So you are a king?

26 09 2012

Pontius Pilatus, or as we know him better Pontius Pilate, is famed not only for being the Procurator of the 3rd decade AD who delivered Jesus Christ over to be crucified, but also for his questions which punctuate the historical narrative recorded in the Bible.  ‘What charges are you bringing against this man?’ ‘What crime has he committed?’ he asked the accusers while turning to Jesus himself he said ‘Where are you from?’Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?‘Do you not realise that I have power over you?’ These questions are filled with irony in light of the facts of the resurrection which vindicated our Lord.  Addressing the crowd, Pilate asked, ‘What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called the Christ?’ This was the question that finally sealed the fate of Jesus.

Perhaps his most famous question in the interaction with Jesus was ‘What is truth?’ but the question that caught my attention recently was this one: ‘So you are a king?’ (John 18:37, ESV)

How do you read that last question that caught my attention: ‘So you are a king?’ How did Pilate ask this question – where did the emphasis lie?  Perhaps, ‘So you are a king?’  Or, ‘So you are a king?’  Maybe even, ‘So you are a king?’

Devotionally, it struck me that this is a question we too should mull over and answer regarding Jesus – is Jesus or is he not a king? More importantly, in light of other Bible teaching: Is he, or is he not, THE King? And if we can answer in the affirmative, how does that truth impinge upon our daily lives?

The last chapter of the Bible is yet to be written in once sense – yet to be written on the pages of history.  But it is a period which is written about in the Bible in plain and certain terms – the true King will return! “We eagerly await a Saviour from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ” Phil 3:20

In Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis) – Aslan the great lion was slain in Edmund’s place but he returns from death to rule in Narnia again.  As the rightful ruler in Narnia, Aslan ensures that the winter of the wicked White Witch will be rolled back and the self-proclaimed Queen Jadis, now defeated, will finally be removed.

But it is well known that Lewis was not merely entertaining children with a spectacular story!  Lewis was clearly telling the Bible’s story – a story that people of faith have believed for many centuries concerning a greater King.

Earliest confessions of faith in Jesus as Saviour were often expressed in the simple words “Jesus is Lord” – an affirmation of Jesus’ kingship and deity over against the rule and false claims of the Roman emperor who claimed to be a god.  The final chapter of the history of the world sees this same Jesus proclaimed as “King of kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16). The rightful King will return to reign forever.

Of course this is only one of many of the King’s great and precious promises, and just as they have consistently been fulfilled – we await with certain hope the King’s return; for surely this promise too he will fulfil!

John 14:2, 3 “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

This is the story of the Last Great King of History.  It is not a story invented by a few simple men from early Palestine who became “apostles”. No, the Old Testament Scriptures have recounted for us the whole story with this clear assumption: “The LORD reigns… the great King above all gods.” (Ps 93:1)

God’s reign has been resisted and opposed throughout human history; from Adam to an exiled Israel, the rebellion has been notoriously comprehensive. It reaches from that ancient people Israel all the way to us in the 21st C.  But through this sorry tale of woe “His Story” can be traced: the vindication of God’s true reign is the anticipated climax which will finally come to pass.

On that final day, Pilate’s question before a glorified Lord will be absurd.  Every mouth will be silenced.  That day will be a day of role reversal – perhaps we will be found out! The ironic edge of our asking Pilate’s question may reveal the truth that in fact we have acted like kings when we’re not and verily, verily, Jesus is the only true King!  We have been the impostors. Maybe the true king will ask us that question asked of him so impertinently, ‘So you are a king?’

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Blogger beseeches bloggettes over breakfast

24 09 2012

A Christian Men Together breakfast was really not high on my “list of things to do” on a Saturday morning at 8.00am.  With autumn’s arrival I have been abruptly reminded of the impending winter and the need to get all the “summer jobs” done before it’s too late!  These jobs did get my attention on  Saturday morning but I did make the effort to reach the breakfast before it was brunch, and how splendidly I was rewarded for my exertion.  Jeff the chef had produced a fantastic breakfast of hash browns, French toast and maple syrup, bacon and scrambled egg washed down with fresh orange juice and freshly brewed coffee.  But the reward was not food for the body…  Instead I found myself delighting in a grander fare of food for the soul.

Six men each took to the floor one by one to share in seven minutes flat (strictly measured by the cow bell) something of their lives as Christians.  What a refreshing time of testimony it was: a call to get serious about prayer; a reminder of the value of the blogosphere; an insight into life as a Pastor; the place of prison ministry; an exhortation to reading good Christian books in community; and a moving testimony to the power of God at work in the life of a cancer sufferer.

There was much to inspire, challenge and exhort even the casual listener.  The priority of prayer for a Christian man was outlined from great sayings about prayer and Scriptural gleanings which stated the matter clearly: men ought always to pray (Lk 18.1).  The pastor helped us see that our primary identity as believers is not in a title or in a role (whether sacred or secular) but in the fact that at all times, whether at work or at play, we are Christians first – disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus.  The young man who had recently committed himself to prison visitation spoke of the power of the gospel in the lives of hardened criminals, even when it is presented in the simplest of formats but with consistent faithfulness – God’s Word never returns to him void, but accomplishes the purpose for which he sent it.  Good Christian books abound on the majority world’s bookshelves and in our multiplicity of preferred e-readers but how few of us are committed to reading them!  And so the call to be accountable to one another in reading through books like ‘Disciplines of a Godly Man’ by Kent Hughes having informal review and discussion groups was an innovative way to stimulate us out of our lazy tendencies.  The striking testimony of a man of God who has battled with cancer for six years was a moving end to an incredible morning.  The change of perspective which faith in Christ brings to the ugly nature of the scourge of cancer was remarkable to hear – ‘my strength is made perfect in weakness’ (Phil 4:13).  To hear such a testimony is one thing – to see it lived out in front of your eyes as we have done with our brother is quite another.

Oh, and blogging… yeah, this guy got up and said it would be good to blog, he blogged and blogs were good and useful and stuff… and you could learn and shape and influence others and others stuff like that…  Thanks JT.  Looks like you got to me also!