw near and humble our hearts, we bow before the king of all kings. The shepherd of our souls. We approach the one who sees our hearts. God of compassion and justice, God of light and hope we confess the times when we have not exposed deeds of darkness rather closing our eyes and hoping for the best. When we have been too full of our shadows to share your light. When we have judged others by appearance and dismissed those you have gifted and called. When we have been to ready to criticise, too bound up in what we want to see and being blind to your purposes. Forgive us loving and merciful God in the name of your son. We thankyou Lord Jesus that our sins are forgiven. Open our eyes, open our ears, fill us with your spirit and make us new. And we praise you Lord Jesus that in turmoil and trouble we can trust you for you are the peace beyond war, the hope beyond despair, the light beyond darkness, stability amid chaos. Your love is indestructible and eternal. It surrounds us day by day and we thankyou for being our strength, our savior and our king. Amen.
How wonderful that the, the one who is king of kings should leave the glory of heaven to be born on earth to become a shepherd, a servant, a friend and finally a king. Now we're going to turn to the scriptures and to John's gospel, John chapter 19. Jesus is in front of Pilate and we've already heart about in, John chapter 18, how Peter denied knowing Jesus how Jesus was taken before the high priest and how the high priest questioned Jesus and then he's brought before Pilate and the Jewish leaders are asking for Pilate to pass judgement on him. And so we read these words at the beginning of chapter 19.
'Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged and the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him saying 'Hail king of the Jews' and striking him on the face, Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him." So Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "here is the man." When the chief priests and the police saw him, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him I find no case against him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the son of God." Now when Pilate heard this he was more afraid than ever, he entered his head quarters again and asked Jesus, "where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me, do you not know that I have power to release you and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "you would have no power over me unless it had be given you from above, therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." From then on Pilate tried to release him but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man you are no friend of the emperor, everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor." When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judges bench in a place called 'The stone pavement' or in Hebrew 'Gabbatha.' It was the day of preparation for the Passover and it was about noon he said to the Jews "Here is your king." They cried out, "Away with him, away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priest answered, "We have no king but the emperor." And he handed him over to them to be crucified.' Amen.
We have no king but Caesar. What a thing for the Jewish religious leaders to say. We have no king but the emperor. I wonder what do you expect a king to wear. The soldiers mocked Jesus with a crown of thorns and a purple robe, they called him king of the Jews. The truth was of course that their mockery pointed to the truth of who Jesus was and is. How could they know that in their mocking they were speaking the truth. Jesus is king. Yesterday, today and forever. And the bible tells us quite clearly that Jesus is indeed king. You know the title king is used most often of God in the old testament, just look at verse 24 and verses 9 and 10. The joy and exuberance of the people as they head to the temple to worship the king of glory, you know I sometimes wonder if only the same joy was there in people today. You may well find it pop concerts as people stream to the stadium to, well in some, I guess you could say to worship the band or the singer that their going to praise and adore and of course at football matches and I've often thought as I've been walking along the street and the crowds get bigger and bigger and the anticipation rises and excitement starts to move through the crowds that wonder of what they're gonna see and their hope that their team will win of course. There's that joy, that exuberance that we read about in the psalm of people going up to the temple to worship God their king.
How wonderful, probably true in many countries around the world but sadly not so many places in the west, maybe you know different. You know churches where people arrive early because they just cannot wait to worship their savior and their king.
So the title king used most often of God in the old testament is transferred if you like or inherited but Jesus in the new testament. Just like the title Lord. I mean do you remember what Mary was told when the angel Gabriel visited her, we're reading Luke chapter 1 verse 31, 'You shall call his name Jesus, he will be great and he will be called the son of the most high and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever.' Jesus is in the, was born in the royal line of King David, was one of his, well, his final successor really. The one who would hold the throne forever and as it says, he will reign over the house of Jacob, the house of Israel, forever. And the wise men came seeking Jesus and asked, 'Where is he who is being born King of the Jews?' Jesus' central message was that the kingdom of God had come and that his job was to set it up.
Just read his first sermon in Mark's gospel, Mark chapter 1, the kingdom is at hand, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Very short sermon that but I'm sure Mark has shortened it just to sum up it in that short sentence, what Jesus' central message was. The kingdom of God was at hand. It had arrived but not in all its fullness yet. So if there is a kingdom then there has to be a king and that king of course is Jesus. So Pilate's words behold their king must have reverberated in the ears of the crowd that day, was he jesting? Was he winding up the crowd on purpose? Or had God put something in his mind that he couldn't understand? Well obviously we don't know but what he said was true. Pilate even had a sign put on Jesus' cross I'm sure you remember, 'Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews' it said. and it was written in three languages, Latin, Greek and Hebrew so that that truth could be read by everyone despite the objections of the religious leaders and he wouldn't let, Pilate wouldn't let anybody take it down either.
Photo by Samuel Lopes via Unsplash
So the Bible clearly tells us that after Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that the early Christians joyfully acknowledged Jesus as their king. Not Caesar, they would not say 'the only king we have is the emperor' what they said was Jesus is Lord and that Jesus was their king. Even to the point of being imprisoned and put to death for it, they were willing to say Jesus is king. It takes a great statement of faith that doesn't it. If you look at, you know, you can read that in Acts chapter 17, this Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ. Paul causing a disturbance at Thessalonica and those who responded and believed were brought before the authorities, the accusation against them was, they're all acting against the decrees of Caesar saying that there is another king, Jesus.
And then of course in the book of Revelation, in chapter 17, you know just about every page echoes with the words 'Lord of Lords and king of kings' Jesus is the one who is Lord of Lords and king of kings, so the Bible tells us clearly that Jesus is king and today the church also claims that Jesus is king. You know, we sing those wonderful hymns, 'Crown him with many crowns the lamb upon the throne,' 'Sing we the king who is coming to reign' and sometimes maybe we sing it without actually understanding what we're saying. So it's good to remind ourselves that we are proclaiming that Jesus is king. King of his kingdom king of our lives. At Easter we proclaim 'the head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now' and of course there are those wonderful words 'at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess him, king of glory now.' And in response we all promise, 'King of glory, king of peace, I will, I will love thee.' The church exists to proclaim through our words and lives that Jesus Christ is king.
If you're going to have a king then you've to ask yourself what kind of a king is Jesus? You know we've got all kinds of examples of kings around the world even today, very authoritarian type figures who still today can proclaim you know off with his head or her head. And it will be done, just as Herod did to poor John the Baptist. We've got kings who really don't have any power at all and then we've got kings who might have shared power. But when we ask about Jesus' kingship, well he certainly wasn't the kind of King that the Jews were expecting a kind of warrior king, who was going to reinstate the Israel of king David's day. You know, Jesus says in John 18:36, "My Kingship is not of this world, if my kingship were of this world my servants would fight that I might not be handed over to the Jews but my kingship is not of this world." Jesus' kingdom is built on sacrificial love which is oh so important.
Peter Shilling tells the story of meeting with a Welshman when he was visiting someone in hospital who, well this was the person who he was visiting. And he was, as I said he was Welsh and he was a Methodist had grown up in his local Methodist chapel, you know, seventy years previously. And this Welshman explained to Peter Shilling that he had had a very strict and disciplined upbringing, he said, "We attended chapel every Sunday morning, Sunday school in the afternoon, chapel again in the evening, our whole life revolved around the society and the discipline of the chapel." Peter writes, 'and when I raised my eyebrows in a way that he took for criticism he went on the say, "But it was the most kind, loving and friendly discipline anyone could ever have."
I remember too being brought up in the same way, rushing around getting the cows milked first thing in the morning and everything sorted so we could get to church on time. And Sunday school at three o'clock in the afternoon and then if we could possibly make it and get the milking done in time back to church for six thirty in the evening, but it was really really special. It wasn't an authoritarian kind of rule of the church or an image of an authoritarian king in Jesus, it was because our parents wanted to respond to the love that they knew in God and the love that they knew through Jesus, his forgiveness of their sin and the joy of having Jesus as king of their lives. See Jesus' action is based on love, on kindness and on friendship and that's a really really wonderful thing, see Jesus' idea of power is nothing like that of this world, he speaks of himself as we know as the good shepherd, he's not a warrior, he lays down his life for his sheep, he sacrifices himself to set us free. Free from the power of sin and from the power of death. This is true kingship and kingship with the tendency to really stir things up because it's so so different.
So the Bible tells us that Jesus is king, the church claims that Jesus is king and when you ask about Kingdoms and kings and that well then you can only have a, a king can only be king if he has subjects over which to rule. And if we're gonna say that Jesus is our king then we are Jesus' subjects so what kind of subjects are we? You know, when we think about it, you know, any subject of any king owes that king their allegiance. Owes that king their obedience. Thankfully because Jesus' kingship is based on love, you know, we can respond to that love and if we don't love him back his kingship will mean nothing. But we love because he first loved us. Jesus longs to reign in our hearts but he never forces himself upon us.
Not many people get to meet our Queen in this country. You know, you might get a letter from her, which may well just come from the tax man, and I've seen one or two, well three or four birthday cards that people who have reached 100 have received from the Queen and I also know people who've met the Queen. My own parents included who said that she's a very down to earth person that you can have just a normal conversation with, which is wonderful and that is also true of Jesus of course. He was very down to earth and he was easy to talk to. But Jesus is more than that isn't he? More than that. Because he invites every single person on planet earth to get to know him, because of his sacrificial love for you and for me he simply asks for our love and obedience in return. To make him king of our lives, that he might reign in us and so enable us to be the people that God created us to be. When Jesus is king of our lives, we get to enjoy an intensely personal, wonderfully relevant and life changing relationship and we become citizens of heaven because Jesus' kingship, Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. It is now and not yet. It is now in our lives where Jesus rules to guide us and lead us with all wisdom. But you know we still have die but one day we will rise again and we will know his kingship and his kingdom in all its fullness. So our task, our task is to stir up ourselves to stir up others, to bring God's kingdom of justice and peace and love into the here and now in all its fullness.
And just as we were able to say Jesus my prophet, my priest, my friend, my shepherd, so today I pray that along with me you can say, Jesus Christ, king of kings. Jesus Christ, my king. Amen.
And you might want to sing or play one of the hymns that I've suggested, 'At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow' or how about 'As with gladness men of old.' Thinking about how the wise men came to offer king Jesus, baby king Jesus their gifts. Or even 'From heaven you came, helpless babe, the servant king.'
Let us pray. Lord God we thankyou, we thankyou for Jesus' rule, for Jesus' reign for Jesus' kingship. In our lives and in the lives of so many other people around the world and we thankyou that as we pray for our world, a world of such suffering, such pain, that in places like Iran and Afghanistan, in Yemen, you are there just waiting, longing for people to come to know you and we thankyou Lord God for groups like Sat7 and other groups that work with Christians in such difficult situations, such challenging places that you are there serving those suffering brothers and sisters of ours. Through these people. Lord we pray for strength. We pray for boldness. We pray for peace in these nations and Lord, we also think of the asylum seekers and refugees, and Lord we pray for those who risk everything crossing deserts, the mountains, across the English channel, Lord so many have died just fleeing from violence in their own nations, longing to live in peace. So we pray, we pray for those organisations that work with asylum seekers and refugees and we thankyou fort the asylum seekers and refugees that we have known and we pray again for them. For those who've been here now for several years and have started to settle down. We pray too for those who have just arrived and who we continue to support and help. Lord we thankyou for that privilege and that joy in being able to serve you in this way. And Lord we pray for your church locally, we thankyou for our brothers and sisters in Christ across the valley, we know that so many of our churches are struggling as people are finding the courage to eventually return to worship but also through lack of finance in many situations and just all kinds of problems caused by coronavirus. And Lord once again we pray for an end to the pandemic and just hope and pray that we can live away from the threat of the coronavirus, pray that you would bring it to an end. And Father finally we pray for those who grieve, we ask your blessing upon them and pray that you would fill their lives with your love, with your peace and with your joy, that they might know the hope and the promise of eternal life. And so Lord once again we turn to you and join all our prayers in the words of the Lord's prayer, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
And so our worship comes to a close and again you might like to sing, 'Sing we the king who is coming to reign' especially as we move into advent and look forward to celebrating not only the birth of Jesus once again at Bethlehem but that longing, that fulfillment of God's promise that Jesus will one day return. So may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face to turn upon you, and be gracious to you, and give you his peace, Amen.
Thankyou for listening, we hope you enjoyed the service. You can find us online on www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk and also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please do let us know what you thought of this service in the comments below and you can always contact us by email at email@example.com.