Readings: John 19:1-16a | John 19:16b-42
Text: John 19:1-42
Who is your King?
Israel had often confessed this:
“The Lord became king…when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together” (Deut. 33:5)
“Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!” (Ps. 24:8)
“The Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; He will save us.” (Isa. 33:22)
But they had even more often denied it:
“Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7)
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6)
“We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)
That day, they were being asked who their king was. They threw their lot in with Pontius Pilate and Tiberius Caesar. Hardening their heart, they forgot this: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever” (Ps. 146:3-6)
There will be times when we will be asked whom we are loyal to: Either to Him who has delivered us from sin, death, and hell, or people who promise an earthly kingdom of contentment and peace.
But like the people who threw their lot in with Egypt or Rome, they will be disappointed because the power of those rulers is only for a time. Their glory is a façade which one day will be ripped away. And who will they meet when this world passes away, but the true King?
They can try to strip Jesus of His kingship, but they don’t have the power to do this. We too, can harden our hearts and try to get out of His reign, but it’s only delaying the inevitable. To this King has been given the authority to judge the earth—to judge rulers, and to judge every person.
Repent before it is too late. Bow before the true King of the universe. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Ps. 2:10-12)
The rulers of this world are no lasting help! Put not your trust in President Biden or Donald Trump, in the power of AI, or the social contagions of each year. These have no power to save at the last, and whatever power they exercise now is not theirs, but has been entrusted to them from above for a time.
We have heard once again tonight what this King has done for the sake of His rebellious subjects who would not honor him. What happened to the Israelites and the hard-hearted Jews has been written for our learning. May it wake us up from our slumber to consider the right fear of God the King. He desires all to be saved, but only through faith in His Son: His holy, innocent suffering and death, His rest in the tomb, and His glorious resurrection and ascension.
The King will return, His holy angels with Him, and His judgment will be carried out:
3 The books are opened then to all,
A record truly telling
What each has done, both great and small,
When he on earth was dwelling,
And ev’ry heart be clearly seen,
And all be known as they have been
In thoughts and words and actions.
4 Then woe to those who scorned the Lord
And sought but carnal pleasures,
Who here despised His precious Word
And loved their earthly treasures!
With shame and trembling they will stand
And at the judge’s stern command
To Satan be delivered.
5 My Savior paid the debt I owe
And for my sin was smitten;
Within the Book of Life I know
My name has now been written.
I will not doubt, for I am free,
And Satan cannot threaten me;
There is no condemnation! (“The Day is Surely Drawing Near” LSB 508:3-5)
At the hour of our death and in the day of judgment, good Lord, deliver us!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.