How to Make a King 
Sunday, November 26, 2006, 07:00 AM - Sermon
John 18:33-37

Why can't Jesus answer a simple Yes/No question? Are you King of the Jews? Yes or No.

Instead we get a question as an answer. “Do you ask this of your own, or did others tell you about me?” Jesus has to ask this because his kingdom is not of this world. It is not brought about by force as kingdoms of this world are made, otherwise Christ's followers would have fought for him. Christ is king by invitation only.

Who do we make king? It is hard for us to relate to a king, we have been without one as a nation for over 230 years. Who rules us? Who is our leader? In the tradition of the divine right of kings, what is the God decreed order of our world? Who do we say the king is?

We cannot imagine the craziness of calling Jesus king instead of Caesar in the first century. Caesar was everywhere. Neo, that lapsed Presbyterian preacher of Brian D. McLaren in A New Kind of Christian says it this way:

The biggest, most powerful reality in those days is the regime of Caesar. Jesus comes along and basically says that Caesar is no big deal at all; the real big deal is the regime of God the empire of God. And not only that, he says that the kingdom of God is right here, right at hand. (p. 106)

He was the everyday reality of life, it was like saying to fish, this ocean isn't really that important, what is really important is the water of God.

We are heirs of the modern world view, with all the wonders produced by its mechanistic, consumeristic, individualistic, and controlling ways. We want to take the amazing reality of the kingdom of God and divorce it from all context, distill it to “abstract principles, universal concepts, and disembodied abstracts.” (p. 106) When Matthew writes about the Kingdom of Heaven, we rush to move the kingdom from the here before us to the hereafter. How can we get the reality back into the kingdom of God, how can we put Christ back into the kingdom that is at hand, that is right here among us?

Our author McLaren also has his character Neo tell us that maybe Jesus wouldn't use Kingdom language if he was here today. Since commerce is much more important than government, maybe Jesus would talk about the “enterprise of God”, perhaps the internet would be the basis for Jesus talking about the “world web of God” or the “network of God”. Other possibilities would be the “family of God' or maybe since media is so much a part of our lives, is there anywhere you can escape a video screen? anywhere that someone doesn't have ear buds playing? maybe the “story of God” the “adventure of God” the “music of God” or the “soundtrack of God”, God's playlist? What is your all-consuming reality? Whatever you pretend it is, it isn't. The all consuming reality is God.

A popular candidate for kingdom in this age is money and commerce. Maybe Jesus would proclaim the coming of the economy of Jesus as Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity talks about in his book, Love in the Mortar Joints, summed up in the motto: no more shacks , where everyone has a decent house not because they have earned a decent house, or it is our business to provide decent houses to the masses, but because everyone should have what is necessary for life, not based on what they earn!

Rev. George Yandell, an Episcopalian, has a story about Millard Fuller and the economics of Jesus.

Millard Fuller, the founder and driving force of Habitat for Humanity, met with a group of potential Habitat builders many years ago. The group was enthusiastic but tentative because starting a Habitat affiliate is an expensive proposition, since Habitat doesn't charge interest on the mortgages. The group had huddled around a calculator before the meeting, running the numbers on what they needed to get started. They had decided nothing could be done without at least $6,000 in the bank. When Millard walked into the room for the meeting, the first thing the group told him was that they only had $3,000 of the $6,000 they needed to start their efforts. Millard leaned over and looked at the group with a seriousness only money-talk could muster.

After a moment's silence, Millard said soberly, “Let me tell you something very important. Listen carefully. The whole future of what you're about to do rests on what I am about to say. It would be absolutely reckless and irresponsible and injudicious for you to start your Habitat affiliate without at least $1 in the bank. To start with anything less would be ludicrous.” The group laughed nervously and Millard grinned as he said, “Habitat is founded on the economics of Jesus, which was manifested in the feeding of the multitudes. Here it is: You take what you have- one dollar- and you give thanks for it and then give it to the Lord to be blessed. Then you step out in faith.

Pilate and Jesus have a difficult conversation because each has a different understanding of how one makes a kingdom. For Pilate it was one of political power and military force. For Jesus is was a way of living, of who or what people make themselves subject to, a part of, “who THEY said was their king” not what others said, not what the military power said, not what the economics said, not what the systematic theologians said, but what was real day to day, hour to hour of the people, what was at hand, real.

When we feed the hungry…………….We make Jesus our King
When we help the young and old………… We make Jesus our King
When we house the homeless………. We make Jesus our King
When we visit the sick……………… We make Jesus our King
When we welcome the stranger………. We make Jesus our King
When we help the helpless……………. We make Jesus our King
When we give time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of others……… We make Jesus our King

Is Jesus the King of the Jews? Is Jesus your king? Is Jesus Christ, your economy, your career, your nation, your playlist, your ocean? If you said Yes, Jesus has just begun with you, the next question is whose answer is that, culture's? the pastor's? your parents, your spouse, your church? Or is it your life?

Copyright © 2006 Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 8:15 Traditional Worship and 10:15 Blended. Mingle in our Gathering Room between services and take advantage of Christian Education opportunities.

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