‘Jesus Is King’ – John 18:28-19:16 – August 30th

If you would, please turn with me in your Bibles to John 18:28-19:16. John says:

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They did not enter the headquarters themselves; otherwise they would be defiled and unable to eat the Passover.

29 Then Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?”

30 They answered him, “If this man weren’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have handed Him over to you.”

31 So Pilate told them, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law.”

“It’s not legal for us to put anyone to death,” the Jews declared. 32 They said this so that Jesus’ words might be fulfilled signifying what kind of death He was going to die.

33 Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about Me?”

35 “I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied. “Your own nation and the chief priests handed You over to me. What have You done?”

36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”

37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.

“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

38 “What is truth?” said Pilate.

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no grounds for charging Him. 39 You have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. So, do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

40 They shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. And they repeatedly came up to Him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and were slapping His face.

Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.”

Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

Pilate responded, “Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.”

“We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever. He went back into the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus did not give him an answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?”

11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

12 From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!”

13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s bench in a place called the Stone Pavement (but in Hebrew Gabbatha). 14 It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!”

15 But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?”

“We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered.

16 So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified.

This is the word of the Lord. Let’s pray:

Father we thank you that even as we are temporarily forced to change some of what we do because of COVID-19, you are greater than COVID-19. Not one of us wouldn’t rather be inside that building, sitting in the pews, catching up with the folks who usually sit next us face-to-face instead of simply over the phone. And yet, You are greater than our inconvenience. We thank you for the way that you are with us even in the midst of our social distancing, that you are near us even in the midst of our isolation, and that even as we try to serve our neighbors by distancing ourselves to try and mitigate the spread of the virus, you have given us the profound blessing of being able to look closely at your word together, to learn from it, to be changed by it, and be edified through it.

We pray these things in Jesus’s name, Amen.

*

So, looking through our passage, it’s hard to pick out exactly what we ought to learn from all this.

I heard one sermon where a guy used this as a springboard to talk about how sometimes life isn’t fair. “Sometimes people are going to treat you unfairly. But that’s okay, because God will help you.” He’ll give you strength even when people treat you unfairly.

That’s true. I can’t argue with that.

I have a friend who works for the Innocence Project. They specialize in taking up the cases for people who were falsely convicted. A lot of times, they will give lectures based on this passage, and similar passages from the other four gospels, talking about how “Sometimes even the legal system gets it wrong.”

Can’t argue with that, either. That’s true.

And yet looking at the passage there are two things that are even more basic, even simpler than both of these things that ought to jump out at us and guide us as the people of God. And I want to talk about these two things this morning.

The first thing that we see clearly in our passage this morning is that you are a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world.

I’m going to say that again. You are a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world.

From the very beginning, the Bible makes one thing exceedingly clear: God created the universe, and he rules over it as King.

We see exactly that in Psalm 47:6-7, “Sing praises to God . . . Sing praises to our King . . . For God is the King of all the earth!”

And Exodus 15:18, which says, “The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

And Isaiah 37:16, which says, “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.”

And what all of that means that if you are a member of God’s people, you serve God as your king.

Throughout the Old Testament, there was absolutely no doubt or debate to be had, God is King. And every other king, regardless of nation, was under the true king, the God-King of the universe, Yahweh.

And yet, looking at the last couple lines of our passage, this morning, we see Pilate, kind of, sarcastically quip, “Should I crucify your king?” And the religious leaders respond, “We have no King but Caesar.” /

That one sentence says a lot. They’re not just making a political statement. They’re not just declaring their allegiance to Rome. That is not like Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, or something like that. This is a religious statement. This is a statement about what they worship. This is a statement about what they serve.

When the Chief priests say, “We have no King but Caesar,” that is a rejection of the faith once delivered by God to his people.

When the Chief Priests say, “We have no King but Caesar,” what they’re saying is, “Caesar is our King, Yahweh is not.” They’re excusing themselves from the membership roll in the people of God. They decide, without a moment’s hesitation, that they want to place their bets on the kingdom of this world.

But, listen to me, Church, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are a citizen of a very different kingdom. And you are a servant of a very different King. You are a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world. You are a citizen of the kingdom of God.

Take a look, back near the beginning of our passage this morning, beginning at chapter 18, verse 33.

Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” . . . And Jesus responds, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”

That’s an interesting thing to say.

“My kingdom is not of this world.” “If my kingdom was of this world, my servants would fight so I wouldn’t be handed over.” But it’s not. So they don’t. In other words, “If my kingdom were of this world, it would work like a worldly Kingdom works.” But it’s not. So it doesn’t.

Because worldly kingdoms are broken. Worldly kingdoms are sinful. Worldly kingdoms are violent. Good rulers can make them significantly less violent, significantly less broken, significantly less problematic than dysfunctional leaders can, so you should seek out good leaders and shun bad leaders, but no matter what, worldly kingdoms work like worldly kingdoms.

But the Kingdom of God is not like that. He says, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

In other words, the kingdom of Christ is a burst of light on a world of darkness. The kingdom of Christ is a glimmer of peace in a world of violence. The kingdom of Christ is a breath of fresh air to our exhausted lungs. The kingdom of God is not of this world.

And yet, that’s where our citizenship is.

To quote Colossians 1:13, “The Lord has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” You have been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Jesus.

And listen to the way that Jesus describes that Kingdom in Matthew 5. He says:

The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted. The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled. The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy. The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God. The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God. 10 Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

You are a citizen of that kingdom. You are a citizen the kingdom of God. You are a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world. You are a citizen of Christ’s kingdom, and that means a handful of things are true about you.

First, it means a handful of comforting things.

It means that none of your wounds are permanent.

None of your sufferings will be eternal.

None of your pain is final.

The struggles that you’ve had to go through will not have the last word.

Instead, you will be victorious, the scriptures tell us.

Your life is not, ultimately, a tragedy, it’s a comedy. In the old sense. In the sense that your life is a story that has a happy ending.

You are a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom, and that means that your story will be a story of victory. A story of healing. A story of redemption. A story of recovery. That’s you./

That’s the first thing.

*

But there’s more than that.

Because, secondly, the fact that you are a citizen of Christ’s kingdom means that you have a vast responsibility.

Have you ever thought about that?

You have been given a massive responsibility, not in spite of the fact that you are saved, but because of the fact that you are saved.

You are a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world, and that means that you have an unbelievable responsibility to this world.

First things first, you have a responsibility to this world to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You have a responsibility, like Matthew 28 says, to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything Christ has commanded us.”

That wasn’t just for the disciples. That wasn’t just for the first century. That’s not just for your pastor. That’s for you. You have a responsibility to this world to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is your duty as a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom.

That’s why Article 11 of the Baptist Faith and Message, that’s our church’s official Faith Statement, says:

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations . . . It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.”

That’s written in kinda weird language, but you get the point. Our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom comes with responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is sharing the gospel verbally with other people.

With your words.

This is the opposite of that quote you see floating around the internet a lot of times – the quote that says, “Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.”

Ever heard that one?

Like, I get the sentiment, but at the end of the day, if you “preached the gospel without using words,” then you just didn’t preach the gospel.

I don’t understand where anybody got the idea that the churches should be doing less to verbally share the gospel with other people using our words. The reality is that every person in this parking lot has a responsibility to share the gospel with other people using your words, because you are a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom.

That’s a basic duty that comes with your citizenship. I’s a basic responsibility that you have to your neighbors, to your friends, to your family members, and even to your enemies.

But second things second, you are responsible, to some extent, for their well-being.

You’ll notice that throughout the gospels, when Jesus preached the message of Salvation, when he preached the message of the Kingdom, he also healed people.

He also fed people. He didn’t just meet their spiritual needs and then say, “See you later.” He was comprehensive about it. He met their physical needs, too.

He didn’t just tell them about the kingdom. He showed them a little bit of what the kingdom looks like.

That’s part of why, when Jesus kicks off his ministry in Luke chapter 4, he says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

You’ll notice that that’s a heck of a lot more than just saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to help people get out of going to hell.”

The kingdom mission that Jesus began during his time on earth had everything in the world to do with meeting the physical needs of the people, not just their spiritual needs.

And that’s why, looking back at Matthew 5, Jesus says, now, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

That’s just two passages out of a million, but if we kept listing them off we’d be here all day. The point is clear: When Jesus saves you, you become an ambassador to your neighbors. You become a missionary to your neighbors. You become a philanthropist to your neighbors.

These are our duties. These are the duties that come with being a citizen of Christ’s kingdom today.

You are a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world, living in a kingdom that is very much of this world, and as a result your citizenship in Christ’s Kingdom demands that you devote yourself to the salvation and the well-being of the people around you in this worldly Kingdom. /

*

Now, that was the kind of normal part of today’s sermon. (I know, you’re like, “That was the normal part?) But it’s about to get real weird, real fast.

Because, next, John couches in a really strange detail that ought to catch our attention.

Take a look, beginning at verse 38. John says:

“Pilate went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no grounds for charging Him. 39 You have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. So, do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.”

We have just spent about ten minutes talking about what it looks like to take hold of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

But what does it look like when you don’t do that?

We’ve already seen how the Chief Priests rejected Jesus, and refused to follow him into the Kingdom of God. But John shows us another very important example of what it looks like to reject Christ’s Kingdom.

I’m talking about Barabbas.

John says, “The Chief Priests shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” And “Barabbas was a revolutionary.”

Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Your translation might say, “Robber,” and that’s not exactly wrong, it’s just incomplete. The term “Robber” used to mean “revolutionary.” It used to mean “Insurrectionist.” Today it means you stole somebody’s wallet.

But Barabbas was not being crucified because he robbed somebody. He was being crucified because he was part of a militia that was stockpiling weapons to overthrow the government. Luke 23:19 describes him as “A man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.”

Barabbas was a domestic terrorist.

I told you this was gonna get weird.

You might have met a Barabbas type at some point in your life. Barabbas would have thought of himself as a freedom fighter. He wanted to “take his country back.” He would’ve heard Jesus say, “When your enemy slaps you, turn the other cheek,” and he would’ve said, “That sounds great, but it doesn’t work.” He heard Jesus say “When a Roman soldier makes you carry his pack 1 mile, carry it 2,” and he said, “I’d rather just chop his head off.”

For Barabbas, non-violent resistance – like the kind that we see Jesus modeling in the Sermon on the Mount – was not enough. Because Barabbas wanted to make Rome bleed. He wanted to fight Rome to the death. He wanted to overthrow the government and take his country back.

So, that brings us to the question, “Why does John bring up Barabbas in the first place?” Knowing what we know about him, I think that answer is clear. It’s because by including Barabbas, John shows us the two very different ways, the two very different paths that lie ahead of every single one us.

There is the path of Jesus, and there’s the path of Barabbas.

There is a path that takes up a cross and follows after Jesus, and there is a path that takes up a sword and follows after Barabbas.

One of them leads to life, and one of them leads to death.

There is a stark contrast between the path of Jesus and the path of Barabbas, and what that means is that you can only pick one.

So it’s worth asking: What does the path of Barabbas look like? What does it look ike to choose the path of Barabbas instead of the path of Jesus?

Fortunately or unfortunately, the last few months and years have given me plenty of examples.

Case-in-point: Just a couple weeks ago, a Mao-ist group – y’know, like Mao Zedong, as in the Father of the Chinese Communist Party – took credit for sparking some of the riots that we have been seeing over the last two months. I strongly doubt that we have anybody at Mount Zion who identifies as a follower of Mao Zedong, but don’t do that. Do not attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government and turn it into China, Jr. That’s bad. That’s “Barabbas Syndrome.”

And that’s just one example.

Because at the same time, for the last 20+ years, extremist groups in Idaho have been openly stockpiling weapons with the express, stated purpose that they are waiting for the day when the U.S. government can be toppled and replaced with a new government.

What kind of new government?

A government that trashes the Constitution and replaces it with the Bible. Literally just the Bible. Like you go to court, and the Judge says, “Turn with me to Leviticus….” That’s also bad. They’ve painted it up in Biblical sounding language, but it’s exactly the same thing. It’s “Barabbas Syndrome” with a makeover.

To bring it a little closer to home, you might have heard of something called QAnon recently.

It’s an internet cult based on what appears to have been an internet prank about three years ago, but then just kind of ballooned out and took on a life of its own. And apparently over the last few years, small groups of the more extreme QAnon followers have gathered together, and in some cases become violent.

In 2019, QAnon was designated as a “Domestic Terrorist Threat,” because there have been several violent terrorist attacks in the name of QAnon. Once again, that is “Barabbas Syndrome” in action.

We could say similar things about any number of other groups, whether it’s Antifa, or Weather Underground, the list goes on.

These are people who have chosen the path of Barabbas instead of Jesus.

And so, to people like this, here’s what God says, in 1 Peter 2. He says:

“Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.”

To people who choose the path of Barabbas, here’s what God says, in Romans 13. He says:

“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.”

We could do this all day. God issued these commands to us in the 1st century, living under Roman oppression, amidst a government more corrupt than we can even imagine. Like, if you think things are bad today, you wouldn’t have lasted a minute in Ancient Rome.

And so, listen to me: Run fast, and run far from anybody who tries to talk you into taking the path of Barabbas the insurrectionist. Run fast, and run far from anybody who tries to talk you into taking the path of Barabbas the revolutionary.

Now, obviously, don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to sell you on some kind of radical pacifism, here. We are not about to turn Mount Zion into a hippie commune.

Because, like we’ve talked about before, Romans 13 makes it clear that the government has the responsibility to keep the peace and maintain order, which means we will always have to have things like a police force and a military, and sometimes punishing especially egregious criminals might call for the death penalty.

There’s no denying that. That is a different thing. Those are necessary things. Those are God-ordained institutions.

The government has a God-ordained responsibility to protect its people, and that means that if you feel a call to become a police officer, or a soldier, or to work as a prison guard, and so on and so forth, then you have a high and holy calling.

That’s a fact.

You have a vital and important job. I say this not to puff up your ego, but to remind you, in case you haven’t heard it in a while, that your calling is good. Your calling is important. Your calling is worthwhile.

We are immensely proud of Jonathan Kluge, who’s starting training to be a State Trooper. We are immensely proud of Johnny Bowers, Jr. We are immensely proud of Becky Thompson. The same goes for David Gray Batton III, Brandon Rodriguez, Brent Harp, the list goes on.

You are carrying out a God-ordained role, you are fulfilling a God-ordained vocation. You have a high and holy calling./

But notice that that is a very different thing than taking the path of Barabbas.

The government’s God-ordained responsibility to protect its people is a million miles away from the “Barabbas syndrome” that we’re talking about, here.

The government’s God-ordained responsibility to maintain relative peace and order is a million miles away from the “Barabbas syndrome” that we’re talking about, here.

And so, just in case you suffer from Barabbas syndrome, I want to be as clear as I can possibly be: God will never send you on a mission to violently overthrow the United States government.

I know this is the weirdest sermon point I have ever hit on, but I want to be exceedingly clear – maybe annoyingly clear – as Christians, we are forbidden from choosing the path of violent extremism. Violent extremism is not an option that Christ has given us.

Once again, I know it’s weird to spend 5-10 minutes talking about Barabbas Syndrome, but Hebrews 13 says that one day I’m gonna have give an account for you – I’m gonna have to give an account for the way I watched over your souls during my time as pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church. And I’m gonna be really embarrassed if I can’t even make it over the “Nobody From Mount Zion Ever Became A Domestic Terrorist” bar. Right?

And so do not take the path of Barabbas. Do not become a violent extremist. Do not become a revolutionary. Do not become an insurrectionist. Do not take up a sword where Christ has called you to take up a cross. /

*

Now. That was a very long and very unpleasant sub-point.

But there is good news.

We’ve just spent a third of our sermon talking about the fact that we are forbidden as Christians from violent extremism.

But an equally important thing to understand is that we don’t even need it.

We do not need to resort to violent extremism.

We do not need to resort to violent anything.

We do not need violence to accomplish our goals.

We do not need violence to do the work of the Kingdom.

Frankly, we don’t need anything from anyone.

Take a look, beginning at versed 9. John says:

“Pilate asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus did not give him an answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?” 11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.” (vv. 7-11)

Now, I’m not sure there’s anything on planet earth that Jesus could have said that would have deflated Pilate more than that.

Because Pilate thinks he’s doing Jesus a favor. He thinks he’s being extra obliging. He thinks Jesus is at his mercy, so Jesus is lucky that he’s at the mercy of such a patient and understanding governor.

But Jesus is not at the mercy of Pilate.

Jesus is not at the mercy of anyone.

Because, like we talked about, Jesus is the actual King. There is not a square inch on planet earth that Jesus doesn’t already own. There is not a human being on planet earth that Jesus doesn’t already own. That includes you. That includes everyone.

There isn’t a favor in the world that Pilate can do for Jesus, because Jesus isn’t at Pilate’s mercy.

Pilate is at Jesus’s mercy.

Pilate doesn’t even know it, but he’s the one on trial here, not Jesus.

There is zero suspense about how this is gonna go, because Jesus has been planning this from the foundation of the world.

Jesus holds the world in his hands, to the point that the only reason Pilate has authority as governor is because that authority has been given to him from above.

So Jesus doesn’t need to call 10,000 angels to come and fight for him.

He doesn’t need Peter to draw his sword and attack his captors.

He doesn’t need to hit somebody back when they strike him on the cheek.

He doesn’t need to play the stupid game that Barabbas is known for.

Because his purpose will prevail.

Christ’s kingdom will win out.

Period.

End of story. /

(Pause)

You should find that profoundly encouraging.

You should find that profoundly encouraging because that means that none of your efforts are in vain if you actually do them.

To come back to what we talked about earlier: Your evangelism will turn people to Christ in God’s timing and according to God’s will.

In the same way: Your time and effort and generosity will change the lives of the people you serve, in God’s timing and according to God’s will.

You do not need to radicalize like Barabbas. You just need to do the very basic tasks tha God has given us to do as God’s people.

And then keep doing it.

And then keep doing it.

And then keep doing it.

And God’s will will win out.

This is something that remains true even during periods when it all seems like a waste of time.

Because what happens, you’ll notice throughout history, is that even when the Church seems to fade into irrelevance – when it goes 10 years, or 20 years, or 50 years, or 150 years on the margins – when it feels like the fire has flickered out – somehow the Church never disappears.

The flicker turns into a forest fire again.

Revival comes.

I’m ripping off a quote by a guy named Hilaire Belloc, from the early 20th Century. He famously said, “The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always outlives her conquerors.”

That’s true.

Not because the Church is awesome – because the Church is usually not awesome, right? – let’s not kid ourselves. But because Christ is awesome, and Christ is sustaining us.

He’s holding us in his hands.

And he is overcoming the world in his own timing, and according to his own will.

And that means that Christ’s kingdom will win out. Period.

There is no suspense about that.

And so even if some of the things you see today frighten you, don’t forget to do a reality check.

Christ and his kingdom will outlast all of Christ’s enemies.

And so will you, because Christ is sustaining you. /

So reject the path of Barabbas, and throw yourself into the mission God has actually given you.

Devote yourself to reaching the lost and meeting people’s needs, drawing your strength, your comfort, and your confidence from the fact that Christ’s Kingdom will win out.

This is the point in the service where, typically, I would give something that we refer to as an “altar call,” but that’s not quite possible this morning, for obvious reasons. What we’re doing instead, is that as we respond to the Lord through song, we invite you to text or email me with your prayer requests, or decisions, or burdens, and we can set a time to sit down over the phone sometime the week and talk or pray through whatever is on your heart.

Let’s pray.

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