Welcome to the Foundations Daily Podcast. My name is Helen and this week we’ll be looking at the last 2 chapters of Matthew’s gospel together. Very quickly you will see that we are going to be reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus – the Easter story – at the same time as we enter the second week of Advent and focus again on the birth of Jesus – the Christmas story.
The timing may seem a little peculiar; a bit unseasonal. However, it is a great reminder that the whole Bible is a story. It is a story of love and a story of rescue; the story of a baby and the story of the man that he became. Through this story we learn many things, and one of them is that God’s timing is never strange or out of season. God’s timing is always perfect.
This week my prayer is that as we move through Advent and remember Jesus coming to earth as a baby, as well as reading these Bible passages about his sacrifice on the cross; we will see again that the Bible is the story of God’s great plan for the world……..and for us.
From start to finish, Jesus is the central character of the Bible. Therefore if we are to fully understand God’s plan, it’s really important that we understand who Jesus is. In today’s podcast we are going to look at Jesus as the King.
Matthew 27:37 says: “Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Jesus is also taunted for being a king in verses 28, 29 and 42. These accusations of kingship are seen in all 4 gospels, and are central to the crucifixion narrative.
Throughout the story of God and his people, there had always been the promise of a king. We can read prophesies about this throughout the Old Testament. And at the very start of the New Testament, Matthew takes the time to write out the entire genealogy of Jesus to show that he has indeed been born into the line of King David, and when the Wise Men arrive in Chapter 2 they immediately declare, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?”
The promised king was going to change everything.
He was going to bring unity to the tribes of Israel, he would restore the Jewish people to the lands they had been promised, and his reign would bring an end to the supremacy of the Roman Empire.
However, it was this claim of kingship that Jesus was placed on trial for – because the whole point of being a sovereign is that there can be only 1 of you……and in 1st century Jerusalem, the Roman emperor was that one.
And so despite the hopes and the expectancy that he was the king who would change everything, Jesus became a huge disappointment. The written charge against him: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS,” was nailed to the cross as a sarcastic, ironic statement, about this supposed king who had changed nothing.
However, 3 days later Jesus proved he was sovereign over death and was not merely an earthly king, but Lord of all eternity.
So, we know the end of the story, but what does it really mean to have Jesus as our king?
Firstly, it means a change in our expectation.
Jesus’ kingdom was not about establishing a political movement for the here and now, for that moment in Jerusalem, simply to solve the problems or complaints of the Jewish people.
Jesus is sovereign over our present reality, but he is also Lord of the future. When we read the book of Revelation, we realise that to have Jesus as our king means we need a completely different vision of the kingdom for which we work. Jesus even told us that we should change our expectation when he said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus as our sovereign doesn’t mean that all the difficulties in our present disappear, or instantly get sorted, but through Jesus – the King of Kings – we have a hope for the future.
Secondly, it means a change in our allegiance.
Tomorrow, Members of Parliament will vote to either accept or reject the withdrawal agreement, which sets out the terms of the UK leaving the European Union. It raises important questions about our sovereignty as a country and our ongoing relationship with Europe. The vote tomorrow will have an impact on all our futures.
However, there is a more important question that all of us need to ask……. Where does my allegiance lie, when I am faced with accepting or rejecting the sovereignty of Jesus? And our answer to that question has an impact into all of eternity.
If Jesus is the true king of our hearts and lives, then it means submitting our will to the will of the king. It means breaking unhealthy relationships, walking away from worldly idols, anything, that would seek to have us bound to them instead of Jesus.
Having Jesus as our sovereign is not like Brexit. We can’t try and broker a ‘better’ deal. We can’t take bits that we like, but reject those that we don’t. We can’t keep some of our old allegiances, or keep ourselves on the throne. There can be only one sovereign.
And finally, it means a change in values and priorities.
In Matthew Chapter 5-7, we read the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ – Jesus’ great kingdom manifesto, where he sets out kingdom values and explains how we are to bring them into everyday life. We learn from this that when Jesus is our sovereign it means giving everything to him – our time, our money, our relationships, our family, our jobs, our dreams. It means living out the gospel in the world and being more like Jesus in our actions, our attitudes and our encounters with others. When Jesus is our king, it means we will follow him no matter what the cost. He told us to “Seek first the kingdom of God” and that means letting him set our priorities.
The story of Jesus is the story of a king.
A king who changes our expectations
A king who calls us to change our allegiance
A king who shows us how to change our values and our priorities
A king who came as a baby
A king who triumphed over death
The king who changed everything
Where do you need to know Jesus as your king today?
Jesus, thank you that you are the King of Kings. Help us to live in such a way that our lives declare “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” Amen
READING: Matthew 27:27-44
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers round him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.