Be joyful in HOPE,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s
people who are in need.
Romans 12:12-13

Mid Week Lent 2 – 2023

Prayer: Dear Lord: We do not ask, like Pontius Pilate did, if You are a King. We know You are the King of kings. But shouldn’t we be asking if You are our King? We ask You to bless Your Word, so that we and all may be added unto You, live under You in Your kingdom by grace, and serve You both now and in heaven in perfect righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Amen! This is most certainly true.
Sermon Text, St. John 18:33-38 (ESV). Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
Lord, this is Your Word and these are Your words. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ, our blessed Jesus, King of Grace, who redeemed you that you might live under Him in His kingdom:
Pontius Pilate can’t see Jesus’ kingdom. He is bound. He is shackled. He can’t move without limping. His face is bruised, scratched, bloodied, marred by multiple slaps and beatings. He’s the picture of weakness.
It’s just a joke to Pilate, a made-up kingdom in the air. Where is it? Can’t anyone see that Jesus has nobody fighting for Him? Nothing like the Roman cohort. He can’t drive or push or force people to do His bidding. He is no threat to anyone. What kind of kingdom can He possibly have?
This just galls us. We know that Pilate’s authority comes from the Lord. We know from Romans 13 that the powers that exist are “from God.” So Pilate’s attitude, when he sneers, “Are You a king then?” is hard to take.
We want Jesus to display His power. If Pilate could only see Jesus’ kingdom. It has much more power and glory than Pilate suspects! We want His glory to be seen in a tangible way in our world, our church, and our life.
For example: Why can’t our government leaders be guided more by Christian principles? Why can’t the church have more success and influence on the world? Why can’t the church be better? What if people actually would be brave and confess their faith in word and deed, not look just like the godless world? What if families kept the right priorities? What if people in the church were kinder to each other, and instead of everyone seeking to be understood we would seek to understand one another?
Why won’t God make it happen? Why isn’t His kingdom in the church on earth more glorious? But all this is on the outside. It’s done by Law.
The way of the Law is the way of command, threat, force. It’s efficient, all right. The law-oriented religions – like Islam, Mormonism and Judaism – are efficient. There is obedience there, a glory of people living their creed, that we may think puts us to shame. But it produces no peace. You can never be done. You can never be good enough. You can never rest.
That isn’t how Christ’s kingdom works. The glory of Christ’s kingdom is hidden. Jesus said, “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight.” Recall how Jesus wouldn’t let Peter protect Him with the sword. Instead what does Jesus do? He goes to suffer all things.
Think of His words: “My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is not from here.” Where is it from? He came down from heaven. His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom. This kingdom is unreachable for us if we have sins, and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But He wants us to be and live under Him in His kingdom. So He came to be condemned instead of us, to take away our sins so we have no sin before God.
This is how God’s kingdom comes to us. This is how He builds His kingdom. We receive it through faith. The glory of His kingdom is hidden even in us: It’s hidden under our sins which you see. It’s hidden in our faith, which you can’t see. The Holy Spirit puts this Suffering Savior in front of us, and creates faith in us to believe in Him. He saves us by grace.
This is how Jesus rules us – by grace. He rules in our hearts by faith. This is what we’re doing when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” We’re praying for faith. But what faith? Faith in your Savior. Believing you’re forgiven. This is the glory of His grace. It’s His kingdom’s glory.
You don’t make His kingdom come. The prayer tells you that. It isn’t, “Look at me, King, I’m coming.” But it’s “O King Jesus, come! Bring Your kingdom to me, please!” He, the King, comes to you in His Word, and in the Sacraments of Baptism and His Supper, and all He is to you is gentle, kind, forgiving. He rules your heart by grace. He forgives you, and you receive it. That’s all. This faith is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone boast. In His kingdom the only boasting is in Christ and His gift.
This is what most recommends His kingdom to others: not that you’re so pure but that He’s so forgiving. Not that you are always proving yourself, and hiding your faults, but that you bring your sins to Him and He receives you with open arms.
“Thy kingdom come” is a prayer for you to know His grace better, and for others to know it with you. You can pray the Lord’s Prayer for others, so that when you come to this petition you can pray for their faith — your spouse, your children, your parents, your sibling, your godchildren. And pray for your own faith too. He answers this prayer.
And you will find that we are His monuments, His treasures, His trophies – as we are filled up by His grace – made glorious, which we will see when He brings us to heaven. Amen!