Nov 21, 2018
This is a text only sermon giving a bit of background to the question of Kingship Messiahship in the Bible:
For this sermon I have posed the question “Did Jesus think he was the king?” Yes. There you go the end of the sermon. Well actually it’s not because Jesus didn’t think he was the kind of king that we might imagine and he didn’t think of himself as the kind of king that the people of his own time thought of.For this sermon I have posed the question “Did Jesus think he was the king?” Yes. There you go the end of the sermon. Well actually it’s not because Jesus didn’t think he was the kind of king that we might imagine and he didn’t think of himself as the kind of king that the people of his own time thought of. I need to say that there are some modern critical and liberal biblical scholars who believe that Jesus didn’t think he was the King in any sense. You will have heard in numberless sermons that the Jewish word for King was Messiah and the Greek word used to translate it was christos or Christ. That’s where we get Jesus the Christ or Jesus Christ. The word means anointed. Someone who had, had oil poured on them. It wasn’t only Kings who were anointed. Prophets, and priests were anointed too. Literally a person usually a prophet would pour oil on the head of a person as a sign that God had chosen and blessed them for a special task. Perhaps the best example of an anointing in the bible is when David is anointed by Samuel to be king. After Israel was invaded by the Babylonians and the people went into Exile there was never another King. But there was a hope and belief that another King anointed like David would come. Like David he would fight giants and raise armies and fight great battles and be victorious. Israel would become free, no longer occupied by Babylonians or Persians or Greeks or Romans, but free. But not only would this new anointed King be a great general like David, he would also be a great religious leader like David. David led the people in worship, many of the psalms are attributed to him as well. There was also a belief that this new King, this new anointed one would be a great prophet like Moses and that he would be a good and just Judge. He would be the one to not only free Israel from its enemies but restore it’s relationship with God. There was no suggestion that this anointed one would be God or God’s Son, rather he would be a new Moses and a new David. Well there are some scholars who argue that Jesus did not see himself this way, that it was the early church, perhaps beginning with the disciples who after Jesus’ death put this label on him. I don’t think they are right because Jesus just doesn’t fit this picture. Jesus had no army. He never held court. He could not lead the people in worship because he was never recognised by the religious authorities. He did not drive out the Romans. He had no crown, no palace, no wealth, no sword, or armour or shield. The man who stands before the Roman governor Pilate in today’s Bible reading has been sent to him after an easy arrest, his few followers have deserted him and he is on the surface of things nothing more that a wandering religious preacher and teacher. The problem is, that if that’s all Jesus was Pilate didn’t need to put him to death. It was because he claimed to be King that he was put to death. If Jesus hadn’t made this kind of claim, a claim that he had authority which was greater than the priests, and greater than Rome then he would never have been arrested and executed. Like David and Moses, Jesus must have claimed and believed that he had a special mission from God. I believe he believed that he was the anointed one, the one chosen by God. The problem was that he was a very different kind of King. He believed that he was the one especially chosen by God to rescue the people of God and bring righteousness and salvation to Israel and through Israel to all people. But unlike the people of Israel Jesus had a very different view of himself as King. He saw himself not as someone who lords it over others but as a servant, even washing the feet of the disciples. He saw himself as a healer and reconciler not as a man of force and might. His crown was of thorns, his throne was a cross, he had no palace, not even a home and he had no power or worldly wealth or army. Instead above all he saw himself as the servant of God who he revealed as his good and perfect Father. His mission was to share and be the truth and love of God among us. And in carrying out his mission through his living, teaching, healing, death on the Cross and resurrection, he restored our relationship with God. All this was very different to what Jewish people like the disciples and those who wrote the New Testament expected. Unless the idea came from Jesus himself it doesn’t make much sense. Not only do I believe Jesus saw himself as the anointed one, as the king, I do too. If that is true then I need to obey him. If that is true for you then you need to obey him too. When he says love and forgive your enemies then we need to do it. When he says give sacrificially then we should give. When he demands everything of us in order that we may follow then we should give everything over to him and follow. When he says to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile and not to judge others because the speck we see in their eyes is nothing compare to the log in ours then we should suspend judgement and like him reach out to the leper, and feed the hungry, and visit the prisoner and comfort the sick and quench the thirst of the thirsty. And when he calls on us to trust our selves to him and lose our life in order that we may gain it then we should do just that. And when we fail in all of this and we will fail to be obedient to our King because Judas and Peter, and James and all the other disciples failed him at least sometimes, so we will too, then like Peter on the lakeside we should accept his forgiveness and seek once more to follow. Did Jesus see himself as King? I believe he did. If that is true then we should obediently follow him, and trust in his transforming love.