“Are you the king of the Jews?” asks Pilate.
In fact, this was to be Jesus’s death sentence.
That’s what it said on the titulus – the notice that was written above Jesus’s head on the cross – “Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews”
In three languages – in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin where the words Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum are better known by their abbreviation – INRI
You can see them in the depiction of the crucifixion in many stained glass windows.
At the other end of the story, this is how it all began:
“Where is he that was born king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2)
That’s what the Magi were looking for. “The King of the Jews”
So what is a king – what does it mean for Christ to be our King?
What is a King, or indeed a Queen?
Someone unusual, marked out from the crowd, they wear things which distinguish them
A crown, special robes (coloured red for royalty) you will see that Jesus wears red in icons and stained glass windows.
A King makes laws, gives orders, exercises judgement
A king has dominion over a territory (a kingdom)
The position is often hereditary – a king is a son of a king (the son of David)
At the coronation, our king is anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of God as a mark of this new beginning, this new relationship, the anointed one in Greek is the Christ, in Hebrew the Messiah
We are defined by our relationship with our King
By birth – we are UK citizens, citizens of the United KINGDOM of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
By deeds – like being knighted or swearing allegiance as all priests do)
Festival of Christ the King forces us to think what it means to us for Jesus to be King
Jesus says ‘”my kingdom is not of this world”
Cosmos – may mean universe
But the Greek word really means Order (the opposite of Chaos)
So Jesus’s Kingdom is not of this “order”
Then of what order is it?
If a kingdom is defined by its ruler and the ruler is Jesus then what that kingdom is will depend on who Jesus is.
As we approach the season of Advent, it is a question which we should all be thinking about.
For me God is love – the profound relationality of all things in the universe
And Jesus – is the incarnation of God’s love for the world – the making flesh of that love
“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth”
Pilate asks him: “what is truth?”
Jesus is the embodiment of the truth that God is love and God loves us
who is and who was and who is to come, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (Rev 1:5-6)
I spoke previously in this place how in the letter to the Ephesians Christ is the cornerstone – the reference point by which we as Christians measure ourselves
As Christians, we chose to be defined by our relationship with Jesus, by our relationship with this truth that God is love
We put love at the centre of our universe, at the head of our kingdom
Next week we move into a new year in the Christian calendar – Advent
The coming of the new born Christ
It is a good time to think again about what Christ means to us
I will not be here again until January but we will be reading the Gospel of Luke
We will focus on the wonder of new life– its mystery and its miracle – which is the theme of the opening chapters of Luke – new life which represents new hope for new beginnings, for forgiveness, for healing,
It is a time to be stirred up with the idea that your relationships should be at the centre of your universe –of your cosmos.
What does that mean to you?
What can you do differently?
What is your part in building up the kingdom which is not of this world?
Christmas is a notoriously difficult time for relationships – it is also a really important one
It is full of opportunities for new beginnings
I pray that we will each play our part in joining with Christian people all over the world when we pray for Christ’s kingdom in the prayer that Jesus himself taught us
Thy kingdom come.
We pray that indeed that kingdom may come and that we may play our part in the words of Revelation, and that we may be “made to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father”
Sermon given by Christopher Hancock at St Andrew’s Box Hill on festival of Christ the King, 25th November, 2018