Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and from Jesus, who is the King of kings! Amen.
Jesus is our King. Do you know Him? Knowing Jesus as your King changes how you see the world around you. Knowing Jesus as your King changes how you interact with the world around you. Knowing Jesus as your King changes you from the inside-out. Knowing Jesus as your King changes where you put your trust for your life situations. Knowing Jesus as your King changes how you approach your daily tasks. Knowing Jesus as your King fills you with His love. Knowing Jesus as your King inspires you to share His love with others. Knowing Jesus as your King is a lifelong journey.
About a year ago, I heard God telling me to do a Daniel fast for 10 days. This is a fast where you cut out all foods that are not plant based and I cut out gluten, too. So, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, and no wheat. For 10 days. I really enjoy food, so this was no easy feat. But, for a few months, I had been sensing that God wanted me to fast, so I had already begun to cut back on sugar, breads, and caffeine. The day He told me to start, I was ready.
This was in the midst of a difficult time physically and emotionally for me. I knew that God was beginning to call me out of my home congregation – the place where I grew up spiritually, and the place where I deeply cared about the people around me. God was beginning to prepare me to leave.
Then, He asked me to do this Daniel fast for 10 days. I didn’t really know what to expect. The last time I fasted, I was Catholic and it was a requirement. This was the first time I completed a fast because I loved God & wanted to know Him more. During these 10 days, I played my “soaking music” playlist on shuffle frequently. This is a list of over 100 tracts based on Scripture and instrumental music that God has used to speak to me over the last 4 years. Every time I hit shuffle, I asked God to play what He wanted me to hear.
Now, I don’t know the details about the programming of the shuffle feature, but I know that God has played only soaking music from a playlist that included classic rock while at a retreat, so if He can manage to keep AC/DC from playing during a time of meditation at a retreat, I trust that He can pick what songs He wants me to hear in our together time too.
Over and over and over during those 10 days, God played a couple of songs repeatedly, but one is really relevant for today’s message: “Victor’s Crown” by Travis Cottrell. The key words are:
Every high thing must come down.
Every stronghold shall be broken.
You wear the Victor’s Crown.
You overcome, You overcome.
These lines are repeated several times in the song. The first time I had heard this song was a couple months prior to my fast at a Beth Moore Living Proof simulcast and I knew it had significance for me. During this time of fasting and prayer, God told me that there were things in my life that I was placing in a higher position than Him. There were high things that must come down and strongholds to be broken. These were things that He would work out in me – the victory was already won by Jesus, I just needed to walk it out. He didn’t tell me what it was for another few months. I just knew there was something(s) I was trusting in more than I was trusting God.
Our God is in the business of changing lives from the inside-out. We have thousands of years of documented history in the Bible, in our faith families, and in our own lives, of God changing us. He does this in gentle ways: through the sincere correction of a trusted advisor, through His Word, through a number of situations over a length of time, through our practice of spiritual disciplines such has prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, and serving, and so many additional ways. God’s primary aim is a relationship with you – a relationship with me – a relationship with us. He is able to achieve this through the work of Jesus.
Our readings today teach us that Jesus is the King of kings; that God is the beginning and the end; that He is the creator and the sustainer of life. There is no one before God. There is no one with more power than God. In the words of a famous veggie, “God is the biggest and He’s on our team!”
Our Gospel text today is not a victory speech in which Jesus has overturned a political power and is claiming His new Kingdom. Instead, Jesus is in the middle of the trial of His life. The trial for His life. The trial for the salvation of your life and of my life.
The 1st Century Jews were angry because Jesus had been claiming that He was one with God. He spoke of His Kingdom as one that was not of this world. It is one different from worldly kingdoms. It is an upside down kingdom – Instead of being a king that takes advantage of his subjects as so many earthly kings do, Jesus is a King that takes on the role of a servant and a king that ultimately dies for His people.
THIS claim is what His trial was about. Jesus claiming to be one with God. Jesus claiming to be a King. The 1st Century Jewish leaders found Him guilty of claiming to be the Son of God – the King of the Jews. They wanted to be rid of Jesus, but they couldn’t execute Him on their own. They needed the Romans to execute Him.
These Jewish leaders, in their efforts to determine their own truth, took Jesus to their governor, Pontius Pilate, and convinced him that Jesus was a criminal but not that Jesus was trying to overthrow the government. Pilate offered to release Jesus back to the people, but they demanded the release of another prisoner instead.
Pilate sent Jesus to be flogged – a very brutal beating with a cat-o-nine whip – at which, the Roman soldiers mocked Him, humiliated Him, and decorated Him with a king’s purple robe and a crown of thorns.
It was customary at a Roman crucifixion to have a guard carry a sign that announced the crime committed by the prisoner. In Jesus’ case, no actual crime had been determined, so His official crime was in claiming to be the “King of the Jews.” Even though He never actually claimed that title, this is what was posted on His cross as His crime.
We often behave just like these 1st century Jews. We deny the truth. We think that truth is different for everyone – that we decide what is true for us. We deny the authority of God’s Word. We deny that Jesus is our King. We behave just like Pilate and those 1st century Jews. We are in bondage to our own sin and cannot free ourselves.
All of the suffering that Jesus went through was so that you and I can have the gift of God’s grace, love in our earthly lives, and the promise of eternal life with Him in Heaven.
Jesus took our place. He took our sin upon Himself. In exchange, He gives us His goodness, His righteousness, His power to do good in this world, His power to be world changers.
I invite you to think about your day, your week, your month, and your year…who in your life is truly powerful? Who or What do you give authority to? (your creditors, your boss, your kids/parents, your checkbook, the TV, celebrities, your stomach, your feelings, the news??) There are any number of things that we give power and primary authority to in our lives as we move through different seasons.
Remember how I mentioned my time of fasting last year was a time that God was convicting me of putting something else in His place as my King? You might think that this would be really difficult to hear: that I had violated the first commandment…. But our God is so sweet to us that instead of this fast being a time of guilt or shame, it was a time of beautiful reassurance. It was a time of me seeking God and God showing up and filling me with His love – of Him washing me clean, making me new, of reevaluating my priorities. — It was a time of my King removing that high thing and breaking that stronghold so that I could continue to grow in my life, changed from the inside-out.
Now, you may be ready to have Jesus change your life from the inside-out, if so, then this message is for you. If you are content living life just as it is right now, then feel free to check out for a moment, but for those of you ready to experience more of Jesus’ love and power in your life, lean in, because this message is for you!
What does it mean that Jesus is your King? It means that you have been claimed as one of His people. You have been set free from the power of sin, death, and the devil. You are free to be the person that God made you to be. You are free to love and serve your neighbor. You are free AND called to share His love with all whom you encounter by your words and your deeds. You are free AND called to elect others, to claim others, as His people by sharing His story with them and inviting them to join you in Christ’s Kingdom.
So this leads to a BIG question… What does allowing your King to change you from the inside out look like in the nitty gritty of everyday life? It looks like …smiles – smiling at the stranger across the room, walking across the room to that stranger and sharing your story of how Jesus has changed you from the inside out. Waving at your neighbor. Sharing a meal with your neighbor. Sharing your story of how Jesus changed you from the inside out with your neighbor.
It looks like – prayer/worship/Scripture reading in regular times of your day and in spontaneous times throughout your day.
It looks like – difficult conversations had in a loving manner. When your co-worker, neighbor, or loved one hurts you – you engage in a conversation with them personally, letting them know how you feel, how their actions/words impacted you, rather than gossiping with everyone else about the situation – you go directly to the person and work through the issue with them.
It looks like – welcoming the stranger – those who are experiencing homelessness, those who are different than you, those who are fleeing terror of their homeland, those who are hungry and needy – welcoming them, joyfully sharing the things you have with them that they might experience the love of Christ in a tangible way.
It looks like – professing with your mouth the life-giving stories of Jesus Christ. I vividly remember a significant conversation I had with a young man from the Dominican Republic when I was there on a mission trip 3 years ago. We asked how we could partner with them – our church with their ministry – he said, our people don’t need your things: clothing and food, they are temporary and these people could die tomorrow. We need to spread the word about Jesus – that is what will have eternal significance and make the biggest impact in the daily lives of the people. That is where change for the people begins.
This is proclaiming God’s Word to the people around you so that they, too, can be free from sin, death, and the devil. You don’t need to be called to be a pastor or church worker to do this. You are called to share God’s story in your day-in-day-out life just as you are. And really, once you have experienced the love of your King and He has done some changing of you from the inside-out, you cannot help but share God’s story.
Today, you have been elected by God through Jesus to be a part of His Kingdom. Today, you are made new in Jesus Christ. Today, that stronghold that was binding you in chains, has been broken by the Word and power of Jesus, our King. Today, that high thing in your life that was taking Jesus’ place has been brought down to it’s rightful place. Today. You. Are. Free. — Free to receive God’s love and free to share God’s love. Today is the day that Christ our King changed you from the inside-out.
Check out this video from Sermon Spice: That’s My King (REMIX)