DEFINING THE KING
Today is a unique Sunday in the Christian year. It is devoted to the celebration of
Christ the King. I want to say something about that before I get into the heart of this
message because I think that it will help to explain a few things.
The Sunday of Christ the King is actually the last Sunday of the Christian year.
Next Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent which is the beginning of the year. It is the
time when we prepare for the coming of the Christchild at Bethlehem. It is a time of new
beginnings. The Sunday of Christ the King, on the other hand, coming at the end of the
Church year is the day of completion. It is the day when all things come together. It is the
summation, not only of the year, but of our theology. To say that Jesus Christ is King is
to say that we remember all that he did for us to reconcile us to God and give us the free
gift of salvation. We remember his birth at Bethlehem, his ministry among us, his death
of the cross, his resurrection, his ascension and that one day he is coming again in glory.
To say that Jesus is King is to say all that there is to say. Although we cannot ever
adequately describe who Jesus is for us mere human words cannot explain such holy
things the metaphor of King gets about as close as we can get to describing who Jesus
was, is and always will be for us.
To say that Jesus is king is to say that he rules by divine decree. That means that
the king is the king because God wants him to be the king. We see it in the Bible. The
kings of Israel were kings because God chose them to be kings. King Saul, the very first
king, was appointed by God. So was King David his successor. So was King Solomon.
All of them were kings because God decreed that it would be so.
Biblical kings had a divine right to rule in a way that prime ministers and
presidents do not. That’s because prime ministers and presidents are elected by the
people. They are voted into office through a democratic process. The people put them in
office and the people can just as easily take them out. God may approve and bless their
rule but they are given their mandate by the people. Essentially, they are the first among
JESUS THE KING
This is where biblically the king is fundamentally different from prime ministers.
He is not the first among equals. The king is of a different order. Like Saul and David,
the king has a divine right to rule. He is placed there by God. A kingdom is not a
democracy. A king is not voted in and out according to the whims of the people. A king
is king for life. What the king says goes. He is not the first among equals. He is first
Along with that privilege comes great responsibility. It is the king’s mission to
provide for the needs of the people. That goes for everything from food and shelter,
wealth and security. A strong king means that the people will have a much easier time of
it. They will be safe from invading armies and terror and suffering. They will be secure in
their own land and they will rejoice and be glad. This is all because the king is not the
first among equals. He is the king – period. He rules by divine decree.
Today’s scripture reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians makes something
very clear. Jesus is the King. He is the first. Look at how many times Paul mentioned
this. In verse 15, we read, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over
all creation.” That doesn’t mean, by the way, the Christ was created. He was not. He
existed before time. In fact, he always has existed as part of the godhead. Verse 16 tells
us that because of Christ, all things came into being: “For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers
or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” It is through him
that creation happened. All things were created by him and for him. Verse 17 says, “He is
before all things, and in him all things hold together. Again, he is before all things. He is,
therefore, first. Verse 18 reminds us that, “… he is the head of the body, the church; he is
the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have
the supremacy.” Because Christ is the firstborn of the dead, he reigns supreme over
Paul lays down some rather impressive credentials for Jesus. He is no ordinary
man. Like any king, he is a cut above the other people. He is, in fact, a cut above us and
that’s why it is so very special that Jesus Christ, the King of Creation, chose to get up off
his throne, come down to where we are on earth and give his life as a sinless sacrifice so
that we can be reconciled to God again. He is no serf or pauper. He is no misguided
misfit who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was and is the Ruler
of the Universe, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,
the King of Creation.
DO WE PUT HIM FIRST?
Here’s a question for you. Do you give him the proper place in your life? Do you
put him first, where the King should be? Do you really do that? That’s what he wants.
That’s what he deserves but how many times do you actually put him first in all things
ahead of everything else?
There are all sorts of things in this world competing for your attention. There is
your family. There are your friends. There is your job. There is your school work. There
are your service clubs and your hobbies. There are so many things vying for your
attention. Where do you place Jesus in all of that?
It comes down to this: what are your priorities? How do you prioritize all of the
competing interests in your life? That’s an important decision because how you set your
priorities will dictate all of your other decisions. It will profoundly affect everything else
that you do.
I don’t do a lot of personal counselling with people but, when I do, I almost always
challenge them to think about their priorities. Where do they place family, friends, jobs,
school, hobbies and habits? And where in all of that is their church and their God?
That’s not an easy exercise for some people because when their priorities are laid
out in front of them, they often don’t like what they see. I’m very clear with people about
where their priorities should be. Listen to this and be very clear about it; your three top
priority should be: first of all, God; then your spouse; then your children. We can debate
the rest of priorities. Somewhere in there, you have to figure out where you place your
church, job, school, friends and the rest of it. But the top three priorities have to be God,
spouse and children.
Note, however, what comes first. God always comes first. It doesn’t matter who
you are or what you do, God has to come first. Nothing can come before him. Not your
families, not your friends, not your jobs or even the your church can come before God.
Not only is Jesus the King of Creation. You also must allow him to be the King of your
PUTTING JESUS ON THE BACKBURNER
Often when people get themselves into trouble, it is because they have forgotten
that. I hear people complain all of the time about how tired they are and how busy they
and how burnt out they are. I’m sure that you hear it all too. You’ve probably even said it
yourself. And the truth is that I don’t doubt those words. There are a lot of tired, busy and
burned out people in this world. They just get over-occupied with all sorts of stuff. The
challenge for those people is to consider whether or not they are putting Jesus first in
If you are one of those really busy, tired and burned out people, I have a few
questions that I think you need to ask yourself. Why are you so busy? What are you
trying to prove? Better yet, are you really accomplishing anything or are you just running
around like a chicken with your head cut off?
Do you remember that story of Mary and Martha in the Luke 10? In that story,
Jesus is invited to stay at the home of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. But Mary
and Martha are two very different people. Martha thinks that the most important thing
that she can do was be a good hostess, cook a good meal and entertain the guests. Mary,
on the other hand, is the exact opposite. She just sits at the feet of Jesus and absorbs
everything he says to her.
Martha gets a bit ticked at this because she feels like she is doing all the work. So
she complains to Jesus, suggesting to him that he should tell her sister Martha to get off
her high horse and get to work helping her. Do you remember what Jesus says to her?
Luke 10:41-42 (NIV) he says:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few
things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and
it will not be taken away from her.”
Basically, what Jesus is telling Martha in a very gentle way is that it is far more
important to spend time with him than preparing food and doing the dishes. Someone,
however is bound to say – because we always have a few Martha’s in every crowd – “but
aren’t food preparation and clean up important?” Of course, they are but, like everything
else, they have to take a back seat to Jesus the King. As the King, Jesus has to have the
Mary’s actions and attitude are what Jesus wants to see. Sadly, we don’t know if
Martha ever got the point. There is no record of her putting away the oven mitts and
sitting at Jesus’ feet. For all we know, she walked away in a frustrated huff and just kept
on being busy even after all that Jesus had said to her. But keep in mind that Jesus
GIVING JESUS HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE
One of the challenges that we all face is making sure that we are busy doing the
things that Jesus wants us to do. I read a story a while ago that rather highlighted this
point. It was written by a woman named Valerie Martinez. I have absolutely no idea who
she is except that she was a university student but I loved her story because it could
belong to any of us at sometime in life. It goes like this:
A year ago I was so pumped and fired up for the Lord. I was ready to do
anything and everything for him, and that’s exactly what I did. Can you
guess what happened? I ended up with the worse case of burnout I’ve ever
had. I was absolutely miserable because I was trying to do all of these things
for Jesus, and I couldn’t figure out why my efforts weren’t very fruitful. By
the end of the semester I was tired, cranky, and missing my Lord. I had been
sacrificing my relationship with him by doing things for him, and it didn’t
get me anywhere. I was seizing all of these opportunities to serve God
without even praying about it.
It was at the end of the semester when I finally got a clue. Just because
something is a good thing doesn’t mean it’s the right thing! I forgot to just
sit at his feet like Mary; instead I was rushing around like Martha doing a
whole bunch of nothing. Scripture says to “Be still and know that I am
God.” I knew that – I had just forgotten. So now a year later I am more on
fire for the Lord than I’ve ever been. I’ve learned to just relax in Jesus’
presence, and to be prayerful about what exactly he wants me involved in.
Because of that we’ve started a prayer meeting at school in the music
department. And I meet to pray and study the Bible with a friend who is
searching for the Lord. I’m doing more for Jesus than I ever have because
I’m spending more time with him than I ever have. Putting Jesus first and
making him an absolute priority makes everything else just fall into place.
I can certainly hear echoes of Valerie’s story in my life. What about you? Are you
putting Jesus first in all things? Are you letting him be King of your life or are you letting
other things take precedence? That’s a good question that we all need to ask ourselves.
I want you to think about this. There is not a single example in the Bible where
something good happened because someone put something ahead of the Lord. Adam and
Eve decided to put their desire for knowledge ahead of God: “Sure Mr. Serpent, we’ll
take a bite of that forbidden fruit.” Look what happened. They were turfed out of Eden.
During the Exodus, the people grew restless with their wanderings. Rather than
putting God first, they decided to make a golden calf so that they could have an image to
worship. What happened? 3,000 Israelites died that day.
Remember Ananias and Sapphira? They sold a piece of land and rather than giving
all of the proceeds to the Church as the promised to do, they kept back a portion for
themselves. Their greed came ahead of God. What happened? They both died that very
Crumby things begin to happen when we put Jesus on the backburner. Likewise,
wonderful things begin to happen when we allow Jesus to be the King of our lives.
Moses had to make the choice between living a relatively comfortable and obscure
life as a shepherd in Midian and going back to Egypt to be God’s instrument to free the
people of Israel from slavery and suffering. He chose to follow God and put God first.
The people were freed and the Exodus began.
In the New Testament, Paul could have continued to persecute the Church but
when Jesus met him on the read to Damascus, he turned his life around and became the
greatest evangelist the Church would ever have. He did that because he chose to put God
All of these people chose to put God first in their lives. In the midst of all of the
things that competed for their interest, they each put Jesus as their very first and highest
We need to learn from those stories and experiences. We need to understand that if
we want to live satisfying and fulfilling lives, we need to keep our priorities straight and
that keeping our priorities straight means putting Jesus first.
Let’s remember that as we close out one church year and begin the next. Let’s
begin by putting that idea into practice and allowing Jesus to be King of our Christmas.
Remember that Advent starts next week. It is the time to prepare our hearts and lives for
the coming of the Baby Jesus at Bethlehem.
Is that what our Christmas preparations are going to be all about? Are we going to
focus on buying the right presents, baking the right loafs and shortbreads, and decorating
our houses or are we going to focus on putting Jesus first? Think about it as we move
from one year to the next. Jesus really is King. Let’s give him the place in our lives that
he both desires and deserves.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
You, O God, are the King of Creation. You made everything that ever was and
anything that ever will be. We invite you to reign in our lives and to sit upon the throne of
We have so much to be thankful for. We thank you for food and shelter, family and
friends. We thank you for music and dancing, sports and activities. We thank you,
especially, that we can come to you with all of our cares and that you listen to us and love
us more than we could ever imagine.
Thank you for another successful turkey supper. We had great help, fun times and
fabulous food. While numbers sometimes go up and down, the spirit of this place
continues to shine and radiate your love. May your light continue to shine through us.
We pray for the people around the world who are suffering from wars and poverty.
There are so many places where people live with violence and fear everyday. We ask that
your peace may rest upon their troubled homes. If there is anything that we can do to
help, enable us to find it and do it. We need peace in the world but we also need peace in
our families and communities. Fill us, O God, with your peace.
We pray for the sick people who are at home or in hospital. Heal them, O God,
with your Holy Spirit. Help them to feel better soon.
We also pray for those who mourn, especially the family and friends of Cindi
MacKinnon and Pat Emans. Bless them with healing and give them peace.
Holy God, help us to allow your word to live within us so that we may always act
with wisdom and discretion towards those around us. Help us to do all that we do in
Jesus’ name, with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts for all that you have done for us.
We lift our prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.