Unexpected King ~ 20210110 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
01/10 Jesus in His Own Words; The Unexpected King; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20210110_jesus-unexpected-king.mp3
We’ve been looking at Jesus in his own words; what Jesus said about himself; why he came, where he came from, that he’s coming back, and in the mean time how we should live while we wait for him.
Today I want to look at something else he said about who he is, who he claimed to be.
The Promised King
Jesus is the King. The Magi came to Jerusalem
Jesus is the King, and he deserves to be worshiped.
The angel came to Mary and said:
Jesus is the great King, promised to sit on the throne of David. Jesus is the King who will reign forever, whose kingdom will never end.
The prophet Isaiah foretold:
Jesus will shoulder the responsibility of governing. He will sit on the throne of David and establish it in peace, justice and righteousness.
The Prophet Daniel:
A Son of Man given everlasting dominion, a kingdom that will never be destroyed.
When Jesus was put under oath by the Jewish high priest, who asked:
Jesus affirmed that he was Messiah, Son of God, seated at the right hand of his Father, the I AM. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
History of Kings
To really understand Jesus, we need to understand something of the background of kingship, and the experience of Israel with kings.
After 400 years in Egypt enslaved, God delivered his people and took them to be his own, to serve and worship him alone. He gave them his law and they bound themselves by covenant to be his subjects and obey his statutes. He led them to the promised land, but they refused to enter in, and wanted to return to Egypt. 40 years later, after that disobedient generation died in the wilderness, God brought his people in to the land under Joshua’s command and the Lord delivered their enemies into their hands. After Joshua died, the people did what was right in their own eyes and worshiped the false gods of the people of the land, so God gave them into the hands of their enemies. When they cried out to the Lord for rescue, he would raise up a judge to deliver them. Once they had peace, they would again turn away from following the Lord. This time of the judges continued over 300 years as they spiraled worse and worse. Because of their corruption, God raised up Samuel to lead them, but when he was old and his sons were not godly, the people demanded a king to rule over them like the peoples around them.
In their demand for a king, Israel was rejecting God as their king. God told Samuel to warn them what a king would be like.
A king would tax them heavily and force them into his service. After Saul’s disobedience, things went relatively well under David and Solomon, but after Solomon’s extensive building projects (and his many wives), the people were crying out for relief;
Rehoboam refused, so after only around 100-120 years, the kingdom was divided between Israel and Judah. The history of the kings was disastrous, with only a few shining exceptions, and after 200 years, Israel fell to Assyria. Another 150 years and Jerusalem fell and Judah went into captivity in Babylon. After about 50 years of captivity, exiles were allowed to return and begin to rebuild the temple and then Jerusalem, but the Jews never fully regained their freedom, being ruled by the Persians for about 200 years, then successively by the Greeks, Egyptians and Syrians for the next 160 years. The Jews regained some measure of control for about 100 years under the Hasmonean dynasty, until conquered by the Romans in 63 BC, who appointed local puppet kings over the Jews. It is into this context and under the Roman Emperor Augustus and under king Herod the Great that Jesus was born.
Expectations of a Conquering King
The Magi announce the one born King of the Jews, which sends Herod on a jealous rampage, slaughtering all male children 2 and under in the whole region of Bethlehem. Joseph, warned in a dream, fled to Egypt and returned after Herod died.
Jesus is born King of the Jews. Jesus is the I AM, God come in the flesh, God with us. He is the sovereign, the omnipotent, the ultimate authority. He is the lawgiver and the judge.
Mary was told that God would give him the throne of David, and that his kingdom would never end. Expectations were high. John prepared the way for Yahweh. Jesus began to gather followers.
But among his closest followers, there was argument over who would have the highest positions of honor in his kingdom (Mk.9:34; 10:37).
He fulfilled prophecy by healing the sick, casting out demons, and feeding the multitudes. But in John 6,
Jesus is the King, but not the kind of king they expected. Jesus will establish his rule, but not in the way they think. In John 7, Jesus’ own brothers seek to force his hand at the time of the Feast of Booths. They suggest he go openly to Judea, to show himself to the world. Again, Jesus declines the public spotlight.
But his disciples are convinced, and many in the multitudes are suspecting that he is the Christ.
By John 12, as he entered Jerusalem, the crowds
The crowds hail him as the King of Israel, and Jesus accepts the title in fulfillment of Zechariah 9.
The Unexpected King
But by John 13, things are turning. Jesus predicts his betrayal by Judas, and even questions Peter’s confidence and warns him that he will deny him three times. He tells his disciples that he is leaving them, but they ought not to be troubled.
In John 18, Judas has procured a band of soldiers
The King is confronted by an armed mob. I love this passage! Jesus the King confronts the mob in the dark and unveils his glory.
What just happened? Jesus clarifies who they are after and volunteers himself. They are after Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus says ‘that’s me’. Literally, he says ‘I AM’, an echo of the divine name from Exodus, YHWH, the self-existent one. And when he says ‘I AM’, Judas, the band of soldiers, the officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, with their lanterns and torches and weapons all draw back and fall to the ground. I wonder what they were all thinking at that moment! ‘What just happened? Why am I on my face? Did I just black out? Why is everybody on the ground and Jesus alone is standing, unarmed but in absolute control?’ Jesus unveils just a glimpse of his deity with the words I AM, and his oppressors are compelled to bow the knee to the King.
Jesus, in absolute control, willingly gives himself up in order to protect his followers.
My Servants Would Fight
This time it’s Peter who forces his hand. Peter no doubt just saw everyone fall down at Jesus’ word. He has Jesus’ words that he would deny him ringing in his ears, and he is determined not to let that happen, so he pulls his sword and starts swinging.
Jesus is the King, and Peter is going to do all he can to protect him from arrest. He is willing to go down swinging for his King. Peter understands the game of chess; sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn in order to protect the king and gain the advantage. Peter is willing to be that pawn. But this is where Peter is wrong.
Normally, a king would be honored to see his loyal subjects risking their lives to defend him. But that is not why Jesus came. Peter is not the one who will die today protecting his King. Jesus is a King come not to be served but to serve, not to have his faithful subjects give their lives to protect him, but to give his own life a ransom for rebellious subjects. Jesus is willing to lay down his life for Peter.
Jesus is King, but his kingdom is an upside-down kingdom. When his disciples were discussing who was the greatest, he said
When James and John were seeking to secure the places of honor in the kingdom;
Jesus is omnipotent King, and he came with all power to seek and to save the lost. He came not to lord it over others, but to be the slave of others.
Later in John 18, now being questioned by Pilate;
Jesus is King, but his kingdom doesn’t follow the pattern of this world. If it was a worldly kingdom, the servants would fight to protect their master. But Jesus the King is fighting for the lives of his subjects. And as their King, he resolutely determined to die to save them.
Peter didn’t understand. He didn’t get it. This sent him into a tailspin. This was so upside-down it was disorienting. He didn’t know which way was up. He ran away with the others. He followed at a distance. He denied he even knew Jesus. He ran to the empty tomb. He went into hiding. He went back to fishing. He was wrecked by the risen Lord when he met him on the beach, when he asked him if he loved him, when he invited him once again to follow him. Peter was beginning to understand what love was, and what it meant to follow Jesus.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org