It was the day of Preparation for the Passover, about the sixth hour. And Pilate said to the Jews, "Here is your King!"
I. THE GROUND OF CHRIST'S KINGSHIP. Earthly sovereigns come to the throne sometimes by right of conquest, sometimes in virtue of inheritance, sometimes by means of election. Now, Jesus is King:
1. By Divine appointment and native right. "Yet," ran the prophecy, "have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." He is Christ, i.e. the Anointed, and he is anointed Monarch of mankind. Men's recognition or rejection of him makes no difference as to the fact. In the very nature of things, because he is Son of God, he is the rightful Ruler.
2. By mediatorial acquisition. He is Prophet and Priest, and therefore King. In order that his rightful sovereignty might become an actual sovereignty, the Lord Jesus was obedient unto death, and purchased his own inheritance. The cross was the means by which he won the throne.
II. THE REALM OVER WHICH CHRIST EXERCISES HIS SWAY.
1. His kingdom is differenced from the kingdoms of this world in that it is not over the outward actions, the life merely, of men. He does not reign by the scepter and the sword. He has no palace, no army, none of the paraphernalia of earthly royalty.
2. Our Lord's kingdom is spiritual; it is first and chiefly a dominion over the hearts, the convictions, and the affections of men. He sets up his throne in the inner being and nature of his subjects; and if he rules over their speech and actions, it is because he first rules over their thoughts and desires. All his true subjects, therefore, are such willingly, and not by constraint.
III. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST'S ROYAL DOMINION. Our Lord Jesus combines in himself the two supreme attributes of government.
1. He is the Legislator King. He promulgates the laws which his subjects are bound to study, to respect, and to obey. The laws of earthly kingdoms are sometimes unjust. But Christ's laws are supremely righteous; they are commandments of God himself; only the authority which properly belongs to them is penetrated with a spirit of grace and kindness.
2. He is the judicial King. He enforces his own edicts. He is the Judge alike of the Church and of the world. He demands submission and obedience. And from the sanctions of his rule none can escape. His friends shall be exalted, and foes and rebels shall be placed beneath his feet.
IV. THE EXTENT AND DURATION OF CHRIST'S KINGSHIP.
1. His kingdom is universal. When Jesus, in his parables, spoke of the kingdom of God as destined to include all nations, nothing could have seemed to ordinary listeners less likely of fulfillment than such a prediction. And when he himself was crucified, what prospect there was of dominion to be exercised by him must, in the view of most men, have vanished utterly. Yet our Savior's dominion has been constantly extending, and is still taking in new provinces. And faith realizes the approach of the time when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ."
2. His kingdom is immortal. Of states and empires historians have written the decline and fall; no earthly kingdom can resist the law of decay to which all things human appear subject. Of Christ's kingdom, however, "there is no end;" it is "from everlasting to everlasting."
1. Let attention be given to this Divine Monarch. "Behold your King!" Of all beings he first claims the regard of men.
2. Let his dignity and authority be recognized. When Pilate pointed the gaze of the multitude to Jesus, his was a disguised royalty, for Jesus was "a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;" and his was a derided, insulted royalty, for he had been clothed in mockery with a purple robe, and a crown of thorns had pierced his head.
3. Let homage, reverence, loyalty, devotion, be rendered to him to whom they are justly due. Truly to behold Christ is to discern his just claim to all that our heart, our life, can offer. His sovereignty is absolute, and our obligation to him is unlimited. - T.
It was the preparation of the passover.debris of the Roman empire are all that survives to show where and what it once was. Christ's kingdom grows stronger and stronger, larger and larger, with every passing century. Even now it is only in its infancy. What will it be? Now this kingdom is founded upon service and sacrifice. He stoops to conquer. He stoops to the likeness of men, in order to conquer humanity for God. The cross is His passport to the throne of our hearts. In our best moments we all acknowledge His right to reign over us. But ever and again, side by side with that kingdom of His, which is not of this world, there comes into view a kingdom which is of this world; the allurements of wealth, or pleasure, or interest, or power — the life lived to self, and not to God. This is our "Caesar," brethren. It is of this, that we find ourselves, again and again, tempted to cry," "We have no king but Caesar." More than this. According as we yield ourselves to the sway of the one kingdom or of the other — the kingdom which is of this world, or the kingdom which is not of this world — accordingly do we exercise, in nut own small place and day, the powers of that kingdom. They transmit themselves through us as their agents, and we become workers for the one kingdom or the other, as the case may be. Will we offer ourselves to Christ, our rightful king, in a truly loyal allegiance? Forthwith, behold, we become, as it were, a medium of communication between Him and the world around us. He works through us. He seats us, if we may say so, on the lowest step of His own throne. We share His present power, even now; as we shall share His future, final triumph, hereafter. If, on the other hand, we yield ourselves to the Caesar of this world, and allow him practically, in any one or more of his many forms, to rule over us; we do so, not for ourselves only and to the peril of our own souls, but for others also and to the peril of theirs. "No man liveth to himself." No man can so isolate himself from his fellows, that no influence, either for evil or for good, shall pass through him to them. No man can either ruin or save his own soul, without doing something, it may be much, to ruin or to save the souls of others. The picture may seem to some overdrawn. True: it is an ideal picture. In actual experience, no life is wholly surrendered to the sway, either of the kingdom of Christ, or of the kingdom of this world. Motives, actions, characters — all, in real life, are, more or less, mixed. The worst have traits of goodness. The best bear at least the scars of conquered evil. Yet still, the weight of every human soul — the momentum of every human life — is flung distinctly and unmistakably, in its net result, either on Christ's side or on Caesar's. Brethren, which of these two alternatives do we embrace?
(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)1. Pilate spake far more than he understood, and therefore we shall not confine ourselves to his meaning.
2. Everything concerning our Lord was more than ever full of meaning just then; the saying of Caiaphas, the fleeing of the disciples, the dividing of His garments, the soldier piercing His side, &c.
3. It was to the Jews that Jesus was brought forth, and by them He was rejected; yet was He distinctly declared to be their King.
4. The same is repeated at this day among those favoured with special privileges; but whether they accept Him or not, He is assuredly in some sense or other their King.
5. To the summons of the text the answer was mockery.
6. We would with deepest reverence draw near and behold our King. Behold Him —
I. PREPARING HIS THRONE.
1. He lays the foundation of it in His suffering nature.
2. He makes it a throne of grace by His atoning griefs.
3. He prepares access to it through His ability to have compassion on those who come to Him, by partaking in all their sorrows.
4. He canopies and glorifies it by the shame to which He willingly and unreservedly yields Himself. Believe in the perpetuity of a throne thus founded.
II. CLAIMING OUR HOMAGE. By the right of —
1. Supreme love.
2. Complete purchase.
3. Grateful consecration, which we heartily accord to Him under a sense of loving gratitude. Glory in rendering homage thus made due.
III. SUBDUING HIS DOMINIONS.
1. Jews and Gentiles are won to obedience by beholding His sufferings for them.
2. This brings in His own elect everywhere.
3. This restores backsliders. They look to Him whom they have pierced, and return to their allegiance.
4. This holds all His true servants captive; they glory in yielding their all to Him who was thus put to shame for them.
5. This subdues all things unto Him. By His Cross and Passion He reigns in heaven, earth, and hell. Bow low before the sceptre of His Cross.
IV. SETTING FORTH THE PATTERN OF HIS KINGDOM. He stands there the Prophet and the Type of His own dominion.
1. It is no earthly kingdom: the difference is palpable to all.
2. It is associated with shame and suffering, both on the part of the King and of His loyal subjects.
3. It is based on His love and self-sacrifice: this is His right of sovereignty, this His force of arms, this the source of His revenue.
4. It is made resplendent by His woes: these are the insignia and ornaments of His court; His glory even in heaven. Glory only in the Cross.
V. PROVING THE CERTAINTY OF HIS KINGDOM
1. Is He King there in His shame? Then, assuredly, He is King now that He has risen from the dead, and gone into the glory.
2. Is He King amid shame and pain? Then He is able to help us if we are in like case.
3. Is He King while paying the price of our redemption? Then, certainly, He is King now that it is paid, and He has become the Author of eternal salvation.
4. Is He King at Pilate's bar? Then truly He will be so when Pilate stands at His bar to be judged. Conclusion:
1. Come hither, saints, and pay your accustomed worship!
2. Come hither, sinners, and adore for the first time!
(C. H. Spureon.)
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